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Father Maas’ Commentary on Matthew 1:18-25

Posted by Dim Bulb on September 23, 2017

18 Now the generation of Christ was in this wise. When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child, of the Holy Ghost.

Now the generation of Christ.] The following paragraph of the gospel gives first the reason why Jesus is said to be born of Mary; secondly, it tells of Joseph’s doubt and its solution; in the third place, it shows the fulfilment of a prophecy in the birth, or rather in the conception, of Jesus.

a. Why is Jesus said to be born of Mary? In verse 16 the evangelist breaks his genealogical chain; for instead of saying “and Joseph begot Jesus,” he continues, “Joseph the husband of Mary of whom [Mary] was born Jesus who is called Christ.” That the evangelist is going to give the reason for this special expression, he indicates in the words: “Now (for) the generation of Christ was in this wise.” This phrase must not, therefore, be understood as referring merely to the genealogy [Jer. Orig.], or as referring cither to the genealogy or the description of the conception that follows [Rab. Bed.], but it refers wholly to the manner of the conception of Jesus [Chrys. Knab.]. The words constitute, as it were, a new heading of the following paragraph, in which we must consider: (1) the name Mary; (2) the verb “was espoused”; (3) the phrase “before they came together”; (4) the expression “she was found with child”; (5) the words “of the Holy Ghost.”

(1) Mary has been variously interpreted by different authors: my illuminatrix, illuminating them, myrrh of the sea, star of the sea, enlightened, enlightening, bitter sea, drop of the sea, mistress, bitter one, fat or strong one, afflicted one, exalted one, contumacy, are some of the explanations of the name [cf. Bardenhewer, Der Name Maria, Freiburg, 1895; de Lagarde, Onomast. s. xiv. 7; lxx. 1; lxxiv. 21; cciii. 14; xiv. 8; Zeitschr. d. d. m. Gesellsch. 1877, p. 183; Linzer Quartalsch. 1880, pp. 58–64; Innsbrucker Zeitsch. 1880, p. 387; Isidor. Hispal. etymol. vii. 10; Jer. in Exod.; in Mt.; etc.]. Knabenbauer is of opinion that the explanations of the name which regard it as compound with the Hebrew word meaning “sea” should be abandoned; he eliminates also the renderings “contumacy,” “afflicted one,” “bitter one,” as being unlikely to be given to a newly born child; the meanings “exalted one,” “mistress,” “myrrh,” he admits as probable, since names of this meaning might be given to a child. It is clear that absolute certainty as to the meaning of the name cannot with our present data be expected.

(2) The word “espoused” [μνηστευθείσης] signifies properly “to be promised in marriage,” “to be betrothed”; but the meaning of betrothment according to the Hebrew law differs essentially from the idea usually connected with that term in our day. It is not a mere promise to marry, but it is the very initiation of marriage. The betrothed parties are really married, though by custom they are not yet entitled to the marital rights, nor bound to fulfil any of the mutual duties of conjugal life. The betrothment is dissolved only by death or a bill of divorce; faithlessness on the part of the betrothed female is treated as adultery. Without obtaining a formal divorce, she cannot enter a marriage contract with another person, and if she does so, it is void. The betrothed parties are called “Arus” and “Arusa” respectively, the state of being betrothed is called “Arusin,” and the act of betrothing, “Kiddushin.” The mode of betrothal is either by money [Kaseph], or by a written document [Sh’tar]. Between the betrothal and the nuptials an interval elapses, varying from a month for widows to a year for virgins. The nuptials are termed Chuppa [bridal chamber] or Nissuin [taking]. The essence of the nuptial ceremonies consists in conducting the bride from her home to that of the bridegroom, or a place representing his home. After this they are considered in all respects as husband and wife, though no conjugal intercourse has actually taken place [cf. Mielziner, The Jewish Law of Marriage and Divorce, pp. 76 ff.; Patrizi, De Prima Angeli ad Josephum Mariæ Sponsum Legatione, nn. 4, 5, 17; Deut. 22:23, 26; 1 Kings 18:25; Gen. 34:12; 29:18, 20, 25, 27; 31:4; Deut. 20:7; 2 Kings 3:14; etc.].

To distinguish, therefore, between marriage and the use of marriage: Christians have after betrothment a “jus ad rem” with regard to marriage, and after the nuptials a “jus in re,” while the Jews had no “jus ad rem,” but only a “jus in re”; with regard to the use of marriage, the Jews had a “jus ad rem” after the betrothment, and after the nuptials a “jus in re,” but Christians have a “jus in re” only, after the nuptials.

Still, as now we apply the terms “bride” and “bridegroom” to newly married persons, so does St. Luke [2:5] use the word “espoused” of Mary even after her nuptials with St. Joseph. The question to be decided here is whether “espoused” in the present passage of St. Matthew must be taken in the Christian meaning of the term, or in its legal Jewish meaning, or again in its metaphorical meaning in which the third evangelist employs it. The first signification is excluded by the nationality of the author and by the nature of the case. The third signification is excluded by the context, according to which St. Joseph had not yet “taken” Mary unto him, so that the nuptials had not yet taken place [verses 20, 24]. St. Matthew uses the term, therefore, in its second, strictly literal, meaning.

The only difficulty is to explain how God, according to this opinion, attained the four ends for which he wished Mary to be joined in marriage to St. Joseph. He intended a. to conceal for a time the mystery of the incarnation which could not then be understood; b. to shield the honor of Mary; c. to give Mary a helper and consoler, and a guardian of her virginity; d. to conceal the miraculous conception of Jesus from the devil. This last reason was first stated by Ign., and has been repeated by Ambr. [lib. ii. n. 3], Thom. [p. iii. qu. 29 a. 1], Sylv. and Suar. [in p. iii.]; but Scot, [in 4, sent. dist. 30, qu. 2], Tost. [in Mt. i. qu. 31], Salm. and Mald, appear to be right in rejecting it. Even though Mary was espoused to St. Joseph, the devil, if not impeded by God’s special intervention, could naturally know whether Jesus was conceived and born in the ordinary way or not. Besides, commentators do not tell us that God prevented the devil from perceiving other signs that proved the Messiasship of our Lord more clearly than his virginal conception and birth do; why, then, assert such a preventive action of God in this latter case? Thom. [l. c] assigns also a fifth reason for the marriage of Mary: God wished to honor in her both the state of virginity and of matrimony against the false teaching of future heretics.

To return to the foregoing difficulty, the first, the third, and the fifth purpose of God in causing Mary to enter the married state do not require that “espoused” in the passage of St. Matthew should refer to the Virgin’s state after her nuptials; but the second end, or the inconvenience that would follow if the Virgin Mary appeared pregnant before her nuptials, seems at first sight to demand the metaphorical meaning of “espoused,” found in Luke 2:5. Still, even if “espoused” be taken in its Hebrew signification as explained above, Mary did not become pregnant before her marriage, but only before her solemn passage into the house of her husband. The exercise of the marriage rights before this period was not forbidden by the law of Moses, but only by tradition; an offence against the latter was not considered as adultery or fornication, though it was punished, if it had taken place in the house of the bride’s father, and was denounced to the judges; the offspring was considered illegitimate only when the husband testified that there had not been any marital intercourse. We may suppose that Mary went to visit Elisabeth almost immediately after conceiving of the Holy Ghost; and it is not improbable that the mystery was made known supernaturally to her parents after her return, as it had been made known to Zachary and Elisabeth, and to St. Joseph. The marriage festivities might take place almost immediately after her return to the parental home, and it does not seem difficult to conceal at such an early period the state of pregnancy, especially in the case of a person so retiring as Our Blessed Lady. The circumstance that she gave birth to Our Lord when away from home, and that she probably did not return to Nazareth until after her flight to Egypt, would shield her against any suspicions and obloquies of her neighbors [cf. patr., De Prima Angeli ad Josephum Mariæ? Sponsum Legatione Commentation. 2 sqq. 17, 39]. This opinion is held by Bas. Epiph. Baronius, Salm. Calm. Lam. patr. Bisp. Curci, Knab. and others.

—before they came together.] (3) This phrase may, according to the meaning of the verb συνέρχεσθαι refer either to marital intercourse or to the solemn introduction of the bride into the house of the bridegroom. In the former sense the Greek verb is used by Xenophon [Mem. II. ii. 4] and Origen [c. Celsum, i. 17], but never either in the Septuagint or the New Testament, except 1 Cor. 7:5, where, however, the Vatican Cod. has ῆτε, which reading is approved by Griesbach, Lachmann, and Tischendorf. Helvidius argued from this meaning of the word against the perpetual virginity of Our Lady, and St. Jerome in his answer did not deny the sense Helvidius had given to the passage [Adv. Helvid. 4]. But this argumentative concession of the Saint does not prove that he adhered to his adversary’s interpretation, though he refutes the heretic’s argument thoroughly.

Verses 20, 24 show plainly that the “coming together” refers to the solemn introduction of Mary into the house of Joseph. This is confirmed by the fact that the evangelist expresses marital intercourse by the verb “to know” in verse 25, and also by the list of the most illustrious commentators who favor the foregoing interpretation: Hil. Cat. Aur. Br. Salm. Mar. Calm. Lam. patr. Schegg, Bisp. Arn. Meyer, Grimm, Reischl, Schanz, Fil. Keil, Weiss, Knab.; it is true that the meaning “conjugal intercourse” was more commonly admitted by the older commentators: Chrys. Ambr. Jer. Pasch. Euth. Mald. Bar. Tost. Jans. Lap. Sylv. Sa, Est. and Men. But then they had to solve the above mentioned difficulty against the perpetual virginity of Our Blessed Lady, without gaining any additional argument for the virginal conception of Our Lord. This dogma is as clearly implied in the statement that Jesus Christ was conceived before the solemn passing over of Mary into the house of Joseph, as in the statement that Jesus was conceived before any marital intercourse took place; for Joseph being a just man, such intercourse was out of the question while Mary still lived in the house of her parents.

—she was found with child.] (4) After her return from Zachary’s house, where she had spent three months, the signs of Mary’s condition became apparent. Br. remarks that the members of her family noticed her pregnancy, but did not consider it strange, since they knew her to be espoused to Joseph; only the latter was surprised at the fact which he could not help noticing. “To find out accidentally,” “to notice without scrutiny,” is said to be the true meaning of the Greek verb by Chrys. Theoph. Thom. Mald., who differ in this point from Jer.

—of the Holy Ghost.] (5) There are two ways of construing these words: a.] They must be taken together with the preceding, so that the object of Joseph’s discovery was Mary’s pregnancy by the Holy Ghost. The principal reasons for this view are the following: α. The extrinsic authority of its defenders: Ps. Bas. Eus. Ps. Orig. Rab. Theoph. Salm. Richard of Saint-Victor, Gerson, Eckius, Catharinus, St. Brigitta, Turrecremata, Major, Soto, Rossignol, Paludanus, Druthm. Busto, Isolani, Natalis, Canisius, Morales, Grimm, etc.; β. the wording of the text which does not allow a separation of the clause “she was found with child” from the words “of the Holy Ghost”; γ. St. Joseph cannot have remained in ignorance of the mystery after the occurrences in the house of Zachary; δ. the Blessed Virgin cannot have concealed from her husband what she had publicly acknowledged in her solemn hymn of thanksgiving, the “Magnificat”; ε. St. Joseph thought of separating from Mary through motives of humility, as St. Peter afterwards asked Our Lord to go away from him.

b.] According to the second view, the words “of the Holy Ghost” are an addition of the evangelist declaring a matter of fact, and do not belong to the object of the discovery. The following are the main reasons for this view: α. It is the more common view of the Fathers and commentators, so that even Orig. Bas. and Hil., who were quoted by Grimm in support of his interpretation, have had to be abandoned by the learned writer, while Pasch. Thom. Alb. Bar. Jans. Mald. and the majority of commentators follow the lead of the Fathers in believing that Joseph did not discover the pregnancy of Mary and its divine origin at the same time. β. The context almost forces us to this interpretation, since in verse 20 the angel admonishes Joseph to take unto him Mary his wife, alleging as a reason that “that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost,” or the very fact on account of which Joseph wished to send Mary away, if we believe the interpretation of our opponents. γ. Mary’s fear that she could not easily convince Joseph of the mystery, or her humility, or her complete self-surrender into the hands of divine providence, or all three motives together, sufficiently explain the difference between her behavior towards her husband and that towards Zachary and Elisabeth, in whose society the Spirit of God had inspired her with that most sublime canticle of thanksgiving; δ. St. Matthew adds the words “of the Holy Ghost,” either by way of prolepsis or, more probably, in order to prevent in the reader a doubt which in the case of Joseph had to be removed by the ministry of an angel. These reasons serve also to refute those for the preceding view.

As to the meaning of the phrase “of the Holy Ghost,” it does not differ from what is said in Lk. 1:35; the Holy Ghost supplied by his creative power and virtue what was needed for the conception of Jesus in the womb of Mary, and God taught us by the words of the angel and the evangelist the proper mode of expressing this divine action. But was not this an external act of God, and are not all of God’s external acts common to the three divine persons? why then attribute it to the Holy Ghost? The following are the principal reasons for this manner of expression: 1.] On the part of God, the incarnating action was the height of divine love for man, and the Holy Ghost is the substantial love of God; 2.] on the part of man, human nature was assumed into hypostatic union with the divine word, and grace is attributed to the Holy Ghost; 3.] on the part of Jesus Christ, his sanctity is rightly ascribed to the action of the Holy Ghost, to whom all sanctification is attributed; 4.] on the part of the Holy Ghost, he is the substantial divine love completing and perfecting the eternal divine processions, and therefore God’s chief work of love is fitly attributed to him; 5.] with regard to the world, the Holy Ghost is regarded as its breath and vivifying principle [Gen. 1:2; 2:7; Ps. 103:30; Jn. 6:63], and therefore, again, the incarnation which is the principle of all supernatural life and fecundity is aptly ascribed to the Holy Ghost; 6.] finally, since to the third person the work of grace is commonly attributed, he is rightly represented as the author of the incarnation too, because this is the source and fountain of all grace [Thom. p. iii. q. 32, a. 1; Suar. in h. l.; Rab. Bed. Salm. Mald.].

19 Whereupon Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing publicly to expose her, was minded to put her away privately.

Whereupon Joseph.] b. The second part of the present section considers 1. the doubt of Joseph; 2. the manner in which God delivered him from his doubt.

1. The doubt of Joseph. In order to understand the first of these points, we shall explain: 1.] the expression “her husband”; 2.] the phrase “being a just man”; 3.] Joseph’s intended private separation from Mary.

1.] Though the expression “her husband” may be fairly urged to show that Mary and Joseph were married before this period, it does not necessarily imply that Mary had been solemnly taken into Joseph’s house [cf. Gen. 29:21; Deut. 22:24]. At any rate, the word implies the vital interest Joseph took in Mary’s condition, α. We have had occasion already to mention one view of Joseph’s attitude under the present circumstances, defended by all those who maintain that Joseph learned at the same time Mary’s pregnancy and its real cause. We have rejected this view as improbable. β. A second view of Joseph’s attitude under the present circumstances makes him suspect Mary of adultery [Just. Ambr. Aug. Chrys. Euth. Pet. Chrysol. Br. Tost. Caj. Jans. Bar. Sa, Est. Mald. Schanz, Fil.]. But this opinion strikes us as harsh, injurious to Mary, unworthy of Joseph, offensive to Jesus Christ, and as not required by the context. γ. The third view regards Joseph as thrown into and overwhelmed by the pains of doubt: on the one side he feels certain of Mary’s innocence and blameless conduct; on the other he cannot deny the fact of her pregnancy, of which he himself is surely not the cause [Jer. op. imp. Pasch. Haym. Alb. Bernardin. Bonavent. Sylv. Lap. Tir. Men. Calm. Schegg, Meschl. Keppler, Knab. etc.]. This opinion satisfies the requirements of the context, and at the same time avoids the extremes of the two preceding views.

—being a just man.]. 2.] The meaning given by commentators to the phrase “being a just man” depends to some extent on their interpretation of the attitude of St. Joseph during the period of his trial, α. Those who think that he knew already the whole truth place his justice in his humility which prompted him to consider himself unworthy of Mary’s society. β. Chrys. and patr. are of opinion that Joseph is called a just man because he patiently bore the injustice that might have been done him, and he complied with the law in putting away his wife. This last reason is not wholly valid, because the husband was not bound to bring a charge of infidelity against his spouse or wife, no matter how clear her guilt, nor to give a bill of divorce, except when the wife or spouse was seduced before her espousals; in that case the seducer was bound to marry her [Ex. 22:16; Deut. 22:28]. It had, however, become customary (perhaps on account of Prov. 18:22, Lev. 5) to regard it as strict duty to put away the faithless wife or spouse in every case, though no such obligation can be proved from the law. The wording of the Greek text is also appealed to in favor of this meaning of “just.” It may be rendered “being a just man, and [yet] not willing to expose her,” so that the second part of the sentence forms a contrast with, and is no mere explanation of, the first part. γ. Mald. and Jans. are of opinion that Joseph’s justice consisted in his meekness and charity, so that according to them the phrase “being a just man” is further explained by the subsequent words “and not willing publicly to expose her.” Pasch. Euth. Eus. Salm. appear to favor this view; the Greek text does not exclude it, whatever may be said to the contrary by the patrons of the foregoing opinion.

—to put her away privately.] 3.] α. Tost. Mald. Lap. Tir. Men. Calm. Grimm believe that Joseph intended to leave Mary privately, by retiring to a foreign and unknown country; they deny that before the spouse had been solemnly led into the house of the husband, a bill of divorce was needed to effect the separation. It is true that in the Rabbinic writers the law of Deut. 24:1 is so explained as to comprise the case of merely betrothed persons; but the foregoing writers contend that we cannot infer from this that the same interpretation of the law was given at the time of Jesus Christ. β. Salm. Bar. Jans. Lam. patr. Schegg, Bisp. Fil. Wuensche, think that the separation had to be effected by a bill of divorce even before the spouse had been solemnly transferred into the house of the husband, but they maintain at the same time that this ceremony might take place either before judges or before two witnesses. In the specimen of a bill of divorce, found in Surenhusius [Mischn. iii. 323, 325, Tract. Git.], no cause for the separation is mentioned. It appears, therefore, that even according to this opinion strict privacy might be secured as to the real motive of the separating parties.

20 But while he thought on these things, behold the Angel of the Lord appeared to him in his sleep, saying: Joseph, son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife, for that which is conceived in her, is of the Holy Ghost.

But while he thought.] 2. The anxiety of Joseph is allayed: 1.] by the ministry of an angel; 2.] by the promised companionship of Mary; 3.] by the honor God conferred on his wife; 4.] by the promised paternity of Mary’s and God’s son; 5.] by the Messianic office of his son.

—behold the angel.] 1.] An angel. α. Chrys. Tost. Moral. Knab. believe that the angel appeared almost immediately after the doubt began to afflict Joseph, probably in the first night after Mary’s return. This seems to agree best with God’s merciful providence, and also with the words of the evangelist: “but while he thought on those things, behold.” β. It is not improbable that Br. Thom. Salm. Knab. are right in supposing that the angel appearing to Joseph was Gabriel, the angel of the incarnation; he appeared to Daniel, Zachary, and Mary. γ. The translation “in his sleep” renders the meaning of the Greek text [κατʼ ὄναρ; cf. ὄναρ καὶ ὕπαρ] faithfully; the view of Bisp. Meyer, Sevin that we ought to translate “after the manner of a dream” is inadmissible [cf. Gen. 20:3, 6; 31:10, etc.; Mt. 2:12, 19, 22; 27:19; Deut. 22:4; 23:32; 29:8]. δ. Tost. Jans. Bar. are of opinion that the angel did not appear in visible form, nor in person, but only in pictures of Joseph’s imagination. The wording of the gospel “the angel of the Lord appeared” seems to exclude this view.

—Joseph, son of David.] 2.] Companionship of Mary. α. The consolation of the angel is prefaced by the title he gives to Joseph; according to the common interpretation, Joseph was thus reminded of the promises made to David and his royal house, and this the more vividly since the fulfilment of the Messianic promises was then most eagerly expected. β. The angel claims authority for his mission and his words by the fact that he is fully acquainted with the interior of Joseph’s soul, with his doubts and perplexities; and he confirms this sign by the prophecy he utters, γ. Instead of giving way to doubt and fear, Joseph is bidden to follow the inclination of his heart, and complete his engagement with Mary by solemn nuptials, taking her into his own house. This passage shows both that Mary was really married to Joseph before this period, and that she had not yet been solemnly introduced into his house: the former fact follows from the word “thy wife” which the evangelist applies to Mary both according to the Greek text and its English translation; the latter is necessarily implied in the words “fear not to take unto thee.” The various subterfuges suggested by the writers who believe that Mary had been before solemnly wedded to Joseph show this more plainly than any positive proof could do. According to them, the phrase “take unto thee” means “receive into thy house [after her three months’ absence],” or “keep with thee,” or “take unto thee [anew after being separated from her in thought].” And after all their labor, they have not been able to explain the text without doing violence to its plain meaning. We believe, therefore, that the opinion of Thom. Salm. patr. Schegg, Schanz, Knab. Fil. on this point is preferable to that of Chrys. Euth. Mald. Jans. Bar. Sylv.

3.] Mary’s exalted dignity. α. Joseph’s doubt or ignorance concerning the cause of Mary’s pregnancy had been more painful to him than the thought of his coming separation from her; and as the angel changed the pain of separation into the joy of union, so he changed the pain of ignorance or doubt into the most sincere exultation over Mary’s innocence and ineffable dignity: “that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost,” or as the Greek text more properly reads: “that which is begotten in her.” β. Besides all this, the angel shows that the Holy Ghost and Mary have not been causes in the same way: it is begotten IN Mary, but OF the Holy Ghost, γ. Had Joseph known the whole truth before, he might have answered the angel: “It is for this very reason that I intend to separate from Mary.” But the text plainly demands that the reason which the angel gives Joseph for taking Mary unto him must be one that he had not considered before.

21 And she shall bring forth a son: and thou shalt call his name Jesus. For he shall save his people from their sins.

And she shall bring forth a son.] 4.] Joseph shall be father of Mary’s son. α. There is a new cause of joy in the promise of a son; but this son is not promised to Joseph in particular as John the Baptist had been promised to Zachary, for according to Is. 9:5, Mary’s son must be born for the whole world [Thom. Salm. Jans. Bar.]. β. Joseph is, however, to be considered as the real father of Mary’s son, since he is to name the child [cf. Gen. 4:1; 5:29; 19:37; 21:3; 29:32–35; 30:6 f.; Ex. 2:22; etc.]. Another title to Joseph’s real fatherhood of Mary’s son is implicitly indicated by the angel: Joseph’s wife has lawfully conceived of the Holy Ghost; but the lawful fruit of the wife’s womb belongs to the husband. γ. The name of the child is no matter of indifference; since Jesus as God has a proper name [Word], so he must have a proper name as man. It must not be a mere appellative as is the name “Christ”; nor a metaphorical name, such as Pastor or Door; but it must express his essence as closely as it can be expressed. That the holy name Jesus has these requirements follows from the fact that it was given by God himself, who knew his Son perfectly, and loved him with an infinite love. This “a priori” reason is confirmed by the meaning of the word Jesus, “salvation of the Lord” or “Saviour.” As the nature of a mechanical instrument is fully determined by the work it has to do, so is the essence of Mary’s child fully manifested by the mission for which God has fitted him; if the mission of “Saviour” requires a God-man, a natural son of God, endowed with substantial sanctity, then the child that is named by God “Saviour” infallibly possesses all these qualities. Others had borne the name Jesus before [Eccli. 46:1; 1 Mach. 2:55; 2 Mach. 12:15; Acts 7:45; Heb. 4:8; Agg. 1:1, 12; Zach. 3:1; 6:11; Esd. 2:2, 30; 3:2; 8:33; 2 Esd. 7:7, 39; 8:17; 12:1, 10, 26; 1 Par. 24:11; 2 Par. 31:15; etc.], but they had been intended as saviours only in some one respect or another, while Jesus is the Saviour of all men in the full meaning of the word.

—for he shall save his people.] 5.] The mission of Jesus. α. The next consolation offered by the angel to Joseph is derived from the office of the son of Mary. He shall be a Saviour not in a partial sense of the word, but he shall deliver us from sin, which is the root and the cause of all evil. After sin has been taken away, that peace and abundance of all blessings shall come which the prophets predicted for the Messianic age [Is. 9:7; 11:5; etc.]. β. Chrys. and Pasch. remark that in the case of the Messias “his people” comprises all men, as may be inferred from the words of the prophets: Ps. 2:8; 21:2–8; 71:8–11; 86:4, 6; Is. 11:9, 10; 42:4; 49:6; 52:15; 60:6; etc. Chrys. Jans. Bar. Sylv. infer the divinity of Jesus from the two facts that he is to save us from sin, and that his people is God’s people. γ. Chrys. and Mald. draw also attention to the circumstance that whereas the God-man might have assumed a name indicative of his divine majesty, he preferred a title that breathes nothing but mercy and love.

22 Now all this was done that it might be fulfilled which the Lord spoke by the prophet, saying:
23 Behold a virgin shall be with child, and bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.

Now all this was done.] c. The third part of the present section contains (1) an introductory statement; (2) a prophecy; (3) Joseph’s action subsequent to the solution of his doubt.

(1) In the introductory statement the following points deserve our attention: a. Iren. Chrys. Euth. Theoph. patr. Arn. Weiss, Mor. Grimm, and others arc of opinion that the words introducing the fulfilment of the prophecy were uttered by the angel. Not all the evangelist has said, they argue, was done to fulfil the prophecy, but all the angel has said; as if the evangelist might not sum up all the angel said, in the words “all this.” Rab. Haym. Salm. Sylv. and most of the recent commentators maintain that the evangelist adds the words, “now all this.” They appeal to the usual formula in which St. Matthew shows the fulfilment of prophecy, to the unsuitableness of the words in the mouth of the angel, and to their agreement with the whole scope of the first gospel. β. Chrys. Theoph. Tost. Dion. Mald. Calm. Kuinoel, Berlepsch, and others are inclined to render here “and so was fulfilled the saying of the Lord by the prophet,” arguing that God predicted the future event because he had predetermined its futurity rather than predetermined its futurity because he had predicted it. But Pasch. Thom. Salm. Bar. patr. Haym. Knab. and many other commentators render the passage “that it might be fulfilled”; while these writers grant to their opponents that God predicted the event because he had predetermined it, they at the same time insist on the fact that the event with all its circumstances came to pass in order that God’s prediction might be sensibly verified, and his divine foreknowledge proved. γ. Again, we may remind the reader that the evangelist here suggests the true idea of Scriptural inspiration; “the Lord spoke by the prophet,” as he speaks through all inspired authors.

(2) As to the prophecy itself, α. the evangelist follows the text of the Alexandrian version, differing from it in three points: (a) he substitutes “a virgin shall have in her womb” for “a virgin shall receive in her womb”; (b) he writes “they shall call his name” instead of “thou shalt call his name”; (c) he adds “which being interpreted is God with us.” β. The explanation of the prophecy may be seen in any commentary on Is. 7:14. Here it must suffice to prove its literal reference to the Messias. This may be established from the fact that Emmanuel refers literally to Jesus Christ; for the Emmanuel of Is. 7:14 is identical with the person described in Is. 8:8, 10; 9:6, 7; 11:1–10, and the latter can be no other than the Messias. We are then warranted in maintaining with nearly all Catholic commentators and several Protestant writers the literal Messianic sense of the prophecy to which St. Matthew refers. γ. The passage shows also that the Virgin in the prophecy was to be Virgin “in sensu composito,” both Virgin and mother. δ. Theoph. and Chrys. have explained the name Emmanuel or “God with us” as signifying Christ’s divine nature: Theoph. maintains that Sacred Scripture takes its names of persons from their works, and the works of Jesus showed his divinity; Chrys. places the names of persons in Scripture on a level with their being, so that the name “God with us,” applied to Jesus, implies that Jesus is God.

24 And Joseph rising up from sleep, did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him, and took unto him his wife.
25 And he knew her not till she brought forth her first born son: and he called his name Jesus.

And Joseph rising up from sleep.] (3) In the concluding part of the section, the evangelist insists on the obedience of Joseph, on his continency, and on the accomplishment of the angel’s words. α. Theoph. and Alb. call Joseph’s obedience prompt; Pasch. and Thom. further explain it as fulfilling the angel’s injunction both with regard to its matter and manner. Joseph solemnly introduced Mary to his own home as soon as circumstances would permit. This passage is another proof that Joseph not merely kept Mary as his wife, nor took her back after her stay with Zachary, nor gave her back his affection. β. In order to emphasize the virginal conception and birth of Jesus, the evangelist asserts that there was no intercourse between Joseph and Mary; for we need not mention the interpretation of op. imp. and gl. ord. according to which “to know” means “to know intellectually” or “to see”; Mary was therefore a virgin not only when conceiving, but also when bringing forth Jesus Christ. The words “till she brought forth” have been added, (a) because the evangelist had the birth of Jesus principally in view; (b) again, there was no need of adding anything of this nature regarding the period after Christ’s birth, since it was well known among the Jews that Mary did not conceive or bring forth a second time; (c) from this limitation in the evangelist’s words we cannot infer that Joseph knew Mary after the time of Jesus’ birth, just as we cannot conclude from Gen. 8:7 that the raven returned to Noe’s ark after the earth was dry, or from 2 Kings 6:23 that Michol brought forth after her death. The word “until” neither affirms nor denies anything after the limit of time to which it refers. (d) Even prescinding from the strict meaning of the words, it is not at all probable that Joseph should have known his spouse after witnessing all the miraculous signs at the time of Christ’s birth, if he had observed continency till then on account of the angel’s words. (e) That Mary observed perpetual virginity follows from her words in Luke 1:34, which have no meaning at all, if they are limited to the time before Christ’s birth. (f) Nor is the phrase Mary’s “first-horn son” conclusive against her perpetual virginity; for that term only denies that she gave birth to other sons before Jesus, without affirming that others were born after Jesus [cf. Ex 34:19, 20; Num. 18:15, where God himself defines the “first-born” as signifying him that opens his mother’s womb—Br. Pasch. Haym. Alb. Thom. etc.]. (g) Bed. Rah. Haym. Pasch. Alb. Sylv. Grimm, explain the word “first-born” as meaning what is meant by the predicate of Wisdom in Eccli. 24:5 [cf. Col. 1:15], while others interpret it as referring to Jesus’ brethren by adoption, or to his resurrection from the dead, or to similar relations. Though all these considerations are worthy of regard, they do not answer the difficulty of the present passage. γ. Finally the evangelist states the accomplishment of the angel’s words: Mary brought forth her first-born, and Joseph named the child according to the angel’s command.

d. St. Matthew then proves the Messiasship of Jesus from his virginal conception, and this he establishes by three arguments: 1. Christ’s virginal conception is revealed by the angel; 2. it had been predicted by the prophet; 3. it is confirmed by Joseph’s obedience to the angel; for Joseph would not have taken Mary to his house, had he not believed the angel’s testimony concerning her manner of conception. As the doubt of St. Thomas confirms us in our faith of the resurrection, so the doubt of Joseph confirms us in our faith of the virginal conception of Jesus.

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Homily Notes on Matthew 8:24: The Passions by Fr. George Howe

Posted by Dim Bulb on July 30, 2017

THE PASSIONS.
A great tempest arose~Mt 8:2424.

i. A storm at sea, one of the figures of the passions of the soul.
ii. As the passions become sources of sin, consider three points.

The evil passions:

i. Included under three heads chiefly: 1 Jn. 2:16.

a. The concupiscence of the eyes: love of riches.

b. The concupiscence of the flesh: love of pleasure.

c. The pride of life: love of honours,

ii. Incitements to the passions:

a. Objects acting on the senses or the imagination.

b. Fuel supplied by reading, self-indulgence, etc.

c. Idleness: Sirach 33:29.

d. Want of self-restraint.

iii. Figured by the winds, a raging fire, an unruly horse.

Why to be subdued?

i. As useful and necessary, as the breaking in of a horse,

ii. We must avoid sin, and therefore overcome its causes,

iii. Holy Scripture warns us:

Go not after thy lusts, but turn away from thy own will Sir 18:30.
If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself Mt 16:24.

iv. Examples and teaching of the Saints:

Conquer thyself St Ignatius.
The greater violence thou offerest to thyself, the greater the progress thou wilt make Imitation of Christ.

v. Unless subdued themselves, they enslave the soul, as typified by:

The brothers of Joseph, yielding to their envy: Gen. 42.
The prodigal son: Lk 15.
Nabuchodonosor, become as an animal in the fields: Dan. 4:30.

vi. They darken the mind, and disturb the heart,

vii. They cause many mistakes and much misery, both for time and eternity,

viii. Subjection to the passions is a kind of idolatry.

Antiochus and the idol in the Temple: 1 Macc 1:57

ix. To subdue the passions is a glory.

He that ruleth his spirit (is better) than he that taketh cities~Prov. 16:32.

x. Whoso subdues them is truly free.

How to be subdued?

i. Never despair of victory. There are no passions so violent, that they cannot be overcome,

ii. Don t complain of their violence. You are stronger than they, if only you will fight them,

iii. You must wage war against them :

a. With determination.

b. Attacking the predominant passion first. Few subjects can be more interesting than that of the ruling passion, for no obstacle to progress is more common, or more secret, and therefore none more dangerous. There can be no true progress, until an active war is being waged against it.

c. With perseverance. Said the Abbot Theodore to a young monk: You complain that you are fighting now for eight years! Behold I am eighty years of age, and am fighting still.

d. Without discouragement, even should you fall.

e. With confidence in God.

I can do all things in Him who strengthened me~Phil. 4:13.

f. Taking the necessary means:Prayer, watchfulness, penance, etc.

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Homily Notes on Matthew 8:24: The Storm as a Type of Both the Church and the Soul by Fr. George Howe

Posted by Dim Bulb on July 30, 2017

THE STORM, A TYPE OF BOTH THE CHURCH AND THE SOUL.
A great tempest arose in the sea~Mt 8:24.

i. Scripture often represents life as a stormy ocean,
ii. The ship, in to-day’s Gospel, is a type of

a. The Church, amid persecutions and scandals.
b. The Soul, in temptation and trial.

I. The Church:

i. Persecution in some form, ever the lot of the Church: e.g.

a. The ten great persecutions, under the Roman Emperors.

b. Persecution in pagan lands still: In China, Africa, etc.

c. Opposition and oppression in civilized lands: As in Italy and France, at the present day. (Fr. Howe published these notes in 1903. Needless to say, opposition and oppression have become even more widespread in the western world).

d. Captivity or exile of the Head of the Church.

ii. Scandals in the Church:

a. Fall of even an Apostle.

b. Heresies and Schisms:

Arianism, condemned A.D. 325.

The Iconoclasts, 8th c.

Schism in England, i6th c.

c. Dissensions, disputes, etc.

iii. Recourse to God, as with the Apostles to Our Lord.

a. Fervent prayer: Lord, save us.

1. Leo XIII. on prayer in the Church’s trials.

b. Faith and Confidence in God who overrules all.

1. His promise to be ever with the Church: Mt 28:20.

c. Good lives in Catholics, showing forth the truth of Religion.

II. The Soul:

i. Individual souls tempted to sin:

a. Against God: pride, irreligion.

b. Against Neighbours: injustice of any kind.

c. Against Self: sensuality, idleness.

ii. Each one has trials of the temporal order also :

a. Poverty, sickness, deaths.

b. Persecution from neighbours,

iii. Act then, as sailors in a storm:

a. They reef the sails, lest the winds overpower them.

1. Curb the love of pleasure.

2. Mortify the senses.

3. Otherwise the soul will sink into sin, perhaps into Hell !

b. They make for the high seas :

1. Avoid the world and its pleasures.

2. Soar aloft in prayer.

c. They throw goods overboard, to lighten the vessel.

1. Cast forth sin in humble confession.

2. Sailors regret their loss, yet safety is the first consideration.

3. So we, with sin and its occasions, must gain salvation at any cost.

d. Remember that all things work for good, if we love Go: Rom. 8:28.

Lessons:

i. In the public trials of the Church, have recourse to prayer. Though His ways seem slow, God s Providence is ever watchful.
ii. So also in the private crosses of each one.
iii. Perseverance in prayer pleasing to God, and essential.
iv. Human passions cause turmoil in the soul.

a. Our Lord may seem to sleep, because of our tepidity.
b. Call on Him by Prayer, Penance, Almsdeeds.

v. Rejoice, amid the storms in your soul, as being thought worthy to suffer for God : Acts 5:41.

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The Mystical Ship, Part 2: Aquinas’ Homily Notes on Matthew 8:23

Posted by Dim Bulb on July 30, 2017

THE MYSTICAL SHIP (Part II)
FOURTH SUNDAY AFTER THE EPIPHANY.
“And when He was entered into a ship His disciples followed Him.”
Matt 8:23.

MORALLY, by a ship holiness of life is signified by reason of (I) the material; (II) the form; (III) the use.

I. THE MATERIAL. On the first head, the material of the ship, it is to be noted that a ship is made of wood, iron, oakum, and pitch:

(A) By wood is represented righteousness, which is the righteousness of Christ Wis. 14:7, “Blessed is the wood by which justice cometh.”

(B) By iron, on account of its solidity, fortitude is expressed Jer. 1:18, “Behold I have made thee this day an inner pillar.”

(C) By oakum or tow, by which wounds are bound up, is implied temperance, by which is healed the wound of fleshly
lust. Of those whose wounds have not been bound up it is said, Isa. 1:6, “Wounds, and bruises, and putrifying sores: they have not been closed, neither bound up.” Judges 16:13, of Samson, when deceived by Delilah, and bound with new ropes, “he broke them from off his arms like a thread.”

(D) By pitch is symbolized charity, which is the bond of souls Gen. 6:14, “Pitch it (Noah’s ark) within and without with pitch.” A holy man is formed by charity 1 Cor. 16:14, “Let all your things be done with charity.

II. THE FORM. On the second head it is to be noted that the form of the ship consists in five particulars.

Firstly, the smallness of the beginning.

Secondly, breadth of the middle.

Thirdly, the height of the end.

Fourthly, the narrowness of the bottom.

Fifthly, the wideness of the top.

Concerning the smallness of its beginning, is the grief for past sins Jer. 6:26, “Make thee mourning as for an only son, most bitter lamentation.”

Concerning the breadth of the middle is hope of the eternal joys Rom. 12:12, “Rejoicing in hope.”

Concerning the height of the end is the fear of eternal punishments. The holy man grieves over the sins he commits, and he fears the punishments which he merits, but he fails not through desperation in fear and grief S. Matt. 3:8, “Bring forth, therefore, fruits meet for repentance.”

Concerning the narrowness of the bottom is the humility which arises from highest goodness Ps. 81:10, “Open thy mouth wide and I will fill it.

Concerning the wideness of the top… Unfortunately, the notes make no elucidation on this point.

III. THE USE. On the third head it is to be noted that the use of a ship in four ways stands for holiness of life.

 The first use is to carry men across the sea. We ought by holiness to pass over the sea of this world to the heavenly country, to God Wis 14:5, “Men also trust their lives even to a little wood, and passing over the sea by ships are saved.”

The second is to carry merchandise, or fruits, which are the odour of good works, to be diffused from us on all sides
Job. 4:25-26, “My days are swifter than a post they are passed away as the swift ships.” Phil. 4:18, “An odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, well-pleasing to God.”

The third use is to make war in them. We ought by holiness to war against the demons 1 Macc 15:3, “I have chosen
a great army, and have built ships of war.” Eph. 6:12, “We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers.”

The fourth use is to catch fishes, to convert men to God S. Matt. 4: 19, “I will make you fishers of men.”

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St John Chrysostom’s Homiletic Commentary on Matthew 22:1-14

Posted by Dim Bulb on July 22, 2017

“And Jesus answered and spake again5 in parables. The kingdom of Heaven is like unto a certain king, which made a marriage6 for his son; and sent forth his servants to call them which were bidden to the wedding; and they would not come. Again, he sent forth other servants, saying, Tell them which are bidden, I have prepared my dinner; my oxen and my fatlings are killed, and all things are ready; come unto the marriage. But they made light of it, and went their ways, one to his farm, another to his merchandise: and the remnant took his servants, and entreated them spitefully, and slew them.”7

Seest thou both in the former parable and in this the difference between the Son and the servants? Seest thou at once the great affinity between both parables, and the great difference also? For this also indicates God’s long-suffering, and His great providential care, and the Jews’ ingratitude.

But this parable hath something also more than the other. For it proclaims beforehand both the casting out of the Jews, and the calling of the Gentiles; and it indicates together with this also the strictness of the life required, and how great the punishment appointed for the careless.

And well is this placed after the other. For since He had said, “It shall be given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof,” He declares next to what kind of nation; and not this only, but He also again sets forth His providential care towards the Jews as past utterance. For there He appears before His crucifixion bidding them; but here even after He is slain, He still urges them, striving to win them over. And when they deserved to have suffered the most grievous punishment, then He both presses them to the marriage, and honors them with the highest honor. And see how both there He calls not the Gentiles first, but the Jews, and here again. But as there, when they would not receive Him, but even slew Him when He was come, then He gave away the vineyard; thus here too, when they were not willing to be present at the marriage, then He called others.

What then could be more ungrateful than they, when being bidden to a marriage they rush away? For who would not choose to come to a marriage, and that a King’s marriage, and of a King making a marriage for a Son?

And wherefore is it called a marriage? one may say. That thou mightest learn God’s tender care, His yearning towards us, the cheerfulness of the state of things, that there is nothing sorrowful there, nor sad, but all things are full of spiritual joy: Therefore also John calls Him a bridegroom, therefore Paul again saith, “For I have espoused you to one husband;”1 and, “This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the Church.”2

Why then is not the bride said to be espoused to Him, but to the Son? Because she that is espoused to the Son, is espoused to the Father. For it is indifferent in Scripture that the one or the other should be said, because of the identity3 of the substance.

Hereby He proclaimed the resurrection also. For since in what went before He had spoken of the death, He shows that even after the death, then is the marriage, then the bridegroom.

But not even so do these become better men nor more gentle, than which what can be worse? For this again is a third accusation. The first that they killed the prophets; then the son; afterwards that even when they had slain Him, and were bidden unto the marriage of Him that was slain, by the Very one that was slain, they come not, but feign excuses, yokes of oxen, and pieces of ground, and wives. And yet the excuses seem to be reasonable; but hence we learn, though the things which hinder us be necessary, to set the things spiritual at a higher price than all.

And He not suddenly, but a long time before. For, “Tell,” He saith, “them that are bidden;” and again, “Call them that were bidden;” which circumstance makes the charge against them heavier. And when were they bidden? By all the prophets; by John again; for unto Christ he would pass all on, saying, “He must increase, I must decrease;”4 by the Son Himself again, “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will refresh you;”5 and again, “If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink.”6

But not by words only, but also by actions did He bid them, after His ascension by Peter, and those with him. “For He that wrought effectually in Peter,” it is said, “to the apostleship of the circumcision, was mighty also in me towards the Gentiles.”7

For since on seeing the Son, they were wroth and slew Him, He bids them again by His servants. And unto what cloth He bid them? Unto labors, and toils, and sweat? Nay but unto pleasure. For, “My oxen,” He saith, “and my fatlings are killed.” See how complete His banquet,8 how great His munificence.

And not even this shamed them, but the more long-suffering He showed, so much the more were they hardened. For not for press of business, but from “making light of they did not come.

“How then do some bring forward marriages, others yokes of oxen? these things surely are of want of leisure.”

By no means, for when spiritual things call us, there is no press of business that has the power of necessity.

And to me they seem moreover to make use of these excuses, putting forward these things as cloke for their negligence, And not this only is the grievous thing, that they came not, but also that which is a far more violent and furious act, to have even beaten them that came, and to have used them despitefully, and to have slain them; this is worse than the former. For those others came, demanding produce and fruits, and were slain; but these, bidding them to the marriage of Him that had been slain by them, and these again are murdered.

What is equal to this madness? This Paul also was laying to their charge, when he said, “Who both killed the Lord, and their own prophets, and have persecuted us.”1

Moreover, that they may not say, “He is an adversary of God, and therefore we do not come,” hear what they say who are bidding them; that it is the father who is making the marriage, and that it is He who is bidding them.

What then did He after these things? Since they were not willing to come, yea and also slew those that came unto them; He burns up their cities, and sent His armies and slew them.

And these things He saith, declaring beforehand the things that took place under Vespasian and Titus, and that they provoked the father also, by not believing in Him; it is the father at any rate who was avenging.

And for this reason let me add, not straightway after Christ was slain did the capture take place, but after forty years, that He might show His long suffering, when they had slain Stephen, when they had put James to death, when they had spitefully entreated the apostles.

Seest thou the truth of the event, and its quickness? For while John was yet living, and many other of them that were with Christ, these things came to pass, and they that had heard these words were witnesses of the events.

See then care utterable. He had planted a vineyard; He had done all things, and finished; when His servants had been put to death, He sent other servants; when those had been slain, He sent the son; and when He was put to death, He bids them to the marriage. They would not come, After this He sends other servants, and they slew these also.

Then upon this He slays them, as being incurably diseased. For that they were incurably diseased, was proved not by their acts only, but by the fact, that even when harlots and publicans had believed, they did these things. So that, not by their own crimes alone, but also from what others were able to do aright, these men are condemned.

But if any one should say, that not then were they out of the Gentiles called, I mean, when the apostles had been beaten and had suffered ten thousand things, but straightway after the resurrection (for then He said to them, “Go ye and make disciples of all nations.”2) We would say, that both before the crucifixion, and after the crucifixion, they addressed themselves to them first. For both before the crucifixion, He saith to them, “Go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel;”3 and after the crucifixion, so far from forbidding, He even commanded them to address themselves to the Jews. For though He said, “Make disciples of all nations,” yet when on the point of ascending into Heaven, He declared that unto those first they were to address themselves; For, “ye shall receive power,” saith He, “after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you, and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judæa, and unto the uttermost part of the earth;”4 and Paul again, “He that wrought effectually in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision, was mighty in me also toward the Gentiles.”5 Therefore the apostles also went first unto the Jews, and when they had tarried a long time in Jerusalem, and then had been driven away by them, in this way they were scattered abroad unto the Gentiles.

2. And see thou even herein His bounty; “As many as ye shall find,” saith He, “bid to the marriage. For before this, as I said, they addressed themselves both to Jews and Greeks, tarrying for the most part in Judæa; but since they continued to lay plots against them, hear Paul interpreting this parable, and saying thus, “It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you, but since ye judge yourselves unworthy, lo, we turn to the Gentiles.6

Therefore Christ also saith, “The wedding is ready, but they which were bidden were not worthy.”

He knew this indeed even before, but that He might leave them no pretext of a shameless sort of contradiction, although He knew it, to them first He both came and sent, both stopping their mouths, and teaching us to fulfill all our parts, though no one should derive any profit.

Since then they were not worthy, go ye, saith He, into the highways, and as many as ye shall find, bid; both the common sort, and the outcasts. For because He had said in every way,7 “The harlots and publicans shall inherit heaven;” and, “The first shall be last, and the last first;” He shows that justly do these things come to pass; which more than anything stung the Jews, and goaded them far more grievously than their overthrow, to see those from the Gentiles brought into their privileges, and into far greater than theirs.

Then in order that not even these should put confidence in their faith alone, He discourses unto them also concerning the judgment to be passed upon wicked actions; to them that have not yet believed, of coming unto Him by faith, and to them that have believed, of care with respect to their life. For the garment is life and practice.

And yet the calling was of grace; wherefore then doth He take a strict account? Because although to be called and to be cleansed was of grace, yet, when called and clothed in clean garments, to continue keeping them so, this is of the diligence of them that are called.

The being called was not of merit, but of grace. It was fit therefore to make a return for the grace, and not to show forth such great wickedness after the honor. “But I have not enjoyed,” one may say, “so much advantage as the Jews.” Nay, but thou hast enjoyed far greater benefits. For what things were being prepared for them throughout all their time, these thou hast received at once, not being worthy. Wherefore Paul also saith, “And that the Gentiles might glorify God for His mercy.”1 For what things were due to them, these thou hast received.

Wherefore also great is the punishment appointed for them that have been remiss. For as they did despite by not coming, so also thou by thus sitting down with a corrupt life. For to come in with filthy garments is this namely, to depart hence having one’s life impure; wherefore also he was speechless.

Seest thou how, although the fact was so manifest, He doth not punish at once, until he himself, who has sinned, has passed the sentence? For by having nothing to reply he condemned himself, and so is taken away to the unutterable torments.

For do not now, on hearing of darkness, suppose he is punished by this, by sending into a place where there is no light only, but where “there is” “also “weeping and gnashing of teeth.”2 And this He saith, indicating the intolerable pains.

Hear ye, as many as having partaken of the mysteries, and having been present at the marriage, clothe your souls with filthy deeds Hear whence ye were called.

From the highway. Being what? Lame and halt in soul, which is a much more grievous thing than the mutilation of the body. Reverence the love of Him, who called you, and let no one continue to have filthy garments, but let each of you busy himself about the clothing of your soul.

Hear, ye women; hear, ye men; we need not these garments that are bespangled with gold, that adorn our outward parts,3 but those others, that adorn the inward. Whilst we have these former, it is difficult to put on those latter. It is not possible at the same time to deck both soul and body. It is not possible at the same time both to serve mammon, and to obey Christ as we ought.

Let us put off us therefore this grievous tyranny. For neither if any one were to adorn thy house by hanging it with golden curtains, and were to make thee sit there in rags, naked, wouldest thou endure it with meekness. But lo, now thou doest this to thyself, decking the house of thy soul, I mean the body, with curtains beyond number, but leaving the soul itself to sit in rags. Knowest thou not that the king ought to be adorned more than the city? so therefore while for the city hangings are prepared of linen, for the king there is a purple robe and a diadem. Even so do thou wrap the body with a much meaner dress, but the mind do thou clothe in purple, and put a crown on it, and set it on a high and conspicuous chariot. For now thou art doing the opposite, decking the city in various ways, but suffering the king, the mind, to be dragged bound after the brute passions.

Rememberest thou not, that thou art bidden to a marriage, and to God’s marriage? Considerest thou not how the soul that is bidden ought to enter into those chambers, clad, and decked with fringes of gold.

3. Wilt thou that I show thee them that are clad thus, them that have on a marriage garment?

Call to mind those holy persons, of whom I discoursed to you of late, them that wear garments of hair, them that dwell in the deserts. These above all are the wearers of the garments of that wedding; this is evident from hence, that how many soever purple robes thou weft to give them, they would not choose to receive them; but much as a king, if any one were to take the beggar’s rags, and exhort him to put them on, would abhor the clothing, so would those persons also his purple robe. And from no other cause have they this feeling, but because of knowing the beauty of their own raiment. Therefore even that purple robe they spurn like the spider’s web. For these things hath their sackcloth taught them; for indeed they are far more exalted and more glorious than the very king who reigns.

And if thou wert able to open the doors of the mind, and to look upon their soul, and all their ornaments within, surely thou wouldest fall down upon the earth, not bearing the glory of their beauty, and the splendor of those garments, and the lightning brightness of their conscience.

For we could tell also of men of old, great and to be admired; but since visible examples lead on more those of grosser souls, therefore do I send you even to the tabernacles of those holy persons. For they have nothing sorrowful, but as if in heaven they had pitched their tents, even so are they encamped far off the wearisome things of this present life, in campaign against the devils; and as in choirs, so do they war against him. Therefore I say, they have fixed their tents, and have fled from cities, and markets, and houses. For he that warreth cannot sit in a house, but he must make his habitation of a temporary kind, as on the point of removing straightway, and so dwell. Such are all those persons, contrary to us. For we indeed live not as in a camp, but as in a city at peace.

For who in a camp ever lays foundation, and builds himself a house, which he is soon after to leave? There is not one; but should any one attempt it, he is put to death as a traitor. Who in a camp buys acres of land, and makes for himself trades? There is not one, and very reasonably. “For thou art come here,” they would say, “to fight, not to traffic; why then dost thou trouble thyself about the place, which in a little time thou wilt leave? When we are gone away to our country, do these things.”

The same do I now say to thee also. When we have removed to the city that is above, do these things: or rather thou wilt have no need of labors there; after that the king will do all things for thee. But here it is enough to dig a ditch round only, and to fix a palisade, but of building houses there is no need.

Hear what was the life of the Scythians, that lived in their wagons, such, as they say, are the habits of the shepherd tribes. So ought Christians to live; to go about the world, warring against the devil, rescuing the captives held in subjection by him, and to be in freedom from all worldly things.

Why preparest thou a house, O man, that thou mayest bind thyself more? Why dost thou bury a treasure, and invite the enemy against thyself? Why dost thou compass thyself with walls, and prepare a prison for thyself?

But if these things seem to thee to be hard, let us go away unto the tents of those men, that by their deeds we may learn the easiness thereof. For they having set up huts, if they must depart from these, depart like as soldiers, having left their camp in peace. For so likewise are they encamped, or rather even much more beautifully.

For indeed it is more pleasant to behold a desert containing huts of monks in close succession, than soldiers stretching the canvas in a camp, and fixing spears, and suspending from the point of the spears saffron garments,1 and a multitude of men having heads of brass, and the bosses of the shields glistening much, and men armed all throughout with steel, and royal courts hastily made, and ground levelled far, and men dining and piping. For neither is this spectacle so delightful as that of which I now speak.

For if we were to go away into the wilderness, and look at the tents of Christ’s soldiers, we shall see not canvas stretched, neither points of spears, nor golden garments making a royal pavilion; but like as if any one upon an earth much larger than this earth, yea infinite, had stretched out many heavens, strange and awful would be the sight he showed; even so may one see here.

For in nothing are their lodging-places in a condition inferior to the heavens; for the angels lodge with them, and the Lord of the angels. For if they came to Abraham, a man having a wife, and bringing up children, because they saw him hospitable; when they find much more abundant virtue, and a man delivered from the body, and in the flesh disregarding the flesh, much more do they tarry there, and celebrate the choral feast that becomes them. For there is moreover a table amongst them pure from all covetousness, and full of self-denial.

No streams of blood are amongst them, nor cutting up of flesh, nor heaviness of head, nor dainty cooking, neither are there unpleasing smells of meat amongst them, nor disagreeable smoke, neither runnings and tumults, and disturbances, and wearisome clamors; but bread and water, the latter from a pure fountain, the former from honest labor. But if any time they should be minded to feast more sumptuously, their sumptuousness consists of fruits, and greater is the pleasure there than at royal tables. There is no fear there, or trembling; no ruler accuses, no wife provokes, no child casts into sadness, no disorderly mirth dissipates, no multitude of flatterers puffs up; but the table is an angel’s table free from all such turmoil.

And for a couch they have grass only beneath them, like as Christ did when making a dinner in the wilderness. And many of them do this, not being even under shelter, but for a roof they have heaven, and the moon instead of the light of a candle, not wanting oil, nor one to attend to it; on them alone does it shine worthily from on high.

4. This table even angels from heaven beholding are delighted and pleased. For if over one sinner that repenteth they rejoice, over so many just men imitating them, what will they not do? There are not master and slave; all are slaves, all free men. And do not think the saying to be a dark proverb, for they are indeed slaves one of another, and masters one of another.

They have no occasion to be in sadness when evening has overtaken them, as many men feel, revolving the anxious thoughts that spring from the evils of the day. They have no occasion after their supper to be careful about robbers, and to shut the doors, and to put bars against them, neither to dread the other ills, of which many are afraid, extinguishing their candles with strict care, lest a spark anywhere should set the house on fire.

And their conversation again is full of the whereof we discourse, that are nothing to us; such a one is made governor, such a one has ceased to be governor; such a one is dead, and another has succeeded to the inheritance, and all such like, but always about the things to come do they speak and seek wisdom; and as though dwelling in another world, as though they had migrated unto heaven itself, as living there, even so all their conversation is about the things there, about Abraham’s bosom, about the crowns of the saints, about the choiring with Christ; and of things present they have neither any memory nor thought, but like as we should not deign to speak at all of what the ants do in their holes and clefts; so neither do they of what we do; but about the King that is above, about the war in which they are engaged, about the devil’s crafts, about the good deeds which the saints have achieved.

Wherein therefore are we different from ants, when compared with them? For like as they care for the things of the body, so also do we; and would it were for these alone: but now it is even for things far worse. For not for necessary things only do we care like them, but also for things superfluous. For those insects pursue a business free from all blame, but we follow after all covetousness, and not even the ways of ants do we imitate, but the ways of wolves, but the ways of leopards, or rather we are even worse than these. For to them nature has assigned that they should be thus fed, but us God hath honored with speech, and a sense of equity,1 and we are become worse than the wild beasts.

And whereas we are worse than the brutes, those men are equal to the angels, being strangers and pilgrims as to the things here; and all things in them are made different from us, clothing, and food, and house, and shoes, and speech. And if any one were to hear them conversing and us, then he would know full well, how they indeed are citizens of heaven, but we are not worthy so much as of the earth.

So that therefore, when any one invested with rank is come unto them, then is all inflated pride found utterly vain. For the laborer there, and he that hath no experience of worldly affairs, sits near him that is a commander of troops, and prides himself on his authority, upon the grass, upon a mean cushion. For there are none to extol him, none to puff him up; but the same result takes place, as if any one were to go to a goldsmith, and a garden of roses, for he receives some brightness from the gold and from the roses; so they too, gaining a little from the splendor of these, are delivered from their former arrogance. And like as if any were to go upon a high place, though he be exceedingly short, he appears high; so these too, coming unto their exalted minds, appear like them, so long as they abide there, but when they are gone down are abased again, on descending from that height.

A king is nothing amongst them, a governor is nothing; but like as we, when children are playing at these things, laugh; so do they also utterly spurn the inflamed pride of them who strut without. And this is evident from hence, that if any one would give them a kingdom to possess in security, they would never take it; yet they would take it, unless their thoughts were upon what is greater than it, unless they accounted the thing to be but for a season.

What then? Shall we not go over unto blessedness so great? Shall we not come unto these angels; shall we not receive clean garments, and join in the ceremonies of this wedding feast; but shall we continue begging, in no respect in a better condition than the poor in the streets, or rather in a state far worse and more wretched? For much worse than these are they that are rich in evil ways, and it is better to beg than to spoil, for the one hath excuse, but the other brings punishment; and the beggar in no degree offends God, but this other both men and God; and undergoes the labors of rapine, but all the enjoyment thereof other men often reap.

Knowing then these things, let us lay aside all covetousness, and covet the things above, with great earnestness “taking the kingdom by force.”1 For it cannot be, it cannot be that any one who is remiss should enter therein.

But God grant that we all having become earnest, and watchful may attain thereto, by the grace and love towards man of our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom be glory and might, world without end. Amen.

Posted in Bible, Catholic, Catholic lectionary, Christ, Extraordinary Form, fathers of the church, Latin Mass Notes, Notes on the Gospel of Matthew, Notes on the Lectionary, Scripture, SERMONS, St John Chrysostom | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Matthew 22:1-14

Posted by Dim Bulb on July 22, 2017

1. And Jesus answered and spake unto them again by parables, and said, 2. The kingdom of heaven is like unto a certain king, which made a marriage for his son, 3. And sent forth his servants to call them that were bidden to the wedding: and they would not come. 4. Again, he sent forth other servants, saying, Tell them which are bidden, Behold, I have prepared my dinner: my oxen and my fatlings are killed, and all things are ready: come unto the marriage. 5. But they made light of it, and went their ways, one to his farm, another to his merchandise: 6. And the remnant took his servants, and entreated them spitefully, and slew them. 7. But when the king heard thereof, he was wroth: and he sent forth his armies, and destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city. 8. Then saith he to his servants, The wedding is ready, but they which were bidden were not worthy. 9. Go ye therefore into the highways, and as many as ye shall find, bid to the marriage. 10. So those servants went out into the highways, and gathered together all as many as they found, both bad and good: and the wedding was furnished with guests. 11. And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment: 12. And he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless. 13. Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 14. For many are called, but few are chosen.

Chrysostom. (Hom. lxix.) Forasmuch as He had said, And it shall be given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof, He now proceeds to shew what nation that is.

Gloss. (interlin.) Answered, that is, meeting their evil thoughts of putting Him to death.

Augustine. (de Cons. Ev. ii. 71.) This parable is related only by Matthew. Luke gives one like it, but it is not the same, as the order shews.

Gregory. (Hom. in Ev. xxxviii. 2.) Here, by the wedding-feast is denoted the present Church; there, by the supper, the last and eternal feast. For into this enter some who shall perish; into that whosoever has once entered in shall never be put forth. But if any should maintain that these are the same lessons, we may perhaps explain that that part concerning the guest who had come in without a wedding garment, which Luke has not mentioned, Matthew has related. That the one calls it supper, the other dinner, makes no difference; for with the ancients the dinner was at the ninth hour, and was therefore often called supper.

Origen. The kingdom of heaven, in respect of Him who reigns there, is like a king; in respect of Him who shares the kingdom, it is like a king’s son; in respect of those things which are in the kingdom, it is like servants and guests, and among them the king’s armies. It is specified, A man that is a king, that what is spoken may be as by a man to men, and that a man may regulate men unwilling to be regulated by God. But the kingdom of heaven will then cease to be like a man, when zeal and contention and all other passions and sins having ceased, we shall cease to walk after men, and shall see Him as He is. For now we see Him not as He is, but as He has been made for us in our dispensation.

Gregory. (ubi sup.) G marriage feast for God the Son, when He joined Him to human nature in the womb of the Virgin. But far be it from us to conclude, that because marriage takes place between two separate persons, that therefore the person of our Redeemer was made up of two separate persons. We say indeed that He exists of two natures, and in two natures, but we hold it unlawful to believe that He was compounded of two persons. It is safer therefore to say, that the marriage feast was made by the King the Father for the King the Son when He joined to Him the Holy Church in the mystery of His incarnation. The womb of the Virgin Mother was the bride-chamber of this Bridegroom.

Pseudo-Chrysostom. Otherwise; When the resurrection of the saints shall be, then the life, which is Christ, shall revive man, swallowing up his mortality in its own immortality. For now we receive the Holy Spirit as a pledge of the future union, but then we shall have Christ Himself more fully in us.

Origen. Or, by the marriage of Bridegroom with Bride, that is, of Christ with the soul, understand the Assumption of the Word, the produce whereof is good works.

Hilary. Rightly has the Father already made this wedding, because this eternal union and espousal of the new body is already perfect in Christ.

Pseudo-Chrysostom. When the servants were sent to call them, they must have been invited before. Men have been invited from the time of Abraham, to whom was promised Christ’s incarnation.

Jerome. He sent his servant, without doubt Moses, by whom I le gave the Law, to those who had been invited. But if you read servants as most copies have, it must be referred to the Prophets, by whom they were invited, but neglected to come. By the servants who were sent the second time, we may better understand the Prophets than the Apostles; that is to say, if servant is read in the first place; but if ‘servants,’ then by the second servants are to be understood the Apostles;

Pseudo-Chrysostom. whom He sent when He said unto them, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, but rather go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. (Mat. 10:5.)

Origen. Or; The servants who were first sent to call them that were bidden to the wedding, are to be taken as the Prophets converting the people by their prophecy to the festival of the restoration of the Church to Christ. They who would not come at the first message are they who refused to hear the words of the Prophets. The others who were sent a second time were another assembly of Prophets.

Hilary. Or; The servants who were first sent to call them that were bidden, are the Apostles; they who, being before bidden, are now invited to come in, are the people of Israel, who had before been bidden through the Law to the glories of eternity. To the Apostles therefore it belonged to remind those whom the Prophets had invited. Those sent with the second injunction are the Apostolic men their successors.

Gregory. (ubi sup.) But because these who were first invited would not come to the feast, the second summons says, Behold, I have prepared my dinner.

Jerome. The dinner that is prepared, the oxen and the fatlings that are killed, is either a description of regal magnificence by the way of metaphor, that by carnal things spiritual may be understood; or the greatness of the doctrines, and the manifold teaching of God in His law, may be understood.

Pseudo-Chrysostom. When therefore the Lord bade the Apostles, Go ye and preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand, it was the same message as is here given, I have prepared my dinner; i.e. I have set out the table of Scripture out of the Law and the Prophets.

Gregory. (ubi sup.) By the oxen are signified the Fathers of the Old Testament; who by sufferance of the Law gored their enemies with the horn of bodily strength. By fatlings are meant fatted animals, for from ‘alere’, comes ‘altilia,’ as it were ‘alitilia’ or ‘alita.’ By the fatlings are intended the Fathers of the New Testament; who while they receive sweet grace of inward fattening, are raised by the wing of contemplation from earthly desires to things above. He says therefore, My oxen and my fallings are killed; as much as to say, Look to the deaths of the Fathers who have been before you, and desire some amendment of your lives.

Pseudo-Chrysostom. Otherwise; He says oxen and fatlings, not as though the oxen were not fatted, but because all the oxen were not fat. Therefore the fatlings denote the Prophets who were filled with the Holy Spirit; the oxen those who were both Priests and Prophets, as Jeremiah and Ezekiel; for as the oxen are the leaders of the herd, so also the Priests are leaders of the people.

Hilary. Or otherwise; The oxen are the glorious army of Martyrs, offered, like choice victims, for the confession of God; the fatlings are spiritual men, as birds fed for flight upon heavenly food, that they may fill others with the abundance of the food they have eaten.

Gregory. (ubi sup.) It is to be observed, that in the first invitation nothing was said of the oxen or fatlings, but in the second it is announced that they are already killed, because Almighty God when we will not hear His words gives examples, that what we suppose impossible may become easy to us to surmount, when we hear that others have passed through it before us.

Origen. Or; The dinner which is prepared is the oracle of God; and so the more mighty of the oracles of God are the oxen; the sweet and pleasant are the fatlings. For if any one bring forward feeble words, without power, and not having strong force of reason, these are the lean things; the fatlings are when to the establishment of each proposition many examples are brought forward backed by reasonable proofs. For example, supposing one holding discourse of chastity, it might well be represented by the turtle-dove; but should he bring forward the same holy discourse full of reasonable proof out of Scripture, so as to delight and strengthen the mind of his hearer, then he brings the dove fatted.

Pseudo-Chrysostom. That He says, And all things are now ready, means, that all that is required to salvation is already filled up in the Scriptures; there the ignorant may find instruction; the self-willed may read of terrors; he who is in difficulty may there find promises to rouse him to activity.

Gloss. (interlin.) Or, All things are now ready, i.e. The entrance into the kingdom, which had been hitherto closed, is now ready through faith in My incarnation.

Pseudo-Chrysostom. (non occ. sed vid. Gloss. ord.) Or He says, All things are now ready which belong to the mystery of the Lord’s Passion, and our redemption. He says, Come to the marriage, not with your feet, but with faith, and good conduct. But they made light of it; why they did so He shews when He adds, And they went their way, one to his farm, another to his merchandize.

Chrysostom. These occupations seem to be entirely reasonable; but we learn hence, that however necessary the things that take up our time, we ought to prefer spiritual things to every thing beside. But it seems to me that they only pretended these engagements as a cloak for their disregard of the invitation.

Hilary. For men are taken up with worldly ambition as with a farm; and many through covetousness are engrossed with trafficking.

Pseudo-Chrysostom. Or otherwise; When we work with the labour of our hands, for example, cultivating our field or our vineyard, or any manufacture of wood or iron, we seem to be occupied with our farm; any other mode of getting money unattended with manual labour is here called merchandize. O most miserable world! and miserable ye that follow it! The pursuits of this world have ever shut men out of life.

Gregory. Whosoever then intent upon earthly business, or devoted to the actions of this world, feigns to be meditating upon the mystery of the Lord’s Passion, and to be living accordingly, is he that refuses to come to the King’s wedding on pretext of going to his farm or his merchandize. Nay often, which is worse, some who are called not only reject the grace, but become persecutors, And the remnant took his servants, and entreated them despitefully, and slew them.

Pseudo-Chrysostom. Or, by the business of a farm, He denotes the Jewish populace, whom the delights of this world separated from-Christ; by the excuse of merchandize, the Priests and other ministers of the Temple, who, coming to the service of the Law and the Temple through greediness of gain, have been shut out of the faith by covetousness. Of these He said not, ‘They were filled with envy,’ but They made light of it. For they who through hate and spite crucified Christ, are they who were filled with envy; but they who being entangled in business did not believe on Him, are not said to have been filled with envy, but to have made light of it. The Lord is silent respecting His own death, because He had spoken of it in the foregoing parable, but He shews forth the death of His disciples, whom after His ascension the Jews put to death, stoning Stephen and executing James the son of Alphæus, for which things Jerusalem was destroyed by the Romans. And it is to be observed, that anger is attributed to God figuratively and not properly; He is then said to be angry when He punishes.

Jerome. When He was doing works of mercy, and bidding to His marriage-feast, He was called a man; (homini regi) now when He comes to vengeance, the man is dropped, and He is called only a King.

Origen. Let those who sin against the God of the Law, and the Prophets, and the whole creation, declare whether He who is here called man, and is said to be angry, is indeed the Father Himself. If they allow this, they will be forced to own that many things are said of Him applicable to the passible nature of man; not for that He has passions, but because He is represented to us after the manner of passible human nature. In this way we take God’s anger, repentance, and the other things of the like sort in the Prophets.

Jerome. By His armies we understand the Romans under Vespasian and Titus, who having slaughtered the inhabitants of Judæa, laid in ashes the faithless city.

Pseudo-Chrysostom. The Roman army is called God’s army; because The earth is the Lord’s, and the fulness thereof; (Ps. 24:1.) nor would the Romans have come to Jerusalem, had not the Lord stirred them thither.

Gregory. (ubi sup.) Or, The armies of our King are the legions of His Angels. He is said therefore to have sent His armies, and to have destroyed those murderers, because all judgment is executed upon men by the Angels. He destroys those murderers, when He cuts off persecutors; and burns up their city, because not only their souls, but the body of flesh they had tenanted, is tormented in the everlasting fire of hell.

Origen. Or, the city of those wicked men is in each doctrine the assembly of those who meet in the wisdom of the rulers of this world; which the King sets fire to and destroys, as consisting of evil buildings.

Gregory. (ubi sup.) But when He sees that His invitation is spurned at, He will not have His Son’s marriage-feast empty; the word of God will find where it may stay itself.

Origen. He saith to His servants, that is, to the Apostles; or to the Angels, who were set over the calling of the Gentiles, The wedding is ready.

Remigius. That is, the whole sacrament of the human dispensation is completed and closed. But they which, were bidden, (Rom. 10:3.) that is, the Jews, were not worthy, because, ignorant of the righteousness of God, and going about to establish their own righteousness, they have not submitted themselves to the righteousness of God. The Jewish nation then being rejected, the Gentile people were taken in to the marriage-feast; whence it follows, Go ye out into the crossings of the streets, and as many as ye shall find, bid to the wedding.

Jerome. For the Gentile nation was not in the streets, but in the crossings of the streets.

Remigius. These are the errors of the Gentiles.

Pseudo-Chrysostom. Or; The streets are all the professions of this world, as philosophy, soldiery, and the like. And therefore He says, Go out into the crossings of the streets, that they may call to the faith men of every condition. Moreover, as chastity is the way that leads to God, so fornication is the way that leads to the Devil; and so it is in the other virtues and vices. Thus He bids them invite to the faith men of every profession or condition.

Hilary. By the street also is to be understood the time of this world, and they are therefore bid to go to the crossings of the streets, because the past is remitted to all.

Gregory. (ubi sup.) Or otherwise; In holy Scripture, way is taken to mean actions; so that the crossings of the ways we understand as failure in action, for they usually come to God readily, who have had little prosperity in worldly actions.

Origen. Or otherwise; I suppose this first bidding to the wedding to have been a bidding of some of the more noble minds. For God would have those before all come to the feast of the divine oracles who are of the more ready wit to understand them; and forasmuch as they who are such are loth to come to that kind of summons, other servants are sent to move them to come, and to promise that they shall find the dinner prepared. For as in the things of the body, one is the bride, others the inviters to the feast, and they that are bidden are others again; so God knows the various ranks of souls, and their powers, and the reasons why these are taken into the condition of the Bride, others in the rank of the servants that call, and others among the number of those that are bidden as guests. But they who had been thus especially invited contemned the first inviters as poor in understanding, and went their way, following their own devices, as more delighting in them than in those things which the King by his servants promised. Yet are these more venial than they who ill-treat and put to death the servants sent unto them; those, that is, who daringly assail with weapons of contentious words the servants sent, who are unequal to solve their subtle difficulties, and those are illtreated or put to death by them. The servants going forth are either Christ’s Apostles going from Judæa and Jerusalem, or the Holy Angels from the inner worlds, and going to the various ways of various manners, gathered together whomsoever they found, not caring whether before their calling they had been good or bad. By the good here we may understand simply the more humble and upright of those who come to the worship of God, to whom agreed what the Apostle says, When the Gentiles which have not the Law do by nature the things contained in the Law, they are a law unto themselves. (Rom. 2:14.)

Jerome. For there is an infinite difference among the Gentiles themselves; some are more prone to vice, others are endowed with more incorrupt and virtuous manners.

Gregory. (ubi sup.) Or; He means that in this present Church there cannot be bad without good, nor good without bad. He is not good who refuses to endure the bad.

Origen. The marriage-feast of Christ and the Church is filled, when they who were found by the Apostles, being restored to God, sat down to the feast. But since it behoved that both bad and good should be called, not that the bad should continue bad, but that they should put off the garments unmeet for the wedding, and should put on the marriage garments, to wit, bowels of mercy and kindness, for this cause the King goes out, that He may see them set down before the supper is set before them, that they may be detained who have the wedding garment in which He is delighted, and that he may condemn the opposite.

Pseudo-Chrysostom. The King came in to see the guests; not as though there was any place where He is not; but where He will look to give judgment, there He is said to be present; where He will not, there He seems to be absent. The day of His coming to behold is the day of judgment, when He will visit Christians seated at the board of the Scriptures.

Origen. But when He was come in, He found there one who had not put off his old behaviour; He saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment. He speaks of one only, because all, who after faith continue to serve that wickedness which they had before the faith, are but of one kind.

Gregory. (ubi sup.) What ought we to understand by the wedding garment, but charity? For this the Lord had upon Him, when He came to espouse the Church to Himself. He then enters in to the wedding feast, but without the wedding garment, who has faith in the Church, but not charity.

Augustine. (cont. Faust. xxii. 19.) Or, he goes to the feast without a garment, who goes seeking his own, and not the Bridegroom’s honour.

Hilary. Or; The wedding garment is the grace of the Holy Spirit, and the purity of that heavenly temper, which taken up on the confession of a good enquiry is to be preserved pure and unspotted for the company of the kingdom of heaven.

Jerome. Or; The marriage garment is the commandments of the Lord, and the works which are done under the Law and the Gospel, and form the clothing of the new man. Whoso among the Christian body shall be found in the day of judgment not to have these, is straightway condemned. He saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither, not having a wedding garment? He calls him friend, because he was invited to the wedding as being a friend by faith; but He charges him with want of manners in polluting by his filthy dress the elegance of the wedding entertainment.

Origen. And forasmuch as he who is in sin, and puts not on the Lord Jesus Christ, has no excuse, it follows, But he was speechless.

Jerome. For in that day there will be no room for blustering manner1, nor power of denial, when all the Angels and the world itself are witnesses against the sinner.

Origen. He who has thus insulted the marriage feast is not only cast out therefrom, but besides by the King’s officers, who are set over his prisons, is chained up from that power of walking which he employed not to walk to any good thing, and that power of reaching forth his hand, wherewith he had fulfilled no work for any good; and is sentenced to a place whence all light is banished, which is called outer darkness.

Gregory. (ubi sup.) The hands and feet are then bound by a severe sentence of judgment, which before refused to be bound from wicked actions by amendment of life. Or punishment binds them, whom sin had before bound from good works.

Augustine. (de Trin. xi. 6.) The bonds of wicked and depraved desires are the chains which bind him who deserves to be cast out into outer darkness.

Gregory. (ubi sup.) By inward darkness we express blindness, of heart; outer darkness signifies the everlasting night of damnation.

Pseudo-Chrysostom. Or, it points to the difference of punishment inflicted on sinners. Outer darkness being the deepest, inward darkness the lesser, as it were the outskirts of the place.

Jerome. By a metaphor taken from the body, there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, is shewn the greatness of the torments. The binding of the hands and feet also, and the weeping of eyes, and the gnashing of teeth, understand as proving the truth of the resurrection of the body.

Gregory. (ubi sup.) There shall gnash those teeth which here delighted in gluttony; there shall weep those eyes which here roamed in illicit desire; every member shall there have its peculiar punishment, which here was a slave to its peculiar vice.

Jerome. And because in the marriage and supper the chief thing is the end and not the beginning, therefore He adds, For many are called, but few chosen.

Hilary. For to invite all without exception is a courtesy of public benevolence; but out of the invited or called, the election will be of worth, by distinction of merit.

Gregory. (ubi sup.) For some never begin a good course, and some never continue in that good course which they have begun. Let each one’s care about himself be in proportion to his ignorance of what is yet to come.

Pseudo-Chrysostom. Or otherwise; Whenever God will try His Church, He enters into it that He may see the guests; and if He finds any one not having on the wedding garment, He enquires of him, How then were you made a Christian, if you neglect these works? Such a one Christ gives over to His ministers, that is, to seducing leaders, who bind his hands, that is, his works, and his feet, that is, the motions of his mind, and cast him into darkness, that is, into the errors of the Gentiles or the Jews, or into heresy. The nigher darkness is that of the Gentiles, for they have never heard the truth which they despise; the outer darkness is that of the Jews, who have heard but do not believe; the outermost is that of the heretics, who have heard and have learned.

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Commentaries for the Memorial of the Guardian Angels

Posted by Dim Bulb on July 4, 2017

Readings From the NABRE.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Zechariah 8:1-8.

Father Boylan’s Introduction to Psalm 102.

St Augustine’s Notes on Psalm 102.

Father McSwiney on Psalm 102. Summary and brief notes.

St John Fisher’s Commentary on Psalm 102. In two parts. Online book.

Cornelius a Lapide’s Commentary on Matthew 18:1-5, 10.

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Matthew 18:1-5, 10.

Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on Matthew 18:1-5, 10. Includes 12-14.

Father Maas’ Commentary on Matthew 18:1-5, 10.

Father Maldonado’s Commentary on Matthew 18:1-5, 10.

 

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Father Maas’ Commentary on Matthew 18:1-5, 10

Posted by Dim Bulb on July 4, 2017

Conduct of the Apostles as Leaders of the Church
Matt 18:1-20:28.

A Summary of Matt 18:1-20:28~In this part we possess the special instruction of the disciples on several points of Christian discipline : first, on their relation to the little ones, Matt 18:1-14; secondly, on their care of sinners, Matt 18:15-35; thirdly, on matrimony and virginity, Matt 19:1-15; fourthly, on voluntary poverty, Matt 19:16-30; fifthly, on the working of grace, Matt 20:1-16; sixthly, on suffering and the cross, Matt 20:17-28.

A Summary of Matt 18:1-14~This consists especially in two points: first, we must become like children, Matt 18:1-5; secondly, we must care for children, Matt 18:6-14.

Mat 18:1  At that hour the disciples came to Jesus, saying: Who, thinkest thou, is the greater in the kingdom of heaven?
Mat 18:2  And Jesus, calling unto him a little child, set him in the midst of them.
Mat 18:3  And said: amen I say to you, unless you be converted, and become as little children, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.
Mat 18:4  Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, he is the greater in the kingdom of heaven.
Mat 18:5  And he that shall receive one such little child in my name, receiveth me.

“At that hour” connects the present passage with the preceding; not as if the incident of Peter’s tribute money had given rise to the question among the apostles concerning their greatness in the kingdom, since this discussion had occurred on the way [cf. Mark 9:32], and the tribute money was paid in Capharnaum; nor as if convinced of Peter’s preference, they had inquired into its reasons fcf. Chrys.]; nor again, as if the rebuke of Peter had made them doubt concerning the previous promises [cf. Matt 16:23; Pasch. Sylv.] ; but the discussion arose in connection with Christ’s prediction of his coming death after which they expected the establishment of the Messianic kingdom [cf. Jans. Calm. Knab.]. “The disciples came to Jesus saying” may be harmonized with Mark 9:32-33, either by assuming that on being asked by Jesus concerning their conversation on the way the disciples first were ashamed of confessing their weakness as the second gospel has it, and later on they regained their courage as the first gospel implies [cf. Jans. Bar. Am. Fil.]; or by seeing in the account of the first evangelist a summary of the event, so that the question was asked by the disciples in thought, not in word [cf. Knab. Mt. viii. 5 ff.]. “The greater in the kingdom of heaven” is not the greater in the other world [cf. Euth. Thorn. Bar.], nor the greater in the exercise of supernatural virtue [cf. Schegg], but the greater in the expected earthly kingdom of the Messias; otherwise the disciples would not have been ashamed of their conversation on the way [cf. Mark 9:32ff.], nor would Jesus have inculcated humility in his answer [cf. Jer. Maid.]. “Calling a little child,” Jesus teaches his disciples not merely in words, but also by sight. “Unless you be converted” from your earthly ambition, and become “as little children” in simplicity, purity, and humility [cf. Chrys. Orig. Euth. Hil. Jer.; John 5:44; 1 Cor 2:18; 2 Cor 3:5; Matt 5:48], you shall not even “enter the kingdom of heaven.” After this implicit rebuke Jesus answers the question of the disciples directly: “Whosoever shall humble himself as this little child, he is the greater in the kingdom of heaven”; of the different virtuous qualities of the child, it is humility that is singled out by our Lord as the measure of our greatness in the kingdom of
heaven [cf. Br.; Matt 7:22]. “And he that shall receive,” i. e. assist in “any way [Maid.], one such little child,” not one resembling a child in humility and simplicity [cf. Chrys. Jer. Rab. Pasch. Br. Dion. Jans. Bar.], nor one of the apostles [Calm.], but primarily a child in years [Fab. Bar. Arn.; Luke 9:47 ff; Mark 9:35], secondarily a child by disposition [cf. Lap. Schegg, Fil. Knab.], “in my name,” or on account of my wish and my precepts [Chrys. Knab.], there is no direct statement that the one to be received ought to be a child for the name of Christ [cf. Schanz], though this is implied, “receiveth me,” because he loves me in the person of the child.

Mat 18:10  See that you despise not one of these little ones: for I say to you, that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father who is in heaven. 

Jesus now adds three reasons why we ought to care for the little ones. α. Care of guardian angels. “See that you despise not,” is an admonition that has borne its fruit in the course of time [compare the fate of the children of slaves at our Lord’s time], though we have not yet reached perfection in this regard. “One of these little ones” does not mean a disciple or apostle [cf. Calm.], even though the apostle work for others [cf. Pasch.], nor does it refer to the just in general [cf. Mald.], or to the imperfect [cf. Dion.], or to the humble [cf. Jans. Sylv.], or equally to children in years and in disposition [cf. Schegg, Grimm, Schanz, Fil.]; but the expression denotes directly the children in years [Chrys. Euth. Theoph. Thom. Lam.], and by inference only the children in disposition [cf. Knab.]. “Their angels in heaven” supposes that they have angels deputed for their special protection [cf. Jer. Hil.], just as in the Old Testament we read of angelic protectors of nations and provinces [cf. Ex. 23:20; Dan. 10:13; 12:1], of angelic patrons of the just in great dangers [cf. Gen. 16:7; 24:7; 32:1; 48:16; 3 Kings. 19:5; Tob. 3:25; Judith 8:20; Ps. 90:11; Dan. 3:49; 2 Mach. 11:6; etc.], and as in Acts there is question of the angel of Peter [Acts 12:15]. Though it cannot be inferred from our passage that there are as many angels as there are children [cf. Caj.], the common opinion holds that every soul has its special angel guardian [cf. Jer. Jans. Mald.]. The fact that the angels of the little ones “always see the face of my Father who is in heaven” does not imply that they are more excellent than the angels of others [cf. Mald.], but alluding to the privileged character of the most familiar servants standing in the presence of the king [cf. 1 Kings. 10:8; 2 Kings. 24:19 heb.], it shows the power of the angelic protectors and their great dignity [cf. Caj.]. The Jewish and Rabbinic traditions concerning the guardian angels may be seen in Eisenmenger, Entdecktes Judenthum, i. p. 389; ii. p. 370; Schegg, ii. 450; Wünsche, p. 212 [cf. K. L. iii. 584 ff.].

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Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on Matthew 14:1-12

Posted by Dim Bulb on July 2, 2017

ANALYSIS OF MATTHEW 14

In this chapter, we have an account of Herod’s opinion of our Lord, on hearing of His miracles. He takes Him for the Baptist returned from the dead. The circumstances of the cruel death of the Baptist and the causes that led to it are here recorded (1–11). Our Redeemer retires from Herod’s quarters, and crosses to the Bethsaida side of the lake. There multitudes had arrived before Him, and He miraculously multiplies bread in their favour (12–22). He obliges His disciples to enter a boat and cross before Him over the water, on which occasion, the sea being tossed by the waves, and the disciples in a state of fright, He calms their apprehension, called on Peter to come to Him on the waters, and saves him from drowning. The vessel at once reaches the shore they were going to, which caused the disciples and the rest to fall down and adore Him (22–33). Having again crossed the water and being come to Genesar, He performs many miraculous cures there (34–36).

Mat 14:1  At that time Herod the Tetrarch heard the fame of Jesus.

At that time.” What precise period is here referred to, is a subject of dispute. It happened after the beheading of the Baptist. It is inferred from the Gospel of St. John (6:4), that the Baptist was beheaded some time near the Pasch. For, the departure of our Redeemer on hearing of John’s death (v. 13 of this chapter), is identified with that recorded (John 6:1), when He performed the miracle of the multiplication of the bread.

Which Pasch it is that “was near at hand” (John 6:4) is uncertain. It most likely was the fourth Pasch, after our Lord’s baptism. Before this Pasch, John was beheaded. This occurred after the mission of the Apostles, recorded (10), as is clear from Mark (6:14), Luke (9:7), both of whom immediately subjoin John’s decollation to the narrative of the mission of the Apostles; and both say, that it was after the Apostles returned from their mission, our Lord was informed of the Baptist’s death; and then it was, the departure of our Redeemer recorded in verse 13 of this chapter took place. St. Matthew states in this chapter (v. 13), that it was after our Redeemer heard of John’s death while traversing Galilee, teaching and performing miracles, He retired and departed across the water.

Herod.” Antipas, the son of Herod the Great, who put the Holy Innocents to death.

The Tetrarch.” This term designates the governor of the fourth part of a province or kingdom. Among the Romans, who divided the conquered kingdoms into Tetrarchites, the term, “Tetrarch,” was applied to all those who exercised supreme power, and enjoyed dignity next to that of king. This Herod Antipas, was Tetrarch of Galilee. He obtained the fourth part of his father’s kingdom. Archelaus, obtained one-half, with the title of Ethnarch, and Philip governed the remaining fourth with the title of Tetrarch. This was in accordance with the will of Herod the Great, which was confirmed by the Romans. This Antipas is styled “king,” verse 9 (Mark 6:14), on account of the similarity between the supreme power he exercised, and that wielded by a king.

Heard of the fame of Jesus.” The fame of our Redeemer’s wonderful works, reached Herod only at this late hour, either, probably, on account of his absence, occasioned by the war with Aretas, the father of his former wife, divorced to make room for Herodias (Josephus Antiq. xviii. c. 7), and by his having set out for Rome before John’s death, before he espoused the infamous Herodias, whom he met at his brother Philip’s house, on his way to Rome (Josephus, ibidem); or, more probably still, on account of the negligence and indifference of immoral, wicked princes, like him, in regard to all matters appertaining to religion, and owing also to the distractions arising from a multiplicity of business occupations.

Josephus states (Antiq. xviii. 5), that the Jews were firmly persuaded, that Herod’s army was cut to pieces by Aretas, king of the Arabians, as a Divine judgment, in punishment of his having put the Baptist to death.

Mat 14:2  And he said to his servants: This is John the Baptist: he is risen from the dead, and therefore mighty works shew forth themselves in him.

And he said to his servants,” that is, his domestics and familiar attendants.

This is John the Baptist: he is risen from the dead.” Herod may have said this, because, he knew that many were, before this time, risen from the dead; such as, the son of the widow of Sarephta (3 Kings 17); the man coming in contact with the bones of Eliseus (4 Kings 13); and the son of the widow of Sunamis (4 Kings 4); or, it may be, that he was imbued partly with the errors of the Greeks, like many others of the Jews, who, confounding the teachings of the SS. Scriptures, regarding the resurrection of the flesh with the errors of Pythagoras, held, that the souls of the good were permitted to enter into other bodies and exist in them. This error, Josephus (Lib. 2, de Bello Jud.), attributes to the Pharisees; and hence, believing John to be raised from the dead, owing to his former virtues, and thinking him now more powerful, he adds, “And, therefore, mighty works show forth themselves,” &c. These words may mean, taking “show forth.” (Vulgate, operantur), passively, that mighty works (δυναμεις)—miraculous wonders were performed by Him, as our English version has it, “show forth themselves.” The Greek for “mighty works” (δυναμεις), signifies miraculous wonders, or, rather, the power or faculty of performing such wonders. The Greek word for “show forth themselves.” (ενεργουσι), signifies, to display active energy.

And he said.” In some readings it is, “and they said,” as if it were the opinion of others, and not the words of Herod himself that were expressed (see Mauduit, in hunc locum). There seems to be some difference between the account given here by the Evangelists. St. Luke (9:7, &c.), says, that on hearing of our Lord’s miracles, Herod “was in doubt, because it was said by some that John was risen from the dead; but by other some, that Elias had appeared; and by others, that one of the old Prophets had arisen,” and that Herod said, “John I have beheaded; but who is this?.” &c. (Luke 9:7, 8, 9.) Here it is stated by St. Matthew, that Herod unhesitatingly said, it was John the Baptist come back from the dead. To reconcile both accounts, some interpreters read the words of St. Matthew interrogatively, “Is this John the Baptist?” “Is he risen from the dead?” Others say, the words are spoken ironically and jeeringly by Herod; others hold that, in public, Herod expressed his doubts, fearing a popular commotion, but in private, speaking to his familiar associates, he gives expression to his real sentiments, regarding the resuscitation of the Baptist. Most likely, both accounts are true, and taken together, they express the real state of the ease. Herod, probably, hesitatingly asserted, as did the others, that it was John the Baptist come back to life. (Luke 9) In other words, on hearing of our Lord’s miracles, and the opinion of others, that it was John come back from the dead, he first hesitated and doubted; and afterwards believing the matter, asserted it, as here.

He asserted the matter in a hesitating manner. The hesitation is expressed by St. Luke; the assertion, without any reference to the hesitation that accompanied it, is expressed here.

Mat 14:3  For Herod had apprehended John and bound him, and put him into prison, because of Herodias, his brother’s wife.

We are informed by Josephus (Lib. Antiq. xviii. c. 5), that Herod confined John in the fortified castle of Macherus, near the Lake Asphaltites, or Dead Sea, on the borders of Arabia Petrea. That John was delivered over to Herod by the Pharisees, or at least, that they co-operated with Herod in this matter, and, probably, stimulated by envy, strongly urged him to confine John, on grounds of public safety, is, with much probability, inferred from the words of our Lord (Matt. 17:12). Josephus (Lib. Antiq. xviii. c. 5), says, Herod confined John in this strong castle out of jealousy and fear of his influence with the people. This might be one of Herod’s reasons for doing so.

Because of Herodias, his brother’s wife.” The Greek has, “the wife of Philip, his brother.” as also has the Vulgate (Mark 6:17). There is some difference of opinion as to who this Herodias was. The common opinion seems to be, that she was daughter of Aristobulus, son of Herod the Great, by Mariamne, the last of the Asmonean kingly race. She was sister to Herod Agrippa, and, consequently, she was niece to this very Herod Antipas, who was brother to her father, Aristobulus, both brothers having different mothers. She was married to Herod Philip, brother to this Herod Antipas. Whether this was Philip, the Tetrarch of Iturea and Trachonitis (Luke 3:1), or a different Philip, also son of Herod the Great, of whom there is no mention made in Herod’s will and distribution of his dominions, and who must have, therefore, lived in a private station, is disputed. If the narrative of Josephus (Lib. Antiq. xviii. c. 5), be credited, it could not be Philip the Tetrarch (Luke 3:1). For, he states that Herodias’s daughter, by Philip—before she married Herod Antipas—named Salome, “was married to Philip, the son of Herod, and Tetrarch of Trachonitis.” The Philip, then, whom Herodias married first must be quite a different person. Others, rejecting this testimony of Josephus, who, they say, was deceived in this, assert, that the Philip referred to (Luke 3:1), as Tetrarch, &c., was the first husband of Herodias. Herod Antipas, on his way to Rome (as we are informed by Josephus, ibidem), in the sixteenth year of Tiberius, lodged in the house of his brother Philip, for whose wife Herodias, he conceived a wicked passion; and obtained her consent to leave her husband, and live with him on his return from Rome, on condition of his sending away his wife, who was daughter of Aretas, king of Arabia. This latter, on being informed of Herod’s designs and resolution to espouse Herodias, fled to her father for protection, who, in defence of his daughter’s honour and rights, waged war on Herod, and cut his army to pieces. (Josephus, Lib. Antiq. xviii., &c.) The Baptist sternly rebuked Herod for his incestuous and adulterous connexion with Herodias, her former husband and his own wife being still alive. Even if we suppose Philip, her former husband to be dead, as some assert, though Josephus positively states the contrary; still, Antipas, though not a Jew, any more than his father, Herod the Great, was, however, like him, a Jewish proselyte, bound by the law of Moses, which forbade marriage with a deceased brother’s wife (Lev. 18:16; 20:21), save in the case of the deceased brother dying without issue (Deut. 25:5). In the present instance there was issue, viz., the wicked daughter spoken of in this chapter. The marriage was, therefore, unlawful. Hence, the zeal of the Baptist in reproaching Herod with this scandalous adulterous connexion—scandalous, especially, in one occupying his elevated station.

Mat 14:4  For John said to him: It is not lawful for thee to have her.

John having no fear of the countenance of the mighty, with Apostolic firmness and freedom of speech, neither deterred by threats, nor allured by blandishments, regardless of the consequences which he probably foresaw would cost him his head, upbraided the royal adulterer with the criminal state he was in. We are informed by St. Luke (3:19), that the Baptist also reproached Herod with other crimes.

Mat 14:5  And having a mind to put him to death, he feared the people: because they esteemed him as a prophet.

However much Herod might have respected the virtue and sanctity of the Baptist (Mark 6:20); still, prompted by passion and stimulated by the wicked Herodias, he was anxious to do away with him. He feared, however, to have recourse to any extreme or unnecessarily harsh measures, lest the people, who regarded John as a prophet, might resent it.

Mat 14:6  But on Herod’s birthday, the daughter of Herodias danced before them: and pleased Herod.

On Herod’s birth-day,” which is called (Mark 6:21) a convenient day” for carrying out the designs of Herodias, regarding the Baptist—“a convenient day” for banishing the fears and scruples of Herod, touching the sentence of a violent death against the Baptist, when he made a supper for the chief men of Galilee.

The daughter of Herodias danced before them, and pleased Herod.” The circumstance of permitting dancing during the feast, shows the voluptuousness practised in the court of Herod; for, even amongst the most abandoned of the Roman Emperors, such was not allowed.

Mat 14:7  Whereupon he promised with an oath, to give her whatsoever she would ask of him.

Heated with wine and blinded by passion, Herod “promised to give her whatsoever she would ask.” St. Mark adds (6:23), “though it were half his kingdom.” This rash and foolish promise he confirmed with the solemn sanction of an oath.

Mat 14:8  But she being instructed before by her mother, said: Give me here in a dish the head of John the Baptist.

Instructed by her mother, whom she went to consult after receiving the promise (Mark 6:24), she asked to get on the spot, without any delay, the head of John the Baptist, lest, if time for reflection were given him, he might repent of the promise. “Give me here on a dish, the head of John,” &c. She wished for this, to be the more certain of his death; for, her mother dreaded lest, through the influence of the Baptist, Herod would send her away in disgrace.

Mat 14:9  And the king was struck sad: yet because of his oath, and for them that sat with him at table, he commanded it to be given.

The king was struck sad.” Some are of opinion, with St. Jerome, that the king was really glad of the pretext this opportunity, as it were, afforded him, of carrying out his designs against the Baptist; and that the whole affair of the request on the part of Salome—the daughter of Herodias—was previously agreed on by common concert between Herod and his adulterous wife. Others, with St. Augustine, consider that Herod was really “sad.” For, besides that the Evangelist says so, in the plainest terms, it is most likely, that, although, Herod, in the beginning, when he cast the Baptist into prison, would have him slain, had he not dreaded a popular commotion (v. 5); still, in the course of his imprisonment, he began to reverence his sanctity, and willingly listened to him (Mark 6:20), and was, therefore, sorry for the rash promise he made. Moreover, all the circumstances under which he was called upon to put him to death, the time, the place, the odium, attached to so unnatural a proceeding, were calculated to cause him real sorrow.

Yet because of his oath,” &c., that is, to avoid violating his oath, as if he did not add perjury to homicide in keeping so impious and rash a promise. The observance of an oath, having for object the perpetration of evil, is no less sinful and criminal than was its original utterance. It is an insult to God to invoke Him as witness to the perpetration of evil, as if this were pleasing to Him. St. Jerome asks, if it were the head of her mother she asked, would Herod have given it to her?

And for them that sat with him at table.” He did not wish to incur the reproach of fickleness or inconstancy, before the chief men of Galilee, whom he had assembled around him on the occasion (Mark 6:21).

Mat 14:10  And he sent, and beheaded John in the prison.

And he sent” (an executioner—Mark 6:27), “and beheaded John in the prison.” Josephus says, this prison was in the castle of Macherus, near the Sea Asphaltites, or Dead Sea, beyond the Jordan. This castle was in Herod’s dominions; for, he ruled Galilee and the district beyond the Jordan. (Josephus, Lib. 12, Antiq.) Hence, it is inferred by some, that this great banquet was given in the castle of Macherus itself; otherwise, the head of the Baptist could not be called for and given on the spot. Others deny Josephus’ account of the prison of the Baptist. They maintain, that he was imprisoned in Galilee, and that it was there Herod gave this entertainment to his nobles.

Mat 14:11  And his head was brought in a dish: and it was given to the damsel, and she brought it to her mother.

The mother, the wicked Herodias, was the instigator of the entire barbarous proceeding. St. Jerome (Lib. 3, contra Rufin, c. 11), tells us, that this monster made it her inhuman pastime to prick, with a bodkin, the tongue of the Saint. The same is recorded of Fulvia, in regard to Cicero. This same Herod, four years after he had treated the Redeemer of the world, as a mock king and a fool, in the crowded streets of Jerusalem, was banished, with his wicked wife, after they had been deprived of all their earthly possessions, their kingdom being added to that of Agrippa, by Caius to Lyons, in Gaul, where, we are informed by Josephus (Antiq. xviii. 7), they died in great misery, although it is said by others, and by the same Josephus, that his place of banishment by Caius was Spain, whither his wife followed him (Josephus, de Bel. Jud. ii. 9). Nicephorus (Lib. i., Histor. c. 20), and others state, that Salome, by a just judgment of God, met with a most miserable, but appropriate death. While crossing the ice in winter, it broke; and she was plunged in as far as the shoulders; then, the ice coming again together, severed her head from her body.

Mat 14:12  And his disciples came and took the body, and buried it, and came and told Jesus. 

The disciples of the Baptist, who, it seems, had access to his prison (Matt. 11:2), came, and taking away his body, had it honourably interred. St. Jerome informs us that it was interred in Sebaste, formerly called Samaria.

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Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on Matthew 13:44-52

Posted by Dim Bulb on July 2, 2017

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

The kingdom of heaven,” or, doctrine of the Gospel, “is like unto a treasure hidden in a field,” like unto such valuable effects as men bury in the bowels of the earth in troubled times, for greater security. “He goeth,” that is, cautiously leaves it hidden, as he found it, or hides and conceals the fact of his having found it, “and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath and buyeth that field.”

As the preceding parables point out the force and efficacy of the Gospel doctrine, this parable of “the treasure,” and the following, ofthe pearls,” show the priceless value of the same doctrine. In both parables, we are reminded of the great sacrifices we are called upon to make, if necessary, to secure the incomparable advantage of being sharers in the blessing of the Gospel, compared with which all the goods and acquisitions of this transitory world are but dross and ordure (Phil. 3:7–8). “He hideth,” in reference to the Gospel privileges, signifies, that the man in question employs every possible means to guard against the loss of this priceless blessing. “And buys that field.” By the Jewish law, a treasure belonged by right to the actual proprietor of the soil. To this, these words are allusive.

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

(Seventh Parable.) Unlike the preceding parable, wherein, a man is supposed, without any exertions of his own, to have unexpectedly fallen in with a treasure, which God in His goodness made known to him, in this parable of the pearls, are insinuated the difficulties, the dangers and the perils which the merchant had to encounter in order to find the Gospel truth. If necessary, everything is to be sacrificed for it. “He sold all that he had and bought it.” Qui non renunciaverit omnibus quæ possidet non potest esse meus discipulus.” We frequently find the truths of God compared to the most valuable of human acquisitions, viz., pearls and precious stones, “desiderabilia super aurum et lapidem pretiosum.” “Dilexi mandata tua super aurum et topazion,” &c.

Mat 13:47  Again the kingdom of heaven is like to a net cast into the sea, and gathering together of all kinds of fishes.

(Eighth Parable.) “The kingdom of heaven,” the Gospel doctrine, or, probably, the Church militant here below, “is like to a net (a drag net) cast into the sea.” The Church is cast into this troubled, boisterous, stormy world, in which men are daily exposed and shipwrecked.

And gathering together of all kinds of fishes.” In the Church are found every description of persons, whether bond or free, rich or poor, from every quarter of the globe—saints and sinners—not that any are saints before entering the Church, as the fishes are good before caught in the net. The Parable is not, in this respect, to be urged aa vivum; it only is meant, that in the net, after they have entered it, are found good and bad, saints and sinners.

Mat 13:48  Which, when it was filled, they drew out, and sitting by the shore, they chose out the good into vessels, but the bad they cast forth. 
Mat 13:49  So shall it be at the end of the world. The angels shall go out, and shall separate the wicked from among the just. 
Mat 13:50  And shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 
New and Old Treasures

When filled.” When at the end of the world, “the fulness of the Gentiles shall have entered.” This parable exhibits the capacity and amplitude—the Catholicity of the Church—as the net, the whole Church, takes in the entire world. The parable was introduced for the twofold purpose of removing any grounds of surprise at seeing sinners and wicked men in the Church; as even in the best constituted kingdoms we find thieves, murderers, &c.; and of cautioning us against feeling too secure, because we are members of the Church, which includes sinners as well as saints, reprobates as well as elect.

Note.—Of the preceding parables, some are said to be spoken before the crowd (v. 36). Hence, it is inferred by certain commentators, that the others were not; and that they were spoken privately before the disciples. By other commentators, it is supposed that all were spoken in immediate succession and at the same time. There is no satisfactory evidence for supposing, that some were spoken privately, and some publicly before the multitudes.

Mat 13:51  Have ye understood all these things? They say to him: Yes.

Our Redeemer proposes this question, in order that the answer He was sure to receive would furnish a fitting opportunity of imparting the following points of instruction.

Mat 13:52  He said unto them: Therefore every scribe instructed in the kingdom of heaven, is like to a man that is a householder, who bringeth forth out of his treasure new things and old. 

Therefore,” as you understand the things I have spoken, I wish you to bury them up in your hearts and intellects, so that as learned teachers, you may give them utterance in due time, and not keep them within yourselves. I wish, then, to inform you, that “every Scribe,” that is, teacher versed in the law, “instructed in the kingdom of heaven,” or, as the Greek has it, “into the kingdom of heaven” instructed for teaching and preaching the mysteries and truths relating to the kingdom of heaven. He uses the word “scribe,” when speaking of an Evangelical teacher, in accordance with the language of the Jews. “Is like to a householder,” a provident householder, who produces from his stores all kinds of food and viands, new and old, to suit and satisfy the palate and appetite of his several guests.

The preacher of the Gospel must, then, be prepared to employ examples of all sorts, taken both from the Old Testament and the New; and bring to bear varied knowledge, derived from all legitimate sources, cultivated and perfected by daily meditation and spiritual exercises, in instructing the people. He is sure to make an ever-lasting impression, if he elucidate and confirm his teaching, and make abstract truths almost tangible by examples derived from the New Testament, and prefigured by the Old, as also by the judicious selections of examples drawn from the lives of the saints. There is hardly any point so important for preachers, as the judicious use of appropriate examples. Our Redeemer wishes to stimulate His Apostles to follow the example of preaching which He Himself had set them.

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