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Father Callan’s Commentary on Philippians 1:18-26

Posted by Dim Bulb on September 4, 2016

This post includes a brief summary of the body of the epistle (Phil 1:12-4:9) along with a summary of its first major section (Phil 1:12-26). The commentary on today’s reading then follows.

THE BODY OF THE EPISTLE
A Summary of Philippians 1:12-4:9.

The Apostle explains his personal situation and the progress of the Gospel in the Eternal City, in spite of rivalry and opposition (Phil 1:12-26) ; and then, as if in response to news received, he goes on to exhort his readers to be true to their calling in doing and suffering for the sake of the Gospel, stressing the need of unity and humility (Phil 1:27—2:4). In the practice of humility and in bearing their sufferings they have the supreme example of Christ Himself, who thus merited His exaltation to supreme Lordship (Phil 2:5-11). It is therefore Christ that they should copy; and in so doing they will reflect glory on their Apostle who has not labored in vain and who is willing to die in their behalf (Phil 2:12-18). He is sending to them at once Epaphroditus, Timothy will follow soon, and shortly he hopes to come himself (Phil 2:19-30). Beginning his final injunctions (Phil 3:1), he digresses to warn against Judaizers, citing his own career (Phil 3:2-16), and against pagan self-indulgence and a spirit of worldliness among Christians (Phil 3:17-21). Some final exhortations close the body of the letter (Phil 4:1-9). See Introduction, No. VI, B.

THE APOSTLE’S IMPRISONMENT HAS BEEN USEFUL FOR THE SPREAD
OF THE GOSPEL IN ROME
A Summary of Philippians 1:12-26

It seems the Philippians had made known to Paul their anxiety regarding the welfare of the Gospel, as a result of his imprisonment; they feared the Gospel was suffering while he was enchained. But the Apostle informs them here that the contrary is the case, inasmuch as the success of his preaching in prison has excited the jealousy of other preachers and thus stimulated them to greater efforts. This is a cause of great rejoicing on his part. As for his own prospects of release, he is confident that all will turn out for the best. Personally he is torn between the alternatives of dying and being with Christ, on the one hand, and living for the sake of the Philippians, on the other hand. He seems to be confident of the latter; he will again be with them to assist them and give them joy in Christ Jesus.

Phil 1:18. But what then? So that by all means, whether by occasion, or by truth, Christ be preached: in this also I rejoice, yea, and shall rejoice;

But what then? That is, what difference does it make whether those preachers were moved by good or by bad motives in their preaching of the Gospel, so long as Christ was preached? The Apostle was not seeking his own glory, but the glory of Christ; and therefore it made little difference to him whether or not those who promoted the cause of Christ liked or disliked him personally.

By occasion, or by truth, i.e., whether the Gospel was only a secondary or the primary reason of their preaching. “Per occasionem annunciat Christum, qui non intendit hoc principahter, sed propter aliud, puta lucrum vel gloriam” (“One announces Christ in pretense when he does not chiefly aim at this but at something else, as profit or glory.” St. Thomas: Lecture on Philippians 1:18-24).

I rejoice, etc. If those opponents of the Apostle had been preaching false doctrine of any kind, he could never have rejoiced over their preaching in any sense of the word (see Gal. 1:6-9).

Phil 1:19. For I know that this shall fall out to me unto salvation, through your prayers, and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ,

Besides the fact that Christ is being preached by Paul’s enemies, which is the primary cause of his rejoicing, the Apostle finds a secondary cause for joy, now and in the future, in the thought that his sufferings and afflictions, through the help of the prayers of the faithful and the grace of the Holy Ghost, will contribute to his eternal salvation and his greater blessedness in heaven.

It is worthy of note that, notwithstanding all his vast labors for the Gospel, St. Paul rests the hope of his salvation, not on his own merits, but on the prayers of others and the abundant supply of grace of the Holy Spirit. That “salvation” here refers to his eternal reward, and not to liberation from prison, or any lesser spiritual good along the way to heaven, is clear from the usual meaning of σωτηριαν (soterian) elsewhere (i.e., Rom. 13:11; 1Thess. 5:8; Heb. 9:28; 1 Peter 1:5).

Through your prayers. St. Paul often manifested his confidence in the power and efficacy of intercessory prayer (e.g., Rom. 15:30; 2 Cor. 1:11; 1 Thess. 5:25; 2 Thess. 3:1; Col. 4:3).

The supply. The Greek carries the idea of ample, abundant supply.

The Spirit of Jesus Christ is none other than the Holy Ghost, who proceeds equally from the Father and the Son, and who is called sometimes the Spirit of the Father and sometimes the Spirit of the Son (cf. Rom. 8:9; Gal. 4:6; John 14:16, 26, 15:26, etc.). Whether we are to understand here the Holy Spirit Himself or His grace, makes little difference, since the two ideas would come to the same thing. These final words are also a proof of the divinity of our Lord, the Holy Spirit being His Spirit.

Phil 1:20. According to my expectation and hope; that in nothing I shall be confounded, but with all confidence, as always, so now also shall Christ be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death.

Through the prayers of the faithful and the grace of Christ the Apostle is ardently hoping (such is the meaning of the Greek) for eternal salvation, but on his own part he is going to see that in nothing shall he be found wanting, that he will continue in the future as in the past to preach the Gospel “with all confidence” (i.e., freely and fearlessly), so that the glory of Christ shall continue to be manifested “in my body, etc.” (i.e., by spending his body and his energies for Christ, if he lives, or by the sacrifice of his life in the cause of Christ if he is put to death). Why he will not “be confounded” (i.e., disappointed), whether he lives or dies, he explains in the following verses.

Phil 1:21. For to me, to live is Christ: and to die is gain.

St. Paul had already told the Galatians: “I live, now not I; but Christ liveth in me” (Gal. 2:20). He was totally identified with Christ; Christ was the soul and centre of his life, the prime mover in all his actions, the goal and term of all his aspirations; to the Apostle “to live” was to labor for Christ and in union with Christ, and thus augment his merits for heaven, while “to die” was to be with Christ in glory and to enjoy his eternal reward.

Phil 1:22. But if to live in the flesh, this is to me the fruit of labor, and which I shall choose I know not.
Phil 1:23. But I am straitened between two: having a desire to be dissolved and to be with Christ, a thing by far the better:
Phil 1:24. But to abide still in the flesh, is more needful for you.

The Apostle is confronted by the alternatives of dying and being with Christ in glory, on the one hand, and of remaining in this earthly life for a time and thus serving the interests of the Gospel and the Church, on the other hand; and he knows not which to choose, as there is great profit in either choice. So he is torn between conflicting emotions, desiring the former, knowing that it would be far better “to be dissolved” (or better, “to depart”), and thus be forever with Christ in paradise, but feeling that the Philippians need him, and that consequently he ought to remain on earth a while longer.

This is to me the fruit of labor. The Greek is concise and therefore somewhat difficult, but the meaning is clear: To continue in this life would mean to the Apostle an occasion of fruitful labor (καρπος εργου = karpos ergou) for the cause of Christ on earth.

Far the better, literally, “much more better,” a phrase indicative of St. Paul’s strong preference to die and be with Christ. From ver. 23 it is evident that the souls of the saints are admitted to the presence of God immediately after death.

The necessarium of the Vulgate (ver. 24) is a comparative in Greek, more necessary.

Phil 1:25. And having this confidence, I know that I shall abide, and continue with you all for your furtherance and joy of faith:
Phil 1:26. That your rejoicing may abound in Christ Jesus in me by my coming to you again.

And having this confidence. The Greek means that the Apostle is firmly persuaded, that he enjoys a feeling of personal certainty. But with regard to what? That he is going to live and see the Philippians again? If this is the meaning, it would seem to be out of harmony with the uncertainty expressed just above in verses 20-23, and also with what he says below in Phil 2:17. The best explanation seems to be that of St. Chrysostom and others, who say that St. Paul is speaking above about the uncertainty of life or death in his case, whereas here he is stressing the utility and profit of the event, whichever it turns out to be: if he dies, he will be with Christ in glory; if he lives, he will be a help and a source of joy to the Philippians; in any case the result will certainly be good, of this he is firmly persuaded. In this explanation verse 25 is to be understood, in the light of the whole context, as conditional. “This confidence” refers to what follows: if he continues to live, he knows that he will be of great spiritual profit to the Philippians, and will thus give joy to their faith.

In me. The meaning is that St. Paul will be the occasion of their rejoicing, all the more so because the Apostle’s adversaries have been trying to discredit him while he has been in prison.

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Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on Philippians 1:18-26

Posted by Dim Bulb on September 4, 2016

Php 1:18 But what then? So that by all means, whether by occasion or by truth, Christ be preached: in this also I rejoice, yea, and will rejoice.

What are their motives and intention to me? Provided Christ is in any way announced, and his true doctrine preached, whatever may be their intention, whether they act from corrupt motives and under the pretext of piety, or from the pure and true motive of charity, I rejoice and will always rejoice at the fact.

He is not concerned about the intention with which they preached; he rejoices at the success that attends them; the fact of their preaching, without minding their intention makes him rejoice. From this it appears that these preachers, whose motives were corrupt, were not either Simonians, or Judaizantes, or heretics of any other class; because, surely, the Apostle would not rejoice at the preaching of Christ by heretics; since they would only involve the Pagans in a worse and more dangerous kind of infidelity, viz., Heresy. He speaks of orthodox teachers, who preached from corrupt motives.

Php 1:19 For I know that this shall fall out to me unto salvation, through your prayer and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ,

For, whatever may be their motives, I know that all this will contribute to my salvation, through the assistance of your prayers, and the abundance of the grace of the Holy Ghost, which you will obtain for me.

“Through your prayer.” In this, he tacitly calls for the assistance of their prayers.

Php 1:20 According to my expectation and hope; that in nothing I shall be confounded: but with all confidence, as always, so now also, shall Christ be magnified in my body, whether it be by life or by death.

It will contribute to my salvation, conformably to my ardent expectation and firm hope; that in nothing that may happen, shall I be confounded or frustrated in my hope of advancing the cause of Christ; so that by preaching the gospel intrepidly and fearlessly now, as well as hitherto, Christ will be magnified and glorified in my body, whether I be permitted to live, or be put to death, for his sake.

“According to my expectation.” The Greek word, αποκαραδοκιαν, means, ardent expectation. These words are to be connected with the words “shall fall out to me unto salvation” (as in Paraphrase). “Christ will be magnified in my body, whether it be by life or by death; in the former case, by labouring to convert souls; in the latter, by furnishing the most distinguished testimony of the truth of the gospel, sealing it with his blood.”

Php 1:21 For to me, to live is Christ: and to die is gain.

For if I live, my life will be for Christ, and will be devoted to his service; and my death will be to me gain, by uniting me immediately with Christ, and freeing me from the miseries of this life.

The interpretation in the Paraphrase connects this verse with the words of verse 19, “shall fall out to my salvation,” and this connexion accords better with what follows.

Others connect it with the last words of the preceding verse—“by life or by death,” which latter words, according to them, are explained in this verse—“for, whether I live or die, Christ is my gain;” i.e., my life and death will gain for Christ. If I live, by converting souls; if I die, by bearing testimony to his truth. These transpose the words thus—“Christ to me both to live and to die (i.e., by living and dying), is gain,” or is a gainer both by my life and death.

Php 1:22 And if to live in the flesh: this is to me the fruit of labour. And what I shall choose I know not.

But, if to live in this mortal body be attended with fruit for the glory of Christ, resulting from my laborious exertions in his service, and (if to die be immediate gain to myself) I am perplexed what choice to make, whether to live or die.

“And what I shall choose I know not.” The particle “and” has caused some difficulty in the construction of this verse. It more probably is joined to a second member of the sentence, which in his doubt and perplexity is not expressed by the Apostle, and may be easily inferred from the preceding verse, “and (if to die is gain for me,”) I am perplexed what choice to make. St. Chrysostom is of opinion that the Apostle had it in his power either to continue in life for the salvation of souls, or to die in order to enjoy Christ; but, that he prefers the former. What an example for those charged with the care of souls! Woe to them, if seeking their own ease, their own gain in everything, they are indifferent to the salvation of those committed to them! It is recorded of St. Ignatius, the founder of the great society of the Jesuits, that were certain salvation offered to him, he would still prefer to remain on earth, uncertain of salvation, to labour for souls.

Php 1:23 But I am straitened between two: having a desire to be dissolved and to be with Christ, a thing by far the better.

I am constrained on two sides. I wish, on the one hand, to have the union between my soul and body dissolved, and be with Christ, which in itself is incomparably the better choice.

“Having a desire to be dissolved,” i.e., the union between soul and body to be dissolved, this union being the only obstacle to being with Christ. This dissolution has been desired by many of the Saints, and it is desirable; because, it frees us from grief, sin, and dangers, says St. Bernard. This passage furnishes a satisfactory proof that the souls of the saints, who depart this life without sin, are instantly admitted to bliss before the general resurrection; otherwise, the Apostle’s earnest wish “to be dissolved and be with Christ,” i.e., to enjoy Christ and the Beatific Vision of God, the principle of heavenly bliss, would be unmeaning.

Php 1:24 But to abide still in the flesh is needful for you.

But it is necessary, on the other, for your salvation that I should live and continue in this mortal body.

He feels that his continuance in life is necessary for the good of the Philippians, and all the faithful.

Php 1:25 And having this confidence, I know that I shall abide and continue with you all, for your furtherance and joy of faith:

And firmly persuaded of the fact that I am necessary for you, I feel morally certain, and I firmly trust and hope, that I shall remain, and that for a long time with you, for your spiritual advancement, and to procure for you that holy joy which can come from faith alone.

And hence he resolves his doubt, and determines on remaining for the good of souls. This he judges preferable to the immediate enjoyment of Christ.

“And having this confidence,” i.e., firmly persuaded that I am necessary for you. “I know.” This word expresses only a morally certain conviction.

Php 1:26 That your rejoicing may abound in Christ Jesus for me, by my coming to you again.

So that by my arrival amongst you again, you may have more ample matter for congratulating yourselves and glorying at my restoration to you in Christ Jesus, who will have liberated and preserved me for your sakes.

Php 1:27 Only let your conversation be worthy of the gospel of Christ: that, whether I come and see you, or, being absent, may hear of you, that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind labouring together for the faith of the gospel.

This only attend to, that your lives be in accordance with the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come to see you or not, I may hear of your perseverance in one spirit of concord, and of your labouring with one mind to advance the faith of the gospel.

Php 1:28 And in nothing be ye terrified by the adversaries: which to them is a cause of perdition, but to you of salvation, and this from God.

And, that I may also hear, that you are no way terrified or shaken by the persecution and opposition of the enemies of our faith, which opposition will cause their damnation, and will be the occasion of your salvation, according to the holy disposition of God.

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St John Chrysostom’s Homiletic Commentary on Philippians 3:17-4:1

Posted by Dim Bulb on October 26, 2014

The following post contains excerpts from two homilies by St John Chrysostom and cover his exposition of Philippians 3:17-4:1.

Ver. 17. “Brethren, be ye imitators of me, and mark them which so walk even as ye have us for an ensample.”

He had said above, “beware of dogs,” from such he had led them away; he brings them near to these whom they ought to imitate. If any one, saith he, wishes to imitate me, if any one wishes to walk the same road, let him take heed to them; though I am not present, ye know the manner of my walk, that is, my conduct in life. For not by words only did he teach, but by deeds too; as in the chorus, and the army, the rest must imitate the leader of the chorus or the army, and thus advance in good order. For it is possible that the order may be dissolved by sedition.

The Apostles therefore were a type, and kept throughout a certain archetypal model. Consider how entirely accurate their life was, so that they are proposed as an archetype and example, and as living laws. For what was said in their writings, they manifested to all in their actions. This is the best teaching; thus he will be able to carry on his disciple. But if he indeed speaks as a philosopher, yet in his actions doth the contrary, he is no longer a teacher. For mere verbal philosophy is easy even for the disciple: but there is need of that teaching and leading which comes of deeds. For this both makes the teacher to be reverenced, and prepares the disciple to yield obedience. How so? When one sees him delivering philosophy in words, he will say he commands impossibilities; that they are impossibilities, he himself is the first to show, who does not practice them. But if he sees his virtue fully carried out in action, he will no longer be able to speak thus. Yet although the life of our teacher be careless, let us take heed to ourselves, and let us listen to the words of the prophet; “They shall be all taught of God.” (Isa. 54:13.) “And they shall teach no more every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord, for they shall all know me from the least of them to the greatest of them.” (Jer. 31:34.) Hast thou a teacher who is not virtuous? Still thou hast Him who is truly a Teacher, whom alone thou shouldest call a Teacher. Learn from Him: He hath said, “Learn of Me, for I am meek.” (Matt. 11:29.) Take not heed, then, to thy teacher, but to Him and to His lessons. Take thence thy examples, thou hast a most excellent model, to it conform thyself. There are innumerable models laid before thee in the Scriptures of virtuous lives; whichsoever thou wilt, come, and after the Master find it in the disciples. One hath shown forth through poverty, another through riches; for example, Elijah through poverty, Abraham through riches. Go to that example, which thou esteemest most easy, most befitting thyself to practice. Again, one by marriage, the other by virginity; Abraham by marriage, the other by virginity. Follow whichever thou wilt: for both lead to heaven. One shone forth by fasting, as John, another without fasting, as Job. Again, this latter had a care for his wife, his children, his daughters, his family, and possessed great wealth; the other possessed nothing but the garment of hair. And why do I make mention of family, or wealth, or money, when it is possible that even one in a kingdom should lay hold on virtue, for the house of a king would be found more full of trouble than any private family. David then shone forth in his kingdom; the purple and the diadem rendered him not at all remiss. To another it was entrusted to preside over a whole people, I mean Moses, which was a more difficult task, for there the power was greater, whence the difficulty too became greater. Thou hast seen men approved in wealth, thou hast seen them in poverty also, thou hast seen them in marriage, thou hast seen them in virginity too; on the contrary, behold some lost in marriage and in virginity, in wealth and in poverty. For example, many men have perished in marriage, as Samson,1 yet not from marriage, but from their own deliberate choice. Likewise in virginity, as the five virgins. In wealth, as the rich man, who disregarded Lazarus: in poverty, innumerable poor men even now are lost. In a kingdom, I can point to many who have perished, and in ruling the people. Wouldest thou see men saved in the rank of a soldier? there is Cornelius; and in the government of a household? there is the eunuch of the Ethiopian Queen. Thus is it universally. If we use our wealth as is fit, nothing will destroy us; but if not, all things will destroy us, whether a kingdom, or poverty, or wealth. But nothing will have power to hurt the man, who keeps well awake.

For tell me, was captivity any harm? None at all. For consider, I pray thee, Joseph, who became a slave, and preserved his virtue. Consider Daniel, and the Three Children, who became captives, and how much the more they shone forth, for virtue shineth everywhere, is invincible, and nothing can put hindrances in its way. But why make I mention of poverty, and captivity, and slavery; and hunger, and sores, and grievous disease? For disease is, more hard to endure than slavery. Such was Lazarus, such was Job, such was also Timothy, straitened by “often infirmities.” (1 Tim. 5:23.) Thou seest that nothing can obtain the mastery over virtue; neither wealth, nor poverty, nor dominion, nor subjection, nor the preëminence in affairs, nor disease, nor contempt, nor abandonment. But having left all these things below, and upon the earth, it hastens towards Heaven. Only let the soul be noble, and nought can hinder it from being virtuous. For when he who works is in vigor, nothing external can hinder him; for as in the arts, when the artificer is experienced and persevering, and thoroughly acquainted with his art, if disease overtakes him, he still hath it; if he became poor, he still hath it; whether he hath his tools in his hand or hath them not, whether he works or worketh not, he loseth not at all his art: for the science of it is contained within him. Thus too the virtuous man, who is devoted to God, manifests his art, if you cast him into wealth, or if into poverty, if into disease, if into health, if into dishonor, if into great honor. Did not the Apostles work in every state, “By glory and dishonor, by good report and evil report”? (2 Cor. 5:8.) This is an athlete, to be prepared for everything; for such is also the nature of virtue.

If thou sayest, I am not able to preside over many, I ought to lead a solitary life; thou offerest an insult to virtue, for it can make use of every state, and shine through all: only let it be in the soul. Is there a famine? or is there abundance? It shows forth its own strength, as Paul saith, “I know how to abound, and how to be in want.” (Phil. 4:12; Acts 28:30.) Was he required to work? He was not ashamed, but wrought two years. Was hunger to be undergone? He sank not under it, nor wavered. Was death to be borne? He became not dejected, through all he exhibited his noble mind and art. Him therefore let us imitate, and we shall have no cause of grief: for tell me, what will have power to grieve such an one? Nothing. As long as no one deprives us of this art, this will be the most blessed of all men, even in this life as well as in that to come. For suppose the good man hath a wife and children, and riches, and great honor, with all these things he remaineth alike virtuous. Take them away, and again in like sort he will be virtuous, neither overwhelmed by his misfortunes, nor puffed up by prosperity, but as a rock standeth equally unmoved in the raging sea and in calm, neither broken by the waves nor influenced at all by the calm, thus too the solid mind stands firm both in calm and in storm. And as little children, when sailing in a ship, are tossed about, whilst the pilot sits by, laughing and undisturbed, and delighted to see their confusion; thus too the soul which is truly wise, when all others are in confusion, or else are inopportunely smiling at any change of circumstance, sits unmoved, as it were, at the tiller and helm of piety. For tell me, what can disturb the pious soul? Can death? This is the beginning of a better life. Can poverty? This helps her on toward virtue. Can disease? She regards not its presence. She regards neither ease, nor affliction; for being beforehand with it, she hath afflicted herself. Can dishonor? The world hath been crucified to her. Can the loss of children? She fears it not, when she is fully persuaded of the Resurrection. What then can surprise her? None of all these things. Doth wealth elevate her? By no means, she knoweth that money is nothing. Doth glory? She hath been taught that “all the glory of man is as the flower of grass.” (Isa. 40:6.) Doth luxury? She hath heard Paul say, “She that giveth herself to pleasure is dead while she liveth.” (1 Tim. 5:6.) Since then she is neither inflamed nor cramped, what can equal such health as this?

Other souls, meanwhile, are not such, but change more frequently than the sea, or the cameleon, so that thou hast great cause to smile, when thou seest the same man at one time laughing, at another weeping, at one time full of care, at another beyond measure relaxed and languid. For this cause Paul saith, “Be not fashioned according to this world.” (Rom. 12:2.) For we are citizens of heaven, where there is no turning. Prizes which change not are held out to us. Let us make manifest this our citizenship, let us thence already receive our good things. But why do we cast ourselves into the Euripus, into tempest, into storm, into foam? Let us be in calm. It all depends not on wealth, nor on poverty, nor honor, nor dishonor, nor on sickness, nor on health, nor on weakness, but on our own soul. If it is solid, and well-instructed in the science of virtue, all things will be easy to it. Even hence it will already behold its rest, and that quiet harbor, and, on its departure, will there attain innumerable good things, the which may we all attain, by the grace and love of our Lord Jesus Christ, with whom, to the Father, together with the Holy Spirit, be glory, dominion, honor, now and ever, and world without end. Amen.

“For many walk, of whom I told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: whose end is perdition, whose god is the belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things. For our citizenship is in heaven; from whence also we wait for a Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: who shall fashion anew the body of our humiliation, that it may be conformed to the body of his glory, according to the working whereby He is able even to subject all things unto Himself.”

NOTHING is so incongruous in a Christian, and foreign to his character, as to seek ease and rest; and to be engrossed with the present life is foreign to our profession and enlistment. Thy Master was crucified, and dost thou seek ease? Thy Master was pierced with nails, and dost thou live delicately? Do these things become a noble soldier? Wherefore Paul saith, “Many walk, of whom I told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ.” Since there were some who made a pretense of Christianity, yet lived in ease and luxury, and this is contrary to the Cross: therefore he thus spoke. For the cross belongs to a soul at its post for the fight, longing to die, seeking nothing like ease, whilst their conduct is of the contrary sort. So that even if they say, they are Christ’s, still they are as it were enemies of the Cross. For did they love the Cross, they would strive to live the crucified life. Was not thy Master hung upon the tree? Do thou otherwise imitate Him. Crucify thyself, though no one crucify thee. Crucify thyself, not that thou mayest slay thyself, God forbid, for that is a wicked thing, but as Paul said, “The world hath been crucified unto me and I unto the world.” (Gal. 6:14.) If thou lovest thy Master, die His death. Learn how great is the power of the Cross; how many good things it hath achieved, and doth still: how it is the safety of our life. Through it all things are done. Baptism is through the Cross, for we must receive that seal. The laying on of hands is through the Cross. If we are on journeys, if we are at home, wherever we are, the Cross is a great good, the armor of salvation, a shield which cannot be beaten down, a weapon to oppose the devil; thou bearest the Cross when thou art at enmity with him, not simply when thou sealest thyself by it, but when thou sufferest the things belonging to the Cross. Christ thought fit to call our sufferings by the name of the Cross. As when he saith, “Except a man take up his cross and follow Me” (Matt. 16:24), i.e. except he be prepared to die.

But these being base, and lovers of life, and lovers of their bodies, are enemies of the Cross. And every one, who is a friend of luxury, and of present safety, is an enemy of that Cross in which Paul makes his boast: which he embraces, with which he desires to be incorporated. As when he saith, “I am crucified unto the world, and the world unto me.” But here he saith, “I now tell you weeping.” Wherefore? Because the evil was urgent, because such deserve tears. Of a truth the luxurious are worthy of tears, who make fat that which is thrown about them, I mean the body, and take no thought of that soul which must give account. Behold thou livest delicately, behold thou art drunken, to-day and to-morrow, ten years, twenty, thirty, fifty, a hundred, which is impossible; but if thou wilt, let us suppose it. What is the end? What is the gain? Nought at all. Doth it not then deserve tears, and lamentations, to lead such a life; God hath brought us into this course, that He may crown us, and we take our departure without doing any noble action. Wherefore Paul weepeth, where others laugh, and live in pleasure. So sympathetic is he: such thought taketh he for all men. “Whose god,” saith he, “is the belly.” For this have they a God!1 That is, “let us eat and drink!” Dost thou see, how great an evil luxury is? to some their wealth, and to others their belly is a god. Are not these too idolaters, and worse than the common? And their “glory is in their shame.” (1 Cor. 15:32.) Some say it is circumcision. I think not so, but this is its meaning, they make a boast of those things, of which they ought to be ashamed. It is a fearful thing to do shameful actions; yet to do them, and be ashamed, is only half so dreadful. But where a man even boasts himself of them, it is excessive senselessness.

Do these words apply to them alone? And do those who are here present escape the charge? And will no one have account to render of these things? Does no one make a god of his belly, or glory in his shame? I wish, earnestly I wish, that none of these charges lay against us, and that I did not know any one involved in what I have said. But I fear lest the words have more reference to us than to the men of those times. For when one consumes his whole life in drinking and reveling, and expends some small trifle on the poor, whilst he consumes the larger portion on his belly, will not these words with justice apply to him? No words are more apt to call attention, or more cutting in reproof, than these: “Whose god is the belly, whose glory is in their shame.” And who are these? They, he says, who mind earthly things. “Let us build houses.” Where, I ask? On the earth, they answer. Let us purchase farms; on the earth again: let us obtain power; again on the earth: let us gain glory; again on the earth: let us enrich ourselves; all these things are on the earth. These are they, whose god is their belly; for if they have no spiritual thoughts, but have all their possessions here, and mind these things, with reason have they their belly for their god, in saying, “Let us eat and drink, for to-morrow we die.” And about thy body, thou grievest, tell me, that it is of earth, though thus thou art not at all injured. But thy soul thou draggest down to the earth, when thou oughtest to render even thy body spiritual; for thou mayest, if thou wilt. Thou hast received a belly, that thou mayest feed, not distend it, that thou mayest have the mastery over it, not have it as mistress over thee: that it may minister to thee for the nourishment of the other parts, not that thou mayest minister to it, not that thou mayest exceed limits. The sea, when it passes its bounds, doth not work so many evils, as the belly doth to our body, together with our soul. The former overfloweth all the earth, the latter all the body. Put moderation for a boundary to it, as God hath put the sand for the sea. Then if its waves arise, and rage furiously, rebuke it, with the power which is in thee. See how God hath honored thee, that thou mightest imitate Him, and thou wilt not; but thou seest the belly overflowing, destroying and overwhelming thy whole nature, and darest not to restrain or moderate it.

“Whose God,” he saith, “is their belly.” Let us see how Paul served God: let us see how gluttons serve their belly. Do not they undergo ten thousand such deaths? do not they fear to disobey whatever it orders? do not they minister impossibilities to it? Are not they worse than slaves? “But our citizenship,” says he, “is in Heaven.” Let us not then seek for ease here; there do we shine, where also our citizenship is. “From whence also,” saith he, “we wait for a Saviour,” the Lord Jesus Christ: “who shall fashion anew the body of our humiliation, that it may be conformed to the body of his glory.” By little and little he hath carried us up. He saith, “From Heaven” and “Our Saviour,” showing, from the place and from the Person, the dignity of the subject. “Who shall fashion anew the body of our humiliation,” saith he. The body now suffereth many things: it is bound with chains, it is scourged, it suffereth innumerable evils; but the body of Christ suffered the same. This, then, he hinted at when he said, “That it may be conformed to the body of his glory.” Wherefore the body is the same, but putteth on incorruption. “Shall fashion anew.” Wherefore the fashion is different; or perchance he has spoken figuratively of the change.

He saith, “the body of our humiliation,” because it is now humbled, subject to destruction, to pain, because it seemeth to be worthless, and to have nothing beyond that of other animals. “That it may be conformed to the body of his glory.” What? shall this our body be fashioned like unto Him, who sitteth at the right hand of the Father, to Him who is worshiped by the Angels, before whom do stand the incorporeal Powers, to Him who is above all rule and power, and might? If then the whole world were to take up weeping and lament for those who have fallen from this hope, could it worthily lament? because, when a promise is given us of our body being made like to Him, it still departs with the demons. I care not for hell henceforth; whatever can be said, having fallen from so great glory, now and henceforth consider hell to be nothing to this falling away. What sayest thou, O Paul? To be made like unto Him? Yes, he answereth; then, lest you should disbelieve, he addeth a reason; “According to the working whereby He is able even to subject all things unto Himself.” He hath power, saith he, to subject all things unto Himself, wherefore also destruction and death. Or rather, He doth this also with the same power. For tell me, which requireth the greater power, to subject demons, and Angels, and Archangels, and Cherubim, and Seraphim, or to make the body incorruptible and immortal? The latter certainly much more than the former; he showed forth the greater works of His power, that you might believe these too. Wherefore, though ye see these men rejoicing, and honored, yet stand firm, be not offended at them, be not moved. These our hopes are sufficient to raise up even the most sluggish and indolent.

Chap. 4 ver. 1. “Wherefore,” saith he, “my brethren, beloved and longed for, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, my beloved.”

“So.” How? Unmoved. See how he addeth praise after exhortation, “my joy and my crown,” not simply joy but glory too, not simply glory but my crown too. Which glory nought can equal, since it is the crown of Paul. “So stand fast in the Lord, my beloved,” i.e. in the hope of God.1

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Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on Philippians 3:17-4:1

Posted by Dim Bulb on October 26, 2014

This post begins with Fr. MacEvilly’s brief analysis of Philippians 3, followed by his comments on today’s first reading. Text in purple indicates MacEvilly’s paraphrasing of the scripture he is commenting on. Text in red, if any, are my additions.

ANALYSIS OF PHILIPPIANS CHAPTER 3

In this chapter, after briefly referring to the subject matter of the preceding, and inviting the Philippians to rejoice at the news which he communicated therein (Phil 3:1), cautions them against certain false teachers, most likely the Judaizantes, whom he designates as “dogs,” falsely circumcised, because only circumcised in the flesh; whereas, the true circumcision is the Christian circumcision of the heart (Phil 3:1–3). He shows that he could himself glory in more external privileges conferred by the Mosaic law, than could any of the false teachers. He enumerates those external advantages (Phil 3:4–7). But these legal privileges, as well as all temporal advantages whatsoever, he has valued as nought in comparison with the exalted knowledge of Christ (Phil 3:8); and he has sacrificed all, ana submitted to suffering, in order to gain Christ, and be rendered a sharer in his merits and at a future day, in the glory of his resurrection (Phil 3:8–11).

In referring, however, to his sacrifice for Christ, he is not to be understood as wishing to convey, that he had already attained to Christian perfection; he is only, by constant and unceasing efforts, endeavouring to attain the summit of this perfection, and to secure the prize held out in the stadium of Christian, virtue. He exhorts the Philippians to do the same (Phil 3:11–16). He invites them to imitate himself rather than the false teachers, whose conduct and unhappy end he describes (Phil 3:17–19). With these he contrasts the God-like conduct of the followers of Christ, and the glorious consummation in store for them.

Today’s reading ends with the Apostle exhorting the Philippians to persevere in Christian virtue.

Phil 3:17 Be ye followers of me, brethren: and observe them who walk so as you have our model.

Be imitators of me, brethren, and attentively observe (for the purpose of imitation) those who take me for their model.

These words build upon what St Paul has written in Phil 3:2-16, part of which formed yesterday’s first reading. It seems likely that he has in mind people like those mentioned in Phil 4:3. No doubt also Timothy and Epaphroditus whom St Paul plans on sending to Philippi (Phil 2:19-30).

Phil 3:18 For many walk, of whom I have told you often (and now tell you weeping) that they are enemies of the cross of Christ:

For many live and act quite differently, whom I frequently designated in your presence and captioned you against (and now I repeat the same with tears), as enemies of the cross of Christ.

The reason why he tells them to imitate himself is, because many who affect to labour for Christ and preach his gospel act a part wholly unsuited to their profession. “Enemies of the cross.” This has been already explained of the Jewish zealots, and it has been shown how they are enemies of the cross (Jewish zealots is a reference to Jewish Christians who continued to insist on the observance of the Mosaic Law as necessary for salvation; see Phil 3:2-4). Others, however, understand the words to refer to their immoral lives, so opposed to mortification and the self-denial pointed out by the cross.

Phil 3:19 Whose end is destruction: whose God is their belly: and whose glory is in their shame: who mind earthly things.

Whose end is eternal perdition, whose God is their belly, or, the gratification of their sensual appetites, whose glorying has for object those deeds of wickedness, which should rather be a cause of shame; who are wholly engrossed with earthly things, without feeling any concern for the heavenly.

Far from being wholly engrossed with earthly things, our conversation, or manner of living, is such as becomes men aspiring after heaven; our citizenship is there; as free citizens of heaven, we are engaged only about heavenly things. How few, even of those engaged in God’s service, can say this of themselves!

Phil 3:20 But our conversation is in heaven: from whence also we look for the Saviour, our Lord Jesus Christ,

But we pass through this life as citizens of heaven, whence we expert also our Saviour the Lord Jesus Christ.
Phil 3:21 Who will reform the body of our lowness, made like to the body of his glory, according to the operation whereby also he is able to subdue all things unto himself.
Who will transform this earthly body of ours, and conform it unto a likeness with his glorified and resplendent body, and that by an efficacious effort of that power, by which all things are subject to his supreme will.

He refers to our bodies committed to the earth, and to the glorified property of clarity.—(See 1 Ep. to Cor. 15:42, 43, 44).

Phil 4:1 THEREFORE my dearly beloved brethren and most desired, my joy and my crown: so stand fast in the Lord, my dearly beloved. 

Wherefore, my brethren—whom I love affectionately, and am most anxious to behold, who are the subject of my joy and the occasion of the crown to be given me for having effected your conversion—persevere steadfastly, my dearly beloved, in the Christian faith, as I have pointed out to you, both by example and teaching,

“Therefore,” since such great glory, both as to soul and body, is promised you by Christ. “So stand fast to the Lord;” persevere in a Christian life, following me, and those who imitate me, as models. “My joy and my crown.” For every Prelate and Pastor his people must be the source of his joy and crown, or, of his sorrow and damnation.

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My Notes on Philippians 3:17-4:1

Posted by Dim Bulb on October 25, 2014

Phil 3:17-19.   17 Brethren, join in imitating me, and mark those who so live as you have an example in us. 18 For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, live as enemies of the cross of Christ. 19 Their end is destruction, their god is the belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things.

Join in imitating me. Paul has been preparing for this exhortation from the start of his letter. He began the letter by mentioning the fact that they were “all partakers with me of grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the Gospel” (Phil 1:7).  The grace he has in mind here is somewhat shocking, it is nothing less than his imprisonment, for he goes on to mention that what had befallen him (imprisonment) “has really served to advance the Gospel”, even among “the whole praetorian guard”, with the result that “most of the brothers have been made confident in the Lord” because of that imprisonment, and have become “more bold to speak the word of God without fear” (see Phil 1:12-14).  All of this has caused St Paul to “rejoice”, in spite of the fact that some rivals (enemies) are preaching Christ out of pretense, to cause him “affliction’ (see Phil 1:15-18).

In writing this, Paul, who had identified himself as a “slave of Christ Jesus” in the opening verse of the letter, shows that he has the mind of Christ who, “though he was in the form of God…took the form of a slave” and “humbled himself, obediently accepting even death” (see Phil 2:5-8).  He can then, with good reason and humility, hold himself up as an example to be imitated (Phil 3:17) in the face of enemies of the cross of Christ (Phil 3:18), who belong to a “crooked and perverse generation” (Phil 2:15), who have their minds set on earthly things (Phil 3:19), for he is being poured out like a libation, a sacrificial offering for the Philippians (Phil 2:17).

Phil 3:20-41.    20 But our commonwealth is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who will change our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power which enables him even to subject all things to himself.
4:1 Therefore, my brethren, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm thus in the Lord, my beloved.

Our commonwealth is in heaven,” opposed to the “many” whose “end is destruction,” whose “god is their belly,”   “who glory in their shame”, and who “have their minds set on earthly things” (Phil 3:18-19).  As “enemies of the cross of Christ” they live by the bodily pleasures of this world, and are not fit to have their “lowly (bodies) to be like his glorious body” (Phil 3:21).

“The concepts and even the words Paul uses here bear a strong resemblance to the words of the hymn in Phil 2:6-11 and show that Paul still has that hymn on his mind.  The Greek word for ‘change,’ or better ‘transform,’ used here is metaschematisei, a verb built on the word schemati found in Phil 2:8.  The word for ‘like’ is symmorphon, from the noun morphe found in Phil 2:6.  The word ‘lowly’ tapeinoseos, suggests the words ‘he humbled himself in Phil 2:8.  And the whole transformation from lowly to glorious recalls the contrast between Jesus’ condition before the cross Phil 2:6-8, and after the cross Phil 2:9-11.” (Peter F. Ellis, SEVEN PAULINE LETTERS, pg. 135).

Stand firm thus in the Lord” (Phil 4:1) recalls St Paul’s description of his own conflict and his confidence that he would come through it (see Phil 1:15-26, especially vss 19-20).  It also calls to mind St Paul’s exhortation that the Philippian’s “manner of life be worth of the Gospel of Christ” so that they might “stand firm in one spirit, with one mind, striving side by side for the faith of the Gospel, and not be frightened in  anything by opponents.”  If they do stand firm it is a sure “omen” of the opponents “destruction” and their “salvation” (see Phil 1:27-30).  Likewise, it also calls to mind these words: 12 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; 13 for God is at work in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. 14 Do all things without grumbling or questioning, 15 that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, 16 holding fast the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain. 17 Even if I am to be poured as a libation upon the sacrificial offering of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all. 18 Likewise you also should be glad and rejoice with me (Phil 2:12-18).

RSV Copyright Statement:

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“Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright 1952 [2nd edition, 1971] by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”

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Father Callan’s Commentary on Philippians 1:1-11

Posted by Dim Bulb on October 19, 2014

This post contains commentary on Philippians 1:1-11 along with two introductory summaries. The fist on Phil 1:1-2; the second on Phil 1:3-11. Underlined words indicate that a definition or note will be given. Text in red, if any, are my additions.

INSCRIPTION AND GREETING
 A Summary of Philippians 1:1-2

St. Paul together with Timothy, his trusted companion and probably his amanuensis at this time, addresses in artless and affectionate terms the beloved faithful of Philippi and their spiritual leaders, wishing them, in combined Greek and Hebrew forms, grace and peace from God the Father and from Christ Jesus, their Saviour.

amanuensis: one who writes down the dictation of another; a secretary.

artless: simple, natural, unpretentious.

Phil 1:1. Paul and Timothy, the servants of Jesus Christ; to all the saints in Christ Jesus, who are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons.

Paul, the author of this letter. He omits the title “apostle” here because there is no reason to require insistence on his divine authority and mission. See on Rom 1:1. There Fr. Callan writes:

Called to be an apostle, i.e., called by a special vocation (κλητός= klētos) to go and preach the Gospel. The term “apostle” means one sent, as a messenger, a commissioned agent. Thus all the Apostles were messengers sent by Christ to announce the kingdom of God, to proclaim the good tidings of redemption and salvation. St. Paul was equal in dignity to the twelve, because like them, he was called and instructed immediately by Christ Himself (Gal 1:1). Sometimes in an opening address St Paul had to insist on his apostolic status because of trouble makers in the church (e.g., 1 Cor 1:1; 2 Cor 1:1; Gal 1:1). Sometimes it was more directly necessitated by the fact that he was not acquainted firsthand with the church he is writing to (e.g., Rom 1:1-7; Col 1:1).  In these two letters both issues may have contributed. The greeting in the two letters to Thessalonica have no descriptive title at all. Here in Philippians he describes himself as a slave or servant of Jesus Christ because he wishes to associate the Phillippians service to him with his own service (see Phil 1:3-7, 29-30; 2:25, 29-30).

Timothy, who was with Paul at this time and perhaps wrote down the present Epistle, and who had helped the Apostle in founding the Church at Philippi (Acts 16:1ff). For further particulars about Timothy, see Introduction to 1 Timothy in this volume.

Servants. Literally, “slaves,” but in a redeemed and figurative sense of that degrading word.

Jesus Christ. There is more evidence for the reverse order of these terms, “Christ Jesus.” This title of our Lord is peculiarly Pauline, occurring in the two orders about 165 times in his Epistles.

All the saints, i.e., all those who by their religious profession have separated themselves from the world and consecrated themselves to God. The Apostle says “all,” showing no distinction, and no cause of distinction, such as factions or sects.

Philippi. See Introduction, No. 1. Read it here.

With the bishops, etc. This is the only time St, Paul mentions the clergy in the inscription of a letter. In early times the title “bishop” was given to the heads of the various local churches, whether they were bishops In the strict sense of the word or only priests; the term here being in the plural doubtless means priests or presbyters. See Acts 21:17, 28; Titus 1:5-7; 1 Tim. 3:1-13, 5:17, where the terms “bishops” and “presbyters” are interchanged. St. Paul names the bishops and deacons most likely because they took the principal part in sending gifts and helps to him.

Phil 1:2. Grace be unto you, and peace from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ.

Grace . . . peace. See on Eph. 1:2.

God our Father, etc. The Father is the ultimate source of all blessings, and Christ, His co-equal Son, is the medium and channel. See also on Eph. 1:2.

THANKSGIVING AND PRAYER FOR THE PHILIPPIANS
A Summary of  Philippians 3:3-11

Here the Apostle begins to speak in the first person singular, showing that the letter is his own, and not a joint work between him and Timothy. He thanks God for the part the Philippians have had in the work of the Gospel and in the merits of his sufiferings (Phil 1:3-8), and he prays that they may continually progress in spiritual knowledge and in the grace of Him to whom they owe their spiritual life, so as to be perfect when the heavenly Bridegroom comes to call them to their eternal rewards (Phil 1:9-1 1).

3. I give thanks to my God in every remembrance of you,
4. Always in all my prayers, making supplication for you all, with joy,

3-4. The Apostle assures his readers that in all his remembrance of them he thanks God, who is the source of all their spiritual blessings, and that in all his petitions it is a cause of joy to him to make requests for them.

In all my prayers. Better, “In every request of mine.”

5. For your communication in the gospel of Christ from the first day unto now,

He assigns the reason for his supplication with joy In their behalf, namely, their “communication in the gospel, etc.,” i.e., their co-operation with him in the work of spreading the Gospel from the first day they heard it preached up to the time this letter was written. The reference is to the devotedness, labors, sufferings, gifts, etc., by which they had participated with the Apostle in the propagation and furtherance of the Gospel.

6. Being confident of this very thing, that he, who hath begun a good work in you, will perfect it unto the day of Christ Jesus.

The Apostle now tells the Philippians that he feels certain that God the Father who began in them the work of their redemption and sanctification will complete the process, bringing it to perfection against the day of their deliverance from the present life. Thus, he teaches the necessity of grace, not only to begin a good work in the supernatural order, but also to continue it and to persevere in it until death (cf. Conc. Trid., sess. VI, cap. 13).

A good work, i.e., their conversion to Christianity, which was followed by their labor and zeal in behalf of the Gospel and St. Paul.

The day of Christ Jesus is a frequent expression with St. Paul, and refers to our Lord’s coming in judgment, whether at the death of the individual or at the end of time to judge the world. The similar expression of the Old Testament, “the day of the Lord,” meant the day of God’s visitation of the earth in judgment and redemption.

7. Indeed it is right for me to be so minded in regard of you all, for that I have you in my heart; that in my bonds, and in the defence and confirmation of the gospel, you all are partakers of my grace.

He gives the reason for the confidence expressed in the preceding verse. It is perfectly right and natural that he should feel thus toward the Philippians, because of his intimate and tender love for them, and because, through the help they have given him, they are sharers in the “grace” of his apostolate, whether exercised in “bonds,” i.e., in prison, or in “defence” of himself and of his preaching against the accusations and calumnies of the Jews, or “in confirmation of the gospel,” i.e., in explaining and proving the truth of the Gospel before Jews and Gentiles (Acts 28:23 ff.). “For that I have you in my heart” may also be rendered “for that you have me in your heart,” i.e., he is mindful of them because they also remember him.

The gaudii mei of the Vulgate should be gratiæ meæ, to agree with the Greek.

8. For God is my witness, how I long after you all in the heart of Christ Jesus.

As a proof of his ardent love for the faithful of Philippi St. Paul now invokes God, who reads the heart, as his witness; he loves them all with the love wherewith Christ loves them; his heart is one with the heart of his Master.

In visceribus of the Vulgate means with the most ardent love, the Greek of which is properly rendered in English by “heart,” as it refers to the seat of tender and noble affections. The Greek also reverses the order of Jesu Christi of the Vulgate here.

9. And this I pray, that your charity may more and more abound in knowledge and in all discernment,

In verse 4 the Apostle told his readers that he prayed for them all with joy. Now he tells them what he requested for them, namely, that their “charity” (i.e., their love of God and their neighbor) might continually increase and become ever more perfect “in knowledge,” i.e., in full, developed understanding (επιγνωσει) of Christian virtues, and “in all discernment,” i.e., practical judgment (αισθησει) as to the application of those virtues in dealing with their neighbor.

10. That you may approve the better things, that you may be sincere and without offence unto the day of Christ,

This full knowledge and judgment St. Paul requests for the Philippians in order that they may be able to appraise things according to their true worth; that, distinguishing between the moral values of their actions, they “may approve, etc.,” i.e., that they may test and choose those which are more excellent, with the result that they “may be sincere” (i.e., pure and innocent in the sight of God) “and without offence” (i.e., that their conduct may be no obstacle or stumbling block to their neighbor).

Unto the day of Christ, i.e., when the Lord comes to judge and reward them according to their works. See on verse 6 above.

11. Filled with the fruit of justice, through Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God.

The Apostle wishes the faithful not only to be innocent and blameless, but also to be “filled with the fruit of justice,” i.e., with good works, which can be done only through the grace of Christ. “Justice” here is better rendered “justness” or “righteousness,” which implies a complete harmony between the soul and God; it is given through Christ. “Only so far as the life of the believer is absorbed in the life of Christ, does the righteousness of Christ become his own” (Lightfoot). Hence our Lord said: “I am the true vine, etc.” (John 15:1 ff.).

Unto the glory, etc. The glory and praise of God is the last end and true goal of all our charity, justice, good works, etc., as the Apostle here reminds us.

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The City of Philippi

Posted by Dim Bulb on October 19, 2014

Philippi was a city in Eastern Macedonia on the borders of Thrace, some eight or nine miles inland and to the northwest from ancient Neapolis, its seaport on the Ægean Sea. Its original name was Crenides, or Little Fountains, so called from the springs which fed a great marsh to the south of the town. About the middle or latter part of the fourth century B.C. it was taken, enlarged, and fortified by Philip of Macedon, the father of Alexander the Great; and from him it received its later name.

Philippi was situated on a hill dominating a large and fertile plain which stretched to the north and northwest of the city, and it was cut off from the sea by a line of hills on its east and southeast. It was, however, easily accessible from Neapolis through the Via Egnatia, the great Roman highway, which ran through a depression in the hills from Neapolis to Philippi and connected the Ægean on the east with the Adriatic on the west.

In the neighborhood of Philippi were rich gold and silver mines which offered the chief attraction to Philip of Macedon in his refounding of the city, and from which he drew the vast wealth needed for his victorious military career. The city and the rest of the dominions of Perseus, King of Macedonia, fell into the hands of the Romans in 168 B.C., and in 42 b.c, on the plain of Philippi, Mark
Antony and Octavian (afterwards Augustus) in a decisive battle defeated Brutus and Cassius, the assassins of Julius Caesar, thus bringing to an end the party that had hoped by the death of Caesar to restore the old Roman republic. In commemoration of this victory the Emperor Augustus made Philippi a Roman military colony, calling it after himself Colonia Julia Augusta Victrix Philippensium (colony populated by Agustus, Victor at Philippi), and conferring upon it the jus Italicum, which gave its colonists the right of constitutional government, independent of the provincial governor, the right of proprietorship according to Roman law, and exemption from poll and land taxes. As a Roman colony Philippi had its own duumviri, or two supreme magistrates, the στρατηγοις (strategoi) of Acts 16:20, 22, 35-38. Thus, the city became a center of Roman influence, and with its public baths and theatres, its worship of Diana, Sylvanus and Dionysus, its cosmopolitan character (combining as it did the life of Asia and the life of Europe), it was like another Rome in miniature. St. Luke (Acts 16:12) called it the chief city of the district, but its rank was seriously disputed by Amphipolis, about thirty miles to the southwest, with the precedence inclining to the latter city. The inhabitants of Philippi in St. Paul’s time were mostly Latin in origin, with a strong minority of Macedonian stock and a sprinkling of other nationalities attracted by the military and commercial importance of the place. There were Jews also, but so few in number that they had not even one synagogue. The town was destroyed by the Turks in later centuries, and nothing remains of it now but some ruins.

Suggested Commentaries on Philippians:

Philippians and Philemon: New Testament Message Series, by Mary Ann Getty.

Epistle to the Philippians: New Testament for Spiritual Reading Series, by Joachim Gnilka.

Philippians, Colossians, Philemon: Catholic Commentary on Sacred Scripture Series, by Dennis Hamm.

Philippians, Colossians, Ephesians: Ignatius Study Bible Series, by Scott Hahn and Curtis Mitch.

Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians: Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture Series.

St John Chrysostom’s Homilies on Philippians.

St Thomas Aquinas’ Lectures on Philippians.

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Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on Philippians 4:6-9

Posted by Dim Bulb on September 30, 2014

This post begins with a brief analysis of Philippians 4 followed by comments on verses 6-9. Text in purple represent MacEvilly’s paraphrasing of the scripture he is commenting on. Text in red, if any, are my additions.

ANALYSIS OF PHILIPPIANS CHAPTER 4

In this chapter, the Apostle exhorts the Philippians to persevere in Christian virtue (1), to practise concord and charity (2, 3); to rejoice always, notwithstanding their afflictions (4); to display a mild evenness of conduct, free from all extremes of passion (5); in every occurrence, to exercise acts of petition to God for future blessings, and thanksgiving for the past (6). He wishes them an increase of interior peace and joy (8). He sums up all his moral precepts, and exhorts them to the practice of everything good and praiseworthy (8–10). He commends their past and present liberality towards himself, and this he values not so much on account of being placed thereby beyond the reach of want, as on account of the charity manifested on their part; for, as to himself, he was enabled by God’s grace, to accommodate himself to every turn of fortune, as well in enduring want and privation, as in enjoying abundance (11–17). He concludes with the usual salutation, wishing them the full enjoyment of all spiritual blessings.

Phil 4:6 Be nothing solicitous: but in every thing, by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your petitions be made known to God.

Therefore, be not over anxious for the concerns of this world, but in every occurrence, by fervent supplications and entreaties for future blessings, as well as by acts of thanksgiving for the past, let your petitions be offered up in such a way as to please God, and cause him to lend an ear to them.

Since the Lord is shortly to come from heaven to judge us, and to crown our patience, we should betray no excessive solicitude as regards the sufferings of this life, The words of this verse are a consequence of the words of the preceding verse: “the Lord is nigh,” as he is soon to come to judge us, we should show no excessive anxiety for the things of this life.

Phil 4:7 And the peace of God, which surpasseth all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

And may the interior tranquility and consolation of God’s spirit, consequent on the performance of good actions, which surpasses all understanding, guard your wills, your intellects and entire hearts, against all fears and anxieties whatever, that might lead you astray from virtue and the service of Christ Jesus.

MacEvilly offers no comment on this verse beyond what is provided in the paraphrase.

Phil 4:8 For the rest, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever modest, whatsoever just, whatsoever holy, whatsoever lovely, whatsoever of good fame, if there be any virtue, if any praise of discipline: think on these things.

To bring to a conclusion, and sum up in a word all my moral precepts, whatever things are true—either as opposed to falsehood in language or dissimulation in action—whatever things are brave, becoming, and honourable in conduct; whatever things tend to establish and preserve the relations of justice towards our neighbour; whatever things are chaste and pure from all carnal defilement; whatever things tend to beget the love and well-grounded esteem of others: whatever things are calculated to insure a good reputation; if there be anything that is regarded as virtuous and good; any mode of living that is praiseworthy; make these things the subject of your consideration, so that you may know how to practise them, with the greatest advantage, in proper time and circumstances.

He sums up all his precepts in this one, which is a most comprehensive precept of morality. “Whatsoever modest.” In Greek, σεμνα (semna), grave, or venerable. “Whatsoever holy.” In Greek, ἁγνα (hagna), the meaning of which is, chaste. For it, probably αγια (hagia), “holy,” might have been inserted., “Of good fame.” The first of earthy goods is a good reputation, “habe curam de bono nomine.”—Sirach 41:13

Phil 4:9 The things which you have both learned and received and heard and seen in me, these do ye: and the God of peace shall be with you.

Whatever things you have learned from me when instructing you, or received from me by writing, or heard of me when absent, or seen done by me when present; do these things, and the God of peace will be always with you—imparting and communicating his blessings to you.

The things that I have preached, written, spoken, and exemplified in my conduct, these things do.

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Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on Matthew 22:15-21

Posted by Dim Bulb on October 15, 2013

Mat 22:15  Then the Pharisees going, consulted among themselves how to insnare him in his speech.

“Then the Pharisees consulting,” &c. From the other Evangelists it would seem it was those whom He had been addressing previously, viz., the Chief Priests and ancients (21:23), that did so. However, the Pharisees were included in the others, and especially under the term, “Scribes.” But the Pharisees are in a special manner said to be the instigators or concocters of this scheme, to insnare our Redeemer, both, because they were most hostile to Him, and among them, especially the following captious question was agitated. Instead of being struck with feelings of dread at the punishment menaced by our Redeemer, and conceiving feelings of true sorrow, they become more hardened in their iniquity, and endeavour to insnare Him.

Mat 22:16  And they sent to him their disciples with the Herodians, saying: Master, we know that thou art a true speaker and teachest the way of God in truth. Neither carest thou for any man: for thou dost not regard the person of men.

“They sent their disciples”—St. Mark, “some of the Pharisees” (12:13); St. Luke calls them, “spies” (20:20). They do not question Him themselves, as they were well known to Him, and their object would be at once seen through. They join with these some of their own disciples, whom they supposed to be unknown to our Redeemer. “The Herodians.” Who these were, cannot be known for certain. Some say, they refer to that class among the Jews, who were in favour of paying tribute to Cæsar, and they were called “Herodians,” after Herod, who, being the creature of the Romans, favoured their cause, and promoted it by all possible means. These the Pharisees bring with them to consult our Redeemer on this delicate and agitated question, in order to insure His denunciation to the Roman authorities, in case He expressed on opinion against the payment of taxes (Luke 20:20). Others say, they were the soldiers and domestics of Herod Antipas, who was then at Jerusalem, on the occasion of the celebration of the Pasch. Others say, they were the public officers, appointed by Herod, to collect the Roman tribute in Judea. Others maintain, that they belonged to the sect of the Sadducees, whose doctrines were embraced by Herod. Finally, it is maintained by others, that they formed a peculiar religious sect among the Jews, who maintained, that Herod the Great was the Messias, the sceptre having in his time passed from the tribe of Juda (Gen. 49:10) Herod favoured this class very much. In order to uphold these false notions, he slew the holy Innocents, and built a magnificent temple, rivalling that of Solomon.

“Master,” &c. Full of deceit and dissimulation, they approach our Redeemer with affected feelings of the greatest respect, and they address to Him the language of the grossest flattery, thus hoping to throw Him off his guard, and to elicit from Him the desired answer, unfavourable to the payment of tribute. “Master,” signifies not only a teacher of the law, but a lending personage vested with authority. “True,” i.e., sincere, candid, “speaker.” “The way of God,” that is, the will, the law of God, which conducts us to God, to grace, and glory. “In truth,” without any admixture of error. “Neither carest Thou for any one,” &c., that is, Thou art not afraid of any one, however powerful, so as to be deterred from courageously announcing the truth. In this it is insinuated, that others were deterred, by the fear of Cæsar, from giving utterance to their real sentiments, on the subject of paying tribute to the Romans.

“Not regard the person of men.” For the meaning of having “respect of persons” (see Rom. 2:11), where it is shown, that in His dealing with men, God can never be liable to this charge. In these hollow, hypocritical praises, bestowed by the Pharisees on our Divine Redeemer, they pronounced their own condemnation; for, if He were such as they affected to believe, why reject His teaching.

Mat 22:17  Tell us therefore what dost thou think? Is it lawful to give tribute to Caesar, or not?

The question proposed by the Pharisees was a most captious one, and calculated to involve our Redeemer in a dilemma, whichever answer He would give. If He answered in the negative, that it was not lawful to give tribute to Cæsar, then, the Herodians were present to give evidence against Him to the Governor (Luke 20:20), and charge Him with preaching sedition and disaffection to the reigning authorities (Luke 23:5). If He replied in the affirmative, then they would render Him odious with the people, who hated the rule of the Romans, and regarded it as unbecoming in the people of God, to be subject, or pay tribute to infidels and unbelievers. They would thus damage His ministry, by bringing it into disrepute; and by charging Him with favouring the hated dominion of the Romans, they would endeavour to show, that He was indifferent in regard to the spiritual interests and exalted privileges of the people of God; that, far from having any claim to be considered their true King, their long-expected Messias, He was only a false Messias, the enemy of the Jewish people. The discussion about the lawfulness of paying tribute to Cæsar, originated about thirty years before this, with a certain Judas of Galilee. History clearly attests the cause that gave rise to the subjection of the Jews to the Romans, and the consequent payment of tribute to them. The disputes for the office of High Priest, between Hyrcanus and Aristobulus, the nephews of Simon, the High Priest, who was brother to Judas Machabeus, caused them to solicit the mediation of Pompey, then at the head of the Roman armies in the East. Pompey having adjudicated in favour of Hyrcanus, the elder of the two brothers, Aristobulus resisted both Hyrcanus and Pompey. The consequence was, that Hyreanus, being of himself unable to maintain his power, handed it over to the Romans, and this cession was ratified by the chief men among the Jews, such a course being, in their minds, the only safeguard against anarchy and bloodshed Pompey imposed a tax, which, although not a fixed annual one, was to be paid occasionally, according to the wants of the Republic, whenever it was exacted by the Romans. It was only in the time of Augustus, after the enrolment under Cyrinus, about the period of our Redeemer’s birth, that this casual taxation was changed into a fixed annual tax, levied by capitation, to be paid in coin, bearing the name and image of the reigning Emperor. The imposition of this tax, in connexion with subjection to the Romans, was by no means relished by the Jewish nation. Hence, in the time of Augustus, about thirty years before this, a certain Judas of Galilee (Acts 5:37; Josephus, Lib. 18, Antiq.), raised the standard of revolt. He asserted, that it was unworthy of the people of God, the true sons of the faithful Abraham, who owed tribute to God alone, to be subject, or pay taxes to infidels and idolatrous Gentiles. Both himself and his followers all perished, at the hands of the Romans. However, the spirit he evoked had, to some extent, survived him, and no question was more fiercely agitated among the Jews, than whether or not, it was lawful to give tribute to Cæsar. The Pharisees and the bulk of the people, held the unlawfulness, as far as they could securely do so. The Herodians and the followers of the Romans, on the other hand, maintained its lawfulness. This sect of Galileans, followers of Judas, had raised several tumults in Judea, and provoked the chastisement of the ruling powers. It is to them, most likely, allusion is made (Luke 13:1). It was in vindication of their false and erroneous principles, that, after this, they rose in rebellion against the Romans, which ended in the utter ruin of their chief city, and the irreparable destruction and dispersion of the Jewish race, under Titus and Vespasian. Our Redeemer and His Apostles, being Galileans, might readily be suspected of favouring the false principles of this Judas. Hence, our Redeemer, by His own example, and the teaching of His Apostles, inculcates so clearly the obedience due to temporal powers (Rom. 13; 1 Peter 2:13).

Mat 22:18  But Jesus knowing their wickedness, said: Why do you tempt me, ye hypocrites?

“But Jesus, knowing their wickedness, said,” &c. Our Redeemer shows Himself superior to the artifices whereby it was sought to entrap Him. They thought to insnare Him by their false, hollow professions of respect, and by captious questions. On the other hand, He exposes their hypocrisy, while, in affecting to exhibit respect for Him, and to ascertain the truth, they only wished to lay snares for Him. They were thus quite different from what they pretended to be. “Ye hypocrites.” Hence, showing His omniscience, He exposes their inmost thoughts, and proves that He Himself was, in reality, what they affected to believe Him to be—a truthful, fearless teacher, who is not deterred by any persons from announcing the truth, as He does here in regard to them.

“Why do ye tempt Me?” to give utterance to sentiments opposed to the submission due to the ruling powers in the State; or, rather, why desire to catch Me in My words, while affecting respect for Me, and a desire of knowing the truth?

Mat 22:19  Shew me the coin of the tribute. And they offered him a penny.

“Show me the coin of tribute,” that is, the coin which Cæsar exacts in tribute from each person. The other Evangelists (Mark 12:15; Luke 20:24), say, He told them to bring Him “a penny;” but, probably, these Evangelists expressed themselves thus, because a penny, or denarius, was the coin showed to our Redeemer; although, most likely, He expressed Himself, as is here described by St. Matthew. “The coin of tribute” was a certain description of money which the Roman Emperors got struck off, as the coin to be paid in tribute. It was a penny, a Roman denarius, and, most likely, it was of a larger or smaller size, according to the amount levied on each individual. This coin must have come from the Roman mint, inasmuch as the Jews would not have impressed the image of any man, according to their law, much less of a Pagan and idolater, on any of their coins. It was silver; for, we are informed by Pliny (Lib. 33, c. 3), that the Romans exacted tribute in silver, not in gold. The value of this denarius, in our currency, is not easily ascertained. Those who hold that in (c. 17:23) there is question of a tax paid to the Romans, say, that the didrachma, being nearly equivalent to two denarii, the tax demanded of each was a penny or denarius doubled, or two denarii, unless we say, that the size and value of each denarius varied, according to circumstances, and that Tiberius got struck off denarii, to be paid by the Jews, of a size equalling two drachmæ each. So that, according to the increase or decrease of the tribute, denarii were struck off, of lesser or greater size and value. But, as we maintained, that in c. 17, there is question of quite a different tax, the question does not concern us.

Mat 22:20  And Jesus saith to them: Whose image and inscription is this?

The image of the reigning princes was usually stamped on the current coins of their respective realms, as we find to be now the universal practice. Our Redeemer, although He already know whose image was impressed, now asks the question, partly with a view of having them solve their own question, by the answer He would elicit from them; and partly, to show that earthly wealth was of no concern to Him.

Mat 22:21  They say to him: Caesar’s. Then he saith to them: Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s; and to God, the things that are God’s.

“Cæsar’s.” Tiberius Cæsar, who was then in the eighteenth year of his reign.

“Render, therefore, to Cæsar, the things that are Cæsar’s,” &c. This would seem to be a conclusion suggested by the exhibition of tax money bearing, impressed on it, the image of Cæsar; a conclusion evidently insinuating, although not expressing it, that tribute might lawfully be paid to Cæsar; for, their question was not, whether it was their bounden duty, or whether it was an obligation on them to pay tribute to Cæsar. Hence, in His answer, He altogether abstracts from the fact, whether the Romans were their lawful sovereigns, or had acquired a just, legitimate dominion over them or not. The question was, whether the Jews, the chosen people of God, were justified in paying tribute to infidels and idolaters. It arose out of the heresy propounded by Judas and his followers, regarding the privileges of the Jews, and their exemption from earthly sovereignty, as the chosen people of God. Hence, they ask, is it “lawful to give?” &c. Our Redeemer’s answer embraces the question expressed, and its implied reason, and, without directly answering their question, He so frames His reply, as to utterly baffle them, and confound their malice.

Some say, that our Redeemer’s answer means, that it was lawful to pay this tribute. “Give to Cæsar.” No doubt, this is implied, and easily inferred; but, still, the admiration which His answer elicited (v. 22), evidently shows, the Pharisees, &c., did not regard Him as expressly saying so; for, He would have thus fallen into the snare they laid for Him, and incurred the odious alternative, intended by them, of rendering Himself obnoxious to the people.

The connexion of our Redeemer’s conclusion, “Render, therefore, unto Cæsar,” &c., and the mode in which it is deduced from the foregoing is differently explained. According to some, by the very fact of the Jews using the money, stamped with the Emperor’s image, and this for the purpose of paying tribute, “numisma census,” they acknowledged themselves to be Cæsar’s subjects; and, hence, they should pay him tribute. This reasoning does not seem conclusive to others (although there is some force in the words, “numisma census”) inasmuch as one nation may, for commercial purposes, use the money coined under the sovereign of a different State, as the Jews, most likely, used Roman as well as Greek coin, before their subjection to the Romans. Hence, they explain it thus: As the money they used was Roman coin, there can be nothing unlawful, or opposed to the law of God, in giving back, “rendering” “reddite Cæsari,” &c., to the Romans, Roman coin. The question proposed, regarded not the claim of Cæsar to receive tribute, but the lawfulness of giving it to him, on the part of the Jews.

Our Redeemer, at the same time, in order to meet the charge of neglecting the interests of God’s people, to which the foregoing answer might render Him liable, adds, “and unto God the things that are God’s,” in which He would seem tacitly to hint, that the Pharisees were quite indifferent about the interests of God, the paying Him tithes, &c., rendering honour and reverence, which seemed to cause them so much anxiety, and in defence of which they affected to have some scruples about paying tribute to Cæsar.

Others (among the rest, Jansenius Iprensis), hold, that no inference can be drawn from our Redeemer’s answer, as to whether tribute was to be paid to Cæsar or not.

As the Pharisees insidiously proposed to Him a captious question, with a view of insnaring Him, He, therefore, avoids giving them any definite answer; and He so shapes His reply, that they could not infer what the things were which they should pay unto Cæsar, whether it was tribute, or honour, or obedience; at the same time, He propounds Cæsar’s rights, whatever they were; and thus, without involving Himself with the Jews, or running counter to their prejudices on the subject of paying tribute (for in the words, “the things that are Cæsar’s,” He makes no mention of tribute), He avoids coming in collision with the temporal authorities. Neither can they deduce anything definite from His answer to the second part, “and unto God,” &c.

One conclusion, however, is clearly deducible from our Redeemer’s words, viz., that the discharge of the obligations, due to temporal authority, is by no means inconsistent with those we owe Almighty God, or His Church, which is His direct, immediate, and supernaturally constituted representative on this earth, and vice versa. All Christians, of whatever rank, order, or degree, who are not themselves the occupants of supreme power, owe, without exception, civil allegiance to secular authority, and are bound to discharge the duties which it entails, be the occupants of power, Pagan or Christian, Protestant or Catholic; and this, not only from fear of punishment, but also from motives of conscience. However, this duty of obedience, which is entailed by civil allegiance, has its limits. (See Rom. 13; Titus 3; 1 Peter 2:13; Commentary on.) Circumstances may also arise where, under certain conditions, resistance to civil authority, and, if necessary, the deposition of unjust, tyrannical rulers, even of these legitimately established, is allowable. (See Murray, “Annual Miscellany,” vol. ii.) These conditions, it is generally agreed upon, are—1. If the tyranny be excessive and intolerable. 2. If it be manifest to men of probity and good sense. 3. If the evils actually endured exceed those that would ensue from resisting and deposing a tyrant. 4. If resistance be the only available means to get rid of tyranny and its evils. 5. If there be a moral certainty of success. But, as these conditions are seldom found to concur; hence, practically, it is but very rarely allowable to have recourse to the extreme remedy of resistance to legitimately constituted authority, even when acting tyrannically. (See St. Thomas, Lib. 1, do regimine Principum; also 2da 2dæ Quest. 42, Art. 2, ad 3m; St. Augustine, Lib. 17; de civitate Dei, et de Unit. Eeclesiæ, c. 21; Suarez, De. fid. Lib. 6, c. 4, &c.)

The Church, the Divine spouse of Christ, united to her Divinely-appointed head, who is the vicegerent of Christ on earth, on whom has been bestowed the full power of binding and loosing, and the exceptional privilege of infallibly deciding questions of faith and morals, should be regarded as the direct guardian of the interests of God. From him she derives, directly and immediately, all the powers and privileges which He supernaturally bestowed on her. The duty of obedience we owe her, as the immediate representative of God, belongs to another order, and is different from that which we owe temporal authority. The civil authority of the State, and the spiritual authority of the Church, are independent in their respective spheres; confined to their proper bounds, they can never clash. Both come from God, who assigns to each its proper limits, its distinct rights and prerogatives. In the words, “render unto God the things that are God’s,” temporal rulers and governors are restrained from intermeddling in the spiritual concerns of God and His Church. If they do, they are to be regarded as detestable tyrants; and their ordinances, particularly if they enjoin anything opposed to the law of God, and the inalienable independence of His Church, are to be disobeyed as a matter of duty, and resisted, at the sacrifice of personal liberty, of all the goods of fortune, nay, even of life itself. Of this, the history of the Church in all ages, furnishes us with the most edifying examples, in the persons of those fearless champions, who regarded life itself of little value, when the defence of the liberties of the Church, and the interests of religion, were in question. At this very moment, is not the entire Church edified by the fearless intrepidity exhibited by the aged prisoner of the Vatican, whose unchanging reply to every insidious overture that might compromise the liberties of the Church, and the rights of the Holy See, is “non possumus;” and of those holy confessors, the victims of German despotism, who, from the depths of their prison cells, bear testimony to the truth?

The words, “render unto God the things that are God’s,” forcibly remind each individual of his obligation to observe the Commandments, and execute the holy will of God, so as to render his soul agreeable in His sight, and so to cultivate all its faculties as to promote, in all things, the greater glory of God. As “the coin of the tribute” was stamped with the image of Cæsar, which showed his claim to the payment of tribute; so, have our souls impressed upon them God’s image and likeness, assimilated to Him in their spiritual power, and reflecting Him in the triple faculty of memory, understanding, and will. All the faculties, therefore, of our souls, all their operations, should tend to God, in whom alone, after all the sorrows, and turmoil, and warfare of this life, they are ultimately to find eternal rest, peace, and happiness. Have we so disposed all our thoughts, words, and actions, as to render them subservient to God’s greater glory? Have we rendered unto God, in the several circumstances of life, all that are “His?” All things that we have are from Him, therefore, all that we have or are, should be, in turn, referred back to Him.

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Bishop MacEvilly’s Commentary on Philippians 1:6-11

Posted by Dim Bulb on October 15, 2013

This post opens with the Bishop’s brief analysis of Philippians 1 followed by his notes on verses 6-11. Text in purple indicates his paraphrasing of the scripture he is commenting on.

ANALYSIS OF PHILIPPIANS CHAPTER 1

The Apostle commences this Epistle with the usual form of salutation (1, 2). He next declares his affection for the Philippians, which he shows, by thanking God for the gift of beneficent generosity, conferred on them, towards the ministry of the Gospel (3–8); and by fervently begging of Him to grant them an increase of knowledge and charity, and also to enable them to persevere in the performance of good works (8–12). And as the Philippians sent Epaphroditus for the purpose of knowing how matters fared with the Apostle in prison, and also the effect of his imprisonment on the cause of the Gospel, he informs them, that his imprisonment rather served the cause of the Gospel than otherwise; since it had the effect of making the Gospel more extensively known (13), and of inspiring others with greater courage in preaching it (14). And although, in the preaching of it, some might be actuated by unworthy motives, still, he is delighted to find that, be their motives what they may, the truth of the Gospel is preached (12–20).

He is indifferent about what may befall himself, provided in every contingency the glory of Christ be promoted. He cares not whether he die or live; as, in either case Christ will be glorified (20, 21). He is perplexed which course to adopt, whether to die, and enjoy Christ, or remain longer in life, to promote the good of others. As, however, his continuance in life is useful to the Philippians and all Christians, he resolves his doubt, and determines to continue in life, and to visit the Philippians (20–26). He exhorts them to steadfast co-operation in the cause of the Gospel, and to patience under the persecutions they may have to endure (26–28). He tells them it is a great gift from God to be accounted worthy of suffering for Christ’s sake.

Php 1:6  Being confident of this very thing: that he who hath begun a good work in you will perfect it unto the day of Christ Jesus.

Firmly trusting and feeling a moral persuasion that God will perfect the good work which he hath begun in you unto the day of judgment, when the Judge, JESUS CHRIST, will reward you according to your works.

“Being confident;” πεποἰθὼς, expresses only a hope and moral certainty. The word does not by any means imply, that St. Paul believed, as a matter of faith, that all the faithful at Philippi would persevere. He says, “who hath begun a good work in you, will perfect it,” rather than, you who began will perfect it, to commend the efficacy of divine grace, to which our salvation from beginning to end is principally to be ascribed. The “good work” refers to the good work of contributing to the support of the ministers of the gospel; or, it may refer to a good life in general. “The day of Christ Jesus,” refers to the Day of Judgment, whether particular, when every one will be rewarded according to his works; or general, when the sentence passed at the particular will be solemnly ratified; the Apostle wishes us to keep this continually in mind, the better to prepare for it.

Php 1:7  As it is meet for me to think this for you all, for that I have you in my heart; and that, in my bands and in the defence and confirmation of the gospel, you all are partakers of my joy.

It is but just for me to entertain this firm hope and confidence that you will receive from God the gift of perseverance; because I love you most tenderly, and you are always present to my mind, as sharers in the joy which I feel and the grace which I possess in my chains, and in the defence of myself and confirmation of the truth of the gospel.

He states the grounds of his confident hope of their receiving the gift of perseverance. He ardently wishes for it on account of his great affection for them. “He has them in his heart,” and constantly before his mind, and he keeps always in mind, that they are partners of his joy, &c. “In the defence,” may also refer to the defence of the gospel. The sense amounts to the same, since the reasons adducible by him in his own defence and apology, would serve to defend and confirm the gospel.

“Of my joy.” The Greek is, of my grace. The similarity of both words in the Greek, χάριτος and χαρας, would account for the mistake; both come, however, to the same; since, it was a source of “joy” for them to suffer for Christ, and “a grace” to be able to do so (verse 29). (Both meanings are united in the Paraphrase). Some Interpreters join the words, “in my bands,” with the preceding. It is better, however, place the words, “partakers of my joy,” between them (as in Paraphrase).

Php 1:8  For God is my witness how I long after you all in the bowels of Jesus Christ.

For, I call God to witness the tender and deep love which I entertain for you, a love similar to that with which Jesus Christ has loved you.

He explains the word, “I have you in my heart.” “In the bowels of Jesus Christ,” may also mean that his love for them is not a carnal, but a pure Christian love. They express the excess of the Apostle’s love for his spiritual children. His own heart being incapable of loving them with the fulness and intensity he would wish, he recurs to the Sacred Heart of Jesus Christ, and enters it. In the tepidity of our love for God and our neighbour, let us unite our love to that of Jesus Christ, and offer it to God in union with the ardent, pure love of JESUS.

Php 1:9  And this I pray: That your charity may more and more abound in knowledge and in all understanding:

And this I beg of God—viz., that your charity may daily more and more increase, according to the rules of Christian knowledge and discernment.

“In knowledge and all understanding.” These qualities are requisite, lest, through the indiscriminate exercise of charity towards the teachers of error, as well as towards the Apostles of truth, their charity would be injurious, and cease to be virtuous.

Php 1:10  That you may approve the better things: that you may be sincere and without offence unto the day of Christ:

That you may be able to choose and discern what is better and more useful, and may be free from the admixture of false doctrines, and persevere in a blameless course until the coming of Christ to judgment;

“That you may approve,” &c. So as to be able to discern the true gospel from false teaching, and promote the former, and thus be preserved from the leaven of the latter. “Sincere,” may also mean, free from all sin in the sight of God, and “without offence” before men. “The day of Christ,” virtually commences at death, when the particular judgment takes place, of which the general will only be a solemn and public ratification.

Php 1:11  Filled with the fruit of justice, through Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God.

Abounding in good works, which both confer and preserve justice and sanctification, through Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God.

“Fruit.” In Greek, fruits. The Vulgate reading is, however, supported by the best Manuscripts and Versions. “Justice” may also mean, eleemosynary good works, as in the gospel of St. Matthew (c. 5).

 

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