The Divine Lamp

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

Archive for the ‘Notes on Mark’ Category

Catholic Scripture Manual on Mark 2:13-17

Posted by Dim Bulb on December 31, 2016

Text in red, if any, are my additions.

Mar 2:13 And he went forth again to the sea side: and all the multitude came to him. And he taught them.

He went forth, from the home in Capharnaum (Capernuam) to the sea-shore.

Mar 2:14 And when he was passing by, he saw Levi, the son of Alpheus, sitting at the receipt of custom; and he saith to him: Follow me. And rising up, he followed him.

Levi. This was St Matthew s name before his call to the Apostleship. In like manner, Simon received the name of Peter, and Saul’s name was changed to Paul.

son of Alpheus. Not the same as Alpheus the father of St James the
Less. In the lists of the Apostles, St Matthew and St James the Less
are never classed together, whereas in the case of Apostles who were brothers, the names follow one another.

receipt of custom. The toll-house where taxes on exports and imports were levied. Capharnaum was a thriving business town, whence roads to Tyre, Damascus and Jerusalem, etc., branched off (see Geog. Notes, p. 82).

sitting at the receipt of custom. Therefore Levi was one of the despised class of publicans, classed by the Jews with harlots, heathens and sinners. (See Publicans, Part IV.)

Follow me. Jesus called Levi in spite of his position and bad reputation. It is probable that Levi had previously heard of, or witnessed our Lord’s miracles, and also listened to His discourses, since Jesus had already wrought mighty works in and near Capharnaum.

Mar 2:15 And it came to pass as he sat at meat in his house, many Publicans and sinners sat down together with Jesus and his disciples. For they, with Jesus who also followed him. For they were many, who also followed him.

as he sat at meat in his house. St Luke tells us that Levi made him a great feast in his own house; and there was a great company of
publicans and of others, that were at table with them (St Luke 5:29). It was doubtless a farewell banquet to his old friends, publicans and sinners.

Mar 2:16 And the scribes and the Pharisees, seeing that he ate with publicans and sinners, said to his disciples: Why doth your master eat and drink with publicans and sinners?

seeing that he ate, etc. These Pharisees would not, of course, have sat down and eaten with Levi and his friends, for this would have rendered them “unclean” according to their traditions. They merely came in, as the Oriental custom permitted, to watch the feast.

sinners. Lax Jews, not necessarily Gentiles.

said to his disciples. They may have feared to address our Lord directly, or thought it would be easy to triumph over His disciples, whom they knew to be poor, ignorant men.

Mar 2:17 Jesus hearing this, saith to them: They that are well have no need of a physician, but they that are sick. For I came not to call the just, but sinners.

I came not to call, etc. Jesus explains that He frequented sinners that He might convert them, just as a physician visits the sick that he may heal them.

to call the just, said ironically to the Pharisees who were “just” in
their own estimation. Also Jesus was always ready to leave the ninety-nine that He might seek the sheep that was lost (see Mt 18:12-14; Lk 15:3-7).


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Catholic Scripture Manual on Mark 2:1-12

Posted by Dim Bulb on December 31, 2016

Mar 2:1 And again he entered into Capharnaum after some days.

And again he entered Capharnaum (Capernuam). Probably when the recent ex citement had calmed down.

into Capharnaum. St Matthew adds His own city. Nazareth was His
native town, but Capharnaum was frequently His dwelling-place during His public life, and this would naturally be considered “His own city.” Doubtless when there, He often stayed in the house of St Peter.

After some days. These he had spent (outside of towns) in desert places (Mk 1:45), and in His ministrations elsewhere in Galilee.

Mar 2:2 And it was heard that he was in the house. And many came together, so that there was no room: no, not even at the door. And he spoke to them the word.
Mar 2:3 And they came to him, bringing one sick of the palsy, who was carried by four.

It was heard, etc. Hence we may infer that our Lord had come back privately into Capharnaum.

Many came together. St Luke describes the crowd, And it came to
pass on a certain day, as he sat teaching, that there were also Pharisees and doctors of the law sitting by, that were come out of every town of Galilee and Judea and Jerusalem (Lk 5:17).

No room, not even at the door. Our Lord would probably be in a
humble house, and the family room would be on the ground floor and
easy of access. The Orientals were accustomed to enter freely into each other’s dwellings.

the word. Jesus was preaching when the paralytic was let down at His feet. St Matthew and St Luke omit the following details which are peculiar to St Mark:

(a) The paralytic was carried by four
(b) There was a great crowd at the door
(c) They opened the roof.

Mar 2:4 And when they could not offer him unto him for the multitude, they uncovered the roof where he was: and opening it, they let down the bed wherein the man sick of the palsy lay.

uncovered the roof where he was. Oriental houses of the poorer classes have flat roofs. Large beams were placed across at intervals of several feet. Rough ceiling joists were fixed over these. A layer of small poles or brushwood, arranged close together, completed the framework. These three layers were covered with earth or gravel, on which grass grew or flowers were cultivated. Sometimes slabs of stone were placed next to the joists instead of brushwood. The
layer of earth was rolled flat and gradually hardened. Therefore the sick man’s friends would have had to get on to the roof by the outside staircase.

St Luke mentions that they went up upon the roof. They could uncover the roof by scraping away the earth or gravel, and by removing a few slabs or small poles and some of the joists, they could easily let the man down between the beams.

the bed wherein, etc. This was a common pallet or mat used by the poorest. It was just large enough for one person, and could be rolled up when not in use. This explains how the four bearers could let down the sick man either by holding the corners, if, as was usual, the rooms were not more than a few feet high, or by means of ropes. Such a bed could be easily carried away by one person.

Mar 2:5 And when Jesus had seen their faith, he saith to the sick of the palsy: Son, thy sins are forgiven thee.

their faith, i.e. the faith of the bearers and of the sick man himself. The bearers showed their faith by their persistence in overcoming the obstacles which prevented them from approaching our Lord. The man showed his faith in allowing himself to be thus brought. He believed that our Lord could and would heal him. When God grants blessings to those for whom we pray, He rewards our prayer and faith as well as that of the person for whom we pray, but no grace can be received by one who does not ask or desire it, at least, implicitly.

Son. St Luke gives the word man here. St Matthew adds, be of good
heart (Mt 9:2). Our Lord thus showed His love, and animated the sick man’s confidence. Possibly the thought of his sins made the man sad.

thy sins are forgiven thee. The Jews believed that every temporal
calamity or affliction was sent as a punishment for sin, e.g. And there
were present at that very time some that told Him of the Galileans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices (St Luke 13:1). Jesus answered: Neither hath this man sinned nor his parents; but that the works of God should be made manifest in him (St John 9:3). Jesus, in remitting sin, was verifying St John the Baptist’s words. The next day John saw Jesus coming to him, and he saith: Behold the Lamb of God, behold him who taketh away the sin of the world (St John 1:29), and proving Himself to be the Christ since He exercised the prerogatives of the Messiah. Because his soul hath laboured, he shall see and be filled: by his knowledge shall this my just servant justify many, and lie shall bear their iniquities. Therefore will I distribute to him very many, and he shall divide the spoils of the strong, because he hath delivered his soul unto death, and was reputed with the wicked : and he hath borne the sins of many and hath prayed for the transgressors (Isa 53:11-12) (see also Jer 31:34, Mic 7:18). None of the Prophets had ever absolved from sin. The sick man must have had true contrition for his sins and earnestly desired forgiveness, otherwise Jesus would not have absolved him.

Mar 2:6 And there were some of the scribes sitting there and thinking in their hearts:

some of the scribes …. thinking in their hearts: likewise the
Pharisees as we learn from St Luke 5:21. The Jews had already
determined to kill Him (St John 5:18), and the Scribes and Pharisees
were there as spies watching our Lord, that they might accuse Him to the synagogue. This is the first of the many conspiracies against our Lord.

Mar 2:7 Why doth this man speak thus? He blasphemeth. Who can forgive sins, but God only?

blasphemeth. By asserting a power which God alone has, viz., that of forgiving sins. To the Scribes who denied our Lord’s divinity, His
word seemed a breach of the second commandment.

Men are guilty of blasphemy

(1) When they speak against God or deny His attributes.
(2) When they ascribe these attributes to creatures.

Mar 2:8 Which Jesus presently knowing in his spirit that they so thought within themselves, saith to them: Why think you these things in your hearts?

knowing in his spirit. It was by His divine Spirit that He read the thoughts of His enemies. He thus proved His divinity, and therefore
His power to forgive sins, for who can forgive sins but God alone? The prophets often knew things by God’s revelations, as when Eliseus (Elisha) convicted Giezi (Gehazi) of lying and disobedience, but Jesus needed no interior illumination (see 2 Kings 5:1-27, esp. 15-27). As God, all was open to Him. Under the new law by the Sacrament of Order, priests receive this divine mission of absolving sinners in God’s name, but under the old law, although the confession of certain sins was enjoined, the Jewish priest had no power to absolve.

Mar 2:9 Which is easier, to say to the sick of the palsy: Thy sins are forgiven thee; or to say: Arise, take up thy bed and walk?

Which is easier. It was easier, as regards convincing men of His divine power, to claim to forgive sins, than to restore a sick man to health, since no one could assure himself if the sins were really forgiven or not, whereas all could see a visible miracle of healing. To do the latter Jesus must be God, hence He could forgive sins.

Mar 2:10 But that you may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins (he saith to the sick of the palsy):

Son of man. This title is mostly found on the lips of our Lord Himself. The sacred writers rarely apply it to Him. It occurs fourteen times in St Mark’s Gospel. This same title is applied to the Messiah by Daniel 7:13, I beheld therefore in the vision of the night, and lo, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven. Jesus uses it to express His perfect humanity. It is also used by St Stephen, who, being full of the Holy Ghost, looking up steadfastly to heaven, saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God. And he said: Behold I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God (Acts 7:55). See also Rev 1:13, 14:14.

on earth. The Son of man on earth could forgive sins, as could the Son of God in Heaven.

power . … to forgive sins. Jesus forgave authoritatively and meritoriously. His priests absolve penitents ministerially.

Mar 2:11 I say to thee: Arise. Take up thy bed and go into thy house.

take up thy bed. The bed or mat was easily rolled up. This proved the man’s perfect cure, as a palsied man cannot even lift a cup to his lips.

Mar 2:12 And immediately he arose and, taking up his bed, went his way in the sight of all: so that all wondered and glorified God, saying: We never saw the like.

immediately. It was a sudden cure, not a gradual return to health ;
so it was in the case of the leper and of St Peter’s mother-in-law. This miracle was worked instantaneously, completely, and publicly.

in the sight of all. They now made way for him to leave.

all wondered. St Matthew gives, the multitudes …. feared and
glorified God (Mt 9:8), that is the common people, for the Scribes and Pharisees still refused to believe.

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Catholic Scripture Manual on Mark 1:40-45

Posted by Dim Bulb on December 31, 2016

Text in red, if any, are my additions.

Mar 1:40 And there came a leper to him, beseeching him and kneeling down, said to him: If thou wilt thou canst make me clean.

A leper. One afflicted with leprosy a terrible skin disease, and
very common in the East.

The Jews called it “The Finger of God” or “the Stroke.” It is rarely cured, at least in its most malignant forms. It is also extremely loathsome in its worst stages. Scales cover the body, and the members gradually drop off. It resembles a universal cancer. Leprosy is a type of sin. Lepers were considered unclean in general, and were forbidden to approach the dwellings of those not so affected. It should be noted that the biblical use of the term λεπρος (lepros) and it’s cognates does not necessarily indicate that one was afflicted with actual leprosy (today called “Hanson’s Disease”).

Beseeching, kneeling down. One of St Mark s vivid touches.

If thou wilt. The leper’s prayer shows modesty, humility, confidence, submission to God’s will, and a firm faith in Christ’s healing power.

Mar 1:41 And Jesus, having compassion on him, stretched forth his hand and touching him saith to him: I will. Be thou made clean.
Mar 1:42 And when he had spoken, immediately the leprosy departed from him: and he was made clean.

having compassion. A detail peculiar to St Mark.

stretched forth his hand. Jesus touched the leper in spite of the Mosaic prohibition, possibly:

(a) to show that He was “the Lord of the law.”
(b) To prove the virtue of His human nature.
(c) To show His loving compassion for the leper.

Priests were allowed to touch the lepers in pronouncing them clean, and Jesus is our High Priest. Although the Jews were forbidden to touch a corpse, yet Eliseus (Elisha) touched the dead child whom he restored to life (2 Kings 4:4), thus showing that divine miracles are above ritual precepts.

Mar 1:43 And he strictly charged him and forthwith sent him away.

charged him, i.e. He charged him that he should tell no man (St Luke 5:14). Jesus strictly commanded the leper not to noise abroad the miracle. He did not wish to confirm, the Jews in their idea concerning the temporal reign of the Messiah. On other occasions our Lord commanded silence respecting miraculous cures (see page 49).

Jesus in dismissing the leper bids him practice:

1. Humility, see thou tell no man.
2. Obedience, go, shew thyself to the priests.
3. Gratitude, offer for thy cleansing, etc.

Mar 1:44 And he saith to him: See thou tell no one; but go, shew thyself to the high priest and offer for thy cleansing the things that Moses commanded, for a testimony to them.

to the high-priest. These words may refer to the one who presided
over the priests then serving in their weekly course, or to the high-priest himself.

the things that Moses commanded. Two living sparrows, cedar wood, scarlet and hyssop (a kind of wild marjoram).

Mar 1:45 But he being gone out, began to publish and to blaze abroad the word: so that he could not openly go into the city. but was without in desert places. And they flocked to him from all sides.

began to publish, etc. Did the leper sin by so doing 1 Probably not, as it is most likely that he regarded the prohibition as being prompted by our Lord’s humility. Doubtless the man in his excitement
could not refrain from expressing joy and gratitude; moreover, even if he himself had not published it, the leper’s friends and acquaintances must have perceived his sudden return to perfect health.

not openly go into the city, on account of the crowd, which, attracted by the fame of His miracles, continually followed Him, and impeded His journey.

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Catholic Scripture Manual on Mark 1:21-28

Posted by Dim Bulb on December 31, 2016

Mar 1:21 And they entered into Capharnaum: and forthwith upon the sabbath days going into the synagogue, he taught them.

21. Capharnaum (Capernuam). A city on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee. Many of our Lord’s miracles were worked here (see Geog. Notes, p. 82), e.g. Healing of the centurion’s servant (St Matt. 8:5); Healing of Simon’s wife s mother (St Matt. 8:14); Cure of the paralytic (St Matt. 9:6).

synagogue. This was most likely the synagogue built by the mcenturion, whose son Jesus healed (St Luke 7:5).

Mar 1:22 And they were astonished at his doctrine. For he was teaching them as one having power, and not as the scribes.

22. They were astonished, literally were “enraptured.” Jesus won the admiration of the people by His doctrine, which was not based on human traditions, and by His divine eloquence: Never did man speak like this man (St John 7:46).

scribes. Men who copied and explained the law of Moses and the
traditions of the Rabbis. On these, the scribes based all their teaching, whereas Jesus taught as one having authority. I say unto you, was often His introduction to a discourse.

Mar 1:23 And there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit; and he cried out,

23. with an unclean spirit, more literally “a man in an unclean spirit,” i.e. one under the influence of a spirit that tempted to sins of impurity. St Luke calls the spirit an unclean devil (Mk 4:33).

he cried out. The devil was tortured by the presence of our Lord and
feared expulsion, hence he made the man cry out.

Mar 1:24 Saying: What have we to do with thee, Jesus of Nazareth? Art thou come to destroy us? I know who thou art, the Holy One of God.

24. What have we to do with thee? i.e. Why do you interfere with us? In the Vulgate we find in St Luke’s account, Let us alone, what have, etc. These words are omitted in the Greek. If genuine, they are understood by some commentators rather as an expression of horror, an inarticulate cry.

Art thou come to destroy us? That is, to bind them in hell, where their tortures would be greater, and where they could not attack the living. Jesus had come to destroy them. For this purpose the Son of God appeared, that He might destroy the works of the devil (1 John 3:8).

I know who thou art. The devils recognised our Lord as the Holy One, i.e. the Messiah, called by Daniel (Dan 9:24) the Saint of Saints. St James 2:19 tells us the devils believe and tremble. It is clear that after our Lord’s death and resurrection they had no doubt of Christ’s divinity.

The words of the unclean spirit show:

(a) The antagonism between Christ, “the Holy One,” and the impure devils.
(b) The superiority of Christ.
(c) The overthrow of Satan’s power.

Mar 1:25 And Jesus threatened him, saying: Speak no more, and go out of the man.

25. Jesus threatened him. Jesus spoke with power and authority, being unwilling to receive testimony from the devils, as it was not yet time for Him to be made known as the Messiah. Hence we find Jesus even forbidding His Apostles to proclaim that He is the Christ (St Mark 8:30). Our Lord proved His divine power by driving out the devil.

Speak no more: literally “be muzzled.” St Mark uses the same expression in describing the Stilling of the Tempest, be still (Mk 4:39. The Greek is φιμωθητι = phimotheti). The expression is exceedingly graphic, being used ordinarily for a beast only (1 Cor. 9:9).

Mar 1:26 And the unclean spirit, tearing him and crying out with a loud voice, went out of him.

26 tearing him. Throwing the man into convulsions, but without injuring him bodily, for St Luke tells us, the devil hurt him not at all. amazed. The original word expresses astonishment and terror.

Mar 1:27 And they were all amazed insomuch that they questioned among themselves, saying: What thing is this? What is this new doctrine? For with power he commandeth even the unclean spirits: and they obey him.

They questioned among themselves. One of St Mark’s descriptive
touches. They turned to one another and discussed the miracle.

new doctrine. That preached by Jesus Christ

with power he commandeth. Without ritual ceremonies, but by a
simple word of command.

Mar 1:28 And the fame of him was spread forthwith into all the country of Galilee.

28 the fame, etc. Report of His miracles, which spread quickly.


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Catholic Scripture Manual on Mark 1:7-11

Posted by Dim Bulb on July 31, 2016

Text in red are my additions.

Mk 1:7 And he preached, saying: There cometh after me one mightier than I, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to stoop down and loose.

after me. St John the Baptist was born about six months before our Lord. As no Jew was allowed to preach before his thirtieth year, Jesus began His public life about six months later than St John. I doubt the phrase there cometh after me one, &c, has anything to do with age. More likely it’s picking up on the theme of “before” in verses 2~Behold I send my angel before thy face, who shall prepare the way before thee. John is prophesying the coming fulfillment of the foundational purpose of his ministry. Indeed, in Mk 1:9 Jesus will come to the already ministering  Baptist, be baptized by him and then start his own ministry for which the Baptist’s was a prelude.

mightier than I. Note the Baptist’s humility, Jesus is “the Mighty One.” The Greek word ισχυροτερος (ischyroteros) means mighty or powerful one. As the Mighty One Jesus has come to subdue “the strong man” (ισχυρου = ischyrou) Satan (see Mk 3:23-27).

to stoop down. A minute detail proper to St Mark.

and loose. To loose and carry the shoes was the work of the slave, who performed this office for his master, when the latter entered a temple or banqueting hall.

Mk 1:8 I have baptized you with water: but he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost.

I have baptised you with water, etc. The Baptist exalts Christ’s baptism, which conferred the Holy Ghost, and regenerated the soul.

Mar 1:9 And it came to pass, in those days, Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in Jordan.

In those days. Either an indefinite formula referring to St John’s preaching, or more probably a reference to the days of our Lord’s hidden life at Nazareth, which ended when He attained His thirtieth year.

Nazareth. A small despised city on the southern slopes of Galilee. “Can any thing of good come from Nazareth?” (St John 1:46).

in the Jordan. One local tradition points out an ancient ford, near Succoth, as the spot where Jesus was baptized, another refers it to a ford near Jericho. The latter was easier of access.

Mar 1:10 And forthwith coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens open and the Spirit as a dove descending and remaining on him.

forthwith = immediately; both favourite words of St Mark. This adverb, as employed by St Mark, does not always express uninterrupted sequence. Mark’s repeated use of the various forms of the Greek word εὐθύς (= euthus), along with his chronic use of “and,” gives the narrative a fast paced feel and communicates a sense of urgency to it. 

He saw the heavens opened. “He” refers to Jesus Himself, but St John also saw the rent in the heavens, and probably the people present perceived the miracle.

Mar 1:11 And there came a voice from heaven: Thou art my beloved Son; in thee I am well pleased.

a voice from heaven. During our Saviour s lifetime a miraculous voice was heard three times :

(a) At His Baptism: Thou art My beloved Son, in Thee I am well pleased.
(b) At the Transfiguration: This is My beloved Son, hear ye Him.
(c) In the Temple during Holy Week: I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again.

In verses 10 and 11 note the explicit mention of the three Persons of the Blessed
Trinity. God the Father spoke from Heaven. God the Son stood in the river. God
the Holy Ghost descended “in bodily shape as a dove.”

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Catholic Scripture Manual on Mark 9:30-37

Posted by Dim Bulb on May 15, 2016

Mar 9:30 And departing from thence, they passed through Galilee: and he would not that any man should know it.

departing from thence. From the scene of the Transfiguration arid of the subsequent miracle.

passed through Galilee. Possibly they did not journey direct from the Mount of the Transfiguration to Capharnaum, but by less frequented routes to ensure privacy. This was the last time Christ was in Galilee, Jesus was now on His last journey to Jerusalem.

He would not that any man should know it. To avoid the multitudes and to be free to teach His disciples. It was their last year of training.

Mar 9:31 And he taught his disciples and said to them: The Son of man shall be betrayed into the hands of men, and they shall kill him; and after that he is killed, he shall rise again the third day.

taught his disciples. The tense implies “was continually teaching,” saying, “Lay you up in your hearts these words” (St Luke 9:44). As the time of His Passion drew nearer, our Lord very frequently gave His Apostles private instructions.

betrayed into the hands of men. “He was delivered up by His Father, who gave Him over to their power. He delivered up Himself voluntarily. He was betrayed into the hands of men, by Judas, who handed Him over to the Scribes and Chief Priests: these delivered Him to Pilate, and Pilate to the soldiers” (MacEvilly, Commentary). This is the first mention of the betrayal.

hands of men. This was an expression signifying some great misfortune; thus David chose the pestilence, saying, it is better for me to fall into the hands of the Lord, for His mercies are many, than into the hands of men (1 Chron 21:13).

they shall kill him. Notice the continual repetition of this prediction. He wished to prepare them gradually for His death.

after that he is killed he shall rise again. Christ s Resurrection is here very clearly stated, yet the disciples still “understood not the word.”

Mar 9:32 But they understood not the word: and they were afraid to ask him.

they understood not. St Luke adds, it was hid from them so that they perceived it not (Lk 9:45). These words show the mental state of the disciples. The meaning was like a hidden thing which they could not find. St Peter, however, does not again reject the idea with impetuosity. It was their false preconceptions about the Messiah which prevented them from grasping our Lord’s meaning. St Matthew adds, “they were troubled exceedingly” (Mt 27:22).

afraid to ask him: lest they should hear the worst; doubt left room for a certain hope.

Mar 9:33 And they came to Capharnaum. And when they were in the house, he asked them: What did you treat of in the way?

came to Capharnaum. It was on. this occasion that St Peter was questioned concerning the tribute money, and Jesus worked a miracle to pay it.

in the house, he asked them. Jesus avoided compromising the reputation of His followers in the eyes of the people. The true order of events is given by comparing the accounts of the three Evangelists, who complete each other’s narrative:

(a) And there entered a thought into them, which of them should be greater (St Luke 9:46).
(b) And they came to Capharnaum. And when they were in the house, he asked them, What did you treat of in the way? (St Mark 9:32).
(c) At that hour the disciples came to Jesus, saying, Who thinkest thou is the greater in the kingdom of heaven (St Matt 18:1).

What did you treat of in the way? Apparently Jesus had walked on
ahead alone, or He was engaged in conversation with some of the other disciples.

Mar 9:34 But they held their peace, for in the way they had disputed among themselves, which of them should be the greatest.

they held their peace: conscience-stricken, for they had been giving
way to ambition. St Matt, says they asked our Lord, Who thinkest,
thou is the greater in the kingdom of heaven? (Mt 18:1). Evidently it was by a counter-question that they replied, but as regards answering our Lord’s question they were silent. Their thoughts reverted to the kingdom of the Messiah, not to Heaven.

they had disputed, etc. Perhaps the preference shewn to St Peter, St
James, and St John, and their silence as to what took place when our Lord “led them apart” had aroused the jealousy of the other apostles. They again disputed about this matter at the Last Supper. The Gospel shews us the Apostles as they were, with all their failings.

Mar 9:35 And sitting down, he called the twelve and saith to them: If any man desire to be first, he shall be the last of all and be minister of all.

sitting down, he called the twelve. Jesus took the attitude of a teacher. All were called to hear His reproof and to learn a lesson of humility.

desire to be first. If he desire to be first in the kingdom of heaven, let
him be content to be last in this world; i.e. true humility leads to
sanctity, which determines our rank in heaven. St Matt, gives the
fuller answer, Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, he is the greater in the kingdom of heaven. And he that shall receive one such little child in my name, receiveth me (Mt 18:4, 5). St Luke also gives our Lord s definite answer to the disciples question, For he that is the lesser among you all, he is the greater (Lk 9:48).

the minister of all. A second lesson is here inculcated. The Christian
must be desirous to serve rather than to be served, to obey rather than to rule.

Mar 9:36 And taking a child, he set him in the midst of them. Whom when he had embraced, he saith to them:

taking a child. St Matt, gives, calling unto him a little child (Mt 18:2).

Whom when he had embraced. Notice Jesus tender love for children. Thus He on another occasion called them to Him and blessed them.

Mar 9:37 Whosoever shall receive one such child as this in my name receiveth me. And whosoever shall receive me receiveth not me but him that sent me.

Whosoever shall receive, etc. Hence we see what a glorious work it is to train children for Uod s sake, as unto Him. By so doing we receive our Lord Himself.

Note. The following points in this narrative are peculiar to St Mark

(a) Jesus sat down.
(b) He called all the Twelve.
(c) He placed the child in the midst,
(d) He embraced the child.

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Catholic Scripture Manual on Mark 9:14-29

Posted by Dim Bulb on May 15, 2016

Text in red are my additions.

Mk 9:14. And coming to his disciples he saw a great multitude about them and the scribes disputing with them.

coming to his disciples. To the nine who were at the foot of the
mountain. This happened the day following (Lk 9:37), as St Luke tells us.This seems to indicate night as the time when the Transfiguration took place.

he saw a great multitude. St Luke adds the multitude met Him.

the scribes disputing with them. They perhaps hoped to overcome
the disciples now that Jesus was absent. Probably they denied that
the Apostles could work miracles, even as they denied that Christ had the power to do so.

Mar 9:15 And presently all the people, seeing Jesus, were astonished and struck with fear: and running to him, they saluted him.

astonished and struck with fear. The original word denotes
extreme terror. The terror of the multitude on seeing Jesus might
arise from several causes.

(a) They did not expect to see Him appear so opportunely.
(b) Something of the glory of the Transfiguration may still have shone on His face, as the face of Moses shone when he came down from Mount Sinai.

running to him, they saluted him. Their fear did not overcome their
joy at seeing Him.

Mar 9:16 And he asked them: What do you question about among you?

he asked them, etc. Jesus inquired of those nearest, What do you question about among you? The father of the lunatic is the only one to answer, falling down on his knees before him saying; Lord,
pity on my son, for he is a lunatic, and suffereth much: for he falleth often into the fire, and often into the water (St Matt. 17:14). These are the ordinary symptoms of epilepsy, which the demon probably aggravated, since the boy was possessed by a dumb spirit. The words he is a lunatic shew that the father connects the boy s convulsions with the changes of the moon.

Mar 9:17 And one of the multitude, answering, said: Master, I have brought my son to thee, having a dumb spirit.

Master, I have brought my son to thee. The man had brought his
son, hoping to find Jesus with the disciples.

a dumb spirit. Since St Luke tells us he suddenly crieth out (Lk 9:39), we may conclude the boy could not utter articulate sounds.

Mar 9:18 Who, wheresoever he taketh him, dasheth him: and he foameth and gnasheth with the teeth and pineth away. And I spoke to thy disciples to cast him out: and they could not.

wheresoever=whenever. The convulsions were intermittent.

he taketh him, dasheth him, etc. The father describes minutely the
effects of the natural disease of epilepsy, attributing them to the action of the dumb spirit.

I spoke to thy disciples to cast him out. The man had clearly heard of miracles worked by the Apostles.

they could not. He attributes the failure to want of power, not lack of good will. The Apostles had tried to cast out the devil, but had failed signally.

Mar 9:19 Who answering them, said: O incredulous generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I suffer you? Bring him unto me.

O incredulous generation. A rebuke to the multitude in general, to the father of the child, and to the Apostles also (indirectly). St Matt.
gives unbelieving and perverse generation (Mt 17:16).

how long shall I be with you? To bear with and to teach you.

Mar 9:20 And they brought him. And when he had seen him, immediately the spirit troubled him and being thrown down upon the ground, he rolled about foaming.

when he had seen him, etc. When the devil in the boy was brought close to Jesus. The devils often troubled their victims thus, when in the presence of Jesus.

Mar 9:21 And he asked his father: How long time is it since this hath happened unto him? But he sad: From his infancy.

How long time is it, etc. Our Lord s question had for object to–

(a) show His compassion.
(6) to elicit faith,
(c) to call attention to the gravity of the boy’s condition.

Mar 9:22 And oftentimes hath he cast him into the fire and into the waters to destroy him. But if thou canst do any thing, help us, having compassion on us.

if thou canst do anything, etc. These words shew that the man’s faith was very weak.

Mar 9:23 And Jesus saith to him: If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.

Jesus saith to him, If thou canst, etc. A better translation would be, “Jesus said unto him, as for thy,” “if thou canst,” “all things are
possible to him that believeth.” The granting of the grace depended
on the suppliant s faith.

Mar 9:24 And immediately the father of the boy crying out, with tears said: I do believe, Lord. Help my unbelief.

the father …. crying out, with tears said. The man’s tears and
cries shew his earnest desire. He felt the weakness of his own faith ;
he believed, but would fain have a firmer faith.

Mar 9:25 And when Jesus saw the multitude running together, he threatened the unclean spirit, saying to him: Deaf and dumb spirit, I command thee, go out of him and enter not any more into him.

when Jesus saw the multitude running together. Apparently Jesus
had spoken to His disciples and the man a little apart; doubtless the
boy’s convulsions would have brought the multitude nearer, to see what was happening.

threatened the unclean spirit: “rebuked” (St Luke). This spirit is
characterised as dumb and unclean. These words shew clearly that the boy was possessed. This is an example of a double cure: of healing, and of possession of the devil.

I command thee. Words of authority. He speaks in His own Name, in virtue of His Divinity,

enter not any more. The child was thus preserved from future possession by this same spirit.

Mar 9:26 And crying out and greatly tearing him, he went our of him. And he became as dead, so that many said: He is dead.

crying out and greatly tearing, etc. Thus the devil shewed his impotent rage at being forced to relinquish his prey.

Mar 9:27 But Jesus taking him by the hand, lifted him up (ηγειρεν = egeiren). And he arose (ἀνίστημι = anistēmi = literally, “he stood up”).

The manual offers no comment on this verse. I would like to note the following:

Taking him by the hand. This phrase is used 3 other times in Mark (Mk 1:31 5:41-42; 8:23). The first 2 uses, like the present verse, are related to the theme of resurrection: “And coming to her, he lifted her up (ἐγείρω = egeirō), taking her by the hand; and immediately the fever left her, and she ministered unto them.”  “And taking the damsel by the hand, he saith to her: Talitha cumi, which is, being interpreted: Damsel (I say to thee) arise (ἐγείρω = egeirō). And immediately the damsel rose up (ανεστη = aneste, from anistēmi)”

Mar 9:28 And when he was come into the house, his disciples secretly asked him: Why could not we cast him out? 

his disciples secretly asked him. Naturally they felt the humiliation of having failed to cast out the evil spirit, and especially as their failure was witnessed by the Scribes, and they knew not to what it was to be attributed, since, hitherto, the devils had been subject to them. Only nine of the Apostles asked this question.

Mar 9:29 And he said to them: This kind can go out by nothing, but by prayer and fasting.

he said to them, etc. St Matthew gives a longer answer, Because of your unbelief. For, amen I say to you, if you have faith as a grain of mustard seed, you shall say to this mountain, Remove from hence thither, and it shall remove, and nothing shall be impossible to you (Mt 17:19).

This kind. Particular kind of demon. As there are angels of different degrees of power and glory, so there are some demons who surpass their companions in wickedness, strength, and intelligence.

prayer and fasting. Some MSS. omit these words, but they are found in the greater number. Fasting was required to add intensity to prayer, and Origen says it should be practised both by the one possessed and by the exorcist. “The demoniac living luxuriously cannot be delivered from such madness.” (St Chrysoslom.) The exorcist should fast that he may first conquer his own inordinate passions before attacking God’s enemies, the devils. Prayer and fasting predispose man to receive graces from God

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Catholic Scripture Manual on Mark 3:1-6

Posted by Dim Bulb on January 20, 2015


1. And he entered again into the synagogue, and there was a man there who had a withered hand.

He entered again. St Luke tells us this took place on another Sabbath (v. 7), not the Sabbath on which the disciples plucked the ears of corn.

the synagogue of Capharnaum, where the Pharisees, whom He had recently rebuked, worshipped habitually.

withered hand. It was his right hand (St Luke 6:6), the hand was dried up; such a disease was beyond medical skill.

2. And they watched him whether he would heal on the sabbath-days; that they might accuse him.

they watched him i.e. the Scribes and Pharisees of Galilee, together with those who had come from Judea and Jerusalem to find some accusation against Him.

watched. The word implies here, spying with malevolence, that they might accuse him.

3. And he said to the man who had the withered hand: Stand up in the midst.

Stand up: that the sad condition of the man might be seen, perhaps to induce pity in the hearts of the Pharisees, also to render the miracle visible to all present.

4. And he saith to them: Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath days, or to do evil? to save life, or to destroy? But they held their peace.

He saith. Jesus replied to their question, Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath days? (St Matt. 12:10), by the counter- question, Is it lawful to do good on the Sabbath day?

do evil. To inflict some bodily injury, as opposed to saving a life. Not to deliver a person from suffering, when we can, is equivalent to inflicting the suffering. Sins of omission may be as grievous as sins of commission.

held their peace. To have answered that it was right to heal on the Sabbath, would have justified our Lord’s merciful deed. To have denied the right, would have been contradicting their own traditions, which allowed medical aid to be given on the Sabbath when life was at stake.

5. And looking round about on them with anger, being grieved for the blindness of their hearts, he saith to the man: Stretch forth thy hand. And he stretched it forth: and his hand was restored unto him.

looking round. Gazing on them with mingled feelings of anger and grief (or compassion) for their blindness. His divine regard fell on each as He looked round.

his hand was restored; “even as the other” (St Matt. 12:13). Jesus cured the man without any exterior signs or words, and thus gave His accusers no ground for bringing a legal accusation against Him, since the miracle was performed by a volition which could not desecrate the Sabbath. This is one of the seven miracles worked on the Sabbath day.

6. And the Pharisees going out, immediately made a consultation with the Herodians against him, how they might destroy him.

made a consultation with the Herodians: “they were filled with madness, and they talked one with another, what they might do to Jesus” (St Luke 6:11),

Herodians.  It is generally supposed that the “Herodians” were the admirers and partisans of Herod, and hence their name. They constituted a political, rather than a religious, sect, and were generally bitterly opposed to the Pharisees. In joining with the Pharisees against our Lord (see St Mark 3:6) they were animated by the hatred of His Divine Person, which they had in common with them. The Herodians adopted certain tenets of the Sadducees. They looked to Herod for deliverance from the Roman yoke, and also for positions of wealth and independence. They again made common cause with the Pharisees during Holy Week, when questioning our Lord with regard to the tribute to Caesar (St Mark 12:13). They were self-indulgent, worldly men, and Jesus warned His disciples against them e.g., Beware of the leaven of Herod. As Galilee was Herod s tetrarchy, it was naturally full of his adherents. Jesus probably referred to them, when He said, “behold, they that are clothed in soft garments are in the houses of kings” (St Matt. 11:8), for Jewish historians tell us that those scribes who attached themselves to Herod the Great’s party laid aside the garments distinctive of their profession, and adopted the gorgeous apparel of Herod’s courtiers. The later Herodians probably did the same, and Christ’s reference to “the houses of kings” may refer to the palace of Herod Antipas. St Mark only mentions the Herodians on the two occasions referred to above.

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Catholic Scripture Manual on Mark 1:1-8

Posted by Dim Bulb on October 19, 2014

Mk 1:1 THE beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

Most writers regard this verse as the title of the book.

Gospel, i.e. the tidings of salvation, or the story of the life of Jesus
Christ (see Intro., p. 15).

Concerning the word “Gospel” the Glossary of the Catechims of the Catholic Church notes:

“GOSPEL: The “good news” of God’s mercy and love revealed in the life, death, and resurrection of Christ. It is this Gospel or good news that the Apostles, and the Church following them, are to proclaim to the entire world (571, 1946). The Gospel is handed on in the apostolic tradition of the Church as the source of all-saving truth and moral discipline (75). The four Gospels are the books written by the evangelists Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John which have for their central object Jesus Christ, God’s incarnate Son: his life, teachings, Passion and glorification, and his Church’s beginnings under the Spirit’s guidance (124, 514).”

Jesus = Saviour. Christ = Anointed. Kings, priests and prophets were anointed, and Jesus was all three.

Concerning the name Jesus see the Catechism of the Catholic Church 430-435 (hereafter CCC). Concerning the title Christ see CCC 436-440. Concerning “Son of God” see CCC 441-445.

Mk 1:2 As it is written in Isaiah the prophet: Behold I send my angel before thy face, who shall prepare the way before thee.

As it is written in Isaiah:  St Mark actually begins by a quotation from Malachi: Behold, I send My angel, and he shall -prepare the way before My face (Mal 3:1). Our Lord Himself applies these words to St John. This is he of whom it is written: Behold, I send, etc. (St Matt. 11:10.). For the Isaiah quotation see on verse 2.

The texts of Malachi and Isaiah are similar inasmuch as they both allude to the Exouds with it’s reference to an angel which will go before the people (Ex 23:20). Both also speak about preparing the way before the Lord.

St Mark, as historian, only quotes the Old Testament twice; here and in Mk 15:28, And with the wicked He was reputed. The passage concerning the angel who should prepare the way, referred primarily to the return of the Jews from their exile in Babylon, but the doctors of the law saw in this prophecy a secondary allusion to the Messiah.

Mk 1:3 A voice of one crying in the desert: Prepare ye the way of the Lord; make straight his paths.

A voice of one crying. A reference to a herald preceding a monarch and proclaiming his coming.

in the desert. The desert in which St John preached, was a tract of very thinly-inhabited land, lying east of Jerusalem and north of the Dead Sea.

Prepare ye the way of the Lord. St John exhorted his hearers to do this, by confessing their sins and bringing forth worthy fruits of penance. See Mk 1:5 and especially Luke 3:3, 7-14.

make straight his paths. An allusion to the Eastern custom of sending out workmen to prepare the roads for the passage of a monarch. It consisted in filling valleys, levelling hills, and making devious paths straight and even.

Isaiah 40:3 is almost certainly a mockery of the gods of Babylon. In ancient times highways were rebuilt for kings and gods (idols) so that they might enter their capital city in splendor, often as a celebration for the victory of the king and his gods over foreign people and their gods. The people of God and the utensils of worship taken from the Jerusalem Temple at the time of the Babylonian conquest and the exile that followed were, no doubt, led along such a road as they entered Babylon, with their conquerors celebrating their and their god’s victory over them and their God. Of course, they failed to understand that what they deemed the defeat of Israel’s God was, in fact, part of a plan orchestrated by him. The King of Babylon, like the King of Assyria before him, thought that he had conquered just another god, and for this both suffered the consequences (Isa 10:10-11; 14:13-15). Here God is declaring that he will have his own victory procession, triumphantly leading his people out of the pagan city he-not the gods of Babylon-had led them into. On this processional highway “the glory of the Lord shall be revealed” and “all flesh shall see it together, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken”  (verse 5). His word stands forever (unlike “flesh”, see Isa 40:6-8) and accomplishes his will (Isa 55:10-11). Thus at the beginning of Mark’s Gospel we see a note of triumph and victory hinted at. Jesus will be confronted by Satan, the prince of demons and the one whose power is behind every false god, and He will be victorious (implied in Mk 1:12-13; explicit in Mt 4:1-11, Lk 4:1-13).

For the use of the Isaiah passage in reference to John the Baptist here and in Matt 11:10 see the CCC 719. One may also wish to consult the footnote to Mk 1:2-3 in the NABRE.

Mk 1:4 John was in the desert, baptizing and preaching the baptism of penance, unto remission of sins.

baptizing. The use of the present participle denotes an action frequently repeated. John was extremely busy with baptizing and preaching given the huge numbers who went out to him (see the next verse; also Mt 3:5 and note the reference to “crowds” [plural] in Luke 4:7, 10).

preaching. St John preached before he baptized; the order is here inverted. Baptizing was the characteristic feature of his ministry.

baptism of penance. Not the Sacrament of Baptism but a penitential rite to prepare them for the preaching of our Lord. This “baptism of penance” could not, of itself, take away sin.

Mk 1:5 And there went out to him all the country of Judea and all they of Jerusalem and were baptized by him in the river of Jordan, confessing their sins.

all the country, etc. This is one of St Mark s graphic touches. The other Gospels mention the various classes of people who listened to St John soldiers, tax-gatherers (St Luke 3:10-14).

river of Jordan = the river Jordan.

confessing their sins, i.e. “declaring their deeds.” These words do not refer to the Sacrament of Penance, which was not then instituted. The Law of Moses prescribed a detailed confession of certain sins, e.g. unjust or rash oaths. Leviticus: Let him do penance for his sin, and offer of the flocks an ewe lamb or a she-goat, and the priest shall pray for him and for his sin (Lev 5:5-6).

Mk 1:6 And John was clothed camel’s hair, and a leathern girdle about his loins: and he ate locusts and wild honey.

camel’s hair. A. rough cloth made from coarse camel s hair. St John the
Baptist led a life of penance, hence his clothes and food were of the poorest.

leathern girdle. The rich wore expensive girdles; the poor used a plain leathern strap such as the Arabs of the desert still wear. Recall Jesus’ words in reference to the Baptist in Mt 11:8~But what went you out to see? a man clothed in soft garments? Behold they that are clothed in soft garments, are in the houses of kings. The Baptist’s dress calls to mind the prophet Elijah (2 Kings 1:8).

locusts. A rather large-winged insect considered “clean” by the Jews. The food of the poor. The locusts were dried in the sun and sometimes made into cakes.

wild honey was found in quantities in the clefts of the rocks in the desert, or the term may mean the tree-honey, a gum found exuding from certain trees.

Mk 1:7 And he preached, saying: There cometh after me one mightier than I, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to stoop down and loose.

after me. St John the Baptist was born about six months before our Lord. As no Jew was allowed to preach before his thirtieth year, Jesus began His public life about six months later than St John. I doubt the phrase there cometh after me one, &c, has anything to do with age. More likely it’s picking up on the theme of “before” in verses 2~Behold I send my angel before thy face, who shall prepare the way before thee. John is prophesying the coming fulfillment of the foundational purpose of his ministry. Indeed, in Mk 1:9 Jesus will come to the already ministering  Baptist, be baptized by him and then start his own ministry for which the Baptist’s was a prelude.

mightier than I. Note the Baptist’s humility, Jesus is “the Mighty One.” The Greek word ισχυροτερος (ischyroteros) means mighty or powerful one. As the Mighty One Jesus has come to subdue “the strong man” (ισχυρου = ischyrou) Satan (see Mk 3:23-27).

to stoop down. A minute detail proper to St Mark.

and loose. To loose and carry the shoes was the work of the slave, who performed this office for his master, when the latter entered a temple or banqueting hall.

Mk 1:8 I have baptized you with water: but he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost.

I have baptised you with water, etc. The Baptist exalts Christ’s baptism, which conferred the Holy Ghost, and regenerated the soul.


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Catholic Scripture Manual on Mark 6:53-56

Posted by Dim Bulb on February 9, 2014

Text in red are my additions.

53 And when they had passed over, they came into the land of Genezareth, and set to the shore.

into the land of Genesareth. A plain on the north- western shore of the lake of Genesareth (i.e., Sea of Galilee), about three miles long and one wide. It has a most rich vegetation and a very warm climate, being 500 feet below the sea-level. All kinds of fruits, grapes, figs, dates, olives, etc. abound there.

set to the shore: moored the boat. St John tells us they disembarked at Capharnaum. In Mark 6:45 Jesus had instructed the disciples to precede him to Bethsaida. These differences vex scholars but the reader should keep in mind that none of the gospels claims to be presenting a strictly chronological presentation of Jesus’ ministry. Recall for example that Luke narrates Jesus’ rejection in Nazareth before any other event in his public ministry, fully aware that events in his ministry had preceded it (Lk 4:16-30, especially verses 23) It’s possible that they did first land in Bethsaida and then visited other cities on the lake, including the land of Genesareth, but Mark has skipped some of the itinerary.

54 And when they were gone out of the ship, immediately they knew him:

immediately they knew him. It was morning, and the people who were on the shore recognised Jesus.

55 And running through that whole country, they began to carry about in beds those that were sick, where they heard he was.

running through the whole country. St Mark s usual graphic style. See Mark 6:32-33.

56 And whithersoever he entered, into towns or into villages or cities, they laid the sick in the streets, and besought him that they might touch but the hem of his garment: and as many as touched him were made whole.

hem of his garment. Doubtless the miracle of the healing of the woman with an issue of blood had been noised abroad. In addition, Orientals believe that the contact with a holy person brings grace and blessing.

as many as touched, etc. This proves they had faith in Christ’s power to heal them.

The crowds gathering to Jesus in both the country and the cities is a common markan motif (Mk 1:32-34; 3:7-10, 20; 4:1, 5:21).

Besought him that they might touch the hem of his garment. The experience of the hemorrhaging woman (Mk 5:27-28) was not unique.

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