The Divine Lamp

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

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Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on Acts 4:1-12

Posted by Dim Bulb on April 13, 2019

In this chapter is recorded the violence offered the Apostles by the Jewish authorities for preaching to the people (Acts 4:1–3). The conversion of large numbers (Acts 4:4). The questioning of the Apostles by the leading men of the Jewish priesthood (Acts 4:5–8). Peter’s address, his vindication of his conduct, and exposition of doctrine (Acts 4:8–13). Consultation among the assembled authorities as to how the Apostles were to be treated (Acts 4:13–20). The liberation of the Apostles out of fear of the people, and on account of the incontestable evidence of the miracle (Acts 4:21–22). The solemn, united prayer to God on the part of the assembled faithful (Acts 4:24–30). The effect of this solemn prayer fully manifested (Acts 4:31). The edifying manner of life pursued by the first Christians, their charitable disinterestedness (Acts 4:32–37).

Acts 4:1 And as they were speaking to the people the priests and the officer of the temple and the Sadducees came upon them,

“Priests.” These likely belonged to the Sanhedrim. They seemed to possess some authority to prevent the Apostles from preaching in the Temple.

“The officer of the Temple” very likely, denotes the captain of the guard stationed in the Tower, Antonia, for the purpose of preserving order and preventing tumults in the Temple, especially on the occasion of Great Festivities. The assembling of the people round the Apostles, after the miraculous cure of the lame man, might lead to a riot.

“The Sadducees” (See Matthew 3:7, 22:23, Commentary). They were a kind of freethinking malcontents among the Jews. They denied the existence of spirits, and the spirituality, as also the immortality of the soul. They were particularly opposed to the doctrine of the Resurrection. Although generally at variance with the Pharisees and the heads of the Jewish church, they still joined them against our Lord and his Apostles (See Matthew 3:7).

“Came upon them,” by surprise and unexpectedly, while speaking to the people.

Acts 4:2 Being grieved that they taught the people and preached in Jesus the resurrection from the dead:

“Grieved,” in Greek, means, vexed, annoyed; “taught,” &c, thus causing their own influence and prestige to be lessened.

“The resurrection of the dead,” the general resurrection of all men, of which the Resurrection of Jesus, which they constantly proclaimed, was the model, the exemplary and efficient cause. This was very mortifying to the Sadducees, who saw that the preaching of the Apostles on this point, so opposed to their cherished tenets, was making head among the people. They, therefore, united with the priests in endeavouring to arrest the progress of the Gospel.

Acts 4:3 And they laid hands upon them and put them in hold till the next day: for it was now evening.

Forcibly seizing on them, they put them in safe keeping, either in prison or in charge of some guard “till next day,” when they were to be brought before the Council. It was now too late in the day to convene a Council.

Acts 4:4 But many of them who had heard the word believed: and the number of the men was made five thousand.

The effect of this persecution was to increase the number of believers among the Jews. “Was made five thousand.” This form of expression would seem to signify, not that this number were just now converted and assembled in Solomon’s porch; but, that by the accession of the “many” now converted, to the number of converts already existing, the entire Church now amounted to this number, which shows the wonderful power of God’s grace in so short a time after Pentecost. The interval, though not stated, must be very short.

Acts 4:5 And it came to pass on the morrow, that their princes and ancients and scribes were gathered together in Jerusalem.

The assembly of the Sanhedrim, or great council of the nation, which wielded such authority, probably, the first time, since they condemned our Lord, shows the alarm caused the heads of the Jewish Church by the successes of the Apostles. Hence, they leave nothing undone to stop them. For a full account of the Synedrium, or, as the Talmudists termed it, the Sanhedrin (See Matthew 26:57, Commentary). Seventy-one (72) judges constituted the Sanhedrim, the High Priest being always President. It was composed of the High Priests, that is, such as enjoyed the dignity of High Priests, together with the heads of the twenty-four (24) classes into which the Priests were divided—“the ancients or elders, the chiefs of the Tribes and heads of families; the Scribes” (See Matthew 26:3). There is no mention of the High Priests here. Hence, the description of the Sanhedrim here is incomplete, though, of course, the High Priests formed no inconsiderable portion of the assembly. It was before these same men our Blessed Lord was arraigned; it was they handed him over to Pilate (Matthew 26:50). It was before the same that Peter denied our Lord (Matthew 26:70. &c.).

“In Jerusalem”—in Greek, “into Jerusalem,” conveying that such members of the Sanhedrim as were not actually at the time in Jerusalem, repaired thither for the trial of the Apostles.

Acts 4:6 And Annas the high priest and Caiphas and John and Alexander: and as many as were of the kindred of the high priest.

Having referred, in a general way, to the Sanhedrim, he now mentions some of its most prominent members, “Annas, Caiphas,” &c (See Luke 3). “John and Alexander,” men clearly of eminence among the body, “and as many,” &c., may denote members of the family of Annas and Caiphas, or those nearly related to them.

Acts 4:7 And setting them in the midst, they asked: By what power or by what name, have you done this?

“And setting,” &c., assigning them as culprits a place where all the judges or assembled members of the Sanhedrim might easily see them.

“What power,” from God, or any other source? “Name.” What name did you invoke in order to perform this work? Although they knew it was by the power and invocation of the name of Jesus, still they hoped the Apostles might say it was by the Divine power, without specially referring to the name of Jesus; and thus, some confusion as to the distinct name of Jesus might arise (St. Chrysostom, Hom. x. in Acts).

“You,” is derisive. You, who are of no consideration.

“This” cure. They would not express what it was.

Acts 4:8 Then Peter, filled with the Holy Ghost, said to them: Ye princes of the people and ancients, hear.

“Filled with the Holy Ghost” denotes a particular actual grace given him on this occasion, strongly influencing him; different or distinct from the habitual graces given him on Pentecost Sunday. Ordinary and habitual grace would not suffice for heroic deeds. A new actual grace is required. Thus, it is said of Sampson, on occasion of his wonderful displays of strength, “the spirit of the Lord came strongly upon him” (Judges 15:14).

How different is Peter’s conduct from what it had been on a former occasion. Then, trembling at the empty chidings of a silly maid, he denied his Lord. Now, as head of the Apostolic College, boldly confronting the united authority of the Jews, he makes reparation for his former crime by loudly proclaiming his Divine Messiahship, preaching the glorious Resurrection of the Crucified, whose power they were after witnessing in the miraculous cure of the lame man. Showing the deference due to their office, he respectfully addresses them as representatives of the supreme authority among the Jews, “Princes of the people,” &c. Before the same Council, the same men, in the same place and city, he repaires the scandal he gave in denying his Divine Master.

Acts 4:9 If we this day are examined concerning the good deed done to the infirm man, by what means he hath been made whole:

“If we this day,” &c. If notwithstanding the evidence of the fact, we are to be treated as criminals, brought to trial and subjected to judicial examination for the good deed of having bestowed the blessing of a perfect cure on the infirm man—which should be rather a subject of praise—and called to render an account of how “he has been made whole.” “If” conveys surprise at such an extraordinary proceeding, a matter scarcely credible.

Acts 4:10 Be it known to you all and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God hath raised from the dead, even by him, this man standeth here before you, whole.

As you ask by what name we did this, be it known to you and all the world, it was by invoking the name and exercising the power “of our Lord Jesus Christ of Nazareth.” The term of Nazareth was the epithet by which our Lord was known and scornfully referred to by the Jews. “Crucified,” “raised from the dead.” The contrast is so striking. They put him to death. God raised him up from the dead. The accusers now become the accused. With singular intrepidity and courage, St. Peter heretofore so timid, charges them with the greatest crime that could be perpetrated, the murder of their own long-expected Messiah and deliverer, putting to death the author of life.

“Standeth here,” &c. It may be that the cured man was imprisoned or guarded with the Apostles, and, very likely, brought forward at the trial to confront them.

Acts 4:11 This is the stone which was rejected by you the builders, which is become the head of the corner.

He shows that the ignominious death and Resurrection of our Lord was predicted by the Prophets. He thus strengthens his argument, especially with the Jews, who valued so much the oracles of their inspired Prophets. The first part of Psalm 118, from which the quotation is taken, literally refers to David himself. The second part, also quoted, could refer to our Lord only, in its literal sense, and is quoted by our Lord as applying to Himself (Matthew 21:42). Here is a metaphorical allusion to architecture; skilful architects place in the corners of a building the largest and most binding stone, in order to unite and sustain the two walls of the building. It thus gets the most important place. St. Peter applies this prediction to our Lord, who was scornfully rejected by the Jewish rulers, the Priests, and Scribes, the builders of the Synagogue, who should labour for the construction of God’s spiritual house, and should, therefore, be the first to receive our Lord. But while they rejected Him, God placed Him as the head “corner stone,” sustaining, upholding, and fusing into one the two peoples, Jews and Gentiles, who were to form the Church. He united the old and new dispensations. In Him all the elect of old were justified, no less than the children of the New Law. To this our Lord alludes (Matthew 21:42. See Commentary on).

Isaias had predicted it (Isa 28:16). See also 1 Peter 2–4.

Acts 4:12 Neither is there salvation in any other. For there is no other name under heaven given to men, whereby we must be saved.

Having assured them in figurative terms, that Christ was the Messiah, St. Peter now, in language devoid of all figure, adds, as a consequence, that in him only can man find eternal Salvation.

Name” often signifies person or being. No one else can save us from the consequences of sin, viz., hell and damnation; and bestow on us eternal joy and peace in Heaven—the chief object of our Lord’s Mission. The Apostle avails himself of this corporal cure to place before the assembled Sanhedrim the greater cure and salvation from Hell which our Lord came to bring about.

Our Lord is frequently marked out, “given” as the source of this greater and universal Salvation. (John 3:16), (1 Cor. 3:5), (1 Tim. 2:6), &c.

“Must be saved” in the present order of Divine Providence, whereby our Lord is constituted the only source of eternal life and salvation.

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Haydock’s Commentary on 2 Kings 5:1-15

Posted by Dim Bulb on March 16, 2019

2 Kings 5:1 (D-R) Naaman, general of the army, of the king of Syria, was a great man with his master, and honourable: for by him the Lord gave deliverance to Syria: and he was a valiant man, and rich, but a leper.

King, Benadad, who had defeated Achab, and was slain by Hazael; (C. 8. T.) or, according to Salien, Hazael was already king. M.—Josephus passes over this history. It is not known for what reason, (C.) unless he was staggered at the petition of Naaman, v. 18. 19. H.—Syria. The Rabbins say, by killing Achab. 3 K. 22:34. But their authority is very small; (H.) and he might signalize himself on many other occasions.—Leper. This malady did not exclude him from court. The Hebrews allowed such to appear in public, till the priests had declared them unclean; and other nations viewed the leprosy with less horror.

2 Kings 5:2 Now there had gone out robbers from Syria, and had led away captive out of the land of Israel, a little maid, and she waited upon Naaman’s wife.

Robbers; soldiers. T. 2 K. 4:2.—Such invaded the dominions of Joachin. C. 24:2. Irruptions of this nature were then very common, (see Judg. 11:3. Job 1:15) and regarded as noble military exploits. When the Greeks first became acquainted with navigation, they exercised themselves in this manner; (Thucyd. l.) and the Germans allowed their citizens to take from other people. Juventutis exercendæ ac desidiæ minuendæ causâ. Cæsar. Bel. Gal. vi. Those who had been plundered, were allowed to redeem their goods. Strabo xi.—The Arabs still maintain their right to live upon their neighbours. C.—The Christian religion has introduced more gentle manners.—Maid. It seems, however, she was well informed of the miraculous powers and goodness of Eliseus. H.

2 Kings 5:3 And she said to her mistress: I wish my master had been with the prophet that is in Samaria: he would certainly have healed him of the leprosy which he hath.
2 Kings 5:4 Then Naaman went in to his lord, and told him, saying: Thus and thus said the girl from the land of Israel.
2 Kings 5:5 And the king of Syria said to him: Go; and I will send a letter to the king of Israel. And he departed, and took with him ten talents of silver, and six thousand pieces of gold, and ten changes of raiment;

Ver. 5. Raiment; the tunic and the cloak, (C.) of a finer sort. T.

2 Kings 5:6 And brought the letter to the king of Israel, in these words: When thou shalt receive this letter, know that I have sent to thee Naaman, my servant, that thou mayst heal him of his leprosy.
2 Kings 5:7 And when the king of Israel had read the letter, he rent his garments, and said: Am I God, to be able to kill and give life, that this man hath sent to me to heal a man of his leprosy? mark, and see how he seeketh occasions against me.

Ver. 7. Leprosy. The cure was deemed very difficult; as it generally kept gaining ground, and destroyed the constitution. See Num. 12:12. Isai. 53:4. C.—Me. The letter was, in effect, written in a haughty style, (M.) and the king might naturally infer that war would be the consequence. H.

2 Kings 5:8 And when Eliseus, the man of God, had heard this, to wit, that the king of Israel had rent his garments, he sent to him, saying: Why hast thou rent thy garments? let him come to me, and let him know that there is a prophet in Israel.

Ver. 8. Israel; able to perform much greater wonders, by God’s assistance. M.

2 Kings 5:9 So Naaman came with his horses and chariots, and stood at the door of the house of Eliseus:
2 Kings 5:10 And Eliseus sent a messenger to him, saying: Go, and wash seven times in the Jordan, and thy flesh shall recover health, and thou shalt be clean.

Ver. 10. Messenger. Eliseus supports the dignity of God’s envoy, and shews the general that his cure was to be attributed, not to the presence of the prophet, but to the will and goodness of God.

2 Kings 5:11 Naaman was angry, and went away, saying: I thought he would have come out to me, and standing, would have invoked the name of the Lord his God, and touched with his hand the place of the leprosy, and healed me.
2 Kings 5:12 Are not the Abana, and the Pharphar, rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel, that I may wash in them, and be made clean? So as he turned, and was going away with indignation,

Ver. 12. Pharphar. Benjamin (p. 53) informs us that the former river serves to water the city, and the second the surrounding gardens. Maundrell could discover no vestiges of these names in Syria, but he describes the Barrady, which supplies Damascus with abundance of water. Stephanus calls it Bardine; and others, the Chrysorroas. The Orontes, which is supposed to be one of these rivers, flows by Antioch into the Mediterranean sea. C.

2 Kings 5:13 His servants came to him, and said to him: Father, if the prophet had bid thee do some great thing, surely thou shouldst have done it: how much rather what he now hath said to thee: Wash, and thou shalt be clean?

Father; a title given to masters, kings, &c. The Romans senators were styled, “conscript fathers;” and Homer calls kings “the fathers and shepherds of the people.” See Gen. 45:8. C.—Masters may often derive benefit from the observations of their servants, as Naaman did repeatedly, v. 2. This may serve to correct their pride. H.—Clean. The patient ought not to prescribe rules to his physician. M.—How justly might these words be addressed to delicate penitents! H.

2 Kings 5:14 Then he went down, and washed in the Jordan seven times, according to the word of the man of God; and his flesh was restored, like the flesh of a little child: and he was made clean.

Clean. If bathing seven times in the Jordan had been an infallible remedy, there would soon have been no lepers in the land; and our Saviour plainly intimates that the cure was miraculous. Luke 4:27. The leprosy of Naaman, though inveterate, was cured in an instant. To bathe in a rapid stream, is allowed to be very salutary for removing the diseases of the skin. C. Vales. 38.—The fathers discover in this miracle, a figure of the Gentiles called to the faith by the Synagogue, which is in servitude. Gal. 4:25. Baptism cleanses us from all the seven capital sins, (Tert. c. Marc. 4.) so that no vestiges remain. S. Amb. &c. C.

2 Kings 5:15 And returning to the man of God, with all his train, he came, and stood before him, and said: In truth, I know there is no other God, in all the earth, but only in Israel: I beseech thee, therefore, take a blessing of thy servant.

A blessing. A present, (Ch.) accompanied with wishes of happiness, on both sides. We have seen that the prophets generally received such presents. But Eliseus acts with more reserve in regard of this stranger, as S. Paul did towards the new converts; though he received some sustenance from those, who would be less in danger of suspecting that he was actuated by selfish views in preaching the gospel. 2 Cor. 10:7 and 12:14. Matt. 10:8. C.—They abstained from every appearance of evil, (H.) though they might lawfully have accepted such presents. Eliseus wished to convince Naaman that God’s grace was not to be purchased, and to leave a lesson of moderation to future teachers. M.

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St Robert Bellarmine’s Commentary on Psalm 86

Posted by Dim Bulb on March 3, 2019

A PRAYER FOR GOD’S GRACE TO ASSIST US TO THE END

Ps 86:1 He begins his prayer by touching on God’s greatness and his own poverty, an excellent form of prayer, and calculated to get what we want; for, “the prayer of him that humbleth himself shall pierce the clouds,” Sirach 35. “Incline thy ear,” for you sit so high, you have need to do so, in order to hear me, who lie so low, “for I am needy and poor.” As I am the beggar sitting at the rich man’s gate, incline thy ear to your poor servant, and hear him. By the poor and the needy he means the person, who, though he may abound in the riches of the world, still does not put his trust in them, takes no pride in them, does not despise others, but rather despises the wealth itself; and does not look upon himself one bit better or greater than those who are not possessed of such wealth. St. Augustine very properly remarks, that Lazarus was not taken up into Abraham’s bosom by reason of his poverty, but on account of his humility; nor was the rich glutton hurried in hell for his riches, but for his pride. Had such been the case, Abraham too, who abounded in riches, would have been buried in hell. But, as Abraham looked upon himself, and called himself “dust and ashes,” Gen. 18, and observed the commandments of God so faithfuly, that he was most ready to sacrifice, not only all his wealth, but even his only son for whom he had it in store, at the command of God, he was, therefore, not only himself brought to the place of rest after his death, but in his bosom were gathered together all who then died in the Lord. David, too, abounded in the riches of this world; but, as he took no pride in them, set no value on them, but depended entirely on God, in whom he had placed his entire hope, his strength, and his riches, and without whom he knew he was nothing, and could do nothing; he, therefore, with great truth, proclaimed himself really poor and needy.

Ps 86:2 He tells in what respect he wishes to be heard, and first proposes what is really uppermost in his mind, and which the Lord himself directed should be sought for in preference to everything, and that is, “Seek first the kingdom of God and his justice, and all these things shall be added unto you.” “Preserve my soul,” that so many enemies lie in wait for, in this my exile, “for I am holy.” I ask for the safety of my soul, because I got it from you, and you have justified me who was dead in sin, through the blood of your Son, and you have sanctified me, and enlivened me. For, as St. Augustine says, when one feels a confidence that he has been justified through the sacraments, and calls himself holy, through the grace of God; such is not to be looked upon as the pride of a vain man, but the confession of one who is not ungrateful; but if one cannot venture to say, I am justified and cleansed, he can at least say, “I am holy;” that is, I am one of the faithful, a professor of our holy faith and religion, dedicated and consecrated to God through baptism. “Save thy servant, O my God, that trusteth in thee.” A repetition of the preceding. The reason he wishes his soul to be saved is, that he may not lose life everlasting. St. Peter, in his first Epistle, uses similar language, when he says, “Who, by the power of God are kept by faith unto salvation, ready to be revealed in the last time.” He asks, then, for life everlasting, for fear of losing which, he asks for the safety of his soul, assigning a reason, when he says, “thy servant that trusteth in thee;” because, when God saves his servant, he saves what belongs to himself; and, when he saves him that trusts in him, he shows himself to be just and faithful, in carrying out what he promised.

Ps 86:3–4 He had asked, in the second verse, for supreme happiness; that is, the salvation of his soul, the object of all his desires; and he now most properly asks for the means of arriving at such an end, namely, that interior joy that manfully bears up against the temptations and the dangers of this our exile, until it comes to that harbor of safety, where there will be no temptations, no dangers. “Have mercy on me, O Lord.” In mercy hear my prayer, “for I hare cried to thee all the day;” I have put up my prayers with the greatest fervor and perseverance, for nothing is more necessary in prayer than great fervor, which the expression, “I have cried,” implies, and with perseverance, which the words, “all the day,” convey. Here is the petition, which, in mercy, he asked should be listened to, and for which he cried the whole day, “Give joy to the soul of thy servant.” I am hemmed in on all sides by temptations, nothing but what is bitter presents itself to me in this valley of tears, while my very prosperity terrifies me as much as my adversity saddens me; therefore, “Give joy to the soul of thy servant, for to thee, O Lord, I have lifted up my soul.” As I have not found rest in anything created, I have raised up my soul on the wings of thought and desire to thee my Creator. Love bears one’s soul up; and it has been truly said, that the soul is more where it loves, than where it actually is. Thought and desire are the wings of love; for he that loves is borne on to, and abides in, what he loves, by thinking constantly on, and longing for, the object of his love. Whoever truly, and from his heart, loves God, by thinking on him and longing for him, lifts up his soul to God; while, on the contrary, whoever loves the earth, by thinking on and coveting the things of the earth, lets his soul down to its level. Thus he alone, with the prophet, can truly say, “To thee, O Lord, I have lifted up my soul,” and can with justice ask for consolation, saying, “Give joy to the soul of thy servant,” who has no inordinate affection for anything created, and is in no way stuck in the mud of this world.

Ps 86:5 A reason assigned for having raised up his soul to God in order to obtain consolation; because “God is sweet and mild;” and as St. John says, “God is light, and in him there is no darkness.” So we can say God is sweet, and in him there is no bitterness; whereas in the consolations of this world there is an abundance of bitterness with little or no sweetness And not only is God sweet, but he is also mild, offering no repulse to those who approach him, and bearing with our imperfections. St. Augustine observes that God’s mildness is most remarkable in bearing with us when we pray; when, during our prayers, we divert our attention to so many different subjects. The judge would hardly have patience with the culprit who, while laying his petition before the court, would turn about to talk with his friends, especially on matters of no moment. And not only is God sweet and mild in himself, inasmuch as he repels no one approaching the fountain of his sweetness; but he is also “plenteous in mercy,” for he freely admits and receives, and offers himself to be tasted of by all that call upon him, having no regard to rich or poor, Jew or gentile “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” If he sometimes does not hear or have mercy on those who pray to him, the reason is because they do not really call upon him, or do not call upon him as they ought. He very often hears us, but at the fitting time; and he very often hears the wish of him who prays, instead of the words he utters; for instance, when the petitioner asks a thing quite unsuited to him, and which he would not have asked had he known it to be so.

Ps 86:6 A repetition of the first part of the first verse, in different language, in order to express his great desire for what he asks.

Ps 86:7 This verse would seem to have been introduced as an explanation of the preceding. He said therein, “give ear, O Lord, to my prayer,” and God may fairly have asked him, When did you pray? When will you have me give ear to your prayer? The prophet answers, I have prayed every day, and I will pray every day while I stray about in this exile. Every day of my exile is a day of trouble, for he who loves his country cannot but loathe his exile. “In the day of my trouble;” during the whole time of my exile, I found nought but trouble and sorrow; and therefore I have always “called upon thee,” and with so much confidence, “because thou hast heard me.”

Ps 86:8 He assigns a reason for flying to God alone, for invoking him, and for seeking to lift up his soul to him, because there is no one, not only among men, but even among gods, like God; either in essence or in power, or in wisdom, or in goodness. If by the word “gods” we understand false gods, idols, and demons, of which it is said in Psalm 96, “All the gods of the gentiles are devils;” then, what he says here is absolutely true; for idols have eyes and do not see, and depend on man both for motion and protection; but the true God sees without corporeal eyes, depends on no one, but all things depend on him; “For in him we live, move, and have our being.” The demons, it is true, were made to God’s image, but they lost it by sin. “And there is none according to thy works.” Not only is there no god like unto thee, O Lord, but none of them have produced any one work equal to any of yours; for God made the heavens, and the earth, and everything in them, from nothing; other gods only work from the matter which our God created.

Ps 86:9 From this verse we learn that, in the preceding one, he referred to the false gods, who were adored by the sinners as true and supreme gods; for the prophet proves that none of those gods are like our God, that their worship will one day cease, and their falsity and vanity be made perfectly clear; while the worship of our God will be everlasting, a fact partly accomplished in the Church of Christ, and fully so on the day of judgment. For, though in the days of David there were gods of the Moabites, of the Ammonites, of the Philistines, and of various nations, still, on the promulgation of the Gospel of Christ, idolatry began to disappear, and the worship of the true God to be introduced among all nations. Thus, “all the nations shall come;” that is, they came from all nations, and, after abandoning their false gods, they adored the true one; but, on the day of judgment, all men, without any exception, shall know that the gods of the gentiles were demons, or empty images, and, whether they will or will not, shall bow the knee before the Lord, fulfilling the prophecy of Isaias “For every knee shall be bowed to me,” a text applied by St. Paul, Rom. 14, and Phil. 2, to Christ as the true God. “And they shall glorify thy name;” but in a different manner; the just will from love, and with pleasure; but the wicked will through fear, and against their will, glorify the Lord on the day of judgment, and will say, “Thou, art just, O Lord, and righteous is thy judgment.”

Ps 86:10 The reason why the worship of false gods will cease, and all nations will adore and glorify the Lord is, “for he is God alone,” truly great, “and does wonderful things,” that nobody else can do; a thing that will be well known on the day of judgment, especially when, at his nod, all the dead shall arise, and be gathered before the tribunal of Christ, when, without the slightest resistance or opposition, the just shall be exalted to their kingdom, and the wicked shoved down to everlasting punishment. Hence the Apostle, when speaking of said judgment, uses the expression, “of the great God,” for it is in the last judgment that his greatness is most clearly exhibited, “waiting for the blessed hope and coming of the glory of the great God, and our Savior Jesus Christ.”

Ps 86:11 For fear of straying from the path that leads to his country, he has again recourse to prayer, in which he asks for guidance in this his wandering and his exile, and at the same time, asks for spiritual help and succour, for fear he may faint on the way. “Conduct me, O Lord, in thy way.” Show one the way, through the assistance of your grace, not only by enlightening my mind, but by moving my will; and thus, “I will walk in thy truth,” according to the truth of your law and of your faith. “Let my heart rejoice;” he asked in the third verse “that his soul should have joy;” let it, then, rejoice when you gladden and console my heart, “that it may fear thy name;” I do not seek consolation for consolation’s sake, but in order that, being refreshed by it as if with food, I may persevere in thy holy fear. By fearing to offend you I will be sure to proceed in the direct road of your commandments, to that country where I will serve you without any fear.

Ps 86:12 To prayer he adds thanksgiving, for nothing tends more to obtain fresh favors than to appear mindful on and grateful for, the past. “I will praise thee, O Lord, my God;” I will render you the tribute of praise and thanksgiving, “with my whole heart,” with the full tide of my affections. “And I will glorify thy name;” that is, thy power, “forever,” while I live, incessantly.

Ps 86:13 The favor for which he returns thanks is, that God, in his great mercy, and not through the merits of the supplicant, should have delivered his soul from the lowest hell; that is, should have justified him from the sins that would have carried him to hell, had he not been delivered through grace. And, in truth, the mercy of God, which converts the sinner into a just man, is as great as the punishment of eternal fire from which we are saved, or the everlasting happiness to which we get a right and free access. Hence St. Peter says, “Who, according to his great mercy, hath regenerated us unto a lively hope.” Various explanations are offered of the words, “lowest hell.” We adopt that of Saints Augustine, Jerome, and Bernard, who say it means that part of hell where no one praises the Lord, and from which there is no egress.

Ps 86:14 Having returned thanks, he comes again to pray, asking to be delivered from the multitude of the enemies that sought his life; and though some make him allude to his corporal enemies, or to those of Ezechias, some will have him allude to the enemies of Christ, who caused his death; the explanation of St. Augustine is more in accordance with the rest of the Psalm; and he says it is to be understood of the members of Christ’s body of the just, or any person suffering persecution from their spiritual enemies, be they heretics or schismatics, or bad Christians. The man of God, then, delivered through the grace of Christ from the lower hell, fighting in the meantime with his spiritual enemies, in heavy groans exclaims, O my God, “behold the wicked are risen up against me;” neither few in number, nor weak in strength, but “an assembly of the mighty;” a great congregation of most powerful enemies “have sought my soul” to destroy it; and in their blindness and obduracy “have not set thee before their eyes;” have not considered that you are the protector of the just, and they presume to wage war, not with weak mortals, but with the Lord God of armies.

Ps 86:15 Having mentioned the quantity and the quality of his enemies, he now asks for help against them, and in various terms proclaims God’s goodness, to show he was not rash in hoping for assistance from so good a God. He is a God of compassion, which in Hebrew signifies the regard a parent has for his child. “Merciful,” which means a bestower of grace, or the making one acceptable, as St. Paul says, “by which he made us acceptable through his beloved Son;” that is, made us acceptable to him or received us into grace. “Patient,” the word in Hebrew signifies long nosed, not easily provoked to anger, for with the Hebrews a long nose was looked upon as a sign of much patience; “and of much mercy,” abounding in mercy, “and true,” or faithful. Hence we learn that God loves us with the affection of a father, and, therefore, most ready to forgive, most slow to be provoked, liberal, and ready to promise in his mercy, and faithful to carry out such promises; all of which afford incalculable consolation and confidence to pious souls, who, from their heart, attach themselves to God; for all this applies only to those who fear God, as is more clearly explained in Psalm 102. They who abuse God’s goodness “treasure up to themselves wrath against the day of wrath, and revelation of the just judgment of God,” Rom. 2; to whom he says in Heb. 10, “It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”

Ps 86:16 Having explained God’s goodness in so many terms, he now begs that he may have a share in it. “O look on me” with the eyes of your infinite goodness, and prodigal as you are of your mercies, “have mercy on me.”—“Give thy command to thy servant.” Grant that my numerous enemies may not prevail over me, but, on the contrary, give thy servant strength and power to subdue and command them, and thereby “save the son of thy handmaid,” whether from their secret snares or open persecutions.

Ps 86:17 He concludes by asking for some external sign that may let even his enemies see that God always consoles and assists his faithful servants. “Show me a token for good;” give me some sign that will assure me of something good, that is, of your grace and favor, “that they who hate me may see,” that my enemies may see it, be confounded, and despair of subduing me, “because thou, O Lord, hast helped me and hast comforted me.” As you have really helped me in the combat, and by your interior grace consoled me in my trouble, show also some external sign of your favor, that my enemies, on seeing it, may be confounded. A question has been raised, what is the sign he asks for? St. Jerome says, it is the sign of the cross of Christ, for it is a token for good, it being the token of redemption, and when the evil spirits, who hate us, behold it, they are confounded. St. Augustine explains it of the sign that will appear on the last day, which will be for good to the elect, and on the sight of which all their enemies will be confounded. Others interpret it of the sign given by Isaias to king Achaz when he said to him, “The Lord himself will give you a sign, behold, a virgin will conceive, and will bring forth a son.” That was truly a token for good to David, to have the Messias descended from him, and to the whole world that was to be delivered, through Christ, from all its enemies. Perhaps, the token for good means that spiritual joy, which he asked for in the beginning of the Psalm, when he said, “Give joy to the soul of thy servant;” for such joy to a holy soul in tribulation is the clearest sign of the grace of God, and on the sight of it, all manner of persecutors are confounded, and then the meaning would be, “show me a token for good;” give me the grace of that spiritual joy that will appear exteriorly in my countenance, “that they who hate me may see” such calmness and tranquillity of soul, “and be confounded;” for you, Lord, have helped me in the struggle, consoled me in my sorrow, and have already converted my sadness into interior joy and gladness.

 

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Patristic/Medieval Commentary on Psalm 86

Posted by Dim Bulb on March 3, 2019

Argument

Arg. Thomas. That Christ, good and gracious, may hear the desires of them that beseech Him. The Voice of Christ to the Father. During the Fast. A Prophecy concerning Christ, and counsel always to pour forth prayer to God. Concerning laudable prayer.

Ven. Bede. David, signifies the Lord the Saviour: either because the interpretation thereof is held to be, strong of hand and desirable, or because He Who is God over all, blessed for ever, derived from David’s stem.

Throughout the whole Psalm the Lord Jesus Christ makes His prayer: in the first portion uttering words which can clearly be applied to Him only, Bow down Thine ear, O Lord, &c. In the second part, He prays yet more humbly for His members, whose Head He is: Teach Me Thy way, O Lord. In the third portion, He utters again in His own person what specially belongs to Himself: O God, the proud are risen against Me.

Syriac Psalter. Of David, when he built a house unto the Lord, and a prophecy of the calling of the Gentiles. Further, a special prayer of a righteous man.

Eusebius of Cæsarea. A Prayer of David, and a prophecy of the calling of the Gentiles.

S. Athanasius. A Psalm of address, of prayer, and supplication.

Commentary

1 Bow down thine ear, O Lord, and hear me: for I am poor, and in misery.

This Psalm, though bearing the name of David in the superscription, is held by the Greek Fathers, (Z.) S. Basil and Theodoret, to be of a much later day, and to be probably the composition of Hezekiah. There are two circumstances on the face of the matter which lend weight to this adjudication of it away from David. First, the Psalm, if Davidic, stands alone in this third book of the Psalter, with no companion. Secondly, it is in a considerable degree a cento from earlier Psalms, or at any rate borrows many of its thoughts and phrases from them, and at least three passages are derived from the Pentateuch, and thus it is structurally unlike the original Psalms of the Prophet King. Yet it is a King of Israel who speaks throughout, whether as author of the Psalm, or as having it put in his mouth by one of the Korhite poets, and therefore we may truly say with S. Augustine, (A.) that it is our Lord Jesus Christ Who prays for us, Who prays in us, and is to be prayed to by us. He prays for us, as our High Priest; He prays in us, as our Head; He is prayed to by us, as our God. Let us then recognize our own words in Him, and His words in us. He saith, then, in the form of a servant, and thou, O servant, in the form of thy Lord, sayest, Bow down Thine ear, O Lord. He boweth down the ear, if thou lift not up thy neck. For He draweth nigh to the holy, but departeth far from the uplifted, save those humble, whom He hath Himself lifted up. It is not to the rich, but to the poor and needy, (Vulg.) to the humble penitent, confessing his sin, and needing mercy, not to him who is full and haughty, who boasteth, as in want of nothing, and saith, “I thank Thee, that I am not as this publican.”* Bow down Thine ear, then, as a kind physician stoops over the couch of a sick man, too feeble to raise himself or to speak aloud,* and hear me, pouring my griefs out. It is spoken in the Person of Christ, Who asks to be heard,* first because of His voluntary humility,* so that His Father needs to bow down to Him; and next, because of His voluntary poverty, poor, in having no help from friends; needy, as lacking all earthly riches.

2 Preserve thou my soul, for I am holy: my God, save thy servant, that putteth his trust in thee.

Taking these words as the prayer of Christ on behalf of His human soul and life, (L.) that He might not be slain untimely by His enemies, before He had fulfilled His work; there is no difficulty in the words I am holy,* for in Him, the Holy One of God, was no sin at all. But how can guilty man take these words upon his lips, and make such a plea to God? Because Christ, (A.) our Head, is not only Holy in Himself, but is the cause of holiness in others. He hath given us the grace of Baptism and remission of sins, so that, as the Apostle saith, when after speaking of many kinds of sinners, he adds, “Such were some of you, but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the Name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.”* Each of the faithful may therefore say, I am holy. It is not the pride of conceit, but the confession of gratitude, (Z.) and the acknowledgment that we have been solemnly dedicated to God’s service, and are therefore holy in at least the same sense that the utensils of Divine worship are so. (Cd.) And then, so far from expressing self-confidence, it is an acknowledgment of the increased peril of the Saint, of his greater need of a Saviour, because his very holiness exposes him to more malignant attacks from his spiritual foes. “The enemy,”* observes one of the most eloquent of early preachers, “aims at the general rather than at the soldier; nor does he beset the dead, but the living; so too the devil seeks not to ensnare sinners, whom he holds already as his subjects, but toils to ensnare the righteous.”* Save Thy servant. He asks for salvation, as he had just before asked for preservation and safe-keeping, lest he should lose the gift when bestowed, and then he adds the reason, by saying, that putteth his trust in Thee, because when God saves His servant, He is saving His own property; and when He saves a servant that trusteth in Him,* He proves Himself faithful and just in that He fulfils His promises. And observe how precisely, in this sense, the words agree with Hezekiah’s prayer in his sickness: “Remember me, O Lord, I beseech Thee, how I have walked before Thee in truth and with a perfect heart, and have done that which is good in Thy sight.”* And this reference further points the fitness of the Psalm for its use in the Visitation of the Sick,* as prescribed by the Latin Church.

3 Be merciful unto me, O Lord: for I will call daily upon thee.

It is one and the same God and Man Jesus Christ, (C.) Who asks mercy, and Who bestows it; teaching us that God’s loving-kindness must be earnestly intreated by perseverance in prayer; as He saith Himself in the Gospel, “Men ought always to pray, and not to faint.”* Daily, (Symmachus) or with LXX., Vulgate, and margin of A. V., All the day. That is, for each of us, prayer at all periods of our lives, in the dawn of youth, in the noon of maturity, in the evening of old age; (C.) and again, as all the day embraces darkness and light, so our prayer should ascend in adversity and prosperity alike. (Ay.) We may pray with the whole day in yet another sense, with clear and enlightened minds, which have cast away the works of darkness. (R.) And though each of us cries to God in his own time, and passes away to be succeeded by another, (A.) yet each of us, as a member of Christ, does but swell the petition that goes up unceasingly from Christ’s Body, which is, as it were, but one man on earth, crying through all the day of this world till the night of the doom cometh, while our Head is, yet more unceasingly, pleading for us in the eternal day of heaven to the Father.

4 Comfort the soul of thy servant: for unto thee, O Lord, do I lift up my soul.

It is He Who was forced to say, (D. C.) “My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death,”* that utters this petition, that His Father may rejoice (A. V., LXX., Vulg.) His soul by the deliverance of the Patriarchs from Hades, by His own Resurrection, and by the justification of His people through that means. For us, the first and last clause have a close, yet contrasted connection. (R.) Rejoice the soul which Thou didst first sadden, by leaving it to its own miserable liberty, free to descend into the depths of sin and sorrow, abandoning Thy glorious and happy service; (A.) rejoice it, because I have lifted it up from the earth, where is nought but grief and bitterness, to Thee, where there is pleasure for evermore. Lift up your heart, then, from the earth, as you would your wheat, storing it high up, lest it should rot on the ground. How can I? asks a sinner. What cords, what engines, what ladders do I need? The steps are thine affections, the path is thy will. Thou ascendest by loving, thou descendest by neglect. Standing on earth, thou art in heaven, if thou love God.* Note, too, the going-up in these verses, how the ascent is made by prayer. The petitioner is first described as poor, then holy, next trusting, after that calling, finally, lifted up to God.* And each epithet has its fitting verb; bow down to the poor, preserve the holy, save the trusting, be merciful to the caller, rejoice the lifted-up. It is the whole gamut of love from the Incarnation to the Ascension, it tells us that Christ’s humiliation will be our glory and joy.

5 For thou, Lord, art good and gracious: and of great mercy unto all them that call upon thee.

This is what gave him courage to lift up his soul to receive consolation, for as S. John saith, “God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all,”* so we may say, God is sweet, (Vulg.) and in Him is no bitterness at all; while on the other hand, there is little sweetness and much bitterness in fleshly consolations.* And God is not only sweet, but gentle (Vulg.) so that He does not repel those who approach Him, but endures their imperfection. (A.) For He listens to our prayers, however unskilfully worded, and broken by wandering thoughts; nay, receives them graciously, and hearkens to them; whereas a human friend, if he saw his acquaintance, after accosting him, turn away without awaiting reply to his questions, and address some one else; and still more a judge, who found the very man who had appealed to him, turning to gossip with others in court,* would never tolerate such discourtesy. Again, God is good, in that He deals lovingly with His servants, laying few and easy commands upon them, and helping them by His grace to obey these commands; while He is gracious, in that He does not exact the full rigour of just penalty from repentant sinners, but receives them readily back into grace and favour, which is the force of the A. V. ready to forgive. And these same attributes are those of which the Apostle makes mention, beseeching his Corinthian disciples “by the meekness and gentleness of Christ.”* Of great mercy. His mercy is great and plenteous,* (A. V. Vulg.) because it is sufficient for all sin and all sinners. But copious though it be, He will not waste it, for He reserves it for all them that call upon Him. Hence we gather, first the advantage of perseverance in prayer, for we shall be continually heard, and receive mercy if we enrol ourselves in that number, (C.) as there is no respect of persons, nor any stinting, with God; and next, what it is we ought to call for. (A.) Upon Thee, the Psalmist says, and this shows us the meaning of that other saying, “Then shall they call upon Me, but I will not answer,”* that there may be a calling in prayer which is no true calling upon God. For you call on the thing you love, for which you are inwardly crying out, which you wish to come to you; it may be money, rank, the death of an enemy; but in that case you are calling on them, not on God, and are making of Him merely an instrument for your appetites, not a hearkener to your better longings. Call on God, then, as loving Him, and as desiring Himself, and He will be of great mercy unto you.

6 Give ear, Lord, unto my prayer: and ponder the voice of my humble desires.

7 In the time of my trouble I will call upon thee: for thou hearest me.

The Psalmist asks that God may not only give ear, (R.) that is, mercifully permit the supplicant to approach Him in prayer, and listen to him, but that He will ponder or attend, that His wisdom may come into operation as well as His mercy,* and the two may jointly fulfil the petition to the uttermost. (D. C.) In the time of my trouble, as respects Christ, is spoken of His suffering life, (A.) and especially of His Passion; and as regards Christians it means the whole time of their sorrowful exile and pilgrimage here on earth, far from their Country, for the more they love and long for that country, the sorer is the daily trouble of the pilgrimage. It is also true of any special persecution,* distress, or even of inward temptation, according to that saying of a Saint, Prosperity closes the mouth, adversity opens it. For Thou hearest me. (Ay.) The Carmelite reminds us in this place of the prevenient grace of God, which hears our prayers before we utter them, nay, which has heard them from all eternity, foreseeing that they would be offered, and has inspired us with the will and desire of uttering them. Observe, finally, that all the Psalm, down to this point, (P.) may be taken as the prayer of Christ in His Passion on behalf of His whole Church, for He saith Himself, (L.) “I knew that Thou hearest Me always;”* but especially “when He had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto Him that was able to save him from death, and was heard for His piety.”*

8 Among the gods there is none like unto thee, O Lord: there is not one that can do as thou doest.

If we take this Psalm as the utterance of Hezekiah,* these words will form the fitting reply to the insulting message of Rab-shakeh: “Let not thy God in whom thou trustest deceive thee, saying, Jerusalem shall not be delivered into the hand of the king of Assyria. Behold, thou hast heard what the kings of Assyria have done to all lands, by destroying them utterly, and shalt thou be delivered? Have the gods of the nations delivered them which my fathers have destroyed?”* The verse, if applied to the Father, refutes the Semi-Arians,* who asserted that the Son was not Consubstantial with Him, but only a Being of similar substance and nature to God, that is, like Him;* whereas confession of the co-equality of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost in the Undivided Trinity removes this difficulty at once. We have here, moreover, the reason for taking refuge with God,* and for calling upon Him only, because there is none like unto Him, in essence, in power, in wisdom, in goodness;* whether amongst men of exalted rank and power, as kings or judges, or amongst the purest saints and loftiest angels. Yet, we are told, “Ye are Gods;”* and again, that “we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.” There is no contradiction, for though we shall reflect His glory, (Ay.) as a pool reflects the sun, we shall not be like Him in essence,* for He is eternally and self-existently Almighty, all-wise, all-good, whereas we are but His creatures, deriving our faculties and graces from Him as their source. Even the Son, as speaker in this Psalm, fitly addresses these words to the Everlasting Father, because He utters them in the nature of His Manhood, whereby He is inferior to the Father, albeit co-equal with Him in Godhead.

There is not one that can do as Thou doest. (Z.) It is the voice of the Church concerning Christ. For His created works are not intended only, nor His providence over all His creatures, visible and invisible, but His restoration of His creation, His destruction of the tyrant, His slaying of death, which He effected by His own death, and that successful fishing of the whole world which He wrought by a few mean fishers, not to cite His deeds of miraculous power. (L.) Not one. And yet He promised His disciples, “He that believeth on Me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do.”* But He clears up the difficulty later, saying, “Without Me ye can do nothing.” He wrought miracles of His own inherent power, they by derived and commissioned authority. Accordingly, the Prince of the Apostles saith, “Why look ye so earnestly on us, as though by our own power or holiness we had made this man to walk? The God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, the God of our fathers, hath glorified His Son Jesus; and His Name, through faith in His Name, hath made this man strong.”*

9 All nations whom thou hast made, shall come and worship thee, O Lord: and shall glorify thy Name.

This, in its literal sense,* seems to be looking forward to the effect on the nations around of Sennacherib’s overthrow, fulfilled when “many brought gifts unto the Lord to Jerusalem, and presents to Hezekiah, king of Judah: so that he was magnified in the sight of all nations from thenceforth.”* But it has a deeper significance in foretelling the ingathering of the Gentiles, whence it is used as the Epiphany antiphon to the whole Psalm.* The words were uttered, remarks S. Augustine, (A.) when but a few, in the one Hebrew nation, worshipped God, and were believed in defiance of sight, and yet now that they are in process of fulfilment, men doubt them. He applies the verse himself to refutation of the Donatists, who held that the true faith of the Catholic Church was limited to one corner of Africa. (L.) All nations, not only as typified by the Wise Men from the East, but further, by the converts of many peoples and languages, made on the Day of Pentecost;* the first fruits of the commission, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every creature.” Whom Thou hast made. That is, not merely some out of every nation under heaven, but men once more appearing as God made them, in His own image and likeness,* now restored and renewed by Christ’s redeeming grace, (L.) not as defaced by the devil and by their own free-will abused to sin. So it is written in another Psalm, “The people which shall be created, shall praise the Lord,”* created, that is, anew by the supernatural and regenerating grace of Christ, for “of His own will begat He us with the word of truth.”* Shall come and worship Thee.* Not necessarily by bodily motion from one place to another, but by believing, in whatsoever places they are, as is spoken by the Prophet: “Men shall worship Him, every one from his place, even all the isles of the heathen.”* And glorify Thy Name. It is true of the Saints now, who obey the Apostle’s precept, “Glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.”* It will be true of all nations at the last day,* when,* willing or unwilling, they must adore Christ sitting on His throne, worshipping Him, some in love and some in fear, but all glorifying His Name, according to the prophecy in the Song of Moses and of the Lamb chanted by the Saints on the sea of glass, saying, “Great and marvellous are Thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are Thy ways, Thou King of Saints. Who shall not fear Thee, O Lord, and glorify Thy Name? for Thou only art holy; for all nations shall come and worship before Thee, for Thy judgments are made manifest.”*

10 For thou art great, and doest wondrous things: thou art God alone.

This is the reason why the worship of false gods must cease,* and why all nations shall come and glorify the Lord, especially in the Day of Judgment, when His marvellous power shall be fully displayed, so that the Apostle dwells particularly on the word great, as betokening His manifestation then, saying,* “Looking for that blessed hope and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ.” There is, (L.) besides, a confession of the Trinity in Unity in the verse. Thou art great, applies peculiarly to the Everlasting Father, the Lord and Source of all; and doest wondrous things, tells us of the Son, by Whom the worlds were created, the mystery of redemption effected, the miracles of the Gospel wrought; Thou art God, teaches us that the Holy Ghost is a Divine Person, not a mere influence or manifestation, (C.) while alone joins the Three together in One indivisible Godhead.

11 Teach me thy way, O Lord, and I will walk in thy truth: O knit my heart unto thee, that I may fear thy Name.

The LXX. and Vulgate translate, (L.) Lead me in Thy way, but as Lorinus truly observes, with no variation of meaning from the original, which does not signify the communication of a bare speculative knowledge, but practical instruction, and actual guidance in the paths of God’s commandments. (A.) Thy way, Thy truth, is Christ. Therefore the Body goes to Him, and comes from Him. He saith, “I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life.”* It is one thing for God to lead us to the way, and another to lead us in the way. They who are out of the way are not Christians, or at any rate not Catholics, but are being led towards the way. But when that is done, and they have become Catholics in Christ, they are led by Himself in the way itself, that they fall not. And I will walk in Thy truth. Some,* especially of the Greek Fathers, take these words as contrasted to some extent with the preceding ones, and interpret the way as denoting action, and truth as signifying contemplation. (Z.) But it is better to take it as denoting progress in holiness, or as covering the entire ground of a devout life. The prayer is like that of the penitent sinner,* asking God to put out His hand to guide him, as a blind and sickly child asks for the help of a wayfarer to put him in the straight road. It is asked, How can words such as these be put into the mouth of Christ? They answer, (L.) for the most part, that the Head is speaking here for His members, not for Himself, just as He spoke to Saul in the vision near Damascus. (D. C.) But the Carthusian will have it that this is the prayer of the Saviour that His human soul might be led in that way of God which brought it down to the Patriarchs in Hades, thence into Paradise, next to be reunited with His Body in the Resurrection, and finally to be exalted together with it to heaven at the Ascension. O knit my heart unto Thee. This version, albeit giving a very deep and beautiful meaning, does not exactly express the original, in which the words unto Thee are not found. It is true that the heart may be so knit to God as to be interpenetrated with His fear, as an old poet tells us:

No,* self-deceiving heart, lest thou shouldst cast
Thy cords away, and burst the bands at last
Of Thy Redeemer’s tender love, I’ll try
What further fastness in His fear doth lie.
The cords of love soakéd in lust may rot,
And bands of bounty are too oft forgot:
But holy filial fear, like to a nail
Fastened in a sure place, will never fail.
This, driven home, will take
Fast hold, and make
Thee that thou darest not thy God forsake.

But the A. V., with S. Jerome and Symmachus, gives the correct rendering: Unite my heart, make it so whole and undivided that it may entirely love and fear Thee,* not partly fear Thee and partly fear the world; nor divide its worship between Thee and other gods;* and further, that whereas it is now disturbed and broken up with the waves and storms of passion, trouble, and sin, God may still it, (L.) and bring it to a perfect quiet, presenting an unruffled and tranquil surface, like the Sea in a great calm. He unites the heart of the whole Church too,* by granting it unity of faith towards God and of love towards brethren. But the LXX. and Vulgate read, Let my heart rejoice, that it may fear Thy Name. It is lest we should be ensnared by over-confidence, the Doctor of Grace warns us, (A.) that this is written, lest the excitement of unrestrained joy, even in spiritual things, should cause us to stray from the road.* Or, as another great Western Doctor comments, although the Saints are certain, even here, of their hope, yet they have reason to dread temptation, so that joy and fear are mingled in their spiritual experience. (L.) So we are to take heed that we do not find written in this place, Let my heart rejoice that it may feel secure, but that it may fear, in order that between the rejoicing of hope, and the fear of temptation we may be tried and chastened, and feel gladness in God’s pardon, yet so as never to forget that we may fall again. We need,* as has been well said, to be glad in our victory, but to fear because of the conflict.* Yet the Greek Fathers take it in a deeper and more spiritual sense, alleging that the fear of God is itself a source of true and pure delight to His Saints. (Z.) And thus one of themselves has truly said,* “The fear of the Lord is a paradise of delights, but where the fear of the Lord is not, there will the foxes dwell.” Only it must not be a servile fear lest God should punish us, which is an impure feeling;* but a loving fear, lest He should leave us, which is pure. And with this latter fear even the Lord Jesus, in His Manhood, was filled, so that we may take the words of Him, (D. C.) and explain them in the light of His bitterest cry upon the Cross.

12 I will thank thee, O Lord my God, with all my heart: and will praise thy Name for evermore.

The Vulgate word here for give thanks is, as usual, confess, that is, make grateful acknowledgment of bounties. But the Latin commentators constantly take it of confession of sin, and therefore one of them,* dwelling here upon that duty, tells us to lay particular stress on the words with my whole heart. (Ay.) For the heart, that is, the intellectual part of man’s being, is made up of four things, thought or imagination, memory, understanding, and will. Each of these should play its part in a good confession. There ought to be thought, in careful preparation for the Sacrament of penance; memory, in duly recalling former offences; understanding, in a full recognition of the enormity of sin, and the grievousness of one’s own faults; will, in the firm resolution to amend. But, taking the words in their more literal signification, we may note that the whole heart here is the result of the prayer in the verse before, that God may unite the heart. Henceforth it gives thanks to Him under all circumstances, in adversity as well as in prosperity, and puts its entire trust in Him, not confiding partly in temporal successes, and yielding Him but a divided confidence. And as Christ, in His human nature, gave us the most perfect example of entire devotion to God the Father; (D. C.) these words apply to Him as well as to His Saints, who plead for blessings to come in the best of all ways,* by showing themselves mindful and grateful in respect of past favours. And will praise Thy Name for evermore. This evermore is threefold. It is the whole life of the pardoned sinner,* thenceforth devoted to God’s glory and service; it is the continuous life of the Church Militant on earth, wherein, throughout succeeding ages, the praise of God never ceases, so that our Head can speak of this act of His Body as His own; it is, finally, the everlasting Alleluia of heaven, which awaits the Saints who have conquered.

13 For great is thy mercy toward me: and thou hast delivered my soul from the nethermost hell.

Here is the special cause for gratitude. And taking it of the Head, (A.) as so many do, we see in it a prophetic thanksgiving for the Resurrection. S. Augustine, dwelling on the word nethermost, and arguing fairly that the word implies the existence of at least two hells, urges, that when we take the whole verse of Christ, we must interpret the first hell to be this earth, so called from lying so far beneath heaven, and from being so defiled with sin, and harassed with trouble. Into this first hell the Lord came by His Nativity; into the second or nethermost, the grave and place of departed spirits, He came by His death, and was delivered thence by the Resurrection. But if the words are to be put in the mouth of one of His members, then it is a thanksgiving for being rescued from that part of Hades where the rich man lay in torments, parted by a great gulf from that happier place where Abraham carried Lazarus in his bosom.* In that nethermost hell no one gives thanks to God, nor can any come forth thence, wherefore deliverance from it is truly great mercy, seeing that it confers everlasting blessings. (Z.) And Euthymius, who ascribes the Psalm to David, in taking the nethermost hell to mean the double guilt of adultery and murder into which the king fell, so that deliverance from it means pardon of mortal sin, and may be thus applied to every penitent similarly rescued,* has warrant from the Proverbs on his side, wherein the sin of lust is more than once so described. For the Wise Man saith of a strange woman that “her house is the way to hell, going down to the chambers of death; and again, “her guests are in the depths of hell.”*

14 O God, (C.) the proud are risen against me: and the congregations of naughty men have sought after my soul, and have not set thee before their eyes.

Here is the anticipation of the Passion, of the secret council of the Chief Priests and Pharisees, followed by the cries of the multitude for the Crucifixion of the Lord. And then, spoken of His Body the Church, it is a cry for protection against heathen persecutors, seeking the lives of Christians, and still more against heretics and false brethren,* plotting against that faith which is the very soul of the Church’s being. (A.) And the individual believer prays in these words to be delivered from the principalities and powers of evil,* those ghostly enemies which wage unceasing war against the soul.

15 But thou, O Lord God, art full of compassion and mercy: long-suffering, plenteous in goodness and truth.

Here he showeth the cause of this suffering, (Ay.) why God permitted them so to rise against Christ, and to deliver Him over to death. And he saith that this was of God’s great mercy, Who spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, so that the Passion of Christ was a work of great compassion and mercy. And the Son also is here referred to, as voluntarily giving Himself as a sacrifice for us, according to His most true promise; He Who was longsuffering, in that He bore so much for ourselves, plenteous in goodness, because He came to save, plenteous in truth, because He ever taught the truth, (A.) as even His enemies acknowledged, saying, “Master, we know that Thou art true, and teachest the way of God in truth.”* And therefore He is styled in the Apocalypse, “Faithful and True.”*

Note, further, that there are seven names of God set down here,* answering to seven of His energies, and as many classes of men with whom He is in certain relations. He is Lord to them who serve Him, and He demands service from all; as it is written, “The nation and kingdom that will not serve Thee shall perish.”* He is God, to them that worship Him, for “the Egyptians shall know the Lord in that day, and shall do sacrifice and oblation.”* He is full of compassion, for “His mercies are over all His works;”* He is full of mercy, in that He helpeth the unhappy. He is longsuffering with sinners: “Therefore will the Lord wait, that He may be gracious unto you.”* Plenteous in goodness, in bestowing His eternal rewards, for “eye hath not seen, O God, what He hath prepared for him that waiteth for Him.”* And truth, in punishing the guilty, for “let God be true, but every man a liar.”*

16 O turn thee then unto me, and have mercy upon me: give thy strength unto thy servant, and help the son of thine handmaid.

Because of all the attributes of God enumerated in the previous verse, He is now called on to show His saving power. And the commentators, with almost one voice, agree in explaining this passage of the prayer of Christ for His Resurrection. In saying, Turn Thee unto Me, or as LXX.* and Vulgate have it, Look again upon Me, He asks for His Father’s protection, for “the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and His ears are open unto their prayers.” In saying, Have mercy upon Me, He asks for deliverance from misery; in adding, Give Thy strength (or with Vulg. empire) unto Thy servant, He asks for judicial power over the world, and that because of His perfect obedience. This He foretold, earlier than His Passion, saying, “The Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son;”* and He confirmed it after His rising again,* when He said to His disciples, “All power is given unto Me in heaven and earth.”* In saying, Help the Son of Thine handmaid, He asks for the Resurrection, and that in His character as the offspring of that pure Virgin who answered the Angel’s message with the words, “Behold the handmaid of the Lord, be it unto me according to thy word.”* Several of the Latins dwell on the ambiguous word puero, meaning child as well as servant, here found in the Vulgate, (C.) and remind us that it is spoken of Him touching Whom, by reason of His innocence, the Prophet saith: “Unto us a child is born,”* Who was like a child in His poverty, His holiness, His placability, and His obedience.

Each of His members,* too, can utter this prayer, who is God’s servant and child because of adoption and obedience, who is the son of His handmaid, the Church, who may look for a share in that empire of which the Lord said to His Apostles, (R.) “In the regeneration, when the Son of Man shall sit on the throne of His glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.”* For the promise is not limited to them, inasmuch as He saith in another place, “To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with Me in My throne.”* And although all Christian men are proud to bear the title of servant of God, (L.) as all Christian women, like S. Agatha before the prefect, rejoice to call themselves by the name of handmaid,* yet none is so exactly the son of a handmaid as a convert from the bondage of Paganism, who has entered into the glorious liberty of the children of God, and acquired in Baptism the strength of the Holy Ghost, (A.) strength sufficient to overcome all the spiritual enemies of the soul.* Note, moreover, the deep humility of the double expression, servant, and son of Thine handmaid. They are no mere repetition,* for a man may be reduced into a state of servitude from one of freedom, as a captive in war, albeit sprung of noble ancestry; but if he be the son of a handmaid, he is born a slave, and has had no time of liberty to look back upon. And in this sense the children born of the Church, God’s faithful handmaid, are His from the first moment of their spiritual creation.

17 Show some token upon me for good: that they who hate me may see it, and be ashamed: because thou, Lord, hast holpen me, and comforted me.

Hitherto he has asked for internal consolation,* for secret bestowal of help; but now he asks for an external sign of favour, to the dismay of his enemies. And, still applying the Psalm literally to Hezekiah, we may bear in mind two such proofs of Divine favour towards him; the destruction of Sennacherib’s army, and the going back of the shadow on the sun-dial of Ahaz. The Chaldee,* ascribing the Psalm to David, represents this as a prayer for a miracle, that of the spontaneous opening of the gates of Solomon’s temple, to be vouchsafed him for David’s sake, when bringing up the ark into its new sanctuary. Applied to Christ,* the Greek Fathers prefer to take the sign here of the Virgin-birth of the Lord, according to that saying in Isaiah, “The Lord Himself shall give you a sign. Behold, a Virgin shall conceive, and bear a Son, and shall call His Name Immanuel;”* a sign which was truly for good, (A.) and made the spiritual foes of man ashamed. But the Latins take it of the Resurrection, looking to that other saying, “An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall be no sign given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas; for as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.”* That they who hate Me may see it, and be ashamed,* with that wholesome confusion which leadeth to repentance, (D. C.) that they may be converted and live; or, if they resist obstinately, with the final shame which awaits them at the doom, when the sign of the Son of Man shall appear in heaven, for the good of His servants, (A.) and the destruction of His foes. Applying the verse to the Christian soul,* they remind us,* on the one hand,* of that sign of the Cross which fortifies us against evil,* and affrays our enemies; and on the other, yet more deeply, that we have been “sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise.”* And both these meanings appear in that victory of the Church through the sign which Constantine is said to have beheld in heaven, on the eve of his decisive triumph over his Pagan opponent. (C.) Thou, Lord, hast holpen Me, and comforted Me. Thou hast holpen Me in the battle, comforted Me amidst the sorrows of the Passion; (R.) holpen Me when I was in the grave, comforted Me in the joy of the Resurrection. And in like manner,* the Lord shows a sign upon us for good, whenever He converts sinners by the example of Saints, or works any great deliverance for His people,* whom He helps in their life-long struggle here, and comforts with the everlasting blessedness of heaven.

Wherefore:

Glory be to the Father, Who is great, and God alone; glory be to the Son, Who is full of compassion and mercy; glory be to the Holy Ghost, Who giveth His strength unto His servants.

As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be: world without end. Amen.

Various Uses

Gregorian. Friday: Matins. [Epiphany: II. Nocturn. Sacred Heart: III. Nocturn.]

Monastic. Friday: I. Nocturn. [Epiphany: II. Nocturn.]

Parisian. Saturday: Compline. [Epiphany: II. Nocturn.]

Lyons. Thursday: Sext. [Epiphany: II. Nocturn.]

Ambrosian. Wednesday of Second Week: II. Nocturn.

Quignon. Friday: Compline.

Eastern Church. Third Psalm at Nones.

Antiphons

Gregorian. As preceding Psalm. [Epiphany: All nations whom Thou hast made shall come and worship Thee, O Lord. So in all the other uses. Sacred Heart: Thou art good and gracious. O Lord* and of great mercy unto all them that call upon Thee.]

Monastic. Bow down * Thine ear, O Lord, and hear me.

Parisian. Be merciful unto me * O Lord, for I have called to Thee all the day long.

Ambrosian. Preserve Thou my soul, O Lord* for I am holy.

Mozarabic. For Thou, Lord, art good and gracious * and of great mercy unto all them that call upon Thee.

Collects

Make glad,* O Lord, the countenance of Thine household; and deliver our souls from the nethermost hell, that protected by looking upon Thy countenance, we may with spiritual power tread fleshly desires under foot. Through. (1.)

Lead us,* O Lord, in the way of Thy truth: that we may rejoice in fearing Thee, and give thanks to Thy holy Name, that we may be sealed with good works, and our enemies may be ashamed. Through. (1.)

O good and gracious God,* of great mercy to them that call upon Thee, bow down Thine ears to our prayer, and of the abundance of Thy mercy do away our transgressions, and that we creep not prostrate on the ground, set us upright to look on Thee. (11.)

Have mercy on us,* O Lord, who cry to Thee all the day long; and be gracious to them that call on Thee in trouble, that when we praise and worship Thy majesty, Thou mayest favourably accept us, and when we fear Thee because of our doings, Thou mayest graciously pardon. Make glad, then, our hearts with obedient fear of Thee, and comfort our doubting minds with the sweetness of Thy consolation. But as Thou art sweet and gracious, let us drink in sweetness from Thine indulgence; and find Thee loving and gracious in bestowing reward. (11.)

O Saviour and Lord,* Whom the unrighteous wickedness of them that rose against Thee smote; Whom the congregation of the ungodly, raging with its tongues, crucified; Grant that we may ever follow Thee in the deep mystery of Thy loving-kindness, that, as Thou didst for us bear the Cross and grave, we triumphing therein over a conquered world, may go our way into heaven. (11.)

O Lord our God,* save Thy servants, who put their trust in Thee, for Thou art good and gracious, and of great mercy; look upon us, and have mercy on us, that our heart may rejoice in the greatness of Thy Name, may fear Thee so as to be glad; lead us in Thy way, and as we walk in Thy truth, comfort us with Thy help, and help us with Thy consolation. (11.)

We pray Thee, O Lord,* that guarded by the sign of Thy Cross, and kept safe under its guard, we may be delivered from all the snares of the devil. For Thine.

O Lord, (D. C.) lead us Thy servants in Thy way, that we may walk in Thy truth, so that Thy great mercy may bedew us, and Thou mayest deliver our soul from the nethermost hell, and make us to share in everlasting glory. (1.)

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Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on Titus 2:11-15

Posted by Dim Bulb on February 23, 2019

This post includes Fr. MacEvilly’s paraphrasing (in purple text) of the verses he is commenting upon.

A Summary of Chapter 2~In this chapter, the Apostle, after exhorting Titus to teach sound doctrine, points out to him what instructions he should deliver to persons of different ages and conditions in life (6). He admonishes him to show himself as a model in the practice of every virtue (7-10), He proposes the example of Christ, our Saviour, who appeared visibly in order to instruct all classes of men, both by word and example, as a motive to stimulate him to teach the same, with greater zeal. He shows what it is that Christ has taught us (12, 13). He points out the end and object of Christ’s death (14). He, finally, wishes that Titus should authoritatively teach all these things (15).

Tit 2:11  For the grace of God our Saviour hath appeared to all men:

For the salutary beneficence of God’s redemption has been made manifest to all classes of men without exception.

By “the grace of our Saviour,” or (as in the Greek,  η χαρις  η σωτηριος) the salutary grace, some understand, as in Paraphrase, the salutary benevolence of God displayed in the work of redemption (see 2 Cor 6:1); others, Christ himself, the fountain of grace, the divine essential grace. This shows that as the benefit of redemption was displayed to all classes, men, women, slaves, &c.; so, Titus should instruct every class, not excepting slaves.

Tit 2:12  Instructing us, that, denying ungodliness and worldly desires, we should live soberly and justly and godly in this world,

Instructing us to renounce impiety, and worldly corrupt desires, and to lead in this world a life of wisdom and temperance in regard to ourselves, of justice and equity towards the neighbor, and of piety and religion towards God.

“Impiety,” i.e., unbelief, “worldly desires,” the corrupt passions of ambition, avarice, lusts, &c.—”we should live soberly, justly, and piously,” by fasting, alms, deeds, and prayer; these good works are specially recommended to all, specially opposed to the three enemies of salvation—the world, the flesh, and the devil; and to the three great leading maxims of the world—”the concupiscence of the flesh, of the eyes, and the pride of life.”—(1 John 2:16).

Tit 2:13  Looking for the blessed hope and coming of the glory of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ.

Expecting eternal happiness, the object of our hope, and the glorious coming of our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ.

“The blessed hope;” “hope” means the thing hoped for, the object of hope.

“The great God.” The article in the Greek shows that by this is meant, our Saviour Jesus Christ. Besides, it is our Saviour alone that “the glorious coming” is attributed in Sacred Scripture. Hence, an argument for the Divinity of Christ.

“The blessed hope,” regards the beautitude of our souls at death—”the coming,” &c., the glorification of our bodies.

Tit 2:14  Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity and might cleanse to himself a people acceptable, a pursuer of good works.

Who has delivered himself up to death for us, to redeem and purify us from all iniquity and from the stains of sin, and after thus cleansing us by his blood, to claim us as his peculiar people, his precious distinguished possession, a people exceedingly zealous for good works.

He not only was born for us, and appeared to us, and instructed us, but he also died for us. “A people acceptable.” St. Jerome has translated it, “an especial, eminent people.” It is allusive to the passage in Exodus 19:5, when God says of the Jews, “you shall be my peculiar possession,” &c. The Hebrew for “peculiar possession,” Segullah, according to St. Jerome, signifies “a most precious treasure.” St. Paul here followed the Septuagint version, which means, “acceptable people,” an excellent possession, &c.

Tit 2:15  These things speak and exhort and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise thee. 

Teach all these things to the ignorant, and exhort all those who already know them, to reduce them to practice. But rebuke the refractory and disobedient with full power, as minister of God, and by acting thus, no one will dare to contemn thee.

So act in the exercise of authority, that no one will despise thee.

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Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on Hebrews 13:7-17

Posted by Dim Bulb on February 23, 2019

This post opens with fr. MacEvilly’s brief analysis of all of chapter 13, followed by his commentary on the reading. Text in purple indicates his paraphrase of the scripture he is commenting on.

ANALYSIS OF HEBREWS CHAPTER 13

In this concluding chapter, the Apostle inculcates certain duties of morality, and exhorts the Hebrews to the practice of several virtues, both as regards their neighbour and themselves. With regard to the virtues to be exercised towards their neighbour, the Apostle exhorts them to persevere in fraternal charity, to exercise hospitality, and manifest a practical sympathy for those who were suffering for the faith (1–3). He exhorts them to guard strictly conjugal chastity, and shunning avarice, to exhibit their confidence in God (4–6).

He exhorts them to be mindful of their deceased prelates, the consideration of whose edifying lives and holy death should be an encouragement to persevere in the same faith which they professed—a faith as unchangeable as Jesus Christ himself (7, 8). Hence, they should not be led away by fluctuating and contrary doctrines, particularly in reference to the useless distinction of food, and the legal victims. The Christians, although deprived of Jewish victims, have a still more excellent one, whereof those cannot partake who adhere to Judaism; for, in order to be able to partake of it, they must relinquish the synagogue, and the profession of the Jewish religion (9–13).

He recommends liberality towards the poor, and obedience to their prelates (16, 17). He begs the assistance of their prayers (18-19), and finally concludes with a prayer and salutation (20-25).

COMMENTARY ON HEBREWS 13:7-17

Heb 13:7  Remember your prelates who have spoken the word of God to you: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation,

7. Remember your former deceased prelates, who preached to you the word of God, and confirmed you in the faith; looking to their edifying lives and holy death, imitate their faith—the source of their sanctity in life, and happiness in death.

“The end of their conversation” means their death, in justice and sanctity. The words of this verse clearly show that the Apostle refers to their deceased prelates and religious guides, viz., James, Stephen, &c., who trampled under foot, and undervalued all earthly things: the example of these they should follow, and to their faith they should firmly adhere; for, this faith was the source of their sanctity in life, and of their happiness in death.

From this passage we can clearly perceive the advantage of perusing the lives of the saints, who have gone before us. Their lives are to us a practical illustration of the gospel; they point out the means, and serve as an incentive, to labour for heaven, Nonne potes tu, quod isti et istæ.—St. Augustine. It is to the pious reading of the lives of the saints, that the Church is, to a certain degree, indebted for the illustrious Society of Jesus, whose equals the world has never seen; the first, whom the enemies of God and man are sure to assail, as being the leading and the most powerful defenders of religion and social order; their persecution, in any particular country, as the annals of modern rebellions against the altar and the throne too clearly attest, is a sure sign of national reprobation; the certain forerunner of terrible religious and social disasters.

Heb 13:8  Jesus Christ, yesterday, and today: and the same for ever. 

8. (Their faith and yours must be the same), since Jesus Christ—the principal object of their faith and yours—is the same, yesterday, to-day, and for ever.

As Jesus Christ—the principal object of faith—is always the same; therefore, the faith in him must always be the same; and hence, the faith of the Hebrews, and of their predecessors in the faith, must be identical. These words, most probably, refer to Jesus Christ, as God-man. “Yesterday” refers to the time of his Incarnation. This verse connects the preceding with the following verses. The words, “the same,” are, according to the Greek punctuation, joined to “to-day.”

Heb 13:9  Be not led away with various and strange doctrines. For it is best that the heart be established with grace, not with meats: which have not profited those that walk in them. 

9. Be not carried about by the varying and strange doctrines (of heretics), an example of which is found in the choice of legal, or, rather, in the effects attributed to, sacrificial meats; it is much better to strengthen your hearts by the grace of the New Law, which faith in Christ brings with it, than trust in the efficacy of the observances referred to, which never had the effect of sanctifying those who followed them, and spent their lives in them.

As faith must be, therefore, always one and indivisible, be not carried about by doctrines “various,” i.e., varying in themselves, and from the truth; “and strange,” foreign to the deposit left by God to his Church. “For, it is best to establish the heart with grace.” He gives a particular instance of the false doctrines, to which he has been referring in a general way, in the words, “various … doctrines.” He, most likely, refers to the doctrine regarding the distinction of meats, some of which were forbidden, and others allowed by the law; or rather to the doctrine regarding the effects of meats offered in sacrifice, to which the Judaizers attributed the power and efficacy of sanctifying men. This latter interpretation is rendered probable by the following verse. The Apostle says, it is better to establish and render the heart firm by the grace of Christianity, than by recurring to the use of such meats, which never conferred true sanctity on the worshippers (9:10).

“To walk in,” is a Hebraism for principles of action followed out in practice.—Kenrick, in hunc locum.

Heb 13:10  We have an altar whereof they have no power to eat who serve the tabernacle. 

10. (Let it not, however, be supposed, that by giving up the legal offerings, we are without victims, or sacrifice); for, in Christianity, we have on our altars, a victim, that supplies us with the grace which strengthens the heart, whereof they cannot partake who serve the tabernacle and still adhere to the Jewish religion.

“We have an altar,” &c. This altar, which is understood of the victim offered on it, refers, according to some, to the adorable Eucharist, the first step to obtain which must be, to go forth from the synagogue; and, that in order to partake of it, they must first leave the synagogue, or Jewish religion, he proves (verse 11), from the rite observed in the great sacrifice of expiation, a type of the sacrifice of Christ on the cross, of which the Eucharistic sacrifice is a continuation, and a real unbloody commemoration. The word “eat,” greatly serves to confirm this opinion. “Serve” (λατευοντες) has reference directly to the priests; it also embraces, in a general way, all who approach the Jewish altar, as worshippers.

Heb 13:11  For the bodies of those beasts whose blood is brought into the holies by the high priest for sin are burned without the camp. 

11. This exclusion of the ministers and followers of the Jewish tabernacle, from a participation of the victim of our “altar,” was typified by the ordinance of the law respecting the great sacrifice of expiation. For, the bodies of the animals, viz., the goat and the heifer, whose blood was carried by the high priest into the sanctum sanctorum, in the great sacrifice of expiation, were burnt outside the camp (wherein dwelt the Jews, at this time, sojourning in the desert).

“Are burned without the camp.” The Jews, at the time of this ordinance dwelt in the desert, in a moveable camp, outside which were burned the bodies of the heifer and the goat, whereof neither the priests nor the people could partake.

Heb 13:12  Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people by his own blood, suffered without the gate. 

12. For which cause, Jesus also, the reality typified, in order to fulfil this figure, suffered outside the gate of Jerusalem, sanctifying the people, with his blood.

On this account it was that Jesus, in order to correspond with his type (for, of his sacrifice, the great sacrifice of expiation was a mere type and figure) suffered outside the gates of Jerusalem.

Heb 13:13  Let us go forth therefore to him without the camp, bearing his reproach. 

13. We, therefore, and all who wish to be partakers of the Christian sacrifice, must go forth to him, outside the camp of the synagogue. In other words, we must desert the synagogue, and join the Church; bearing the reproach attached to the name of Christian.

Hence, we should go forth to him outside the camp, and leaving the synagogue, submit to the reproach of Christ, before we can be partakers of the victim of the Christian “altar,” that is to say, of Christ in the Holy Eucharist, where he is offered up daily, in an unbloody manner, and partaken of by the faithful. Whether the opinion which refers “altar” to the Eucharist, be true or false, matters but little in regard to the faith of the Church, on the subject of the Eucharist, which is clearly demonstrated from other passages; and such of the Fathers as understand this passage of it, show their faith regarding the Eucharist to have been the same as ours. Others make “altar” refer directly to the altar of the cross; because it was of the sacrifice of the cross that the sacrifice of expiation, to which he alludes (verse 11), was typical. The Hebrews were attaching great importance to the sacrifices of the Mosaic law. Now, he says, it would be far better for them to have recourse to grace (verse 9), which they cannot receive, since it is purchased by a sacrifice wherein they can have no share, without first going forth from the synagogue (verse 10); for, the bodies of the victims, &c., were burned outside the camp (verse 11). Hence, Jesus suffered outside the gate of Jerusalem (verse 12); and hence, to become partakers of the merits of his sacrince, “to eat of the altar,” according to these interpreters, we must go forth from the synagogue, and join the Church, “bearing his reproach;” for, the name of Christian was counted a reproach. Should this passage refer directly to the sacrifice of the cross, in it must be indirectly included the sacrifice of the Eucharist; inasmuch as it is the same sacrifice with that of the cross, from which it differs, only as to the mode of offering.

Some Expositors say, that in this verse is conveyed an exhortation to bear our cross patiently, after the example of Christ. “Bearing his reproach” will then mean: bearing his cross after him, which is a reproach and folly.

Heb 13:14  For, we have not here a lasting city: but we seek one that is to come. 

14. And this voluntary exile, and departure from the synagogue and Jerusalem, should not disturb or frighten us, for we, Christians, have not on this earth any permanent city; as exiles and pilgrims, we are in search of one to come, that is, the heavenly Jerusalem.

In this verse is contained a reason why we should not hesitate to leave the synagogue; because, we are in search of our heavenly Jerusalem; according to others, in it is contained a reason why we should be prepared to suffer for Christ’s sake; because, no matter what may befall us, whether exile, death, &c., it will not deprive us of our country, but rather hasten our approach to it.

Commentators remark that the Apostle explains, in the foregoing passage, the sacrifice of expiation, according to the four-fold sense attached to SS. Scripture—viz., the literal, the allegorical, the tropological (or moral), and the anagogical. (Litera gesta docet; quid credas, Allegoria; Moralis, quid agas; quo tendas, Anagogia). According to the literal sense, the victim in the sacrifice of expiation was carried out of the camp and burned, and the blood was carried by the high priest into the sanctuary, as an expiation for sin—litera gesta docet—verse 11. According to the allegorical sense, this victim was a figure of Christ ignominiously driven outside the city, to suffer death, as an atonement for sin—quid credas, Allegoria—verse 12. According to the tropological or moral sense, those who wish to partake of the sacrifice of Christ, must go outside the precincts of the synagogue, and abandon the Jewish religion; thus bearing their share in the ignominy which he was pleased to undergo—Moralis, quid agas—verse 13. And according to the anagogical meaning of the ceremony, they are not to regret this temporary exile, since neither Jerusalem nor the synagogue is our true country or lasting home; we are in search of our heavenly and everlasting dwelling-place above—quo tendas, anagogia—verse 14. Rutter, in hunc locum.

Heb 13:15  By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise always to God, that is to say, the fruit of lips confessing to his name. 

15. Having, therefore, been united to Christ, let us continually present through him to God a sacrifice of praise, that is to say, the fruit of lips confessing his name.

Having given up the legal sacrifices prescribed by law, let us offer up to God, through Christ, to whom we are united, after deserting the synagogue, “a sacrifice of praise,” according to some, the sacrifice of the Eucharist. This is the opinion of those who refer “altar” (verse 10) to the Eucharist. The explanation, however, given by the Apostle himself, of what this sacrifice is, “that is the fruit of lips,” &c., shows that it refers to the spiritual offering of thanksgiving to God, in every shape and form. These acts of thanksgiving are called “the fruit of lips, confessing his name;” because, it is by the lips his praises are sounded, and his benefits deserving thanks, together with his eternal attributes, proclaimed. No doubt, among the most acceptable channels of thanksgiving and praise, the sacrifice of the Eucharist holds the first place; but, it is only in this general respect, as a means of thanksgiving, that the Apostle seems to make any reference to it in this verse.

Heb 13:16  And do not forget to do good and to impart: for by such sacrifices God’s favour is obtained. 

16. And to this piety towards God, neglect not to add charity towards your neighbour. Forget not liberality, nor omit to impart your goods to the poor, by relieving them according to your ability; for, by such sacrifices the favour of God is obtained, with them he is well pleased.

In this verse is prescribed another offering most pleasing to God, the offering of charity and beneficence to our neighbour; “for by such sacrifices,” viz., praise of God, and charity towards our neighbour, “God’s favour is obtained.” The Greek, ευαρεστειται ὀ Θεος, means, God receives delight; or, in them he is well pleased; unlike the sacrifices of the Old Law, which were unpleasing to him.

Heb 13:17  Obey your prelates and be subject to them. For they watch as being to render an account of your souls: that they may do this with joy and not with grief. For this is not expedient for you. 

17. Obey your prelates, and reverence them; for, you are to regard them as watching over your souls (as they are bound to do in virtue of their office), since, in the day of judgment they must render an account of you. Obey them, therefore, from the heart, that they may discharge this responsible duty of watching over you with joy and not with pain. This would not be expedient for you; for, the groans of the pastor would provoke against you the heavy vengeance of God.

To the two-fold sacrifice of praise (verse 15), and of charity (verse 16), he wishes them to add, the sacrifice of their own will, by obedience to their prelates and pastors. “For they watch” (for your souls, ὑπερ τῶν ψυχῶν ὑμων, is added here in the Greek; the Vulgate construction, which places these words not here but after the words “render an account”—rationem pro animabus vestris reddituri—is preferable)—this merely expresses the duty of the pastors; and the light in which the faithful are bound to regard them. What a heavy responsibility, those charged with the care of souls have incurred! they must account for each and every one of them, at God’s judgment-seat; for each and every one, Jesus Christ shed his blood, with the dispensation of which the pastor is charged. Woe to him if it shall have flowed in vain for immortal souls, through any fault of his! “That they may do this,” i.e., watch over your souls, “with joy, and not with grief,” seeing your disobedience, and the absence of progress made by you, “for this is not expedient for you.” The groans of the prelates, whose words you slight, will provoke God’s wrath, which he shall manifest in his own time. He who shall disobey or despise ecclesiastical authority shall be overtaken, sooner or later, by the justice of God, whom he despises.

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Father Maas’ Commentary on Matthew 5:13-19

Posted by Dim Bulb on February 23, 2019

Text in red are my additions.

Mat 5:13  You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt lose its savour, wherewith shall it be salted? It is good for nothing anymore but to be cast out, and to be trodden on by men.

Here in these verse we find the influence the citizens of the Kingdom are to have on the world. (A) they are to preserve men; (B) they are to guide men;  (I’ve here paraphrased and expanded a brief notation by Fr. Maas).

(A) They are to preserve men. In this section must be noted the opposition between the apostolic and the prophetic work; the meaning of “salt” as applied to the apostles; and finally, the uselessness of the salt if it loses its savor.

[1] The opposition between the apostles and prophets consists in the universal character of the apostolic mission as compared with the particular character of the prophetic work. Hence the apostles are the salt of the earth.

[2] The meaning of “salt” in this context is determined by its use in common life: it prevents putrefaction and it seasons; there seems to be no direct reference to its fertilizing property [Schanz]. In the Old Testament, too, salt had been employed for this double purpose: cf. 2 Kings 2:21; Lev. 2:13; Num. 18:19; 2 Chron13:5; Paschasius Radbertus, Maldonado, Chromatius The moral corruption of the world was therefore to be remedied by the apostolic salt of the disciples.

[3] As to the uselessness of the salt after it has lost its savor, many commentators regard the language of our Lord as purely hypothetical, because, according to them, salt cannot really lose its savor. But Schöttgen [Hor. hebr. i. 1.], Thomson [The Land and the Book, p. 381], and others maintain that the salt of Palestine actually does lose its savor when in contact with the ground, or exposed to rain and sun; Dr. Thomson adds that in Sidon he saw “large quantities of it literally thrown into the street, to be trodden under foot of men and beasts.” Even Pliny speaks of “sal iners” [xxxi. 39] and “sal tabescens” [xxxi. 44]. The practical impossibility of salting salt, and reducing it to its proper condition, furnishes an illustration of the dangerous condition of the disciples of Jesus that neglect their call to salt the earth, and preserve their fellow men from moral corruption [cf. Heb. 6:4 f.; Heb 10:26–29; Ezek 15:2–5; Isa 66:24; Dan 12:2; Jerome,  Paschasius Radbertus, Cajetan, Jansenius Maldonado, Lamy, etc.].

[4] It has been supposed in the preceding remarks that Jesus addressed his apostles or his disciples directly in the text thus far explained. This must be understood in such a manner that he addressed them principally, though what he said to them applies truly, though less emphatically, to all Christians [cf. Knabenbauer Paschasius Radbertus, Chromatus]. Neither the direct address nor the comparison with salt and light forces us to admit that our Lord speaks to the disciples alone either from the beginning of v. 11 [Chrysostom, Hilary, Jerome, Rabanus Maurus, Bruno, Zach., Thomas Aquinas,  the Opus Imperfectum, Jansenius Barrada, Arnoldi, Schegg, Schanz, Fillion, Keil, Weiss, etc.] or from the beginning of v. 13 [Glossa Ordinaria, Alb., Dionysius]. For the direct address is also found in the following parts of the discourse addressed to the multitudes; and the comparison with the salt occurs again in Lk. 14:34, where our Lord does not confine himself to his disciples. The comparison of the light is quite common in the language of the New Testament [cf. Phil. 2:15; Eph. 5:8; 1 Thess. 5:5; Prov. 4:18; 1 Pet. 2:9], so that it is not peculiar to the apostles. On the other hand, we do not wholly agree with Aug. and Bed., who regard the passage as equally addressed to the multitudes and the disciples; for though both these classes were present, the subject matter is such that it describes the apostolic trials and labors more clearly than those of common Christians.

Mat 5:14  You are the light of the world. A city seated on a mountain cannot be hid.
Mat 5:15  Neither do men light a candle and put it under a bushel, but upon a candlestick, that it may shine to all that are in the house.
Mat 5:16  So let your light shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.

(B) They are to Guide Men. You are the light of the world. The world is not only steeped in moral corruption, but also in intellectual darkness; hence our Lord’s salvific influence must remedy the latter as well as the former. The prophets foretold this [Is. 42:6; 49:6; cf. Isa 9:2], and the gospels point to the fulfilment in Jesus Christ [Jn. 1:9; Jn 8:12]. St. Paul, too, repeatedly mentions the apostolic office of enlightening the world [Acts 13:47; Col. 1:24; Phil. 2:15; Eph. 5:8].

A city set on a Mountain cannot be hid. The apostles are not merely to reflect the light of their master, but they are also to occupy such a position in the world that their doctrinal influence is not interfered with by intervening objects (the image of the candle under a bushel, verse 15). It is immaterial whether Jesus in pronouncing this sentence pointed out (the city of) Saphet or the fortification on Mount Tabor as the city that cannot be hid [cf. Guérin, Galilée, ii. 425]; in any case, his language resembles that of Isaias 4:1; Isa 2:2 [cf. Chromatus, Bede, Rabanus Maurus, Chrysostom, Jansenius, Lam., Cajetan]. It follows from these words that the church must be always visible, since she is compared not merely to a city on a mountain, but to a city so placed on the mountain that it cannot be hid.

It is not only the church that must be visible to the world, but each individual Christian, too, must contribute his share in shedding the light of Jesus Christ. (If the city set on a hill cannot be hid, neither can its inhabitants). They are warned that not even the worldly-wise apply things to a purpose opposed to that for which they are destined: they do not light their candle and put it under a bushel, or the ordinary household measure holding about a peck, but on the lamp-stand, fastened in the wall, so that the light may be diffused as far as possible. The lamp was not extinguished during the night, but when its light was not desired for a space of time, it was placed under an inverted hollow cover. In the same manner, our Lord wishes his light burning in the church, to illume the darkness of the world [Bruno, Jansenius, Maldonado].

But our light must not shine before the world indiscriminately: two conditions are needed to render the shining of one’s light advisable. [a] The light of doctrine must be accompanied by good works, because principles without practice will be of little avail. This is confirmed by the fact that St. Paul found it necessary to appeal repeatedly to his good works: 2 Cor. 11:16 ff.; 1 Pet. 2:12 [Bruno,  Chromatus, Jansenius]. [b] Our light must so shine before men that they may glorify our Father who is in heaven. It is not our own glory that must be the object of showing our light before the world. Here again we have St. Paul as our model [cf. Gal. 1:24]. That the glory of God must be the end of all our actions, our Lord emphasizes especially by the name Father, reminding us that we must glorify God as good sons glorify their parents [cf. Cajetan, Augustine]. God is repeatedly called Father in the Old Testament [Is. 63:16; Deut. 32:6; Wisd. 2:16; 14:2; Sirach 23:1; Sirach 51:10; Tob. 13:4]; but the name Father as opposed to the other two persons of the Holy Trinity is peculiar to the New Law. Even the Rabbis hold that God is glorified by the good works of men, and dishonored by their evil deeds [Schöttgen], though they apply these principles only to our private life [cf. R. Bechonya, Bahir f. 5, 3; Soh. Lev. f. 2, 5].

This section (Mt 5:17-48) may be divided into the following paragraphs: 1. The general relation of the New Law to the Old, Mt 5:17–20; 2. its interpretation of the fifth commandment, Mt5:21–26; 3. its view of the sixth commandment, Mt 5:27–32; 4 its obligations springing from the second and the eighth commandment, Mt 5:33–37; 5. its opposition to the “lex talionis,” Mt 5:38–48.

17 Do not think that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets. I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.

1. General relation of the New Law to the Old. Jesus develops this general relation in four propositions: a. The New Law is the fulfilment of the Old (verse 17); b. the Old Law shall not pass till all be fulfilled (verse 18); c. the sanction of the fulfilment or the nonfulfilment of the Law is reward in, or exclusion from, the kingdom of heaven (verse 19); d. the Pharisaic observance of the Law is not sufficient in the New Law (verse 20).

α. The New Law is the fulfilment of the Old. a. The transition from the beatitudes and their application to the discussion on the law is explained in various ways: The beatitudes are the general outlines of Christianity; our Lord must therefore descend to particulars after laying down the general principles [cf. Knabenbauer]. Again, the Sadducees among the hearers of Jesus desired nothing more than an abolition of the law, the Pharisees feared nothing worse, and the disciples were left in doubt by what had been said; hence Jesus must from the start declare his position in this vital question [cf. Fillion, Schanz]. Schöttgen contends [Hor. Heb. et Talm. de Messia, ii. 611; Dresd. 1742] that about the third century the Rabbis expected a Messianic dispensation in which the Law would be wholly abolished; but Weber [Altsynagogale Theol. p. 360] shows that the passages cited by Schöttgen may be otherwise interpreted. While Jesus gains the good will of his Jewish audience by this implied eulogium of the law, he forestalls the future accusations brought against him as a destroyer of the law.

But how did our Lord fulfil the law and the prophets rather than destroy them? Mald, enumerates four ways of fulfilment: Jesus himself observed the law, he perfected it by his interpretation, he brought us the grace needed to observe it in its perfect interpretation, and finally, he fulfilled the promises contained in the types and prophecies of the law and the prophets [cf. Faber Stapulensis, Estius, Lapide, Calmet, Arnoldi, Schegg, Reischl, Coleridge, iii. pp. 66 f., Grimm, iii. p. 75, Schanz, Fillion, Meschler, i. p. 304].

As to the question whether Christians are bound by the decalogue on account of its promulgation by Moses, Bellarmine, Vasquez, Lorin. answer in the affirmative, Suarez in the negative [cf. Suar. de leg. L. ix. 11, 20, 22; L. x. 2, 15], though all are agreed that the matter of the Christian decalogue does not differ from that of the Jewish, and that Jesus has added a new binding force to these natural precepts.

Against the opinion of a few [cf. Keil] who maintain that Jesus speaks in the present passage only of the law and not of the Messianic prophecies, the common consent of interpreters asserts that “the law and the prophets” means the whole inspired canon of the Old Testament. Though our Lord did not appeal to any prophecies in the immediate context, he had recourse to their testimony repeatedly in his public life [Jn. 5:46; Lk. 4:21; 18:31; 24:27, 44; Mt. 22:40].

18 For amen I say unto you, till heaven and earth pass, one jot, or one tittle shall not pass of the law, till all be fulfilled.

b. The permanency of the Old Law. [1] The word “amen” means fidelity, faithfulness; faithful, firm; truly, surely [cf. Lk. 9:27]. The Jews employed the word to confirm their contracts and their oaths [Num. 5:22; Deut. 27:15; Neh 5:13], placing it either at the beginning or at the end of their words [cf. 28:6; Gesen. thes. i. 116]. At the end of the doxology it was repeated in Pss. 41:13; 72:19; 89:52; in the New Testament the word occurs as an asseverative particle only in the sayings of Jesus Christ, and in the fourth gospel it is repeated in this meaning [Jn. 1:32; 3:3; 5:19]. The apostles use the word in the doxology [Rom. 1:25; 9:5; Gal. 1:5; 1 Pet. 4:11]; from its use in the synagogues it has passed also into the church services as a responsory [1 Cor. 14:16].

[2] Heaven and earth cannot properly be said to pass away, though they will be changed [Mt. 24:35; 2 Pet. 3:10; 1 Jn. 2:17; 1 Cor. 7:31]. The expression seems to be equivalent to our “never,” as we infer from Pss. 72:5, 7; 89:4; 33:20, 21; etc. In this meaning the expression may be compared to the Rabbinic formulas: “Everything has its end, heaven and earth have their end, except one thing which has no end, and this is the law” [Bereschith R. x. 1]; and “[The law] will remain always, for ever and ever” [Midrasch Cohel. f. 71, 4; etc.].

[3] One jot refers to the smallest Hebrew letter called “yodh.” The “tittle,” according to the Greek text κεραία, means in the language of the Greek grammarians the accents and diacritic signs; but in the language of St. Matthew it seems to refer to the small distinctive characteristic by which ה differs from ח and ב from כ. Hence even the most unimportant points of the law shall have their place in the Messianic dispensation.

[4] “Till all be fulfilled” is not subordinate to what precedes [cf. Meyer, Keil], but coördinate with it; hence we must not interpret, “as long as the world stands shall no precept of the law, however imperfect and easy, pass away till all its injunctions are put into practice,” but rather thus: “till heaven and earth pass, the law shall not pass; till all be fulfilled, the law shall not pass.” The first member, therefore, asserts the mere fact of the permanency of the law, while the second adds the reason for its perpetuity, drawing it from the will of God.

19 He therefore that shall break one of these least commandments, and shall so teach men shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven. But he that shall do and teach, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

c. The sanction. Explanations. [1] Hilgenfeld [Historisch-kritische Einleitung in d. N. T. p. 469] is of opinion that this verse and the following are not in keeping with the general meekness and love of Jesus Christ and must therefore be regarded as interpolated by the opponents of St. Paul. But, on the one hand, the opposition in the early Church between the Pauline and the Petriue Christians is wholly hypothetical; on the other, St. Paul himself is quite emphatic in enforcing the observance of the law [cf. Rom. 3:31 f.; 4:23; 15:4; 1 Cor. 9:9; 10:6; Col. 2:17; Heb. 9:1–9; etc.].

[2] The opinion of interpreters differs considerably concerning the true meaning of the word “to break”: it means “to transgress” or “to violate” according to Chrysostom, Opus Imperfectum, Alb. Dionysius, Cajetan, Estius, Jansenius, Maldonado, Barradas, Sylveira, Arnoldi, Coleridge; “to explain falsely” according to Br. Pasch. Ans. laud.; “to mutilate” according to Chromatius; “to abrogate,” Schegg, Bisping, Schanz, Weiss; “to destroy” Jer.=ome, Zach. Chrysostom, Salmeron; both “to destroy” and “to transgress” according to Lapide, Keil. Since the meaning of the word is determined by the preceding verses, there is no good reason for changing it in this verse.

[3] “These least commandments” are those which Jesus is going to develop in the following discourse, and which he calls “least” through modesty [Chryspstom]; or they are called “least,” because not to kill and not to commit adultery is the least that can be expected of us [Augustine, Bede, Rabanus, Dionysius, Salmeron], or because they are least in the opinion of the Pharisees, or because they are the least of their own kind of mortal sins, as e.g. the sin of impure desire [Maldondado, Estius, Sylveira]; but here again it is preferable to understand by the least commandments those of which Jesus has been speaking in the preceding verse, where there is question of the jot and tittle of the law [Hilary, Jerome, St Bruno, Paschasius, Cajetan, Sa, Arnoldi, Reischl, Schegg, Schanz, Fillion]. St. Paul has diverse illustrations of the importance of even insignificant incidents in the Old Testament [cf. 1 Cor. 9:9; Gal. 4:29, 30].

[4] The clause “shall so teach men” has been understood to mean, whoever transgresses the law himself, but exacts its observance from others; or, whoever teaches men so as I do [Jer. Est. Coleridge]; but most probably the “so” refers to the preceding clause, whoever destroys one jot or tittle of the law, and teaches men according to his view of the law.

[5] The “least in the kingdom of heaven” is not there at all [Thomas Aquinas], or is unworthy of it Glossa Ordinaria, Paschasius], or is condemned to eternal punishment [Chrysostom, Theophylact, Euthymius, Cajetan, Maldonado, Lapide, Calmet], so that he “shall be called the least” by those “in the kingdom of heaven” [Anselm of Laon, Tostatus]. But Estius well remarks that according to this explanation Satan might be called the least in the kingdom of heaven; and according to Mt. 11:11 our Lord says, “he that is the lesser in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he” [John the Baptist]. It appears, then, more probable that “the least in the kingdom” is he that occupies the least place in the same, and is therefore far removed from the dignity of doctor whose office he exteriorly fulfils. The case of such a teacher appears to be considered by St. Paul, 1 Cor. 3:11, 15.

[6] Far different is the condition of him “that shall do and teach” even the smaller precepts of the law; for he shall occupy the high place prepared for the doctors in the kingdom of heaven.

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Extraordinary Form: Commentaries for the Sixth Sunday After Pentecost (Dominica VI Post Pentecosten)

Posted by Dim Bulb on February 23, 2019

EXTRAORDINARY FORM OF THE ROMAN RITE
SIXTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST
Dominica VI Post Pentecosten ~ II. classis

MISSAL AND BREVIARY:

COMMENTARIES ON THE LESSON: Romans 6:3-11.

Bernardin de Piconio’s Commentary on Romans 6:3-11. This post includes commentary on all of chapter 6.

Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on Romans 6:3-11.

Father Callan’s Commentary on Romans 6:3-11.

Aquinas’ Lectures on Romans 6:3-11.

St John Chrysostom’s Homiletic Commentary on Romans 6:3-11.

Navarre Bible Commentary  on Today’s Lesson (Romans 6:3-11).

COMMENTARIES ON THE GOSPEL: Mark 8:1-9.

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Today’s Gospel (Mark 8:1-9). Previously posted. This post is actually on verses 1-10.

St Augustine on Today’s Gospel (Mark 8:1-9).

Navarre Bible Commentary on Today’s Gospel (Mark 8:1-9). On 1-10.

HOMILY NOTES: The following four homily notes can be used for sermon ideas, points of meditation, further study.

Homily Notes on Baptism. (Epistle theme).

Homily Notes on the Resurrection of the Body. (Epistle theme).

Homily Notes on Providence. (Gospel theme).

Homily Notes on Grounds for Confidence in God. (Gospel theme).

HOMILIES:

Homily on the Epistle.

Homily on the Gospel.

St Alphonsus Ligouri’s Homily on the Gospel.

Homiletic Sketch on the Epistle: Admonition to Penance.

Homiletic Sketch on the Gospel: The Miracle of the Multiplication of the Loaves and Fishes.

Dogmatic Sketch on the Gospel: The Goodness of God.

Liturgical Sketch on the Gospel: Holy Water.

Symbolical Sketch on the Gospel: The Seven Loaves of Bread Symbolize the Seven Sacraments.

Moral Sketch on the Gospel: Intemperance.

Moral Sketch on the Gospel: Prudent Economy.

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Extraordinary Form: Commentaries for the Fifth Sunday After Pentecost (Dominica V Post Pentecosten ~ II. classis)

Posted by Dim Bulb on February 23, 2019

EXTRAORDINARY FORM OF THE ROMAN RITE
FIFTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST
Dominica V Post Pentecosten ~ II. classis

MISSAL AND BREVIARY:

Roman Missal. Latin and English text side by side.

Roman Breviary. Latin & English side by side. Be sure correct date is set.

Goffine’s Instruction on the Epistle and Gospel. Famous devotional work in English. Similar to the content in the Missal link but it also includes brief instructions on the readings, moral teachings, etc.

COMMENTARIES ON THE LESSON: 1 Peter 3:8-15.

Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on 1 Peter 3:8-15.

Navarre Bible Commentary on 1 Peter 3:8-15. On 8-22

COMMENTARIES ON THE GOSPEL: Matthew 5:20-24.

Cornelius a Lapide’s Commentary on Matthew 5:20-24. On 20-26.

Father Maas’ Commentary on Matthew 5:20-24. On 20-26.

Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on Matthew 5:20-24. On 20-26.

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Matthew 5:20-24. On 20-26.

St John Chrysostom’s Homiletic Commentary on Matthew 5:20-24. On 17-24. Treatment of ver. 20 begins at paragraph 6.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Matthew 5:20-24. On 20-26.

HOMILIES AND HOMILY NOTES:

Homily on the Epistle.

Homily on the Gospel.

St Augustine’s Homily on Matthew 5:22.

(1) Homily Notes on the Epistle (Christian Unity). Can be used for sermon idea, meditation,  further study, etc.

(2) Homily Notes on the Epistle (Presence of God). Can be used for sermon ideas, meditation, further study, etc.

(3) Homily Notes on the Gospel (Christian Justice). Can be used for sermon ideas, meditation, further study, etc.

(4) Homily Notes on the Gospel (Reconciliation). Can be used for sermon ideas, meditation, further study, etc.

St Alphonsus Ligouri’s Homily on the Gospel.

Homiletic Sketch on the Epistle (St Peter Gives Salutary Lessons).

Homiletic Sketch on the Gospel (False and True Justice).

Symbolical Sketch on the Gospel (Anger, A Burning Fever).

Moral Sketch on the Gospel (We Must Forgive Those Who Offend Us).

Moral Sketch on the Gospel (The Justice of the Scribes and Pharisees).

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St John Chrysostom’s Homiletic Commentary on Matthew 5:17-24

Posted by Dim Bulb on February 23, 2019

HOMILY XVI
“Think not that I am come to destroy the Law or the Prophets.”

Why, who suspected this? or who accused Him, that He should make a defense against this charge? Since surely from what had gone before1 no such suspicion was generated. For to command men to be meek, and gentle, and merciful, and pure in heart, and to strive for righteousness, indicated no such design, but rather altogether the contrary.

Wherefore then can He have said this? Not at random, nor vainly: but inasmuch as He was proceeding to ordain commandments greater than those of old, saying, “It was said to them of old time, Thou shalt not kill;2 but I say unto you, Be not even angry;” and to mark out a way for a kind of divine and heavenly conversation;3 in order that the strangeness thereof might not disturb the souls of the hearers, nor dispose them quite to mutiny against what He said, He used this means of setting them right beforehand.

For although they fulfilled not the law, yet nevertheless they were possessed with much conscientious regard to it; and whilst they were annulling it every day by their deeds, the letters thereof they would have remain unmoved, and that no one should add anything more to them. Or rather, they bore with their rulers adding thereto, not however for the better, but for the worse. For so they used to set aside the honor due to our parents by additions of their own, and very many others also of the matters enjoined them, they would free themselves of4 by these unseasonable additions.

Therefore, since Christ in the first place was not of the sacredotal tribe, and next, the things which He was about to introduce were a sort of addition, not however lessening, but enhancing virtue; He knowing beforehand that both these circumstances would trouble them, before He wrote in their mind those wondrous laws, casts out that which was sure to be harboring there. And what was it that was harboring there, and making an obstacle?

2. They thought that He, thus speaking, did so with a view to the abrogation of the ancient institutions. This suspicion therefore He heals; nor here only doth He so, but elsewhere also again. Thus, since they accounted Him no less than an adversary of God, from this sort of reason, namely, His not keeping the sabbath; He, to heal such their suspicion, there also again sets forth His pleas, of which some indeed were proper to Himself; as when He saith, “My Father worketh, and I work;”5 but some had in them much condescension, as when He brings forward the sheep lost on the sabbath day,6 and points out that the law is disturbed for its preservation, and makes mention again of circumcision, as having this same effect.7

Wherefore we see also that He often speaks words somewhat beneath Him, to remove the semblance of His being an adversary of God.

For this cause He who had raised thousands of the dead with a word only, when He was calling Lazarus, added also a prayer; and then, lest this should make Him appear less than Him that begat Him, He, to correct this suspicion, added, “I said these things, because of the people which standeth by, that they may believe that thou hast sent me.”8 And neither doth He work all things as one who acted by His own power, that He might thoroughly correct their weakness; nor doth He all things with prayer, lest He should leave matter of evil suspicion to them that should follow, as though He were without strength or power: but He mingles the latter with the former, and those again with these. Neither doth He this indiscriminately, but with His own proper wisdom. For while He doeth the greater works authoritatively, in the less He looks up unto Heaven. Thus, when absolving sins, and revealing His secrets, and opening Paradise, and driving away devils, and cleansing lepers, and bridling death, and raising the dead by thousands, He did all by way of command: but when, what was much less than these, He was causing many loaves to spring forth out of few, then He looked up to Heaven: signifying that not through weakness He doth this. For He who could do the greater with authority, how in the lesser could He need prayer? But as I was saying, He doeth this to silence their shamelessness. The same reckoning, then, I bid thee make of His words also, when thou hearest Him speak lowly things. For many in truth are the causes both for words and for actions of that cast: as, for instance, that He might not be supposed alien from God; His instructing and waiting on all men; His teaching humility; His being encompassed with flesh; the Jews’ inability to hear all at once; His teaching us to utter no high word of ourselves. For this cause many times, having in His own person said much that is lowly of Himself, the great things He leaves to be said by others. Thus He Himself indeed, reasoning with the Jews, said, “Before Abraham was, i am:”1 but His disciple not thus, but, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”2

Again, that He Himself made Heaven, and earth, and sea, and all things visible and invisible, in His own person He nowhere expressly said: but His disciple, speaking plainly out, and suppressing nothing, affirms this once, twice, yea often: writing that “all things were made by Him;” and, “without Him was not one thing made;” and, He was in the world, and the world was made by Him.”3

And why marvel, if others have said greater things of Him than He of Himself; since (what is more) in many cases, what He showed forth by His deeds, by His words He uttered not openly? Thus that it was Himself who made mankind He showed clearly even by that blind man; but when He was speaking of our formation at the beginning, He said not, “I made,” but “He who made them, made them male and female.”4 Again, that He created the world and all things therein, He demonstrated by the fishes, by the wine, by the loaves, by the calm in the sea, by the sunbeam which He averted on the Cross; and by very many things besides: but in words He hath nowhere said this plainly, though His disciples are continually declaring it, both John, and Paul, and Peter.

For if they who night and day hear Him discourse, and see Him work marvels; to whom He explained many things in private, and gave so great power as even to raise the dead; whom He made so perfect, as to forsake all things for Him: if even they, after so great virtue and self-denial, had not strength to bear it all, before the supply of the Spirit; how could the people of the Jews, being both void of understanding, and far behind such excellency, and only by hazard present when He did or said anything, how could they have been persuaded but that He was alien from the God of all, unless he had practised such great condescension throughout?

For on this account we see that even when He was abrogating the sabbath, He did not as of set purpose bring in such His legislation, but He puts together many and various pleas of defense. Now if, when He was about to cause one commandment to cease, He used so much reserve in His language,5 that He might not startle the hearers; much more, when adding to the law, entire as it was, another entire code of laws, did He require much management and attention, not to alarm those who were then hearing Him.

For this same cause, neither do we find Him teaching everywhere clearly concerning His own Godhead. For if His adding to the law was sure to perplex them so greatly, much more His declaring Himself God.

3. Wherefore many things are uttered by Him, far below His proper dignity, and here when He is about to proceed upon His addition to the law, He hath used abundance for correction beforehand. For neither was it once only that He said, “I do not abrogate the law,” but He both repeated it again, and added another and a greater thing; in that, to the words, “Think not that I am come to destroy,” He subjoined, “I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill.”

Now this not only obstructs the obstinacy of the Jews, but stops also the mouths of those heretics,6 who say that the old covenant is of the devil. For if Christ came to destroy his tyranny, how is this covenant not only not destroyed, but even fulfilled by Him? For He said not only, “I do not destroy it;” though this had been enough; but “I even fulfill it:” which are the words of one so far from opposing himself, as to be even establishing it.

And how, one may ask, did He not destroy it? in what way did He rather fulfill either the law or the prophets? The prophets He fulfilled, inasmuch as He confirmed by His actions all that had been said concerning Him; wherefore also the evangelist used to say in each case, “That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet.” Both when He was born,1 and when the children sung that wondrous hymn to Him, and when He sat on the ass,2 and in very many more instances He worked this same fulfillment: all which things must have been unfulfilled, if He had not come.

But the law He fulfilled, not in one way only, but in a second and third also. In one way, by transgressing none of the precepts of the law. For that He did fulfill it all, hear what He saith to John, “For thus it becometh us to fulfill all righteousness.”3 And to the Jews also He said, “Which of you convinceth me of sin.”4 And to His disciples again, “The prince of this world cometh, and findeth nothing in me.”5 And the prophet too from the first had said that “He did no sin.”6

This then was one sense in which He fulfilled it. Another, that He did the same through us also; for this is the marvel, that He not only Himself fulfilled it, but He granted this to us likewise. Which thing Paul also declaring said, “Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.”7 And he said also, that “He judged sin in the flesh, that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us who walk not after the flesh.”8 And again, “Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid! yea, we establish the law.”9 For since the law was laboring at this, to make man righteous, but had not power, He came and brought in the way of righteousness by faith, and so established that which the law desired: and what the law could not by letters, this He accomplished by faith. On this account He saith, “I am not come to destroy the law.”

4. But if any one will inquire accurately, he will find also another, a third sense, in which this hath been done. Of what sort is it then? In the sense of that future code of laws, which He was about to deliver to them.

For His sayings were no repeal of the former, but a drawing out, and filling up of them. Thus, “not to kill,” is not annulled by the saying, Be not angry, but rather is filled up and put in greater security: and so of all the others.

Wherefore, you see, as He had before unsuspectedly cast the seeds of this teaching; so at the time when from His comparison of the old and new commandments, He would be more distinctly suspected of placing them in opposition, He used His corrective beforehand. For in a covert way He had indeed already scattered those seeds, by what He had said. Thus, “Blessed are the poor,” is the same as that we are not to be angry; and, “Blessed are the pure in heart,” as not to “look upon a woman for lust;” and the “not laying up treasures on earth,” harmonizes with, “Blessed are the merciful;” and “to mourn” also, “to be persecuted” and “reviled,” coincide with “entering in at the strait gate;” and, “to hunger and thirst after righteousness,” is nothing else than that which He saith afterwards, “Whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them.” And having declared “the peace-maker blessed,” He again almost said the same, when He gave command “to leave the gift,” and hasten to reconciliation with him that was grieved, and about “agreeing with our adversary.”

But there He set down the rewards of them that do right, here rather the punishments of them who neglect practice.10 Wherefore as in that place He said, “The meek shall inherit earth;” so here, “He who calleth his brother fool, shall be in danger of hell-fire;” and there, “The pure in heart shall see God;” here, he is a complete adulterer who looks unchastely. And having there called “the peace-makers, sons of God;” here He alarms us from another quarter, saying, “Lest at any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge.” Thus also, whereas in the former part He blesses them that mourn, and them that are persecuted; in the following, establishing the very same point, He threatens destruction to them that go not that way; for, “They that walk ‘in the broad way,’ saith He, ‘make their end there.’ ” And, “Ye cannot serve God and mammon,” seems to me the same with, “Blessed are the merciful,” and, “those that hunger after righteousness.”

But as I said, since He is going to say these things more clearly, and not only more clearly, but also to add again more than had been already said (for He no longer merely seeks a merciful man, but bids us give up even our coat; not simply a meek person, but to turn also the other cheek to him that would smite us): therefore He first takes away the apparent contradiction.

On this account, then, as I have already stated, He said this not once only, but once and again; in that to the words, “Think not that I am come to destroy,” He added, “I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill.”

“For verily I say unto you, Till Heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all come to pass.”1

Now what He saith is like this: it cannot be that it should remain unaccomplished, but the very least thing therein must needs be fulfilled. Which thing He Himself performed, in that He completed2 it with all exactness.

And here He signifies to us obscurely that the fashion of the whole world is also being changed. Nor did He set it down without purpose, but in order to arouse the hearer, and indicate, that He was with just cause introducing another discipline; if at least the very works of the creation are all to be transformed, and mankind is to be called to another country, and to a higher way of practising how to live.3

5. “Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called least in the kingdom of Heaven.”4

Thus, having rid Himself of the evil suspicion, and having stopped the mouths of them who would fain gainsay, then at length He proceeds to alarm, and sets down a heavy, denunciation in support of the enactments He was entering on.

For as to His having said this in behalf not of the ancient laws, but of those which He was proceeding to enact, listen to what follows, “For I say unto you,” saith he, “Except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of Heaven.”5

For if He were threatening with regard to the ancient laws, how said He, “except it shall exceed?” since they who did just the same as those ancients, could not exceed them on the score of righteousness.

But of what kind was the required excess? Not to be angry, not even to look upon a woman unchastely.

For what cause then doth He call these commandments “least,” though they were so great and high? Because He Himself was about to introduce the enactment of them; for as He humbled Himself, and speaks of Himself frequently with measure, so likewise of His own enactments, hereby again teaching us to be modest in everything. And besides, since there seemed to be some suspicion of novelty, He ordered His discourse for a while with reserve.6

But when thou hearest, “least in the kingdom of Heaven,” surmise thou nothing but hell and torments. For He was used to mean by “the kingdom,” not merely the enjoyment thereof, but also the time of the resurrection, and that awful coming. And how could it be reasonable, that while he who called his brother fool, and trangressed but one commandment, falls into hell; the breaker of them all, and instigator of others to the same, should be within the kingdom. This therefore is not what He means, but that such a one will be at that time least, that is, cast out, last. And he that is last will surely then fall into hell. For, being God, He foreknew the laxity of the many, He foreknew that some would think these sayings were merely hyperbolical, and would argue about the laws, and say, What, if any one call another a fool, is he punished? If one merely look on a woman, doth he become an adulterer? For this very cause He, destroying such insolence beforehand, hath set down the strongest denunciation against either sort, as well them who transgress, as them who lead on others so to do.

Knowing then His threat as we do, let us neither ourselves transgress, nor discourage such as are disposed to keep these things.

“But whosoever shall do and teach,” saith He, “shall be called great.”

For not to ourselves alone, should we be profitable, but to others also; since neither is the reward as great for him who guides himself aright, as for one who with himself adds also another. For as teaching without doing condemns the teacher (for “thou which teachest another,” it is said, “teachest thou not thyself”7?) so doing but not guiding others, lessens our reward. One ought therefore to be chief in either work, and having first set one’s self right, thus to proceed also to the care of the rest. For on this account He Himself hath set the doing before the teaching; to intimate that so most of all may one be able to teach, but in no other way. For one will be told, “Physician, heal thyself.”8 Since he who cannot teach himself, yet attempts to set others right, will have many to ridicule him. Or rather such a one will have no power to teach at all, his actions uttering their voice against him. But if he be complete in both respects, “he shall be called great in the kingdom of Heaven.”

6. “For I say unto you, Except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of Heaven.”1

Here by righteousness He means the whole of virtue; even as also discoursing of Job, He said, “He was a blameless man, righteous.”2 According to the same signification of the word, Paul also called that man “righteous” for whom, as he said, no law is even set. “For,” saith he, “a law is not made for a righteous man.”3 And in many other places too one might find this name standing for virtue in general.

But observe, I pray thee, the increase of grace; in that He will have His newly-come disciples better than the teachers in the old covenant. For by “Scribes and Pharisees” here, He meant not merely the lawless, but the well-doers. For, were they not doing well, He would not have said they have a righteousness; neither would He have compared the unreal to the real.

And observe also here, how He commends the old law, by making a comparison between it and the other; which kind of thing implies it to be of the same tribe and kindred. For more and less, is in the same kind. He doth not, you see, find fault with the old law, but will have it made stricter. Whereas, had it been evil,4 He would not have required more of it; He would not have made it more perfect, but would have cast it out.

And how one may say, if it be such, doth it not bring us into the Kingdom? It doth not now bring in them who live after the coming of Christ, favored as they are with more strength, and bound to strive for greater things: since as to its own foster-children, them it doth bring in one and all. Yea, for “many shall come,” saith He, “from east and west, and shall lie down in the bosoms of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.”5 And Lazarus also receiving the great prize, is shown dwelling in Abraham’s bosom. And all, as many as have shone forth with excellency in the old dispensation shone by it, every one of them. And Christ Himself, had it been in anything evil or alien from Him, would not have fulfilled it all when He came. For if only to attract the Jews He was doing this, and not in order to prove it akin to the new law, and concurrent therewith; wherefore did He not also fulfill the laws and customs of the Gentiles, that He might attract the Gentiles also?

So that from all considerations it is clear, that not from any badness in itself doth it fail to bring us in, but because it is now the season of higher precepts.

And if it be more imperfect than the new, neither doth this imply it to be evil: since upon this principle the new law itself will be in the very same case. Because in truth our knowledge of this, when compared with that which is to come, is a sort of partial and imperfect thing, and is done away on the coming of that other. “For when,” saith He, “that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away:”6 even as it befell the old law through the new. Yet we are not to blame the new law for this, though that also gives place on our attaining unto the Kingdom: for “then,” saith He, “that which is in part shall be done away:” but for all this we call it great.

Since then both the rewards thereof are greater, and the power given by the Spirit more abundant, in reason it requires our graces to be greater also. For it is no longer “a land that floweth with milk and honey,” nor a comfortable7 old age, nor many children, nor corn and wine, and flocks and herds: but Heaven, and the good things in the Heavens, and adoption and brotherhood with the Only-Begotten, and to partake of the inheritance and to be glorified and to reign with Him, and those unnumbered rewards. And as to our having received more abundant help, hear thou Paul, when he saith, “There is therefore no condemnation now to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit:8 for the law of the Spirit of life hath made me free from the law of sin and death.”9

7. And now after threatening the transgressors, and setting great rewards for them that do right, and signifying that He justly requires of us something beyond the former measures; He from this point begins to legislate, not simply, but by way of comparison with the ancient ordinances, desiring to intimate these two things: first, that not as contending with the former, but rather in great harmony with them, He is making these enactments; next, that it was meet and very seasonable for Him to add thereto these second precepts.

And that this may be made yet clearer, let us hearken to the words of the Legislator.

What then doth He Himself say?

“Ye have heard that it was said to them of old time, Thou shall not kill.”10

And yet it was Himself who gave those laws also, but so far He states them impersonally. For if on the one hand He had said, “Ye have heard that I said to them of old,” the saying would have been hard to receive, and would have stood in the way of all the hearers. If again, on the other hand, after having said, “Ye have heard that it was said to them of old by my Father,” He had added, “But I say,” He would have seemed to be taking yet more on Himself.

Wherefore He hath simply stated it, making out thereby one point only; the proof that in fitting season He had come saying these things. For by the words, “It was said to them of old,” He pointed out the length of the time, since they received this commandment. And this He did to shame the hearer, shrinking from the advance to the higher class of His commandments; as though a teacher should say to a child that was indolent, “Knowest thou not how long a time thou hast consumed in learning syllables?” This then He also covertly intimates by the expression, “them of old time,” and thus for the future summons them on to the higher order of His instructions: as if He had said, “Ye are learning these lessons long enough, and you must henceforth press on to such as are higher than these.”

And it is well that He doth not disturb the order of the commandments, but begins first with that which comes earlier, with which the law also began. Yea, for this too suits with one showing the harmony between them.

“But I say unto you, that whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause, shall be in danger of the judgment.”1

Seest thou authority in perfection? Seest thou a bearing suited to a legislator? Why, which among prophets ever spake on this wise? which among righteous men? which among patriarchs? None; but, “Thus saith the Lord.” But the Son not so. Because they were publishing their Master’s commands, He His Father’s. And when I say, “His Father’s,” I mean His own. “For mine,” saith He, “are thine, and thine are mine.”2 And they had their fellow-servants to legislate for, He His own servants.

Let us now ask those who reject the law, “is, ‘Be not angry’ contrary to ‘Do no murder’? or is not the one commandment the completion and the development of the other?” Clearly the one is the fulfilling of the other, and that is greater on this very account. Since he who is not stirred up to anger, will much more refrain from murder; and he who bridles wrath will much more keep his hands to himself. For wrath is the root of murder. And you see that He who cuts up the root will much more remove the branches; or rather, will not permit them so much as to shoot out at all. Not therefore to abolish the law did He make these enactments, but for the more complete observation of it. For with what design did the law enjoin these things? Was it not, that no one might slay his neighbor? It follows, that he who was opposing the law would have to enjoin murder. For to murder, were the contrary to doing no murder. But if He doth not suffer one even to be angry, the mind of the law is established by Him more completely. For he that studies to avoid murder will not refrain from it equally with him that hath put away even anger; this latter being further removed from the crime.

8. But that we may convict them in another way also, let us bring forward all their allegations. What then do they affirm? They assert that the God who made the world, who “makes His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, who sends the rain on the just and on the unjust,” is in some sense an evil being.3 But the more moderate (forsooth) among them, though declining this, yet while they affirm Him to be just, they deprive Him of being good. And some other one, who is not, nor made any of the things that are, they assign for a Father to Christ. And they say that he, who is not good, abides in his own, and preserves what are his own; but that He, that is good, seeks what are another’s, and desires of a sudden to become a Saviour to them whose Creator He was not.4 Seest thou the children of the devil, how they speak out of the fountain of their father, alienating the work of creation from God: while John cries out, “He came unto His own,” and, “The world was made by Him?”1

In the next place, they criticise the law in the old covenant, which bids put out “an eye for an eye,” and “a tooth for a tooth;”2 and straightway they insult and say, “Why, how can He be good who speaks so?”

What then do we say in answer to this? That it is the highest kind of philanthropy. For He made this law, not that we might strike out one another’s eyes, but that fear of suffering by others might restrain us from doing any such thing to them. As therefore He threatened the Ninevites with overthrow, not that He might destroy them. (for had that been His will, He ought to have been silent), but that He might by fear make them better, and so quiet His wrath: so also hath He appointed a punishment for those who wantonly assail the eyes of others, that if good principle dispose them not to refrain from such cruelty, fear may restrain them from injuring their neighbors’ sight.

And if this be cruelty, it is cruelty also for the murderer to be restrained, and the adulterer checked. But these are the sayings of senseless men, and of those that are mad to the extreme of madness. For I, so far from saying that this comes of cruelty, should say, that the contrary to this would be unlawful, according to men’s reckoning. And whereas, thou sayest, “Because He commanded to pluck out “an eye for an eye,” therefore He is cruel;” I say, that if He had not given this commandment, then He would have seemed, in the judgment of most men, to be that which thou sayest He is.

For let us suppose that this law had been altogether done away, and that no one feared the punishment ensuing thereupon, but that license had been given to all the wicked to follow their own disposition in all security, to adulterers, and to murderers,3 to perjured persons, and to parricides; would not all things have been turned upside down? would not cities, market-places, and houses, sea and land, and the whole world, have been filled with unnumbered pollutions and murders? Every one sees it. For if, when there are laws, and fear, and threatening, our evil dispositions are hardly checked; were even this security taken away, what is there to prevent men’s choosing vice? and what degree of mischief would not then come revelling upon the whole of human life?

The rather, since cruelty lies not only in allowing the bad to do what they will, but in another thing too quite as much; to overlook, and leave uncared for, him who hath done no wrong, but who is without cause or reason suffering ill. For tell me; were any one to gather together wicked men from all quarters, and arm them with swords, and bid them go about the whole city, and massacre all that came in their way, could there be anything more like a wild beast than he? And what if some other should bind, and confine with the utmost strictness those whom that man had armed, and should snatch from those lawless hands them, who were on the point of being butchered; could anything be greater humanity than this?

Now then, I bid thee transfer these examples to the law likewise; for He that commands to pluck out “an eye for an eye,” hath laid the fear as a kind of strong chain upon the souls of the bad, and so resembles him, who detains those assassins in prison; whereas he who appoints no punishment for them, doth all but arm them by such security, and acts the part of that other, who was putting the swords in their hands, and letting them loose over the whole city.

Seest thou not, how the commandments, so far from coming of cruelty, come rather of abounding mercy? And if on account of these thou callest the Lawgiver grievous, and hard to bear with; tell me which sort of command is the more toilsome and grievous, “Do no murder,” or, “Be not even angry”? Which is more in extreme, he who exacts a penalty for murder, or for mere anger? He who subjects the adulterer to vengeance after the fact, or he who enjoins a penalty even for the very desire, and that penalty everlasting? See ye not how their reasoning comes round to the very contrary? how the God of the old covenant, whom they call cruel, will be found mild and meek: and He of the new, whom they acknowledged to be good, will be hard and grievous, according to their madness? Whereas we say, that there is but one and the same Legislator of either covenant, who dispensed all meetly, and adapted to the difference of the times the difference between the two systems of law. Therefore neither are the first commandments cruel, nor the second hard and grievous, but all of one and the same providential care.

For that He Himself gave the old covenant also, hear the affirmation of the prophet, or rather (so we must speak), of Him who is both the one and the other: “I will make a covenant with you, not according to the covenant which I made with your fathers.”1

But if he receive not this, who is diseased with the Manichæan doctrines,2 let him hear Paul saying the very same in another place, “For Abraham had two sons, one by the bondmaid, and another by the freewoman; and these are two covenants.”3 As therefore in that case the wives are different, the husband the same; so here too the covenants are two, the Lawgiver one.

And to prove to thee that it was of one and the same mildness; in the one He saith, “An eye for an eye,” but in this other,

“If one smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.”4

For as in that case He checks him that doth the wrong with the fear of this suffering, even so also in this. “How so,” it may be said, “when He bids turn to him the other cheek also?” Nay, what of that? Since not to take away his fear did He enjoin this, but as charging yourself to allow him to take his fill entirely. Neither did He say, that the other continues unpunished, but, “do not thou punish;” at once both enhancing the fear of him that smiteth, if he persist, and comforting him who is smitten.

9. But these things we have said, as one might say them incidentally, concerning all the commandments. Now we must go on to that which is before us, and keep to the thread of what had been affirmed. “He that is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment:” so He speaks. Thus He hath not altogether taken the thing away: first, because it is not possible, being a man, to be freed from passions: we may indeed get the dominion over them, but to be altogether without them is out of the question.

Next, because this passion is even useful, if we know how to use it at the suitable time.5 See, for instance, what great good was wrought by that anger of Paul, which he felt against the Corinthians, on that well-known occasion; and how, as it delivered them from a grievous pest, so by the same means again he recovered the people of the Galatians likewise, which had fallen aside; and others too beside these.

What then is the proper time for anger? When we are not avenging ourselves, but checking others in their lawless freaks, or forcing them to attend in their negligence.

And what is the unsuitable time? When we do so as avenging ourselves: which Paul also forbidding, said “Avenge not yourselves, dearly beloved, but rather give place unto wrath.”6 When we are contending for riches: yea, for this hath he also taken away, where he saith, “Why do ye not rather take wrong? why do ye not rather suffer yourselves to be defrauded?”7 For as this last sort is superfluous, so is the first necessary and profitable. But most men do the contrary; becoming like wild beasts when they are injured themselves, but remiss and cowardly when they see despite done to another: both which are just opposite to the laws of the Gospel.

Being angry then is not a transgression, but being so unseasonably. For this cause the prophet also said, “Be ye angry, and sin not.”8

10. And whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council.”

By the council in this place He means the tribunal of the Hebrews: and He hath mentioned this now, on purpose that He might not seem everywhere to play the stranger and innovator.

But this word, “Raca,” is not an expression of a great insolence, but rather of some contempt and slight on the part of the speaker. For as we, giving orders either to our servants, or to any very inferior person, say, “Away with thee; you here, tell such an one:”9 so they who make use of the Syrians’ language say, “Raca,” putting that word in stead of “thou.” But God, the lover of man, roots up even the least faults, commanding us to behave to one another in seemly manner, and with due respect; and this with a view of destroying hereby also the greater.

“But whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.”10

To many this commandment hath appeared grievous and galling, if for a mere word we are really to pay so great a penalty. And some even say that it was spoken rather hyperbolically. But I fear lest, when we have deceived ourselves with words here, we may in deeds there suffer that extreme punishment.

For wherefore, tell me, doth the commandment seem overburdensome? Knowest thou not that most punishments and most sins have their beginning from words? Yea, for by words are blasphemies, and denials are by words, and revilings, and reproaches, and perjuries, and bearing false witness.1 Regard not then its being a mere word, but whether it have not much danger, this do thou inquire. Art thou ignorant that in the season of enmity, when wrath is inflamed, and the soul kindled, even the least thing appears great, and what is not very reproachful is counted intolerable? And often these little things have given birth even to murder, and overthrown whole cities. For just as where friendship is, even grievous things are light, so where enmity lies beneath, very trifles appear intolerable. And however simply a word be spoken, it is surmised to have been spoken with an evil meaning. And as in fire: if there be but a small spark, though thousands of planks lie by, it doth not easily lay hold of them; but if the flame have waxed strong and high, it readily seizes not planks only, but stones, and all materials that fall in its way; and by what things it is usually quenched, by the same it is kindled the more (for some say that at such a time not only wood and tow, and the other combustibles, but even water darted forth upon it doth but fan its power the more); so is it also with anger; whatever any one may say, becomes food in a moment for this evil conflagration. All which kind of evils Christ checking beforehand, had condemned first him that is angry without a cause to the judgment, (this being the very reason why He said, “He that is angry shall be in danger of the judgment”); then him that saith “Raca,” to the council. But as yet these are no great things; for the punishments are here. Therefore for him who calleth “fool” He hath added the fire of hell, now for the first time mentioning the name of hell. For having before discoursed much of the kingdom, not until then did He mention this; implying, that the former comes of His own love and indulgence towards man, this latter of our negligence.

11. And see how He proceeds by little and little in His punishments, all but excusing Himself unto thee, and signifying that His desire indeed is to threaten nothing of the kind, but that we drag Him on to such denunciations. For observe: “I bade thee,” saith He, “not be angry for nought, because thou art in danger of the judgment. Thou hast despised the former commandment: see what anger hath produced; it hath led thee on straightway to insult, for thou hast called thy brother ‘Raca.’ Again, I set another punishment, ‘the council.’ If thou overlook even this, and proceed to that which is more grievous, I visit thee no longer with these finite punishments, but with the undying penalty of hell, lest after this thou shouldest break forth2 even to murder.” For there is nothing, nothing in the world more intolerable than insolence; it is what hath very great power3 to sting a man’s soul. But when the word too which is spoken is in itself more wounding than the insolence, the blaze becomes twice as great. Think it not then a light thing to call another “fool.” For when of that which separates us from the brutes, and by which especially we are human beings, namely, the mind and the understanding,—when of this thou hast robbed thy brother, thou hast deprived him of all his nobleness.

Let us not then regard the words merely, but realizing the things themselves, and his feeling, let us consider how great a wound is made by this word, and unto how much evil it proceeds. For this cause Paul likewise cast out of the kingdom not only “the adulterous” and “the effeminate,” but “the revilers”4 also. And with great reason: for the insolent man mars all the beauty of charity, and casts upon his neighbor unnumbered ills, and works up lasting enmities, and tears asunder the members of Christ, and is daily driving away that peace which God so desires: giving much vantage ground unto the devil by his injurious ways, and making him the stronger. Therefore Christ Himself, cutting out the sinews of the devil’s power, brought in this law.

For indeed He makes much account of love: this being above all things the mother of every good, and the badge of His disciples, and the bond which holds together our whole condition. With reason therefore doth He remove with great earnestness the roots and the sources of that hatred which utterly spoils it.

Think not therefore that these sayings are in any wise hyperbolical, but consider the good done by them, and admire the mildness of these laws. For there is nothing for which God takes so much pains, as this; that we should be united and knit together one with another. Therefore both in His own person, and by His disciples, as well those in the Old, as in the New Testament, He makes so much account of this commandment; and is a severe avenger and punisher of those who despise the duty. For in truth nothing so effectually gives entrance and root to all wickedness, as the taking away of love. Wherefore He also said, “When iniquity abounds, the love of the many shall wax cold.”1 Thus Cain became his brother’s murderer; thus Esau; thus Joseph’s brethren; thus our unnumbered crimes have come revelling in, this bond being dissevered. You see why He Himself also roots out whatever things injure this, on every side, with great exactness.

12. Neither doth He stop at those precepts only which have been mentioned, but adds also others more than those: whereby He signifies how much account He makes thereof. Namely, having threatened by “the council,” by “the judgment,” and by “hell,” He added other sayings again in harmony with the former, saying thus:

“If thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; leave there thy gift before the altar, and go away;2 first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.”3

O goodness! O exceeding love to man! He makes no account of the honor due unto Himself, for the sake of our love towards our neighbor; implying that not at all from any enmity, nor out of any desire to punish, had He uttered those former threatenings, but out of very tender affection. For what can be milder than these sayings? “Let my service,” saith he, “be interrupted, that thy love may continue; since this also is a sacrifice, thy being reconciled to thy brother.” Yea, for this cause He said not, “after the offering,” or “before the offering;” but, while the very gift lies there, and when the sacrifice is already beginning, He sends thee to be reconciled to thy brother; and neither after removing that which lies before us,4 nor before presenting the gift, but while it lies in the midst, He bids thee hasten thither.

With what motive then doth He command so to do, and wherefore? These two ends, as it appears to me, He is hereby shadowing out and providing for. First, as I have said, His will is to point out that He highly values charity,5 and considers it to be the greatest sacrifice: and that without it He doth not receive even that other; next, He is imposing such a necessity of reconciliation; as admits of no excuse. For whoso hath been charged not to offer before he be reconciled, will hasten, if not for love of his neighbor, yet, that this may not lie unconsecrated,6 to run unto him who hath been grieved, and do away the enmity. For this cause He hath also expressed it all most significantly, to alarm and thoroughly to awaken him. Thus, when He had said, “Leave thy gift,” He stayed not at this, but added, “before the altar” (by the very place again causing him to shudder); “and go away.” And He said not merely, “Go away,” but He added, “first, and then come and offer thy gift.” By all these things making it manifest, that this table receives not them that are at enmity with each other.

Let the initiated hear this, as many as draw nigh in enmity: and let the uninitiated hear too: yea, for the saying hath some relation to them also. For they too offer a gift and a sacrifice: prayer, I mean, and alms-giving. For as to this also being a sacrifice, hear what the prophet saith: “A sacrifice of praise will glorify me;”7 and again, “Sacrifice to God a sacrifice of praise;”8 and, “The lifting up of mine hands is an evening sacrifice.”9 So that if it be but a prayer, which thou art offering in such a frame of mind, it were better to leave thy prayer, and become reconciled to thy brother, and then to offer thy prayer.

For to this end were all things done: to this end even God became man, and took order for all those works, that He might set us at one.

And whereas in this place He is sending the wrong doer to the sufferer, in His prayer He leads the sufferer to the wrong doer, and reconciles them. For as there He saith, “Forgive men their debts;” so here, “If he hath ought against thee, go thy way unto him.”

Or rather, even here too He seems to me to be sending the injured person: and for some such reason He said not, “Reconcile thyself to thy brother,” but, “Be thou reconciled.” And while the saying seems to pertain to the aggressor, the whole of it really pertains to him that is aggrieved. Thus, “If thou art reconciled to him,” saith Christ, “through thy love to him thou wilt have me also propitious, and wilt be able to offer thy sacrifice with great confidence. But if thou art still irritated, consider that even I readily command that which is mine to be lightly esteemed, that ye may become friends; and let these thoughts be soothing to thine anger.”

And He said not, “When thou hast suffered any of the greater wrongs, then be reconciled; but, “Though it be some trifle that he hath against thee.” And He added not, “Whether justly or unjustly; but merely, “If he hath ought against thee.” For though it be justly, not even in that case oughtest thou to protract the enmity; since Christ also was justly angered with us, yet nevertheless He gave Himself for us to be slain, “not imputing those trespasses.”1

For this cause Paul also, when urging us in another way to reconciliation, said, “Let not the sun go down upon your wrath.”2 For much as Christ by this argument of the sacrifice, so there Paul by that of the day, is urging us on to the self-same point. Because in truth he fears the night, lest it overtake him that is smitten alone, and make the wound greater. For whereas in the day there are many to distract, and draw him off; in the night, when he is alone, and is thinking it over by himself, the waves swell, and the storm becomes greater. Therefore Paul, you see, to prevent this, would fain commit him to the night already reconciled, that the devil may after that have no opportunity, from his solitude, to rekindle the furnace of his wrath, and make it fiercer. Thus also Christ permits not, though it be ever so little delay, lest, the sacrifice being accomplished, such an one become more remiss, procrastinating from day to day: for He knows that the case requires very speedy treatment. And as a skillful physician exhibits not only the preventives of our diseases, but their correctives also, even so doth He likewise. Thus, to forbid our calling “fool,” is a preventive of enmity; but to command reconciliation is a means of removing the diseases that ensue on the enmity.

And mark how both commands are set forth with earnestness. For as in the former case He threatened hell, so here He receives not the gift before the reconciliation, indicating great displeasure, and by all these methods destroying both the root and the produce.

And first of all He saith, “Be not angry;” and after that, “revile not.” For indeed both these are augmented, the one by the other: from enmity is reviling, from reviling enmity. On this account then He heals now the root, and now the fruit; hindering indeed the evil from ever springing up in the first instance: but if perchance it may have sprouted up and borne its most evil fruit, then by all means He burns it down the more.

13. Therefore, you see, having mentioned, first the judgment, then the council, then hell, and having spoken of His own sacrifice, He adds other topics again, thus speaking:

“Agree with thine adversary quickly, whilst thou art in the way with him.”3

That is, that thou mayest not say, “What then, if I am injured;” “what if I am plundered, and dragged too before the tribunal?” even this occasion and excuse He hath taken away: for He commands us not even so to be at enmity. Then, since this injunction was great, He draws His advice from the things present, which are wont to restrain the grosser sort more than the future. “Why, what sayest thou?” saith He. “That thine adversary is stronger, and doeth thee wrong? Of course then he will wrong thee more, if thou do not make it up, but art forced to go into court. For in the former case, by giving up some money, thou wilt keep thy person free; but when thou art come under the sentence of the judge, thou wilt both be bound, and pay the utmost penalty. But if thou avoid the contest there, thou wilt reap two good results: first, not having to suffer anything painful; and secondly, that the good done will be thereafter thine own doing, and no longer the effect of compulsion on his part. But if thou wilt not be ruled by these sayings, thou wrongest not him, so much as thyself.”

And see here also how He hastens him; for having said, “Agree with thine adversary,” He added, “quickly;” and He was not satisfied with this, but even of this quickness He hath required a further increase, saying, “Whilst thou art in the way with him;” pressing and hastening him hereby with great earnestness. For nothing doth so much turn our life upside down, as delay and procrastination in the performance of our good works. Nay, this hath often caused us to lose all. Therefore, as Paul for his part saith, “Before the sun set, do away the enmity;” and as He Himself had said above, “Before the offering is completed, be reconciled;” so He saith in this place also, “Quickly, whilst thou art in the way with him,” before thou art come to the doors of the court; before thou standest at the bar, and art come to be thenceforth under the sway of him that judgeth. Since, before entering in, thou hast all in thine own control; but if thou set thy foot on that threshold, thou wilt not by ever so earnest efforts be able to arrange thy matters at thy will, having come under the constraint of another.

But what is it “to agree?” He means either, consent rather to suffer wrong?” or, “so plead the cause, as if thou wert in the place of the other;” that thou mayest not corrupt justice by self-love, but rather, deliberating on another’s cause as thine own, mayest so proceed to deliver thy vote in this matter. And if this be a great thing, marvel not; since with this view did He set forth all those His blessings, that having beforehand smoothed and prepared the hearer’s soul, he might render it apter to receive all His enactments.

Now some say that He obscurely signifies the devil himself, under the name of the adversary; and bids us have nothing of his, (for this, they say, is to “agree” with him): no compromise being possible after our departure hence, nor anything awaiting us, but that punishment, from which no prayers can deliver. But to me He seems to be speaking of the judges in this world, and of the way to the court of justice, and of this prison.

For after he had abashed men by higher things, and things future, he alarms them also by such as are in this life. Which thing Paul also doth, using both the future and the present to sway his hearer: as when, deterring from wickedness, he points out to him that is inclined to evil, the ruler armed: thus saying, “But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain; for he is a minister of God.”1 And again, enjoining us to be subject unto him, he sets forth not the fear of God only, but the threatening also of the other party, and his watchful care. “For ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake.”2 Because the more irrational, as I have already said, are wont to be sooner corrected by these things, things which appear and are at hand. Wherefore Christ also made mention, not of hell only, but also of a court of justice, and of being dragged thither, and of the prison, and of all the suffering there; by all these means destroying the roots of murder. For he who neither reviles, nor goes to law, nor prolongs enmity, how will he ever commit murder? So that from hence also it is evident, that in the advantage of our neighbor stands our own advantage. For he that agrees with his adversary, will benefit himself much more; becoming free, by his own act, from courts of law, and prisons, and the wretchedness that is there.

14. Let us then be obedient to His sayings; let us not oppose ourselves, nor be contentious; for first of all, even antecedently to their rewards, these injunctions have their pleasure and profit in themselves. And if to the more part they seem to be burdensome, and the trouble which they cause, great; have it in thy mind that thou art doing it for Christ’s sake, and the pain will be pleasant. For if we maintain this way of reckoning at all times, we shall experience nothing burdensome, but great will be the pleasure we reap from every quarter; for our toil will no longer seem toil, but by how much it is enhanced, so much the sweeter and pleasanter doth it grow.

When therefore the custom of evil things, and the desire of wealth, keep on bewitching thee; do thou war against them with that mode of thinking which tells us, “Great is the reward we shall receive, for despising the pleasure which is but for a season;” and say to thy soul; “Art thou quite dejected because I defraud thee of pleasure? Nay, be of good cheer, for I am introducing thee into Heaven. Thou doest it not for man’s sake, but for God’s. Be patient therefore a little while, and thou shalt see how great is the gain. Endure for the present life, and thou shalt receive an unspeakable confidence.” For if we would thus discourse with our own soul, and not only consider that which is burdensome in virtue, but take account also of the crown that comes thereof, we shall quickly withdraw it from all wickedness.

For if the devil, holding out pleasure for a season, but pain for ever, is yet strong, and prevails; seeing our case is just the reverse in these matters, the labor temporary, the pleasure and profit immortal, what plea shall we have, if we follow not virtue after so great encouragement? Why, the object of our labors is enough to set against all, and our clear persuasion that for God’s sake we are enduring all this. For if one having the king his debtor, thinks he hath sufficient security for all his life; consider how great will he be, who hath made the Gracious and Everlasting God a debtor to himself, for good deeds both small and great. Do not then allege to me labors and sweats; for not by the hope only of the things to come, but in another way also, God hath made virtue easy, assisting us everywhere, and putting His hand to our work. And if thou wilt only contribute a little zeal, everything else follows. For to this end He will have thee too to labor a little, even that the victory may be thine also. And just as a king would have his own son present indeed in the array; he would have him shoot with the bow,1 and show himself, that the trophy may be reckoned his, while he achieves it all Himself: even so doth God in our war against the devil: He requires of thee one thing alone, that thou show forth a sincere hatred against that foe. And if thou contribute this to Him, He by Himself brings all the war to an end. Though thou burn with anger, with desire of riches, with any tyrannical passion whatever; if He see thee only stripping thyself and prepared against it, He comes quickly to thee, and makes all things easy, and sets thee above the flame, as He did those children of old in the Babylonian furnace: for they too carried in with them nought but their good will.

In order then that we also may extinguish all the furnace of disordered pleasure here, and so escape the hell that is there, let these each day be our counsels, our cares, and our practice, drawing towards us the favor of God, both by our full purpose concerning good works, and by our frequent prayers. For thus even those things which appear insupportable now, will be most easy, and light, and lovely. Because, so long as we are in our passions, we think virtue rugged and morose and arduous, vice desirable and most pleasing; but if we would stand off from these but a little, then both vice will appear abominable and unsightly, and virtue easy, mild, and much to be desired. And this you may learn plainly from those who have done well. Hear, for instance, how of those passions Paul is ashamed, even after his deliverance from them, saying, “For what fruit had ye then in those things, whereof ye are now ashamed?”2 But virtue, even after his labor, he affirms to be light, calling3 the laboriousness of our affliction momentary and “light,” and rejoicing in his sufferings, and glorying in his tribulations, and taking a pride in the marks wherewith he had been branded for Christ’s sake.

In order then that we too may establish ourselves in this habit, let us order ourselves each day by what hath been said, and “forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, let us press on towards the prize of the high calling:”4 unto which God grant that we may all attain, by the grace and love towards man of our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom be glory and power for ever and ever. Amen.

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