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Archive for the ‘Scripture’ Category

Commentaries for the Feast of St Mark the Evangelist

Posted by Dim Bulb on April 23, 2016

Today’s Mass Readings.

Today’s Divine Office.

My Notes on 1 Peter 5:5-14.

Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on 1 Peter 5:5-14.

Navarre Bible Commentary on 1 Peter 5:5-14.

Newman’s Sermon for the Feast of St Mark.

Father Boylan’s Introduction to Psalm 89.

St Augustine’s Notes on Psalm 89.

Pending: My Notes on Psalm 89:2-3, 6-7, 16-17.

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Mark 16:15-20. Originally posted for the Ascension, includes verse 14.

Cornelius a Lapide’s Commentary on Mark 16:15-20. Originally posted for the Ascension. Begins with verse 14.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Mark 16:15-20.

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Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on 1 Peter 5:5-14

Posted by Dim Bulb on April 23, 2016

This post opens with Fr. MacEvilly’s brief analysis of 1 Peter 5 followed by his comments on the reading. Text in purple indicates his paraphrasing of the Scripture he is commenting on.


In this chapter, the Apostle addresses himself to the pastors of the Church, and points out the mode in which they should tend the flocks committed to their care, and acquit themselves of their pastoral functions. They should, in tending their flocks, shun three vices directly at variance with their exalted calling; these are, firstly, the performance of their functions not cheerfully, but with restraint arising from the necessity they were under of procuring thereby the necessary means of support, so opposed to the cheerfulness which springs from viewing their flocks, according to God; secondly, the base vice of sordid avarice, so opposed to liberal and generous disinterestedness (2); and thirdly, domincering pride, so opposed to the example of humility, which every pastor is bound to give (3). By avoiding these vices and practising the opposite virtues, the pastors will merit to obtain, on the day of judgment, from Jesus Christ, the unfading crown of eternal life (4).

He next points out the reciprocal duties of the laity towards their pastors. They should be subject and obedient to them.

All, both pastors and people, should clothe themselves with humility, as their chief ornament (5). He tells them to humble themselves before God, in order that he may exalt them, by the effusion of the heavenly graces which he has in store, only for the humble—and, this humility they should manifest, by laying aside all anxious cares, and casting themselves on the Fatherly Providence of God (6, 7). He, next, recommends them to practise the virtues of sobriety and vigilance—two virtues most necessary for a soldier on guard, in order to defeat the stratagems and assaults of a powerful and subtle foe, such as the devil, the sworn enemy of man, is. They should courageously resist him, by the unshaken firmness of their faith (8, 9). He next promises them the powerful protection of God to guard them, and bring them to a happy end (10).

He closes the Epistle with informing them, that Silas is the bearer of this Epistle to them; they will thus be secured against the imposition often practised by false teachers, in substituting counterfeit Epistles. He ends with the usual salutation.

1Pe 5:5 In like manner, ye young men, be subject to the ancients. And do you all insinuate humility one to another: for God resisteth the proud, but to the humble he giveth grace.

In like manner, do you, both inferior clergy and laity, fulfil the reciprocal duty of obedience and subjection to your bishops and pastors; and I enjoin you all, both pastors and people, to manifest feelings of humility towards one another, making this great fundamental virtue your chief exterior ornament; for, God resists the proud, but to the humble he giveth grace.

He new points out the duty which the people reciprocally owe their pastors; and this is subjection and obedience. This is the peculiar virtue of persons placed under authority; the other virtues the people may learn from the lives and conduct of their pastors, who should be a “pattern to them from the heart” (verse 3). “Ye young men.” The laity, who are contrasted with the “ancients,” or pastors. He calls them “young men,” because generally younger in age than their pastors, who, in the time of St. Peter, were far advanced in life, when vested with the pastoral dignity. Others understand by “young men,” young persons in general, who ought to be reverential towards those, who are advanced in life. The former interpretation is more probable; for, all young men are not bound to be “subject” to the old, as is here required. By the “ancients,” are meant the pastors of the Church, especially the bishops, to whom both laity and inferior clergy should be subject and obedient. The word, viewed according to etymology, only means persons advanced in age; but in almost all languages, men vested with authority, whether in church or state, are designated by words expressive of age; because, those appointed to such offices were, generally speaking, far advanced in life. For instance, the terms, Senate, Patricians, &c., though according to etymology referring to age, are employed, according to present usage, to express office or dignities. In many instances, to adhere strictly to etymology would be silly in the extreme, as is apparent, for example, in the original etymological signification of the word, Pontiff, which means “a bridge-maker” (Pontifex), “Episcopus,” bishop, which meant originally, “an inspector.” “Deacon” originally meant, a “waiter;” “Apostle,” “one sent,” &c. “But, do ye all insinuate humility to one another.” The Greek is, “but do ye all (subordinate to one another) put on humility as an exterior garment.” The Greek word for “insinuate,” εγκομβωσασθε, means, put on as the exterior garment covering all the rest, or, as the fibula closely knotting together the other virtues; hence, it means to put on humility, as their chief habit or ornament. This applies to both pastors and people. The word, subordinate, or subject, is not found in either the Alexandrian or Vatican MS. “For God resisteth the proud,” &c. This sentence, quoted by St. James also (4:6), is taken, as to sense, from the Book of Proverbs (3:34). It is translated by St. Jerome from the Hebrew: “he shall scorn the scorners,” which is in substance the same as, “he shall resist the proud,” for, the “proud,” scorn and deride others, “and to the meek he will give grace,” in substance, the same as “he shall give grace to the humble;” for they are generally meek and forbearing.

1Pe 5:6 Be you humbled therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in the time of visitation:

Be ye, therefore, humbled under the powerful hand of God, that he, who gives his grace to the humble, may, after having copiously showered down upon you his graces, exalt you in the day when he shall come to judge the world, to separate the sheep from the goats:

With all humility, therefore, and fear, walk in the presence of God, whose powerful hand is raised to humble and depress the haughty. “That he may exalt you in the time of visitation;” that, after having bestowed on you here the gifts of grace in store for the humble, he may bestow on you hereafter the crown of everlasting glory, when he shall come to judge the world. The words, “of visitation,” are wanting in the Greek, which run thus: ἶνα ὑμας ὑψωση ἐν καιρῷ, that he may exalt you in the time, that is, in his own good time, or at a befitting opportunity. This entire passage is very like the passage of St. James (4:6 and 10).

1Pe 5:7 Casting all your care upon him, for he hath care of you.

Casting aside all anxious care, and placing your trust in him; for, he has charge of you.

These words express the humiliation of ourselves, which the Apostle inculcates (verse 6), “under the mighty hand of God.” They involve the full resignation of ourselves and all our concerns into his adorable hands. They are perfectly similar to the words, Psalm 54:23, “Cast thy care upon the Lord and he will sustain thee,” and most probably, the Apostle quotes the words of the Psalmist. Of course, in this the Apostle prohibits neither the exercise of prudent foresight nor the employment of our active faculties, to bring about our ends. He only prescribes to us, after having done according to the rules of human prudence what in us lies, to leave the result of our undertakings in the hands of God, and to conform ourselves to his adorable will; for, he will dispose of us better than we could ourselves either divine or anticipate; even the crosses, trials, and privations, so opposed to our natural inclinations, are, in the gracious designs of his Providence, so many visitations of his mercy, weaning us from things of earth, and fixing our desires on things heavenly and eternal. We should, therefore, cast aside all undue anxiety in the several concerns of life, placing all our undertakings in the hands of God. “Oculi mei semper ad Dominum, quoniam ipse evellet de laqueo pedes meos.”—(Psalm 25)

1Pe 5:8 Be sober and watch: because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, goeth about seeking whom he may devour.

Be sober and temperate in the use of meat, drink, sleep, and the other comforts of life, and be also vigilant; for, the sworn enemy of your race, by whom sin was first introduced into this world, the devil, the calumniator of mankind, is always on the alert, going about, like a roaring, hungry lion, seeking for some object of prey.

“Be sober.” The Greek word for this, νηψατε, is rendered watch (4:7); it means either “to be sober” or “vigilant,” but here it must be rendered “be sober,” because the following word signifies only “to watch,” or “be vigilant.” “Be sober,” that is, “temperate in the use of meat,” &c., “and watch.” Vigilance is an accompaniment of sobriety, as drowsiness and sleep are of intemperance. Similar is the precept given (Luke, 21:34):—“Take heed to yourselves lest, perhaps, your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting and drunkenness, and the cares of this life.” Sobriety and vigilance are most indispensable for a soldier, while engaged in warfare and on guard, against the attacks of a wily and dangerous enemy. Such is the state of every Christian, during the whole course of his life. “Because your adversary,” the sworn enemy of man, by whom sin and death were first introduced into this world (“Satan,” or “accuser,” is the Hebrew word for “adversary.”) “The devil,” which means, calumniator; hence called (Apocalypse, 12) “the accuser of our brethren,” for, he always endeavours to make men enemies to God and render them deserving of accusation before him. “As a roaring lion,” the strongest and most furious animal in nature, “goeth about,” seeking for some weak point of attack, in order to avail himself of the weakness of our nature and of that passion in particular, to the gratification of which we are most prone; hence, commonly termed, our predominant passion. “Seeking whom he may devour.” When drowsy and sluggish from the effects of intemperance, we are most exposed to the attacks of this powerful and subtle enemy. Hence, the Church commences the concluding hour of the divine office, Complin, with the words of this verse, in order to remind her ministers of the necessity of temperance and vigilance, at the close of the day, for resisting the temptation of the devil. From this passage we may clearly see the great power of the devil, this prince of the “principalities and powers and spirits of wickedness in high places,” with whom we are constantly engaged in deadly conflict.—(Ephes. 6) Job assures us there is no power on earth equal to the devil: “There is no power on earth that can be compared with him, that was made to fear no one.”—(Job. 12:24).

1Pe 5:9 Whom resist ye, strong in faith: knowing that the same affliction befalls, your brethren who are in the world.

Whom resist ye courageously, firmly grasping the shield of faith, bearing in mind that the same crosses that befall you are borne by your brethren all over the earth, who join you in filling up what is wanting in you to the sufferings of Christ.

“Whom resist ye, strong in faith.” In the panoply or full suit of spiritual armour, which St. Paul wishes the Christian warrior to put on, “faith” is marked out as the shield for resisting “all the fiery darts of the most wicked enemy.”—(Ephesians, 6:16). Here, St. Peter wishes the Christian warrior first to “resist” the enemy, and to do so firmly and bravely. “Strong in faith,” the Greek word, στερεοι, means, solid and fixed in faith, it may be allusive to a fortification, wherein they are protected; or, more likely, the idea is the same as that conveyed by St. Paul—“taking the shield of faith”—by which is meant the consideration of the truths of faith, the menaces and hopes which they propose to us. Under “faith,” is included the great confidence in God, which the consideration of the principles of faith is so calculated to inspire, and which will secure us against all our enemies. “If God be with us, whom shall we fear?” “Knowing that the same affliction” (in Greek, τα αυτα των παθηματων, the same afflictions) “befalls your brethren,” &c. Deriving consolation from the consideration, that in suffering, you are only conforming to the decrees of God’s providence, wishing that all his elect should enter heaven by the road of suffering; and hence, nothing peculiarly difficult in their case, all “their brethren who are in the world” are treated similarly.

1Pe 5:10 But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory in Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a little, will himself perfect you and confirm you and establish you.

But God, the source and author of every good gift, who, out of his pure and gratuitous mercy, has called us through the merits of Jesus Christ, to a participation in his eternal glory, and has given so many pledges thereof by his grace, will himself bring you to consummate and perfect glory, and confirm and establish you unalterably in its eternal enjoyment, after you shall have borne comparatively light and trivial crosses, for a short time here below.

“But the God of all grace,” from whom proceed all gratuitous gifts, “who hath called us unto his eternal glory.” The Alexandrian and Vatican MSS. have, ὁ καλεσας ὑμας, called you. Among his gratuitous gifts is to be reckoned our call to a share in his eternal glory, of which he has given us an earnest in the manifold graces he bestows upon us, “in Christ Jesus.” This call, and the graces consequent on it, are all owing to the merits purchased by the blood of Jesus Christ. “After you have suffered a little.” “A little,” probably refers both to the duration of their sufferings, “for that which is at present momentary and light,” &c. (2 Cor. 4:17), and the comparatively light nature of them. “The sufferings of this time are not worthy to be compared with the glory to come.”—(Rom. 8:18). “Will himself perfect, confirm, and establish you.” In some Greek copies the words are read optatively, thus: “may he perfect, confirm, strengthen, and establish you;” the sentence being thus composed of four members, instead of three, as in our version. But the Alexandrian and Vatican manuscripts, as also the Syriac version support the Vulgate reading. The words are nearly synonymous; and the idea derived from the material building is applied to the spiritual edifice of virtue and grace, which the Apostle here prays that God would perfect in them, unto the unchangeable state of glory.

1Pe 5:11 To him be glory and empire, for ever and ever. Amen.

To him is due all glory for his gifts, and all power over creatures, for ever and ever. Amen.

“To him be glory and empire,” that is, all the glory of his gifts, and power over all his creatures, for ever and ever. Amen.

1Pe 5:12 By Sylvanus, a faithful brother unto you, as I think, I have written briefly: beseeching and testifying that this is the true grace of God, wherein you stand.

Sylvanus, a faithful brother, I have made the bearer of this Epistle, which I have written to you, I should think briefly, considering the interest and pleasure its perusal will afford you, imploring and exhorting you to perseverance, and bearing witness, that the grace of faith, in which you still have faithfully persevered, is the true grace of God leading to eternal life.

“By Sylvanus;” this is, most probably, Silas, the companion of St. Paul in preaching the gospel.—(Acts, 15:40). “A faithful brother unto you, as I think I have written briefly.” “Unto you,” according to the Greek, ὑμιν τον πιστον ἀδελφον, is joined with “faithful,” and means, who discharges a faithful ministry for you; but according to the Latin and Syriac copies, it is connected with “I have written.” Silas was the bearer of the Epistle from Rome to the East. “As I think,” i.e., faithful to you, as I think; or more probably, I have written to you this Epistle, I think, briefly, considering the matter so interesting to you, and your affectionate regard for myself. The Epistles of those we love are always considered brief, and never tiresome. “Beseeching;” the Greek word, παρακαλῶν, means also, exhorting you to perseverance in the faith, wherein you hold out, notwithstanding the pressure of persecution: and “testifying that this is the true grace of God.” As Apostle of God, I bear witness that the faith you received from us, and in which you still “stand,” is the true grace of God, which leads to eternal life.

1Pe 5:13 The church that is in Babylon, elected together with you, saluteth you. And so doth my son, Mark.

The assemblage of the faithful at Rome, elected to the same grace with you, salute you, and wish you the abundance of all temporal and spiritual blessings, and so does my son, Mark, whom I have spiritually begotten, or who serves me as a son.

“The Church that is in Babylon,” or the assemblage of the faithful, “elected together with you,” called to the same faith and hope in eternal glory, “saluteth you,” or wish you all blessings both temporal and spiritual. “In Babylon.” Meaning the City of Rome.—(Vide Introduction).

“And so doth my son, Mark.” He refers to St. Mark, the Evangelist, whom he afterwards sent to found the Church of Alexandria, A.D. 45. “My son;” either because he was spiritually begotten by him, and fully instructed in the faith (Baronius Annal. Anno Christi, 45); or because he served him in the work of the Gospel with the fidelity and affection of a son, as St. Paul says of Timothy (Philippians 2).

1Pe 5:14 Salute one another with a holy kiss. Grace be to all you who are in Christ Jesus. Amen.

Salute one another with a holy and chaste kiss. Grace and peace be to you all, who are incorporated with Christ Jesus, by your Christian profession.—Amen.

“With a holy kiss,” that is a chaste embrace. “Grace be to you all.” In Greek, ειρηνη, “peace be to you all.” There is scarcely any difference in sense. The Hebrews, by wishing a person peace, wished him all spiritual and temporal blessings, which we mean by “grace.” “Who are in Christ Jesus,” that is, Christians incorporated with him, and forming the body, of which he is the mystic head.

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Commentaries for the Fifth Sunday of Easter, Year C

Posted by Dim Bulb on April 16, 2016

Note: This post needs some editing and updating of links.



Readings from the NABRE. Used in the USA.

Mass Readings in the NJB Translation. Scroll down. Used in most English speaking countries. For some reason the site has the Gospel reading before the second reading.

Divine Office.

Anglican Use Daily Office. ”Briefly, it is a provision for an “Anglican style” liturgy similar to the Book of Common Prayer as an ecclesiastically approved variant on the Roman Rite of the Catholic Church.” More info.


Father Callan’s Commentary on Acts 14:21-27. On verses 19-28.

St John Chrysostom’s Homiletic Commentary on Acts 14:21-27. On verses 19-28.

My Notes On Acts 14:21-27.

Pending: Bishop MacEvilly’s Commentary on Acts 14:21-27.

Word Sunday Notes on Acts 14:21-27.

Homilist’s Catechism on Acts 14:21-27.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Acts 14:21-27.

COMMENTARIES ON THE RESPONSORIAL: Psalm 145:8-9, 10-11, 12-13.

Father Boylan’s Introduction to Psalm 145. Very brief.

St Augustine’s Exposition Of Psalm 145. Whole psalm.

Part 1. Pope Benedict On Psalm 145 .  Whole psalm.

Part 2. Pope Benedict on Psalm 145.  Whole psalm.

Word Sunday Notes on Psalm 145. Whole psalm.


My Notes On Revelation 21:1-5a.

Word Sunday on Revelation 21:1-5a.

Speaking of Scripture Blog. An excerpt from Dr. Peter Williamson’s forthcoming commentary on Revelation, part of the Catholic Commentary on Sacred  Scripture series (see here).

Navarre Bible Commentary on Revelation 21:1-5.

Homilist’s Catechism on Revelation 21:1-5a.


St John Chrysostom Homiletic Commentaries 72 & 73 On John. A modern translation covering John 13:20-14:7.

St Cyril of Alexandria’s Homiletic Commentary on John 13:31-33a, 34-35.

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on John 13:31-33a, 34-35.

Cornelius a Lapide’s Commentary on John 13:31-33a, 34-35.

My Notes on John 13:31-35.

Word Sunday Notes on John 13:31-35.

Navarre Bible Commentary on John 13:31-33a, 34-35.

Homilist’s Catechism on John 13:31-35.

GENERAL RESOURCES: Sites which offer commentaries, reflections, summaries,etc., on one or more of the readings in a single post.

Doctrinal Homily Outlines.  Gives the theme(s) of the readings, the doctrinal message, and pastoral application.

Lector Notes. Brief historical and theological background on the readings. Can be printed out, copied, and used as bulletin insert.

Scripture Speaks. Since the site doesn’t post every week I’ve linked to the archive.

The Wednesday Word.  It’s about the Sunday readings, but the document is posted on Wednesday, hence the name. Designed for prayer and reflection, the pdf document ends with Father Dom Henry Wansbrough’s reflections on the first and second readings. Fr. Wansbrough is General Editor of the New Jerusalem Bible and contributed commentaries on Matt, Mark, and the Pastorals in A New Catholic Commentary on Holy Scripture.

St Charles Borromeo Parish’s Bible Study Notes. Notes on all the readings, usually with some background info as well.

Sacred Page Blog: The Kingdom of Love: Reflection on the readings by Catholic biblical scholar Dr. John Bergsma.

Glancing Thoughts: Brief reflection on the gospel reading from philosopher Eleanore Stump.

The Gospel in its Historical Cultural Context. Briefly examines the gospel reading in light of first century Mediterranean culture.

Thoughts From The Early Church. Excerpt on the Gospel from St Cyril of Alexandria.

Scripture In Depth. Succinct summary of the readings and their relation to one another.

PODCASTS: Bible Studies and Homilies. Partially complete.

On The Readings As A Whole:

Franciscan Bible Study Podcast. Link is to archive page. This Sunday’s study will become available on Thursday.

St Martha’s Bible Study Podcast. Looks at all the readings in some detail.

Update: Video: The New Commandment and the New Creation. By Catholic biblical scholar Dr. Brant Pitre.

On Acts of Apostles:

EWTN’s Gospel of the Holy Spirit (on Acts of Apostles). Listen to episode 7.

St Catherine of Siena’s Podcast Study of Acts of Apostle. Video on chapters 13-15.

Institute of Catholic Culture’s Podcast Study of Acts of Apostles. Listen to part 8 on chapters 10-15.


Institute of Catholic Culture on Revelation. A three part introductory overview of the book.

St Martha’s Podcast Study of Revelation. On chapters 20-22.

A Catholic Study of the Book of Revelation. Video on chapters 13-16.


EWTN’s Study of John’s Gospel. Listen to episode 10.

St Irenaeus Ministries Podcast Study of John’s Gospel. On chapters 13-14. Click on the POD icon or the direct download link.

Franciscan Sister’s Bible Study Podcast on John’s Gospel. Scroll down and click on the episode covering 13:10-14:31.

HOMILIES: Pending.

Posted in Bible, Catholic, Catholic Sunday Lectionary, Notes on the Lectionary, Scripture | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on Acts 9:1-20

Posted by Dim Bulb on April 10, 2016


The Chapter commences with the wonderful and miraculous conversion of Saul on his way to persecute the Christians of Damascus, which was perfected by the instructions of Ananias, whose fears occasioned by the persecuting character of Saul were dissipated by Divine assurances on the subject (1–18). The zeal of Saul in preaching the Gospel, the conspiracy on the part of the Jews to kill him (19–25), His escape (25). The distrust of the faithful of Jerusalem regarding him on account of his repute, as Persecutor, quieted by the intervention of Barnabas, who introduced him to the Apostles (26, 27). The machinations of the Gentiles to kill him. Hence his escape to Tharsus (29, 30). The miracles wrought by Peter in the restoration to health of Eneas (32–35). The wonderful miracle wrought by him in raising Tabitha or Dorcas from the dead, which caused the conversion of many (36–43).

Act 9:1 And Saul, as yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest

“And Saul,” who had already rendered himself prominently conspicuous in the persecution of the Christians, was now “as yet,” in the interval between the present time and the death of Stephen, indulging still, his passion for persecution, shown in the murder of Stephen.

“Breathing out.” Furiously agitated, displaying a violent thirst for vengeance. “Threatenings,” all kinds of threatening and denunciatory language. “And slaughter,” designs of wholesale murder “against the disciples of our Lord,” the converted believers. He had a hand in putting to death a great number of Christians (Acts 26:10, 11).

“Went to the High Priest,”

Act 9:2 And asked of him letters to Damascus, to the synagogues: that if he found any men and women of this way, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem.

“And asked of him letters,” &c. The letters were written by the authority of the Sanhedrim and signed by the High Priest, as president of the Council. Some say the conversion of St. Paul took place in the thirty-fifth year of our era, three years after our Lord’s death. In that case the High Priest was Caiphas, who was deposed by Tertullus.

If it occurred later, the High Priest was Theophilus. To the Sanhedrim, belonged to take cognizance of offences against religion. The Romans connived at their doing this beyond the precincts of Judea, wherever synagogues were found, dependent on the Sanhedrim.

“Asked.” He himself volunteered to act as persecutor; “Letters,” credentials conveying a commission or authorization. “To Damascus” a celebrated well-known city of Asia, mentioned in Scripture city, in the days of Abraham (Genisis 15:2). After various vicissitudes, it was ultimately taken by Selim, A. D. 1517. Ever since, it has been subject to the Saracens.

It was well-known to Saul, that a large number of Christians had been at Damascus, and the credential letters gave him the power vested in the Sanhedrim to punish all offences against religion. The policy of the Romans was to leave the exercise of such power to the Sanhedrim, reserving for themselves the confirmation of the sentence of death.

“To the Synagogues.” Over whom the Sanhedrim exercised authority.

“Men and women,” even “women,” were not spared, which shows intense hatred.

“Of this way,” of thinking and believing; of this sect.

“Bring them bound,” for trial before the Sanhedrim, whose powers in matters pertaining to religion, the Romans sanctioned or connived at, save in the supreme case of death, specially reserved for themselves.

Act 9:3 And as he went on his journey, it came to pass that he drew nigh to Damascus. And suddenly a light from heaven shined round about him.

“While travelling along the road, and when he was near Damascus—how near, no one can tell—the important event here mentioned, took place.

“Suddenly.” With the suddenness of a flash of lightning. It was not, however, a flash of lightning. It was the transcendent, overwhelming, dazzling glory, surrounding our Lord Himself, as at his Transfiguration (John 17:5). It was our Lord Himself, personally appearing to St. Paul in His glory, which Paul recognized, calling Him “Lord” (v. 5). For Barnabas declared “how he had seen the Lord in the way (v. 27). He himself says (1 Cor. 9:1, 15:8), that he saw our Lord. Similar is the language (1 Cor. 9:1). He now sees resuscitated, living, glorious, our Lord, whom he supposed to be dead.

“A light from heaven,” from the sky, “above the brightness of the sun (26:13).

“About him,” and his companions also (26:13).

Act 9:4 And falling on the ground, he heard a voice saying to him: Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?

Overpowered by the dazzling light, he fell to the ground, and so did those who were with him, overawed by the majesty of what they saw (26:14). It is not opposed to this, that “they stood amazed” (v. 7), for they might have soon risen to their feet.

“He heard a voice, Saul, Saul.” The word is repeated for emphasis sake.

“Why,”—for what reason, on account of what provocation? “persecutest thou me,” viz., in his chosen members. He was head of the body whose members Saul was engaged in furiously and relentlessly persecuting.

Act 9:5 Who said: Who art thou, Lord? And he: I am Jesus whom thou persecutest. It is hard for thee to kick against the goad.

“Lord” does not imply Divinity. It is only a term of courteous reverence elicited by the terror he was in. Up to this, Saul did not for certain acknowledge Jesus Christ to be God. Similar is the meaning of Magdalen’s words, when she thought she was addressing the gardener (John 20:15).

“I am Jesus,” &c. In chap. 22:8, it is “I am Jesus of Nazareth,” in which is conveyed that the humble Nazarene, whom Paul despised, as if nothing good could come out of Nazareth, is now Lord of all. He now appears to him in glory.

“It is hard for thee to kick,” &c. A proverbial expression with the Greeks and Romans, conveying that obstinate and stubborn resistance to lawful authority and rebellion against those who have a right to command is injurious to the man who resists. The idea is borrowed from stubborn oxen kicking against the “goad,” or sharp piece of iron used to urge them on. By kicking, they injure themselves. This according to the conjecture of some, denotes the resistance Paul had been giving before our Lord appeared to him, to the interior emotions of grace urging him to desist from the persecution he was practising. The example and admonition of his former teacher, Gamaliel (22:3) who embraced the faith, may have served to disquiet him and cause some remorse of conscience.

Act 9:6 And he, trembling and astonished, said: Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?

What he saw and heard created a feeling of terror and alarm on reflecting on the wicked course he had been pursuing.

“Lord.” The term here denotes the supreme reverence due to Him as God and Saviour. “What wilt thou,” &c., shows his thorough conversion and prompt change of heart. Giving up his own wicked will and feeling of opposition to God, he now professes at once his willingness to embrace in all things God’s Adorable Will.

Act 9:7 And the Lord said to him: Arise and go into the city; and there it shall be told thee what thou must do. Now the men who went in company with him stood amazed, hearing indeed a voice but seeing no man.

“The Lord”—our God and Saviour—“arise.” He was still prostrate (v. 8, 26:16).

“Go into the city”—Damascus close by (v. 3). The whole narrative is more circumstantially detailed by St. Paul himself (c. 26:16–18) in his address to King Agrippa.

“And there it shall be told thee,” &c. In this we see the wonderful and mysterious ways of God’s Providence in carrying out his designs. He might himself have instructed him on the spot. But, no; it pleased Him to employ the ministry of an humble disciple at Damascus for perfecting His beneficent designs. In this He had also in view to test Paul’s humility, obedience and self abnegation.

“The men.… stood amazed.” The Greek word for amazed (εννεοι) means struck dumb, unable to speak. They were struck mute with terror. It may be, when the first feeling of alarm which prostrated them (26:14) subsided, they stood up immediately, while Paul, who was chiefly concerned in the matter, continued prostrate. In c. 26:14, it is said they were “all fallen on the ground.” This occurred, as the immediate effect of the light, before they heard the voice. Here we have an account of what took place after the first feeling of panic and alarm was over. They stood up immediately. It may be, the word, “stood,” has no particular meaning; that it merely denotes the feeling of alarm they felt, without reference to what position they were in, whether standing or prostrate.

“Hearing, indeed, a voice,” probably means hearing a sound, but not understanding the articulate utterance and meaning as it was understood by Saul.

Act 9:8 And Saul arose from the ground: and when his eyes were opened, he saw nothing. But they, leading him by the hands, brought him to Damascus.

“And when his eyes were opened.” The Greek would be more properly rendered, and although his eyes opened, “or with eyes opened.” For while prostrate, his eyes were opened, looking at our Lord in His glorious appearance. But, when he rose up, on account of the dazzling, intense brightness of the light emanating from the glorified body of Jesus, his eyes though opened, were bereft of the faculty of seeing “for three days,” v. 9.

Act 9:9 And he was there three days without sight: and he did neither eat nor drink.

“And he did neither eat,” &c. Terror and remorse, suspense and perplexity, as he received no intimation as to what he was to do, joined with fervent and absorbing prayer for pardon of his sins, for heavenly light to remove his state of perplexity, made him indifferent and unconcerned about all corporal sustenance.

Act 9:10 Now there was a certain disciple at Damascus, named Ananias. And the Lord said to him in a vision: Ananias, And he said: Behold I am here, Lord.

“A certain disciple,” a Christian, who had already heard of Saul’s violent persecution of his fellow-believers (v. 13). “Ananias,” the term would indicate a Jew by birth converted to the faith.

Act 9:11 And the Lord said to him: Arise and go into the street that is called Strait and seek in the house of Judas, one named Saul of Tarsus. For behold he prayeth.

“For he prayeth.” Fear him no longer, as a fanatical persecutor of the Christians. He is now a different man, completely changed, engaged in fervent prayer for light, guidance and forgiveness. This would point to the manner Paul spent the three days in question.

Act 9:12 (And he saw a man named Ananias coming in and putting his hands upon him, that he might receive his sight.)

Very likely, the words of this verse are parenthetical, inserted by St. Luke, to inform us that while our Lord was addressing Ananias in a vision, Saul was favoured with another vision, assuring him that Ananias, whose name he gives, was no impostor, and would soon show him, on the part of God, what he was to do. “Quid Te oporteat facere” (v. 7).

Act 9:13 But Ananias answered: Lord, I have heard by many of this man, how much evil he hath done to thy saints in Jerusalem.

In this Ananias expresses his fears and surprise. Probably, Ananias, informed by letters from the faithful of Jerusalem, or by public rumour, or by some Christians who fled on account of the persecution from Jerusalem to Damascus, heard all about Paul’s fanaticism and persecuting violence.

“Thy saints.” The term always applied by the Apostle, in his Epistles, to Christians.

Act 9:14 And here he hath authority from the chief priests to bind all that invoke thy name.

“And here” in this very city. Likely, the companions of Saul published all about him, and so it reached Ananias.

Act 9:15 And the Lord said to him: Go thy way: for this man is to me a vessel of election, to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel.

“Go thy way.” A brief form of expressing that God will do what is just and reasonable. Here, it is a repetition of God’s instructions to Ananias regarding Saul.

“A vessel of Election.” “Vessel,” according to Hebrew usage, signifies an organ or instrument. “Election,” chosen, like the other Apostles, to carry out My designs of mercy. “Carry My name.” Proclaim My attributes as God and Man, Creator and Redeemer of mankind.

“Before the Gentiles.” The different nations of the earth. Paul was in a special manner constituted the Apostle of the Gentiles (Rom. 11:13, 15:16; Gal. 2:8).

“And kings.” This he did (Acts 25:23, 26:1).

“And children of Israel.” This he did at once (20, 21).

Act 9:16 For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name’s sake.

“I will shew him,” &c. As a proof that he will be a distinguished instrument to be employed by Me, I will have him suffer much on My account, and hence he will be distinguished in My service. His success will be proportioned to his fortitude and constancy in enduring evils. That he did suffer this is shown from the picture he draws for us (2 Cor. 11) and his subsequent History in these Acts of the Apostles.

Act 9:17 And Ananias went his way and entered into the house. And laying his hands upon him, he said: Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus hath sent me, he that appeared to thee in the way as thou camest, that thou mayest receive thy sight and be filled with the Holy Ghost.

In obedience to our Lord’s command, Ananias, proceeded to his destination, “and laying his hands upon him.” It was not for the purpose of giving the Sacrament of Confirmation. There is no evidence that Ananias was in a position to do so—moreover, Saul was still unbaptized, and Ananias himself states the object: “that thou mayst receive thy sight,” which he did on the spot, “and be filled with the Holy Ghost,” through the baptism, he was immediately to receive. The imposition of hands restored his sight. Baptism gave him the Holy Ghost.” It may be, that with the effect of baptism, Paul received in an extraordinary way the grace of Confirmation without the eternal rite, as did the Apostles on Pentecost Sunday.

Act 9:18 And immediately there fell from his eyes as it were scales: and he received his sight. And rising up, he was baptized.

The teguments that fell from his eyes and impeded his sight were like “scales.” They fell, as if “scales” had fallen, with which fishes and serpents are covered. The cure being so sudden, and, so far as human agency was concerned, without any human adequate cause, shows that it was manifestly miraculous.

“He was baptized.” As there is no mention of having received the necessary previous instruction in the truths of faith, it is most likely our Lord Himself fully instructed him during the three days preceding his baptism. Hence, he says (Gal. 1) he received the Gospel, not from man, but from Jesus Christ.

Act 9:19 And when he had taken meat, he was strengthened. And he was with the disciples that were at Damascus, for some days.

He recovered his natural strength, weakened by previous fasting.

After his communion he proceeded to Arabia, and then again came back to Damascus. St. Luke makes no mention of his journey to Arabia.

Act 9:20 And immediately he preached Jesus in the synagogues, that he is the son of God.

This shows the genuine sincerity of his conversion.

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St Thomas Aquinas’ Lecture on Psalm 4

Posted by Dim Bulb on April 9, 2016

This post contains Latin and English texts side by side. The content appears here courtesy of The Aquinas Translation Project.

a. In finem. Psalmus cantici David.Cum invocarem, exaudivit me Deus iustitiae meae: in tribulatione dilatasti mihi. Miserere mei, et exaudi orationem meam. Unto the end. A psalm in song of David.When I called upon him, the God of my justice heard me: when I was in distress, thou hast enlarged me. Have mercy on me: and hear my prayer.
b. Filii hominum usquequo gravi corde? ut quid diligitis vanitatem, et quaeritis mendacium. O ye sons of men, how long will you be dull of heart? why do you love vanity, and seek after lying?
c. Et scitote quoniam mirificavit Dominus sanctum suum: Dominus exaudiet me, cum clamavero ad eum. And know ye also that the Lord hath made his holy one wonderful: the Lord will hear me when I shall cry unto him.
d. Irascimini et nolite peccare: quae dicitis in cordibus vestris, et in cubilibus vestris compungimini. Sacrificate sacrificium iustitiae, et sperate in Domino. Be ye angry, and sin not: the things you say in your hearts, be sorry for them upon your beds. Offer up the sacrifice of justice, and trust in the Lord.
e. Multi dicunt, Quis ostendit nobis bona? Signatum est super nos lumen vultus tui Domine. Many say, Who sheweth us good things? The light of thy countenance O Lord, is signed upon us.
f. Dedisti laetitiam in corde meo. A fructu frumenti, vini, et olei sui multiplicati sunt. Thou hast given gladness in my heart. By the fruit of their corn, their wine, and oil, they are multiplied.
g. In pace in idipsum, dormiam, et requiescam. Quoniam tu Domine singulariter in spe, constituisti me. In peace in the selfsame I will sleep, and I will rest: For thou, O Lord, singularly hast settled me in hope.
a. In praecedenti psalmo David imploravit auxilium Dei contra tribulationes orando, et sentiens se exauditum hortatur alios ut in Deo confidant. Et exprimit psalmus iste affectus hominis qui expertus divinam misericordiam et beneficia et justitiam, hortatur alios ut non desperent. Titulus ejus est In finem. Psalmus cantici David. In hoc titulo duo consideranda sunt pro toto libro: scilicet quod dicit psalmus cantici. Secundo quod dicit, In finem. In the preceding psalm, David invoked God’s help with his prayer against the troubles (he faced), and, understanding that he has been heard, he now exhorts others to trust in God. This psalm expresses the sentiment of a man who, having experienced divine mercy, kindness and justice, exhorts others not to despair. Its title is “Unto the end. A psalm in song of David.” In this title, two things are to be considered that occur throughout the psalter, namely what he means by “A psalm in song,” and “Unto the end.”
Quo ad primum ergo nota, quod David sicut legitur 2 Reg. 6, faciebat psalmum metrice, et cantabat ante arcam cum psalterio. Ergo psalmus dicitur quod cantatur ad psalterium, sed non absque psalterio. In quibusdam autem psalmis describitur psalmus David, ubi intelligitur quod est factus ad psalterium. In aliquibus praescribitur canticum David, quia cantabatur sine instrumento. In aliquibus, psalmus cantici David, vel e converso: eo quod ille psalmus cantabatur simul voce humana, et ad psalterium. Sed in aliquibus incipiebat unus vel multi voce humana sine instrumento, et unus respondebat cum psalterio; et hi intitulantur canticum psalmi. In aliquibus vero unus cantabat psalmum cum psalterio, et alii respondebant sine psalterio: et hi intitulantur psalmus cantici. Et haec est differentia litteralis; sed mystice et secundum glossam, psalmus significat bonam operationem; canticum vero exultationem mentis de aeternis. Quando vero simul utrumque ponitur in uno psalmo, significatur quod de utroque agitur. With respect to the first of these, one should understand that David, as it is read in 2 Kings 6, used to compose metrical psalms and sang before the ark of the covenant upon the harp. Therefore, a “psalm” in this sense is what is sung to the harp, but not without it. In some of the psalms described as “A psalm of David,” it is understood that they are accompanied by the harp. Others are described as “A song of David” because they are sung without an instrument. Those entitled “A psalm in song of David” (or the converse of this), indicate a psalm that is both sung and accompanied by the harp. Some of these began with one or many human voices singing without accompaniment, and one person responding with the harp. These are entitled “A song in psalm.” In others, one person used to sing a psalm with the harp and others would respond without the harp. And these are entitled “A psalm in song.” This difference is of a literal sort. However, mystically and according to the Gloss, “psalm” signifies a good activity, while “song” indicates the exaltation of the mind concerned with eternal matters. But when both are placed together in one psalm, this signifies that both (good activity and exaltation) occur.
Quod vero dicit In finem, si consideretur hoc quantum ad rem per psalmum figuratam, manifestum est quia in finem intelligitur, idest in Christum; Rom. 10: Finis legis Christus ad justitiam omni credenti. Sed si consideretur in finem secundum figuram; datur intelligi, quod cantabatur pro consumptione operis vel negotii, sicut hic psalmus pro consummata liberatione David a persecutione Absalonis factus fuit, quasi pro victoria. Alii dicunt Victori, scilicet David, In psalmis, quia omnes in psalmis faciendis vincebat sed hoc verum non videtur. When he says Unto the end, if one were to consider this with respect to that which is represented by the psalm, it is clear that the phrase is to understood in an ultimate way, that is to say, in Christ: For the end of the law is Christ unto justice to every one that believeth. (Romans 10:4) But if one were to consider the phrase figuratively, it can be understood that it was sung upon the completion of work or of some business, just as this psalm was composed upon the completion of David’s liberation from the persecution brought about by Absalon, as if upon David’s victory. Some entitle the psalm For the victor, namely, David, Innpsalms, since he was superior among all of those who composed psalms. But this interpretation does not seem to be accurate.
Dividitur autem psalmus iste in duas partes: nam primo incipit a gratiarum actione pro receptis beneficiis; unde ait: Cum invocarem etc. Secundo finitur in exhortatione aliorum ut convertantur ad Deum, ibi, Filii hominum etc. Circa primum duo facit. Primo enim agit gratias de praeteritis. Secundo orat pro futuris, ibi, Miserere mei etc. Circa primum duo facit. Primo agit gratias quod est exauditus. Secundo ostendit qualiter est exauditus, ibi, In tribulationeetc. This psalm is divided into two parts. The first begins with thanksgiving for kindnesses received. Thus he says: When I called upon him. The second finds him finishing (his thanksgiving) with an exhortation of others to turn to God, at, O ye sons of men. Concerning the first of these, he does two things. First, he gives thanks for past events. Second, he prays for future ones, at, Have mercy on me. Concerning the former of these two, he does two things. First, he gives thanks that he was heard, and second he demonstrates how he was heard, at, When I was in distress.
Sed notandum quod hic est duplex littera: una dicit: Exaudivit: alia habet Exaudisti; et huic concordat Hieronymus dicens, Exaudisti; in hoc tamen non est vis. Dicit ergo: Cum invocarem, exaudisti etc. Ubi quatuor consideranda sunt. Primo ponit orationem et exauditionem: unde dicit: Exaudisti. Sed non exaudivit, non clamantem; unde dicit: Cum invocarem; quod est implorare auxilium in necessitate. Ps. 119: Ad Dominum, cum tribularer, clamavi, et exaudivit me. Item requiritur, quod sit justus: quia si audit peccatores, est ex misericordia, non est ex justitia; et ideo dicit: Justitiae meae: ibi glossa: idest dator justitiae, vel justificationis meae. Ps. 33: Oculi Domini super justos. Aliud quod est primum, quod justitiam suam homo attribuat Deo, et non sibi; et ideo dicit: Deus. Contra quod Rom. 10: Ignorantes Dei justitiam, et suam volentes statuere etc. Primo ergo debet bonum suum attribuere Deo; secundo habere justitiam; tertio clamare; quarto exaudiri. It should be noted that there are two versions of this verse. One says, He heard me, while the other has, You heard me, the latter of which agrees with Jerome’s version. But this is not the (correct) sense of the phrase. Therefore, the psalmist says, When I called upon him, He heard me, wherein four things are to be considered. First, the psalmist describes his prayer and the fact that he was listened to: whence he says, He heard me. But he was not heard without crying out. Hence he says, When I called upon him, which means to pray earnestly for help in dire need: In my trouble, I cried to the Lord, and he heard me. (Psalm 119:1) In like manner it is required that he (the one calling upon the Lord) be just. For if he listens to sinners, this is by reason of his mercy and not his justice. And so he says, Of my justice, that is to say, according to the Gloss, the giver of justice, or of my justification: The eyes of the Lord are upon the just. (Psalm 33:16) Another1 says that this is first, namely that man attribute his justice to God and not to himself. Thus he says God.2 But against (this, St. Paul at) Romans 10:3 (writes): For they, not knowing the justice of God, and seeking to establish their own, have not submitted themselves to the justice of God. Therefore, one ought first to attribute his own good to God, second, be just, third, cry out, and fourth, be heard.
Modus autem exauditionis describitur cum dicit, In tribulatione. Dicit Exaudivit et Dilatasti vel quia forte metrice factus est psalmus ubi oportuit mutari constructionem propter metrum; vel quia per modum orantis, ubi ex diversis affectibus mutat homo loquendi modum. Dicit autem, In tribulatione dilatasti mihi, quia plus est dilatasti quam liberasti; quasi dicat, non solum liberasti, sed in ipsa tribulatione cordis latitudinem tribuisti. Psal. 17: Dilatasti gressus meos subtus me, et non sunt infirmata vestigia mea. Vel latitudinem animi ad patienter sustinendum, vel latitudinem potestatis de qua dicitur Gen. 9: Dilatet Deus Japhet. Deinde cum dicit, Miserere mei, removendo scilicet quidquid remansit miseriae praeteritae: Et exaudi me, orantem pro futuris bonis. The way in which he was heard is described when he says, When I was in distress. He says, He heard me and Thou hast enlarged me, either because the psalm was composed in a strong meter where it was fitting to change the construction on account of the meter, or because of the manner of prayer, where, by reason of diverse emotions, a person changes his manner of expression. But he says, When I was in distress, thou hast enlarged me, because you have enlarged more than you have freed. It is as if he were saying, “You have not only freed me, but in tribulation itself you have enlarged the extent of my heart”: Thou hast enlarged my steps under me; and my feet are not weakened.” (Psalm 17:36) Or (you have enlarged) the extent of my soul to suffer patiently, or the extent of my power, concerning which Genesis 9:27 speaks: May God enlarge Japheth. Then he says, Have mercy on me, namely by removing whatever remains of my past suffering, And hear me praying for good things to come.
b. Deinde cum dicit, Filii etc., convertit se ad aliorum exhortationem: et circa hoc duo facit. Primo redarguit peccatores; secundo exhortatur eos ad emendam, ibi, Et scitote etc. Circa primum duo facit. Primo commemorat conditionem; secundo arguit culpam, ibi, Ut quid diligitis; Next, when he says O ye sons of men, he turns to the exhortation of others, concerning which he does two things. First, he finds fault with sinners, and second, exhorts them to make emends, at, And know ye also. Concerning the former, he does two things. First, he mentions their condition, and second, he asserts their blame, at, Why do you love vanity.
conditionem commemorat dicens, Filii hominum: quod dupliciter potest intelligi. Primo in malo, sic, Filii hominum, quasi homines secundum naturam inferiorem corruptibiles et proni ad peccandum. Gen. 6: Non permanebit spiritus meus in homine in aeternum quia caro est. Et iterum 8 cap.: Sensus et cogitatio hominum in malum proni sunt ab adolescentia sua. Filii ergo hominum; quasi dicat, Ostenditis vos esse filios hominum, idest peccatorum, scilicet Evae et Adae: Usquequo gravi corde? Isa. 1: Vae genti peccatrici, populo gravi iniquitate etc. Secundo in bono: quia homo inquantum homo, est imago Dei: unde Filii hominum, non bestiarum. Psal. 48: Homo cum in honore esset non intellexit, etc. Et, o Gravi corde, idest quia debetis habere cor grave et stabile, Usquequo non convertimini ad Deum; et hoc est quod Hieronymus habet, Filii viri, usquequo inclyti mei ignominiose diligitis vanitatem, quaerentes mendacium; et sic convenienter arguit culpam, Ut quid diligitis etc. In peccato namque sunt duo consideranda, scilicet voluntas inhaerens rei, et intentio inordinata. Primo ergo tangit inordinatam amorem cum dicit, Ut quid diligitis etc. idest aliquid vanum, non solidum, temporalia quippe vana sunt, quia non continent solidum, sed pertransiens bonum. Eccl. 1: Vanitas vanitatum, et omnia vanitas. Ut quid ergo diligitis etc. quasi dicat, ut quid diligitis temporalia. Secundo tangit pravam intentionem cum dicit: Et quaeritis mendacium, idest quare amatis divitias, ut habeatis sufficientiam? Nam Eccl. 5: Avarus non implebitur pecunia. Hier. 5: Aspexi terram etc. Vel Mendacium, idest idolum, 1 Cor. 8: Idolum nihil est. Usquequo ergo diligitis, et quaeritis hoc, et non convertimini ad Deum? He mentions their condition saying, O ye sons of men. This can be understood in two ways. First, in an evil way. And so, Sons of men, as men who are corruptible and prone to sin according to their lower nature: (And God said:) My spirit shall not remain in man for ever, because he is flesh. (Genesis 6:3) And again at 8:21: The imagination and thought of man’s heart are prone to evil from his youth. Thus, Sons of men, as if he were saying, “You have shown yourselves to be sons of men,” that is to say, of sinners, namely of Eve and Adam. How long will you be dull of heart?: Woe to the sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity… (Isaiah 1:4) Secondly, (Sons of men) can be taken in a good way, because man, insofar as he is man, is the image of God. Hence, Sons of men, and not of the beasts: And man when he was in honor did not understand; (he is compared to senseless beasts and is become like to them). (Psalm 48:13) And, O ye…dull of heart, that is because you ought to have a serious and stable heart, How long will you not be turned toward God? And this is what Jerome has: Ye sons of men, how long will you, my renowned children, desire vanity shamelessly, seeking after lies? And thus he suitably asserts their blame, at, Why do you love vanity? For with regard to sin, there are two things to be considered, namely the will that clings to the thing, and one’s disordered intention. He touches first upon disordered love when he says, Why do you love vanity, that is to say, something vane, not solid — temporal things to be sure are vane because they do not contain anything solid, but are goods that are passing: Vanity of vanities…all is vanity. (Ecclesiastes 1:2) Why do you love vanity, as if the psalmist were saying “Why do you love temporal things?” He touches, secondly, upon their perverse intention when he says, And seek after lying, that is to say, “Why do you love riches so as to find your contentment?” For A covetous man shall not be satisfied with money. (Ecclesiastes 5:9); I beheld the earth, and lo it was void, and nothing (Jeremiah 4:23). Or, Lying, that is to day, an idol: An idol is nothing. (I Cor. 8:4) Therefore, why do you love and seek after this, and not turn towards God?
c. Secundo cum dicit, Et scitote, hortatur peccatores ad emendam: et circa hoc tria facit. Primo commemorat beneficia sibi exhibita. Secundo hortatur ut ad Deum redeant, ibi, Irascimini etc. Tertio ostendit praeeminentiam sui ad illos in bonis, ibi, Dedisti laetitiam etc. (Having found fault with sinners,) the psalmist, at, And know ye also, now exhorts them to make emends. Concerning this he does three things. First, he calls to mind the kindnesses shown to him. He then exhorts (sinners) so that they might return to God, at, Be ye angry. Lastly, he shows his own pre-eminence over them in the goods (they respectively enjoy), at, Thou hast given gladness.
Dicit ergo, Et scitote etc. Sed notandum est, quod hic in Graeco est Diapsalma, in Hebraeo vero est Sela, quod Hieronymus transtulit, Feliciter, vel Semper. Diapsalma ergo divisio psalmi est: qui quando cantabant, fiebant aliqua intervalla in psalmo, ut ostenderetur quod sequentia ad aliam materiam pertinebant secundum Augustinum. Sed contra hoc est, quia secundum hoc, Diapsalma nunquam inveniretur in fine psalmi; sed in psalterio Hieronymi Sela invenitur in fine psalmi. Et ideo sumptum est Sela ex ly Salon, idest Pacifice. Et concordat cum Hieronymo qui interpretatus est Feliciter. Sic ergo melius Pacifice, quasi Semper, et hoc Sela importat. And so he says And know ye also. One should note here that the Greek word here is Diapsalma, while in Hebrew it is Sela, which Jerome translates as Happily, or Always. Diapsalma therefore acts as a divider of a psalm, which when it was sung by the Hebrews, indicated an interval in the psalm so that it might show that what followed pertained to other material, according to Augustine. But contrary to this interpretation is that according to this line of reasoning, Diapslam should never be found at the end of a psalm, while in Jerome’s Psalter, Sela is found at the end of a psalm. And for this reason, Sela is named after the word Salon, that is to say, Peacefully. This agrees with Jerome who interprets it as Happily. Hence it is better to use Happily as Always, and this is how we understand Sela.
Beneficium autem quod commemorat est duplex: unum de praeterito, et aliud de futuro, ibi, Dominus exaudiet. Quantum ad primum dicit, Et scitote etc.; et cum sit principium sententiae continuatur cordi prophetae, sicut illud in principio Ezech.: Et factum est in trigesimo anno etc. Nam sela quod interpretatum est Diapsalma, ponitur hic: quod notat interruptionem. Vel continuatur ad praecedentia; quasi dicat: Nolite diligere vanitatem, et scitote quare? Quoniam mirificavit Dominus etc. Ecce quot bona mihi fecit: quia scilicet Mirificavit etc., idest mirabilem reddidit. Potest etiam aliter continuari secundum glossam; quasi dicat: Quia vana scitote, et scitote quid sequamini: Quoniam mirificavit Dominus etc., idest Christum per figuram principaliter intellectum, qui est sanctus sanctorum, de quo Dan. 9. Hunc Deus ostendit mirabilem suscitando, et ad dexteram ejus eum collocando. Quilibet etiam justus mirabilis est; quia majora sunt opera justitiae, quam miracula exteriora. Ps. 67: Mirabilis Deus in sanctis suis. Sed Christus est maxime mirabilis. Isa. 9: Et vocabitur nomen ejus admirabilis. Quantum ad secundum dicit, Dominus exaudiet. Isa. 65: Antequam clament, ego exaudiam etc. The kindnesses that he calls to mind are twofold, those received in the past, and those to be received in the future, at, The Lord will hear. With respect to the former, he says, And know ye also. Since And is at the beginning of the verse, it is connected with the heart of the prophet as to the beginning of the book of Ezechiel: And now it came to pass in the thirtieth year (…when I was in the midst of the captives…the heavens were opened, and I saw the visions of God). For Sela, which is interpreted as Diapsalma, is found here, which indicates an interruption. Or, it continues what had preceded it, as if the psalmist were saying: “Do not love vanity.” And know ye also. What? That the Lord hath made his holy one wonderful. Look at how many good things he has done for me: for he has made his holy one wonderful, that is to say, has given wonderful things to me. This can also be continued otherwise according to the Gloss, as if he were saying: “And know ye also that these things are vain, and know ye also what you have pursued,” that the Lord hath made his holy one wonderful, that is to say, Christ figured principally through the intellect, who is the holy of holies of which Daniel 9:24 speaks. God makes this one wonderful by raising him from the dead, and by seating him at his right hand. Anyone at all who is just is wonderful because the works of justice are greater than outward miracles: God is wonderful in his saints. (Psalm 67:36) But Christ is wonderful in the highest degree: And his name shall be called Wonderful. (Isaiah 9:6) Concerning (the kindnesses that he will receive in the future), he says, The Lord will hear: Before they call, I will hear. (Isaiah 65:24)
d. Deinde cum dicit, Irascimini, exhortatur eos ad emendationem vitae: et circa hoc tria facit. Primo exhortatur ut recedant a malo; secundo ut tendant in bonum, ibi, Sacrificate sacrificium; tertio movet quaestionem, ibi, Multi dicuntetc. Next, when he says Be ye angry, he exhorts them to the emendation of their life. Concerning this, he does three things. First, he exhorts them that they might withdraw from evil, secondly, that they might tend to good, at, Offer up the sacrifice, and third, he poses a question, at Many say.
Circa primum considerandum est, quod peccatum in nobis ut plurimum ex tribus consurgit: scilicet ex corruptione irascibilis, rationalis et concupiscibilis. Primo ergo prohibet peccatum quod consurgit ex primo; unde dicit, Irascimini etc. Hoc autem intelligitur tribus modis. Primo de ira inordinata; quasi dicat: Permittitur nobis quod motus iracundiae surgat in nobis: non tamen perducatis iracundiam ad actum peccati. Ephes. 4: Sol non occidat super iracundiam vestram. Secundo sic: Irascimini, idest contra vestra peccata. Isa. 63: Indignatio mea ipsa auxiliata est mihi etc. Et nolite peccare, scilicet iterum; quasi dicat: Sic irascimini contra peccata praeterita ut non committatis alia. Tertio de ira per zelum sic exponitur: Irascimini contra vitia aliorum; et tamen Nolite peccare, eos inordinate corrigendo, quia debet ira dirigi per rationem. Secundo prohibet vitium rationalis, scilicet simulationem, dicens: Quae dicitis in cordibus vestris, supple sint in vobis; quasi dicat: Non aliud sitis in corde, et aliud praetendatis extra. Tertio prohibet quod surgit ex concupiscibili. Compungimini, scilicet de peccatis quae fecistis: In cubilibus vestris. Rom. 13: Non in cubilibus et impudicitiis etc. Concerning the first of these, it should be considered that sin arises in us mostly by reason of three things, namely from the corruption of the irascible, rational and concupiscible (aspects). Therefore, first, the psalmist forbids that sin which arises from the first of these three, whence he says, Be ye angry. This can be understood in three ways. First, concerning inordinate anger, as if he were saying: “It is permitted for the movement of anger to surge up in us. However, it is not permitted for you to follow anger into an act of sin: (Be angry and sin not.) Let not the sun go down upon your anger. (Ephesians 4:26) Second, in this fashion: Be ye angry, that is to say, with your sins: My indignation itself hath helped me. (Isaiah 63:5), And sin not, that is to say, again. It is as if he were saying: “Be angry with your past sins so that you will not commit others.” Third, concerning anger as it is displayed through zeal: Be ye angry with the sins of others, but nevertheless Sin not by correcting them inordinately, because anger must be directed by reason. The psalmist forbids the second of these three corruptions, that pertaining to reason, namely of hypocrisy, saying, The things you say in your hearts, let them be in you, as if to say: “Let not there be one thing in your heart, and another simulated outside of it.” He prohibits the third, that of sin arising out of the concupiscible, (saying) Be sorry for them, namely for the sins that you have committed, Upon your beds: (Let us walk honestly, as in the day: not in rioting and drunkenness,) not in chambering and impurities, (not in contention and envy. But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh in concupiscences.) (Romans 13:13-14)
Vel dicendum, quod tangit duplex peccatum: scilicet irae, sicut dictum est, Irascimini de ira per zelum. Secundo concupiscentiae, Compungimini quae dicitis in cordibus vestris, idest male cogitatis, In cubilibus vestris, idest de occultis, vel in occultis. Et hoc magis sonat littera Hieronymi, qui dicit, Loquimini et tacete, idest non publicetis inordinate exequendo. Vel de ira per vitium, quam prohibet non procedere ad opus, quod pejus est. Vel de ira contra peccata. Or it must be said that he treats of a twofold sin, namely of anger, as it is said, Be ye angry with the anger of zeal, and secondly of concupiscence, Be sorry for the things you say in your hearts, that is to say, your evil thoughts, Upon your beds, that is to say, concerning secret things, or things done in secret. And this agrees better with Jerome’s version which says, Speak and keep your peace, that is to say, do not disclose an inordinate way of acting by punishing. Or (Be ye angry) with the anger of vice, which he holds back so as not to go forth into act which is worse. Or (Be ye angry) with sins.
Consequenter hortatur eos ut faciant bonum. Et primo dirigit eos circa principium boni, quia Sacrificate sacrificium justitiae; quasi dicat scilicet Compungimini. Levit. 4, mandatur quod offerunt sacrificium pro peccatis. Sed Dominus de hujusmodi non multum curat. Psalm. 39: Sacrificium et oblationem noluisti: aures autem perfecisti mihi; unde et vos, sacrificate sacrificium justitiae et sperate in Domino: multi dicunt quis ostendit etc. idest satisfactionis et poenitentiae. Rom. 12: Exhibeatis corpora vestra Deo, hostiam viventem, sanctam, Deo placentem etc. Secundo dirigit eos circa finem boni, dicens: Et sperate in Domino etc.: quasi dicat: Sitis sperantes in Domino qui dedit vobis haec operari. Following upon this, he urges them to do good. First, he instructs them concerning the beginning of good (works), that (they) Offer up the sacrifice of justice, as if he were saying Be sorry for them. In Leviticus 4, it is commanded that they offer sacrifices for their sins. But the Lord does not care much for these: Sacrifice and oblation thou didst not desire; but thou hast pierced ears for me. (Psalm 39:7) And so, Offer up the sacrifice of justice, and trust in the Lord. Many say, Who sheweth, that is, of satisfaction and contrition: Present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, pleasing unto God. (Romans 12:1) Secondly, he instructs them concerning the end of good (work), saying And trust in the Lord, as if to say: “Be filled with hope in the Lord who gave to you these (sacrifices) to be performed.”
e. Deinde cum dicit, Multi, movet quaestionem quam dicunt, Multi, idest stulti: Dicunt autem, quis ostendit nobis bona; quasi dicat: Quomodo scire possumus quae sunt haec sacrificia Deo acceptabilia? Hanc autem quaestionem solvit cum dicit: Signatum est super nos lumen vultus tui, Domine; quasi dicat: Ratio naturalis indita nobis docet discernere bonum a malo; et ideo dicit: Signatum est super nos lumen vultus tui, Domine etc. Vultus Dei est id per quod Deus cognoscitur; sicut homo cognoscitur per vultum suum, hoc est veritas Dei. Ab hac veritate Dei refulget similitudo lucis suae in animabus nostris. Et hoc est quasi lumen, et est signatum super nos, quia est superior in nobis, et est quasi quoddam signum super facies nostras, et hoc lumine cognoscere possumus bonum. Ps. 88: In lumine vultus tui ambulabunt etc. Super hoc autem signamur signo Spiritus. Eph. 4: Nolite contristare Spiritum sanctum in quo signati estis. Et iterum signo crucis, cujus signaculum nobis impressum est in baptismo, et quotidie debemus imprimere. Cant. 8: Pone me ut signaculum super cor tuum. Next, when he says, Many, he poses a question which they, the Many, that is to say, the foolish, ask, namely Who sheweth us good things? as if to say, “How can we know what sort of sacrifices are acceptable to God?” He answer this question when he says, The light of thy countenance O Lord, is signed upon us, as if to say: “Natural reason, innate to us, teaches us to discern good from evil.” For this reason he says The light of thy countenance O Lord, is signed upon us. The countenance of God is that through which God is known, as a man is known through his countenance. This is the truth of God. By this truth of God, a likeness of His light shines forth from our own souls. And this is a sort of light, and it is signed upon us, because it is highest in us, and is as it were a sort of sign upon our faces, and by this light, we are able to know good: They shall walk, O Lord, in the light of thy countenance. (Psalm 88:16) In addition to this, we are signed with the sign of the Spirit: And grieve not the holy Spirit of God: whereby you are sealed unto the day of redemption (Ephesians 4:30); and with the sign of the cross, the mark of which is impressed upon us in baptism, and which we ought to impress daily: Put me as a seal upon thy heart. (Song of Songs 8:6)
f. Deinde cum dicit, Dedisti, ponit praeeminentiam ejus ad illos peccatores in bonis: quasi dicerent ei: Tu nos exhortaris ad beneficia tua, sed nos habemus omnia; ideo comparat temporalia spiritualibus. Et primo ponit spiritualia; secundo temporalia, ibi, A fructu etc. Tertio praeeminentiam spiritualium, ibi, In paceetc. Next, when he says, Thou hast given, he describes his pre-eminence over those sinners (whom he has just exhorted to turn away from sin and return to God) in the goods (they respectively enjoy). It is as if they are saying to him: “You exhort us to seek your kindnesses, but we have everything (that we want).” For this reason, he compares temporal with spiritual goods. First, he sets forth the spiritual goods, then secondly the temporal at By the fruit, and lastly the pre-eminence of the spiritual goods at, In peace.
Dicit ergo: Verum est quod omnes habent lumen vultus desuper se: sed, o Domine, sanctis et mihi Dedisti laetitiam, scilicet spiritualem, In corde meo, ut scilicet de te gaudeam. Rom. 14: Non est regnum Dei esca et potus; sed justitia et pax, et gaudium in Spiritu sancto: et hoc est beneficium spirituale. Mali autem habent abundantiam temporalium; et ideo dicit: A fructu frumenti, vini et olei sui, multiplicati sunt, idest dilatati. Et per omnia ista temporalia intelliguntur omnia alia: quia omnia referuntur ad necessitatem vivendi: et sic frumentum pro cibo, et vinum pro potu, oleum vero pro condimento accipitur. Alia littera habet, A tempore frumenti; ubi duplex bonorum istorum defectus innuitur, quia temporalia dicuntur a tempore. Sap. 2: Umbrae enim transitus est tempus nostrum. Et quia unum non sufficit, oportet quod sint multa; ideo dicit: Multiplicati sunt. And so he say: It is true that all things have the light of your countenance (shining upon) them from on high. But Thou, O Lord, Hast given gladness, that is to say, a spiritual one, In my heart, namely so that I might rejoice in you: The kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but justice, and peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit. (Romans 14:17) And this is a kind of spiritual beneficence. The evil, however, have an abundance of temporal things, for which reason he says, By the fruit of their corn, their wine, and oil, they are multiplied, that is to say, they are swollen. By these temporal things are to be understood all the rest, for they are all related to the necessity of living. Thus, corn stands for food, wine for drink, and oil for seasoning. Another version has, By the time of your fruit, where a two-fold defect of their own goods is observed, since temporal things are designated in relation to time: For our time is as the passing of a shadow. (Wisdom 2:5) And since one (such temporal good) does not satisfy, it is fit there they be many, hence he says, They are multiplied.
g. Deinde cum dicit, In pace, ponit praeeminentiam spiritualium; quasi dicat, Quid inter haec excedit? Certa laetitia cordis. Et hoc patet duplici ratione. Primo, quia hoc bonum erit aeternum, illud vero temporale; secundo quia est unum et simplex, illud est multiplex. Secundum ponit ibi, Quoniam tu, Domine singulariter etc. Next, when he says, In peace, he sets forth the pre-eminence of spiritual things. It is as if he were saying: “What excels among these (spiritual goods)?” Certainly joy of heart. And this is plain for two reasons. First, that this good will be eternal, while that which they enjoy is temporal, and second, that the former is one and simple, while that latter has many parts. The second reason he sets forth at, For thou, O Lord, singularly hast settled me in hope.
Dicit ergo, In pace etc.: quasi dicat: Alii in tempore, sed ego non, immo In idipsum. Nota ergo, quod etiam in praesenti vita dicitur justus stare in bono, propter quatuor. Primo, quia non impeditur exterius: et ideo dicit: In pace. Isai. 31: Sedebit populus meus in pulchritudine pacis etc. Secundo ex immutatione rerum habitarum, quia hoc semper idem manet; unde In idipsum. Psalm. 121: Hierusalem quae aedificatur ut civitas, cujus participatio ejus in idipsum. Tertio, quia sine solicitudine: unde, Dormiam. Cant. 2: Ego dormio etc. Quarto ex quiete a labore conquirendi; unde dicit, Et requiescam. Et hoc potest esse etiam hic in praesenti vita secundum inchoationem; quia sancti omnia ista habent hic aliqualiter in Deo; sed haec omnia perfecte erunt in patria. Et hoc ideo habeo, dicit David, quia unum habeo in quo sunt omnia haec: et hoc est quod ait, Quoniam tu Domine etc.: quasi dicat: Uno modo in quadam spe singulari; Constituisti me, scilicet vita aeterna, de qua infra dicitur Psal. 26: Unam petii a Domino etc. Et hoc respondet contra id quod dicit, Multiplicati sunt: ut Quoniam tu Domine etc. quasi dicat, In te singulariter spero. Et hoc magis sonat littera Hieronymi, quae dicit: Quia tu Domine specialiter securum habitare me fecisti. Ps. 117: Bonum est confidere vel sperare in Domino etc. And so, he says, In peace. It is as if he were saying: “Others rest in the temporal, but not I. Instead, I rest In the selfsame.” Note, therefore, that even in this present life, the just man is said to stand steadfast with respect to (temporal) goods in four ways. First, that he is not hindered by external things: And my people shall sit in the beauty of peace, and in the tabernacles of confidence, and in wealthy rest (Isaiah 32:18); second, on account of (his) stability in things possessed, that this always remains the same: hence In the selfsame: Jerusalem, which is built as a city, which is compact together (Psalm 121:3); third, that he is without solicitude, hence he states, I will sleep: I sleep, and my heart watcheth (Song of Songs 5:2); and fourth, by having attained rest from his labor, hence he says And I will rest. And this can even be achieved here in this present life imperfectly, for all the saints have this here with God after a fashion. But everyone will have this perfectly in heaven. And for this reason David says “I have this, because I have one good in which are found all these (other goods).” And this is what he says: For thou, O Lord, singularly hast settled me in hope. It is as if he were saying: “In one way, in a particular hope, Thou hast settled me, namely in life eternal, concerning which Psalm 26:4 speaks: One thing I have asked of the Lord, this will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life. It is as if he were saying: “I hope in one thing in particular.” And this agrees better with Jerome’s version which says: For you, O Lord, have made me to dwell especially secure. It is good to confide in the Lord, rather than to have confidence in man (Psalm 117:8)

© Dr. Stephen Loughlin

The Aquinas Translation Project


2in the verse upon which Thomas is presently commenting.

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St Augustine’s Notes on Psalm 4

Posted by Dim Bulb on April 9, 2016

to the end, a psalm song to david

1. “Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.”6 For this “end” signifies perfection, not consumption. Now it may be a question, whether every Song be a Psalm, or rather every Psalm a Song; whether there are some Songs which cannot be called Psalms, and some Psalms which cannot be called Songs. But the Scripture must be attended to, if haply “Song” do not denote a joyful theme. But those are called Psalms which are sung to the Psaltery; which the history as a high mystery declares the Prophet David to have used.7 Of which matter this is not the place to discourse; for it requires prolonged inquiry, and much discussion. Now meanwhile we must look either for the words of the Lord Man8 after the Resurrection, or of man in the Church believing and hoping on Him.

2. “When I called, the God of my righteousness heard me” (ver. 1). When I called, God heard me, the Psalmist says, of whom is my righteousness. “In tribulation Thou hast enlarged me.” Thou hast led me from the straits of sadness into the broad ways of joy. For, “tribulation and straitness is on every soul of man that doeth evil.”9 But he who says, “We rejoice in tribulations, knowing that tribulation worketh patience;” up to that where he says, “Because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost, which is given unto us;”10 he hath no straits of heart, they be heaped on him outwardly by them that persecute him. Now the change of person, for that from the third person, where he says, “He heard,” he passes at once to the second, where he says, “Thou hast enlarged me;” if it be not done for the sake of variety and grace, it is strange why the Psalmist should first wish to declare to men that he had been heard, and afterwards address Him who heard him. Unless perchance, when he had declared how he was heard, in this very enlargement of heart he preferred to speak with God; that he might even in this way show what it is to be enlarged in heart, that is, to have God already shed abroad in the heart, with whom he might hold converse interiorly. Which is rightly understood as spoken in the person of him who, believing on Christ, has been enlightened; but in that of the very Lord Man, whom the Wisdom of God took, I do not see how this can be suitable. For He was never deserted by It. But as His very prayer against trouble is a sign rather of our infirmity, so also of that sudden enlargement of heart the same Lord may speak for His faithful ones, whom He has personated also when He said, “I was an hungred, and ye gave Me no meat; I was thirsty, and ye gave Me no drink,”11 and so forth. Wherefore here also He can say, “Thou hast enlarged me,” for one of the least of His, holding converse with God, whose “love” he has “shed abroad in his heart by the Holy Ghost, which is given unto us.”12 “Have mercy upon me and hear my prayer.” Why does he again ask, when already he declared that he had been heard and enlarged? It is for our sakes, of whom it is said, “But if we hope for that we see not, we wait in patience;”13 or is it, that in him who has believed that which is begun may be perfected?

3. “O ye sons of men, how long heavy in heart” (ver. 2). Let your14 error, says he, have lasted at least up to the coming of the Son of God; why then any longer are ye heavy in heart? When will ye make an end of crafty wiles, if now when the truth is present ye make it not? “Why do ye love vanity, and seek a lie?” Why would ye be blessed by the lowest things? Truth alone, from which all things are true, maketh blessed. For, “vanity is of deceivers, and all is vanity.”1 “What profit hath a man of all his labour, wherewith he laboureth under the sun?” Why then are ye held back by the love of things temporal? Why follow ye after the last things, as though the first, which is vanity and a lie? For you would have them abide with you, which all pass away, as doth a shadow.

4. “And know ye that the Lord hath magnified his Holy One” (ver. 3). Whom but Him, whom He raised up from below, and placed in heaven at His right hand? Therefore doth he chide mankind, that they would turn at length from the love of this world to Him. But if the addition of the conjunction (for he says, “and know ye”) is to any a difficulty, he may easily observe in Scripture that this manner of speech is usual in that language, in which the Prophets spoke. For you often find this beginning, “And” the Lord said unto him, “And” the word of the Lord came to him. Which joining by a conjunction, when no sentence has gone before, to which the following one may be annexed, peradventure admirably conveys to us, that the utterance of the truth in words is connected with that vision which goes on in the heart. Although in this place it may be said, that the former sentence, “Why do ye love vanity, and seek a lie?” is as if it were written, Do not love vanity, and seek a lie. And being thus read, it follows in the most direct construction, “and know ye that the Lord hath magnified His Holy One.” But the interposition of the Diapsalma forbids our joining this sentence with the preceding one. For whether this be a Hebrew word, as some would have it, which means, so be it; or a Greek word, which marks a pause in the psalmody (so as that Psalma should be what is sung in psalmody, but Diapsalma an interval of silence in the psalmody; that as the coupling of voices in singing is called Sympsalma, so their separation Diapsalma, where a certain pause of interrupted continuity is marked): whether I say it be the former, or the latter, or something else, this at least is probable, that the sense cannot rightly be continued and joined, where the Diapsalma intervenes.2

5. “The Lord will hear me, when I cry unto Him.” I believe that we are here warned, that with great earnestness of heart, that is, with an inward and incorporeal cry, we should implore help of God. For as we must give thanks for enlightenment in this life, so must we pray for rest after this life. Wherefore in the person, either of the faithful preacher of the Gospel, or of our Lord Himself, it may be taken, as if it were written, the Lord will hear you, when you cry unto Him.

6. “Be ye angry, and sin not” (ver. 4). For the thought occurred, Who is worthy to be heard? or how shall the sinner not cry in vain unto the Lord? Therefore, “Be ye angry,” saith he, “and sin not.” Which may be taken two ways: either, even if ye be angry, do not sin; that is, even if there arise an emotion in the soul, which now by reason of the punishment of sin is not in our power, at least let not the reason and the mind, which is after God regenerated within, that with the mind we should serve the law of God, although with the flesh we as yet serve the law of sin,3 consent thereunto; or, repent ye, that is, be ye angry with yourselves for your past sins, and henceforth cease to sin. “What you say in your hearts:” there is understood, “say ye:” so that the complete sentence is, “What ye say in your hearts, that say ye;” that is, be ye not the people of whom it is said, “with their lips they honour Me, but their heart is far from Me.4 In your chambers be ye pricked.” This is what has been expressed already “in heart.” For this is the chamber, of which our Lord warns us, that we should pray within, with closed doors.5 But, “be ye pricked,” refers either to the pain of repentance, that the soul in punishment should prick itself, that it be not condemned and tormented in God’s judgment; or, to arousing, that we should awake to behold the light of Christ, as if pricks were made use of. But some say that not, “be ye pricked,” but, “be ye opened,” is the better reading; because in the Greek Psalter it is κατανύγητε, which refers to that enlargement of the heart, in order that the shedding abroad of love by the Holy Ghost may be received.

7. “Offer the sacrifice of righteousness, and hope in the Lord” (ver. 5). He says the same in another Psalm, “the sacrifice for God is a troubled spirit.”6 Wherefore that this is the sacrifice of righteousness which is offered through repentance it is not unreasonably here understood. For what more righteous, than that each one should be angry with his own sins, rather than those of others, and that in self-punishment he should sacrifice himself unto God? Or are righteous works after repentance the sacrifice of righteousness? For the interposition of Diapsalma7 not unreasonably perhaps intimates even a transition from the old life to the new life: that on the old man being destroyed or weakened by repentance, the sacrifice of righteousness, according to the regeneration of the new man, may be offered to God; when the soul now cleansed offers and places itself on the altar of faith, to be encompassed by heavenly fire, that is, by the Holy Ghost. So that this may be the meaning, “Offer the sacrifice of righteousness, and hope in the Lord;” that is, live uprightly, and hope for the gift of the Holy Ghost, that the truth, in which you have believed, may shine upon you.

8. But yet, “hope in the Lord,” is as yet expressed without1 explanation. Now what is hoped for, but good things? But since each one would obtain from God that good, which he loves; and they are not easy to be found who love interior goods, that is, which belong to the inward man, which alone should be loved, but the rest are to be used for necessity, not to be enjoyed for pleasure; excellently did he subjoin, when he had said, “hope in the Lord” (ver. 6), “Many say, Who showeth us good things?” This is the speech, and this the daily inquiry of all the foolish and unrighteous; whether of those who long for the peace and quiet of a worldly life, and from the frowardness of mankind find it not; who even in their blindness dare to find fault with the order of events, when involved in their own deservings they deem the times worse than these which are past: or, of those who doubt and despair of that future life, which is promised us; who are often saying, Who knows if it’s true? or, who ever came from below, to tell us this? Very exquisitely then, and briefly, he shows (to those, that is, who have interior sight), what good things are to be sought; answering their question, who say, “Who showeth us good things?” “The light of Thy countenance,” saith he, “is stamped on us, O Lord.” This light is the whole and true good of man, which is seen not with the eye, but with the mind. But he says, “stamped on us,” as a penny is stamped with the king’s image. For man was made after the image and likeness of God,2 which he defaced by sin: therefore it is his true and eternal good, if by a new birth he be stamped. And I believe this to be the bearing of that which some understand skilfully; I mean, what the Lord said on seeing Cæsar’s tribute money, “Render to Cæsar the things that are Caesar’s; and to God the things that are God’s.”3 As if He had said, In like manner as Caesar exacts from you the impression of his image, so also does God: that as the tribute money is rendered to him, so should the soul to God, illumined and stamped with the light of His countenance. (Ver. 7.) “Thou hast put gladness into my heart.” Gladness then is not to be sought without by them, who, being still heavy in heart, “love vanity, and seek a lie;” but within, where the light of God’s countenance is stamped. For Christ dwelleth in the inner man,4 as the Apostle says; for to Him doth it appertain to see truth, since He hath said, “I am the truth.”5 And again, when He spake in the Apostle, saying, “Would you receive a proof of Christ, who speaketh in me?”6 He spake not of course from without to him, but in his very heart, that is, in that chamber where we are to pray.

9. But men (who doubtless are many) who follow after things temporal, know not to say aught else, than, “Who showeth us good things?” when the true and certain good within their very selves they cannot see. Of these accordingly is most justly said, what he adds next: “From the time of His corn, of wine, and oil, they have been multiplied.” For the addition of His, is not superfluous. For the corn is God’s: inasmuch as He is “the living bread which came down from heaven.”7 The wine too is God’s: for, “they shall be inebriated,” he says, “with the fatness of thine house.”8 The oil too is God’s: of which it is said, “Thou hast fattened my head with oil.” But those many, who say, “Who showeth us good things?” and who see not that the kingdom of heaven is within them: these, “from the time of His corn, of wine, and oil, are multiplied.” For multiplication does not always betoken plentifulness, and not, generally, scantiness: when the soul, given up to temporal pleasures, burns ever with desire, and cannot be satisfied; and, distracted with manifold and anxious thought, is not permitted to see the simple good.9 Such is the soul of which it is said, “For the corruptible body presseth down the soul, and the earthly tabernacle weigheth down the mind that museth on many things.”10 A soul like this, by the departure and succession of temporal goods, that is, “from the time of His corn, wine, and oil,” filled with numberless idle fancies, is so multiplied, that it cannot do that which is commanded, “Think on the Lord in goodness, and in simplicity of heart seek Him.”11 For this multiplicity is strongly opposed to that simplicity. And therefore leaving these, who are many, multiplied, that is, by the desire of things temporal, and who say, “Who showeth us good things?” which are to be sought not with the eyes without, but with simplicity of heart within, the faithful man rejoices and says, “In peace, together, I will sleep, and take rest” (ver. 8). For such men justly hope for all manner of estrangement of mind from things mortal, and forgetfulness of this world’s miseries; which is beautifully and prophetically signified under the name of sleep and rest, where the most perfect peace cannot be interrupted by any tumult. But this is not had now in this life, but is to be hoped for after this life. This even the words themselves, which are in the future tense, show us. For it is not said, either, I have slept, and taken rest; or, I do sleep, and take rest; but, “I will sleep, and take rest.” Then shall “this corruptible put on incorruption, and this mortal shall put on immortality; then shall death be swallowed up in victory.”1 Hence it is said, “But if we hope for that we see not, we wait in patience.”2

10. Wherefore, consistently with this, he adds the last words, and says, “Since Thou, O Lord, in singleness hast made me dwell in hope.” Here he does not say, wilt make; but, “hast made.” In whom then this hope now is, there will be assuredly that which is hoped for. And well does he say, “in singleness.” For this may refer in opposition to those many, who being multiplied from the time of His corn, of wine, and oil, say, “Who showeth us good things?” For this multiplicity perishes, and singleness is observed among the saints: of whom it is said in the Acts of the Apostles, “and of the multitude of them that believed, there was one soul, and one heart.”3 In singleness, then, and simplicity, removed, that is, from the multitude and crowd of things, that are born and die, we ought to be lovers of eternity, and unity, if we desire to cleave to the one God and our Lord.

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Father Lapide’s Commentary on John 3:1-8

Posted by Dim Bulb on April 3, 2016

Joh 3:1 And there was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews.

There was a man, &c. Nicodemus means in Greek the conqueror of the people. Such was this man; who, overcoming the fear of the people, the Pharisees, and the priests, believed in Christ. Wherefore Lucian thus writes concerning him in “The Invention of the Body of S. Stephen,” from the mouth of Gamaliel: “The Jews, knowing that Nicodemus was a Christian, removed him from his office and cursed him, and drove him out of the city. Then I Gamaliel, inasmuch as he had suffered persecution for Christ’s sake, took him to my estate, and fed and clothed him to the end of his life; and when he died I buried him honourably beside the loved Stephen.”

Wherefore Nicodemus is enrolled among the saints in the Roman Martyrology on the 3d of August; where we read as follows, “Invention of the body of S. Stephen, Protomartyr; also of the bodies of SS. Gamaliel, Nicodemus, Abibo, &c., in the reign of Honorius.

Joh 3:2 This man came to Jesus by night and said to him: Rabbi, we know that thou art come a teacher from God; for no man can do these signs which thou dost, unless God be with him.

This man came to Jesus by night, for he was ashamed to approach the lowly Jesus by day, in the presence of others, and to become His disciple. For he was a master in Israel: and such a thing seemed beneath his authority and dignity. Another reason was that he might not incur the hatred of the Pharisees, who despised Christ. However, he found the light which he sought by night, as Ruperti says, and drank of the great sacraments of salvation. He seems to have come alone, without servant or companion, by night, to Christ, to have spoken with Him face to face, and to have imbibed His spirit and doctrine.

Thou are come a Teacher: Syriac, that Thou mayest be a Teacher, i.e., of the Jews. He does not say, Thou hast come that Thou mayest be the Messias, because about this he as yet felt no certainty. For Christ did not wish to enunciate this at the beginning of His preaching, but made it known by degrees.

These signs (Vulg.), these wonderful works which we have seen and heard that Thou hast done at the recent Passover, in the Temple; as, for instance, that Thou alone didst drive out of it all that bought and sold in it.

Unless God be with him: except he be supported by the authority and omnipotence of God. For miracles are the works of God. They are not wrought by the power of men, or angels, but by God alone working supernaturally.

Joh 3:3 Jesus answered and said to him: Amen, amen, I say to thee, unless a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.

Jesus answered, &c., Amen, Amen. John on many occasions doubles the Amen, when the other Evangelists have only one. Why was this? I answer (1.) because he had above the rest the most lofty revelations, and knew the deepest mysteries of the Deity. This was especially the case in his exile at Patmos, where he wrote the Apocalypse, which has, says S. Jerome, as many mysteries as it has words. And after this he wrote his Gospel when he was very old, and the sole survivor of the Apostolic College. Wherefore he was thenceforth the mouthpiece and oracle of the Church, the foundation and pillar of the faith, the patriarch of patriarchs. He saith therefore, as it were with plenary authority, as it were the Elder of elders, Amen, Amen. It is as though he said, “I announce to you, with the utmost weight and confidence, things most lofty and sublime, which surpass all human understanding and belief, but which Christ has revealed to me, which are therefore most certain, and most salutary for you. For Christ really used this twofold Amen, to indicate the sublimity and certainty of what He said. But the other Evangelists, studying conciseness, included two under one: but I, John, because I, beyond the others, have weighed and penetrated both the words of Christ and their meaning, say, Amen, Amen, as Christ Himself spoke.”

2. Because Amen is the same as Verily. S. John was delighted with the name of Truth. And this he calls Christ, because He was The Word, that is, the Truth of the Father.

3. Because Amen is either a word signifying true, or else an adverb meaning truly. Wherefore we may explain thus – He who is the Amen, i.e., Christ, whose name is True, and the Truth, saith Amen, i.e., in truth, or most truly. Thus it is said in the Apocalypse (Rev 3:14), “Thus saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness,” (Greek, ό ̉Αμὴν), i.e., He who is the Amen; He who is steadfast, true, constant, faithful; who is steadfastness itself, Truth itself, Faithfulness itself.

4. Amen, Amen, denotes the perfect truth and certainty of the matter and the things which are recorded by S. John The things which I say are most true and certain, more true than all other truths, more certain than all other certainty.

5. By Amen, Amen, he intimates a twofold manner of certainty, viz., that S. John knew the things which he wrote by means of a twofold knowledge, natural and Divine; that is, by experience and revelation. For with his eyes he saw these things, and with his ears he heard them, and by Christ’s revelation, when he lay upon His breast, he understood them. Wherefore in his first Epistle he thus writes, “What we have seen and heard, and our hands have handled . . . we make known unto you.”

Unless a man be born again. Observe that John leaves us to gather from this answer that Nicodemus, either tacitly or expressly, asked Christ to teach him the way to the kingdom of heaven which He preached. For Christ answers by saying that baptism was the way to heaven.

Again: Greek, άνωθεν (anothen), which has a twofold meaning. 1. From above, from heaven, meaning, Except any one be born again by a heavenly and Divine regeneration, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. 2. άνωθεν signifies again, a second time. And it is plain that it is so to be understood here from the answer of Nocodemus, Joh 3:4. So S. Chrysostom and others. The Syriac translates from the beginning. And the meaning is, man has two births, one which is natural and carnal, in which he is brought forth under the bond of original sin. Wherefore this birth does not give a man a title to heaven, but to hell. In order therefore that a man may be freed from this sin contracted through his natural birth, a second and spiritual birth must be experienced, by which he must in baptism be born again of water and of the Spirit, and so be cleansed and sanctified from sin. In my opinion άνωθεν (anothen) should be understood according to the first sense given above, i.e., from above. Nicodemus clearly understand ανωθεν (anothen) as meaning “born again.” but it is clearly the other meaning, “born from above,” that our Lord has in mind, especially in light of verses 6-15 (most notably verses 12-14). The concept of regeneration/rebirth is not absent here, but the emphasis is on its origin. Only by ascending back to the Father above can Jesus send the Spirit and thus give new life from above.

Cannot see, i.e., possess, enjoy.

Joh 3:4 Nicodemus saith to him: How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born again?

Nicodemus saith, &c. “He knew,” says S. Augustine, “but of one birth, that from Adam and Eve.”

Joh 3:5 Jesus answered: Amen, amen, I say to thee, unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.

Jesus answered, &c. Calvin, in order to detract from the effect of justification by baptism, and therefore from the necessity of baptism (for he maintains that the children of believers are justified in the womb simply because they are the children of believers), denies that baptism is here spoken of. He says that by water is to be understood, but the Holy Ghost, who, through faith, cleanses like water those who believe in Christ. He explains as follows, “unless any one be born again of water, and (that is, of) the Holy Ghost.” Thus he says it is similarly spoken (S. Mat 3:11), He shall baptize you in the Holy Ghost and fire, i.e., with the Holy Spirit, who, like fire, shall inflame you with the love of God. But all this is absurd and perverse, and condemned by the Church as heretical.

For, in the first place, why does Christ here make mention of water, if not men, but only fishes, are born again of water? Why did He not say briefly and simply to Nicodemus, who was ignorant of Christian doctrines (whom He here catechises and instructs like a child), unless a man be born again of the Holy Ghost?

2. Because in a similar way S. Paul, alluding to this conversation, (Tit 3:5), calls baptism the laver of regeneration. There in this spiritual birth we are born again of water, and are made sons of God, who before were children of the devil and wrath (Eph 2:3).

3. If it be lawful with Calvin to wrest this passage, then we may do the same with every other passage, and so pervert the whole of Scripture. No commandment will survive, not even the institution of baptism itself.

4. Calvin and his followers cannot possibly prove against the Anabaptists that infants, who are devoid of the exercise of reason and faith, ought to be baptized, from any other passage of Holy Scripture but this. Therefore, since they do not allow of tradition, they must needs prove infant baptism from this passage, unless they are willing to confess themselves vanquished by the Anabaptists.

5. All the Fathers and orthodox interpreters explain the passage in the same way as the Council of Trent (Sess. 7, Can. 2). Nor are the words in S. Matthew, “He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire,” any contradiction. For there real fire is to be understood, as here true water. For there the day of Pentecost was referred to, when the Holy Ghost came down upon the apostles in the likeness of tongues of fire.

Very appropriately, moreover, was water ordained by Christ in baptism for this spiritual regeneration. 1. Because water excellently represents inward regeneration. For out of water at the beginning of the world were the whole heavens and all other things born and produced. 2. Because moisture, such as is in water, is a chief agent in the production of offspring, as physicists teach. Again, because justification is a cleansing of the soul from the filth of sin it is well figured by water. As S. Chrysostom says upon this passage, “Like as it were in a tomb our heads are submerged beneath the water: our old man being buried is hidden beneath the water, and then the new man ariseth in its stead.” Lastly, the commonness and abundance of water makes it to be convenient matter for the necessity of this sacrament. For it is everywhere easily procurable.

You may ask why Christ says, except a man be born of water and the Holy Ghost, and did not rather say, of water and the form of baptism? For water is the matter of baptism, but the form is, I baptize thee in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. For the sacrament of baptism consists of its matter and form, as its essential parts. I reply, because Christ wished to describe to Nicodemus, a prejudiced old man, the new teaching of spiritual life and generation, by means of the analogy and similitude of natural generation, in which a father and mother concur. So in like manner to spiritual regeneration, which takes place in baptism, water as it were the mother concurs, and the Holy Ghost as the Father. For He is the chief agent and producer of grace and holiness, by which the children of God are born again in baptism.

From this passage S. Augustine (lib. 1, de peccat. c. 10) proves, against Pelagius, that infants are born in original sin. For that is the reason why they must be born again in baptism, that they may be cleansed from that sin. And he exposes the folly of the Pelagians, who, in order to elude the force of this passage, said that infants dying without baptism would enter into the kingdom of heaven and eternal life, but not into the kingdom of God; as if the kingdom of God were something different from the kingdom of heaven.

Lastly, born of water ought here to be understood either in actual fact, or by desire. For he who repents of his sins, and desires to be baptized, but either from want of water, or lack of a minister, is not able to receive it, is born again through (ex) the desire and wish for baptism. So the Council of Trent fully explains this passage (Sess. 7, Can. 4).

Some are of opinion that the sacrament of baptism was at this time instituted by Christ. But it is not probable that Christ secretly, in the presence of only Nicodemus, instituted the universal sacrament of baptism. Rather, He publicly instituted it at His own baptism in the river Jordan. Baptism, however, although it had been publicly instituted by Christ, was not binding upon the Jews and other men until after Christ’s death, at Pentecost. For then the promulgation of the Evangelical Law took place, whose beginning is baptism. Of this time Christ here speaks. As though He said, “The time for the obligation of the Law of the Gospel is close at hand. When that shall have come, the ancient Law, and circumcision, will cease, and in its place the new Law will succeed, and baptism, in which none save those who are born again of water and of the Holy Ghost will be able to enter into the kingdom of God.” Wherefore this precept of Christ has rather reference to the time after Pentecost, than the present.

Moreover, the expression, unless a man beborn again, intimates that baptism had been already a short time previously instituted by Christ. For Christ spake these words to Nicodemus shortly after His own baptism. And He would not have told him that baptism was necessary for salvation, unless He had already instituted it.

Joh 3:6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh: and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.

That which is born (produced), &c. Christ says this both to show the necessity of regeneration by water and the Holy Ghost, and at the same time to declare the reason for it, its excellence and its profit. His argument then is as follows: Flesh and blood cannot possess the kingdom of God, for they are carnal, but the kingdom of God is spiritual. Since therefore of carnal generation only flesh is born, that is, the animal and carnal man, bound under sin, and prone to sin, and so unfitted for the kingdom of God, it follows that if such an one would enter into God’s spiritual kingdom, he must be spiritually born again of water and the Spirit, that he may become a spirit, that is, spiritual, and so fitted for the kingdom of God. Wherefore you have no cause for wonder, 0 Nicodemus, at what I said, that thou must be born again of water and the Holy Ghost. For as flesh generates flesh, that is, corporeal and carnal substance, so does the Spirit generate spirit, that is, spiritual substance: for like generates like. The Holy Spirit transmits His own substance into that which He begets, so far as it can be transmitted. For the Holy Spirit cannot transmit, or transfuse His own substance, or His Deity, into the baptized, for that would be to make them really and truly gods, as He Himself is really and truly God, which would be impossible. Therefore He transfuses Himself into them as far as is possible, by His grace and spiritual gifts, by which He makes the baptized like unto Himself, that is, spiritual, holy, heavenly, and divine. So SS. Cyril, Chrysostom, and others. Let us add that the Holy Spirit gives Himself with His sevenfold gifts to the soul which He sanctifies, and adopts for His child; and therefore that His justification is truly spiritual regeneration, by which we are born again as sons, and partakers of the Divine nature, as I have shown at large in Hos 1:10, on the words, “Ye shall be called the sons of the living God.”

Joh 3:7 Wonder not that I said to thee: You must be born again.

Wonder not, &c. As S. Chrysostom says, “We are not disputing concerning flesh, but concerning spirit. Do not think either that the Spirit begets flesh, or flesh the Spirit.” Therefore it is necessary to be born again of the Spirit, if thou seekest to become spirit or spiritual, and a candidate for heaven.

Joh 3:8 The Spirit breatheth where he will and thou hearest his voice: but thou knowest not whence he cometh and whither he goeth. So is every one that is born of the Spirit.

The Spirit breatheth where he will, &c Christ proceeds to unfold to Nicodemus the reason and nature of spiritual regeneration, and to take away his wonder how such a thing could be possible.

You will ask what spirit is here to be understood. 1. Plainly and simply wind is the spirit. For He compares the Holy Spirit to the wind, as is plain from what follows, So is every one that is born of the Spirit. The meaning is, As the wind blows where its own will, that is, its natural propensity to blow, leads it, and yet you can see neither it, nor its determined place, but only its effects, and voice, or sound; so much more neither thou, nor any one else, however clever and sharp-sighted, can perceive by natural understanding this spiritual regeneration, its end and term. They can only be known by the revelation and inspiration of the Holy Ghost, even though the outward symbols of water and the washing in baptism may be seen with the body’s eyes. Thus S. Chrysostom says, If thou knowest not the way of the wind which thou feelest, how canst thou search out the operation of the Divine Spirit? Christ here plays upon the analogica1 meaning of the word spirit. For first He takes spirit for wind; then He takes it as the Holy Spirit. For wind is the index and symbol of the Holy Ghost. This is clear from the 2d chapter of the Acts, when the Holy Spirit came down upon the Apostles as a “rushing mighty wind.”

2. and more sublimely.  S. Augustine, Nazianzen, S. Ambrose, S. Gregory, whom Toletus cites and follows, understand by spirit (the wind), the Holy Ghost. They expound thus, “The Holy Ghost bloweth where He willeth, and breathes His own influences of faith, repentance and grace into whomsoever He willeth.” And thou hearest His voice (Vulg.), by the preaching of Myself and My preachers, say S. Augustine, 0rigen, Bede, and Rupertus. Or by voice, efficacy and effects are meant, says Ammon. But thou knowst not whence it cometh, or whither it goeth. Thou knowest not how He enters into a man, or how He returns, say Alcuin and Bede, because His nature is invisible. Again, thou knowest not how He leads believers to faith, nor how He draws the faithful to hope, charity, and the other virtues. Neither dost thou know how He regenerates men to be the sons of God, and leads them to the kingdom of God. Lastly, thou knowest not how He changes the soul of a man, renews and sanctifies it. Thou knowest not to what a height of perfection He can lead him who is born of Himself, says the Gloss.

So is every one, &c. The expression so in this sense does not denote comparison, but confirmation: meaning, “thus, entirely as I have said, is it with every creature who is born again in baptism of the Holy Ghost.” It is a similar expression to that in Mark, So is the kingdom of God (Mar 4:26). There is an allusion to the ancient heroes who, impelled by the Spirit of God, wrought deeds of heroic virtue and fortitude. For when Samson did any mighty deed, it is said, “The Spirit of the Lord rushed upon him” (Vulg.) So also the Spirit is said to have clothed Gideon (Jdg 6:34, Vulg.)

3. Maldonatus understands the soul by spirit. “What marvel, O Nicodemus, if thou understandest not how a man can be regenerated by the Holy Ghost, when thou canst not understand how generated of that natural spirit by which he liveth. For the animal spirit bloweth where it listeth, i.e., it animates such bodies as it willeth, and makes them alive from the death. It willeth not all the things that men will, but only those which are so disposed that they can be animated by it.” And thou hearest its voice: “thou hearest a man speaking, or a lion roaring. Thou also in some sense hearest the soul speak, by which means thou understandest that a man is alive, ‘for the breath in our nostrils is smoke, and speech is a spark for moving our heart’ (Wis 2:2). But thou knowest not whence it cometh, or whither it goeth, because thou art ignorant how the soul enters into the body, how it goeth out of the body, how it is produced, or what is its destiny. If therefore thou art ignorant of the spirit, i.e., the soul, which animates what body it willeth, and by it speaks, is born, and dies, knowing neither its generation, nor the way in which it comes and goes, what wonder that thou canst not understand the way of spiritual regeneration, whereby a Christian is born anew of the Spirit in baptism?” This meaning is new, but apposite and connected. It draws the argument from the natural generation of the soul to the supernatural generation of grace which is brought about by the power of the Holy Ghost. And it shows from the fact of the one being unsearchable how much more unsearchable must be the other. So in like manner most unsearchable are the things which God works in the soul which He illuminates by the rays of His light which He consoles, strengthens, inflows, and as it were transforms unto Himself. For as S. Dionysius says, Divine love causes ecstasy, so that a man feels not earthly good or ill, but being lifted up above them, all, he receives and tastes only the things of God.

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Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on John 6:15-21

Posted by Dim Bulb on April 2, 2016

Ver 15. When Jesus therefore perceived that they would come and take him by force, to make him a king, he departed again into a mountain himself alone.16. And when even was now come, his disciples went down to the sea,17. And entered into a ship, and went over the sea toward Capernaum. And it was now dark, and Jesus was not come to them.18. And the sea arose by reason of a great wind that blew.19. So when they had rowed about five and twenty or thirty furlongs, they see Jesus walking on the sea, and drawing nigh to the ship: and they were afraid.20. But he said to them, It is I; be not afraid.21. Then they willingly received him into the ship: and immediately the ship was at the land whither they went

BEDE. The multitude concluding, from so great a miracle, that He was merciful and powerful, wished to make Him a king. For men like having a merciful king to rule over them, and a powerful one to protect them. Our Lord knowing this, retired to the mountain: When Jesus therefore perceived that they would come and take Him by force to make Him a king, He departed again into a mountain Himself alone. From this we gather, that our Lord went down from the mountain before, where He was sitting with His disciples, when He saw the multitude coming, and had fed them on the plain below. For how could He go up to the mountain again, unless He had come down from it.

AUG. This is not at all inconsistent with what we read, that He went up into a mountain apart to pray: the object of escape being quite compatible with that of prayer. Indeed our Lord teaches us here, that whenever escape is necessary, there is great necessity for prayer.

AUG. Yet He who feared to be made a king, was a king; not made king by men, (for He ever reigns with the Father, in that He is the Son of God,) but making men kings: which kingdom of His the Prophets had foretold. Christ by being made man, made the believers in Him Christians, i.e. members of His kingdom, incorporated and purchased by His Word. And this kingdom will be made manifest, after the judgment; when the brightness of His saints shall be revealed. The disciples however, and the multitude who believed in Him thought that He had come to reign now; and so would have taken Him by force, to make Him a king, wishing to anticipate His time, which He kept secret.

CHRYS. See what the belly can do. They care no more for the violation of the Sabbath; all their zeal for God is fled, now that their bellies are filled: Christ has become a Prophet, and they wish to enthrone Him as king. But Christ makes His escape; to teach us to despise the dignities of the world. He dismisses His disciples, and goes up into the mountain. – These, when their Master had left them went down in the evening to the sea; as we read; And when even was now come, His disciples went down to the sea. They waited till evening, thinking He would come to them; and then, as He did not come, delayed no longer searching for Him, but in the ardor of love, entered into a ship, and went over the sea toward Capernaum. They went to Capernaum thinking they should find Him there.

AUG. The Evangelist now returns to explain why they went, and relate what happened to them while they were crossing the lake: And it was dark, he says, and Jesus was not come to them.

CHRYS. The mention of the time is not accidental, but meant to show the strength of their love. They did not make excuses, and say, It is evening now, and night is coming on, but in the warmth of their love went into the ship. And now many things alarm them: the time, And it was now dark; and the weather, as we read next, And the sea arose by reason of a great wind that blew; their distance from land, So when they had rowed about five and twenty or thirty furlongs.

BEDE. The way of speaking we use, when we are in doubt; about five and twenty, we say, or thirty.

CHRYS. And at last He appears quite unexpectedly: They see Jesus walking upon the sea, drawing nigh. He reappears after His retirement, teaching them what it is to be forsaken, and stirring them to greater love; His reappearance manifesting His power. They were disturbed, were afraid, it is said. Our Lord comforts them: But He said to them, It is I, be not afraid.

BEDE. He does not say, I am Jesus, but only I am. He trusts to their easily recognizing a c voice, which was so familiar to them, or, as is more probable, He shows that He was the same who said to Moses, I am that I am.

CHRYS. He appeared to them in this way, to show His power; for He immediately calmed the tempest: Then they wished to receive Him into tile ship; and immediately the ship was at the land, whither they went. So great was the calm, He did not even enter the ship, in order to work a greater miracle, and to show his Divinity more clearly.

THEOPHYL. Observe the three miracles here; the first, His walking on the sea; the second, His stilling the waves; the third, His putting them immediately on shore, which they were some distance off, when our Lord appeared.

CHRYS Jesus does not show Himself to the crowd walking on the sea, such a miracle being too much for them to hear. Nor even to the disciples did He show Himself long, but disappeared immediately.

AUG. Mark’s account does not contradict this. He says indeed that our Lord told the disciples first to enter the ship, and go before Him over the sea, while He dismissed the crowds, and that when the crowd was dismissed, He went up alone into the mountain to pray: while John places His going up alone in the mountain first, and then says, And when even was now come, His disciples went down to the sea. But it is easy to see that John relates that as done afterwards by the disciples, which our Lord had ordered before His departure to the mountain.

CHRYS. Or take another explanation. This miracle seems to me to be a different one, from the one given in Matthew: for there they do not receive Him into the ship immediately, whereas here they do: and there the storm lasts for some time, whereas here as soon as He speaks, there is a calm. He often repeats the same miracle in order to impress it on men’s minds.

AUG. There is a mystical meaning in our Lord’s feeding the multitude, and ascending the mountain: for thus was it prophesied of Him, So shall the congregation of the people come about You: for their sake therefore lift up Yourself again: i.e. that the congregation of the people may come about You, lift up Yourself again. But why is it fled; for they could not have detained Him against His wild? This fleeing has a meaning; viz. that His flight is above our comprehension; just as, when you do not understand a thing, you see, It escapes me. He fled alone to the mountain, because He is ascended from above all heavens. But on His ascension aloft a storm came upon the disciples in the ship, i.e. the Church, and it became dark, the light, i.e. Jesus, having gone. As the end of the world draws nigh, error increases, iniquity abounds. Light again is love, according to John, He that hates his brother is in darkness. The waves and storms and winds then that agitate the ship, are the clamors of the evil speaking, and love waxing cold. Nevertheless the wind, and storm, and waves, and darkness were not able to stop, and sink the vessel; For be that endures to the end, the same shall be saved. As the number five has reference to the Law, the books of Moses being five, the number five and twenty, being made up of five pieces, has the same meaning. And this law was imperfect, before the Gospel came. Now the number of perfection is six, so therefore five is multiplied by six, which makes thirty: i.e. the law is fulfilled by the Gospel. To those then who fulfill the law Jesus comes treading on the waves, i.e. trampling under foot all the swellings of the world, all the loftiness of men: and yet such tribulations remain, that even they who believe on Jesus, fear lest they should be lost.

THEOPHYL. When either men or devils try to terrify us, let us hear Christ saying, It is I, be not afraid, i.e. I am ever near you, God unchangeable, immovable; let not any false fears destroy your faith in Me. Observe too our Lord did not come when the danger was beginning, but when it was ending. He suffers us to remain in the midst of dangers and tribulations, that we may be proved thereby, and flee for succor to Him Who is able to give us deliverance when we least expect it. When man’s understanding can no longer help him, then the Divine deliverance comes. If we are willing also to receive Christ into the ship, i.e. to live in our hearts, we shall find ourselves immediately in the place, where we wish to be, i.e. heaven.

BEDE. This ship, however, does not carry an idle crew; they are all stout rowers; i.e. in the Church not the idle and effeminate, but the strenuous and persevering in good works, attain to the harbor of everlasting salvation.

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Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on John 6:16-21

Posted by Dim Bulb on April 2, 2016

16 And when evening was come, his disciples went down to the sea.
17 And when they had gone up into a ship, they went over the sea to Capharnaum. And it was now dark: and Jesus was not come unto them.

They went over the sea to Capharnaum,” that is, they directed their course to Capharnaum. They intended going there and making for it. In St. Mark (6:45) it is said, they were ordered by Him, while dismissing the crowds, to make for Bethsaida, which is near Capharnaum. Possibly, the tempest drove them past Bethsaida; and they, then, made for Capharnaum.

For verses 18-21 Fr. MacEvilly sends us to his commentary on Matthew 14:24-33 which I’ve reproduced below.

18 And the sea arose, by reason of a great wind that blew.

Notes on Mt 14:24~The darkness and adverse winds, together with the absence of our Lord, added to their danger, and heightened their terrors. This is more clearly expressed (John 6:17). This storm was purposely caused by our Divine Redeemer, in order to try their faith and confidence in Him during His absence.

19 When they had rowed therefore about five and twenty or thirty furlongs, they see Jesus walking upon the sea and drawing nigh to the ship. And they were afraid.
20 But he saith to them: It is I. Be not afraid.

Notes on Mt 14:25-27~About five and twenty or thirty furlongs.” Roughly about 3 to 4 miles. According to Matthew the time wasin the fourth watch of the night,” or, about three o’clock in the morning, “He came to them,” &c. Formerly, the Jews divided the night, in their military arrangements, into three watches, of four hours each. The first was called the beginning of the watch (Jeremias Lament 2:19). The second, the middle watch, at which those who were on guard, in the first watch, were relieved and succeeded by others (Judg. 7:19). The third, and last watch, was called, the morning watch (Exod. 14:24). St. Luke refers to this (12:38). But the Romans divided the nights into four watches, dividing the night, from sunset to sunrise, according to the season of the year, into four equal parts. The hours were, of course, according to this arrangement, shorter, or longer, according to the season of the year. At the Equinoxes, the first watch was from six in the evening till nine; the second from nine till twelve; the third from twelve till three in the morning, and the fourth from three till six, or sunrise. In the time of our Lord, the Jews had adopted this Roman division of time into four watches. The Apostles were tossed about by the tempest during the entire night. By walking on the sea, our Redeemer showed, in a remarkable way, His Divine power. It is specially said of God, in the Book of Job (9:8–10), “Who alone spreadeth out the heavens and walketh upon the waves of the sea,” making this one of His Divine qualities or attributes. “Walking upon the sea.” “Upon.” (επι), is used with a verb of motion.

Unable, owing to the darkness, to distinguish the object they saw walking on the waters, and to recognise our Divine Lord, the Apostles were affrighted, taking Him for a spectre, or, as Matthew has it, anapparition.” It was the common belief among the Jews, which was also in accordance with Scripture, and asserted by the Pharisees, who maintained the existence of spirits, that these spirits sometimes appeared, clad in human form. Night was commonly believed to be the time for evil spirits, known to injure man, to make their appearance. Hence, the affright of the Apostles, who imagined the apparition, which now presented itself, to be ominous of coming shipwreck.

And they cried out for fear.” This loud and confused cry indicated their excessive fear. John makes no mention of this.

When their fears reached the highest pitch, our Redeemer, at once, allays them, saying: “Be of good heart,” (in John, “do not be afraid”) in a tone of voice, which at once assured them, and convinced them of His Divine presence. “Be of good heart,” give up all fears. “It is I,” from whom you have nothing to fear, who heretofore rescued you from so many perils. These words, “It is I,” are allusive to the description the Almighty gave of Himself, in addressing Moses, “SUM QUI SUM.” (Exod. 3)

21 They were willing therefore to take him into the ship. And presently the ship was at the land to which they were going.

Notes on Mt 14:32-33~“And when they were come up into the boat,” &c. St. John (6:21), says, “they were willing, therefore, to take him into the ship, and presently the ship was at the land, to which they were going.”

This is not opposed to the account given here by St. Matthew. The Apostles were desirous of taking our Redeemer into the ship, as St. John states, and our Redeemer, as St. Matthew tells us here, gratifying their desires, did actually enter the ship.

They were willing to take Him.” (John 6:21), εθελον λαβειν, is an idiomatic phrase for, εθελοντως ελαβον—“they willingly received Him.” (Bloomfield). A twofold miracle followed, the storm at once abated, and the ship at once reached land. So there were five miracles altogether connected with it—1. Our Lord’s walking on the sea. 2. Peter’s walking on it by His aid. 3. When sinking, Peter is raised 4. The sudden ceasing of the storm. 5. The arrival at land, at once.

The sailors who owned the boat, and the Apostles, who were in the boat with them “adored Him;προσεκυνησαν, means, prostrate adoration (see 2:11). “Indeed, Thou art the Son of God,” that is, the promised Messiah, not merely the adopted, but the natural Son of God, such as He proclaimed Himself, and the Pharisees denied Him to be (John 5:18–33; 19:7). Others say, there is question of the Son of God by excellence, and not by nature; because, according to them, these ignorant sailors, who, with the Apostles, adored our Lord, did not know the mystery of the Trinity, which others answer by saying, they received this knowledge in the boat by revelation.

St. Mark (6:51), says, that seeing the miracle of His walking on the sea, the cessation of the wind, &c., the Apostles were more and more astonished, and he assigns as a reason (v. 52), “for, they understood not concerning the loaves; for, their heart was blinded.”

They were so stupified by the storm and the danger they were in, that they did not attend to the greater miracle of the multiplication of the loaves which our Lord had performed; otherwise, they would not have been astonished at the greatness of the present miracle. Our Divine Lord permitted them to be sorely tried after He had performed the preceding miracle of the multiplication of the loaves, in order that they would the more readily acknowledge Him in the evils which befell them. For, we are generally more affected by the sense of misfortune, than we are by the enjoyment of blessings—and, indeed, as it is most likely, that among these, “that were in the boat,” were included the Apostles, we can hardly suppose, that they, at least, who having lived so long with our Redeemer, heard His discourses, witnessed His many miracles, and must, therefore, by this time, have believed Him to be the natural Son of God, could have uttered the words, “Indeed, Thou art the Son of God,” in any other sense, save that they professed their faith in His Divinity, which the present miracle tended to strengthen. “And presently the ship was at the land to which they were going” (John 6:21).

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Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on John 6:1-15

Posted by Dim Bulb on April 2, 2016

This post opens with Fr. MacEvilly’s brief analysis of John chapter 6, followed by his comments on verses 1-15. Text in red, if any, are my additions.


In this chapter we have an account of a miracle wrought by our Lord in the multiplication of five barley loaves and two fishes, so as to satisfy the wants of about five thousand persons. The admiration expressed by the crowd, who were witnesses of this miracle (1–15).

The miracle wrought on the sea, when immediately after having entered the boat in which the disciples laboured hard against the storm, our Lord had the boat suddenly brought to shore (17–22).

The anxious search of the multitude for Him, whom they at last succeeded in finding (24, 25).

Our Lord’s discourse, in which after having referred indistinctly and rather obscurely, to the Eucharistic bread He meant to give them (v. 27), He fully explains the most effectual means of securing this bread, viz., faith in Himself, upon which, after several interruptions, He fully dilates as far as v. 51.

At v. 51, He commences to deliver distinctly, His consoling doctrine regarding His real presence, and the necessity of partaking of His body and blood in the Holy Eucharist. This He inculcates by a threat of exclusion from eternal life, in case of disobedience, and repeated promises of eternal life, to those who obey. At the same time, He refers to the superior excellence of this promised gift (54–60).

After repeatedly corroborating the ideas which the Jews had conceived from His own words, regarding the real manducation of His body, which proves they were right; He next, in reply to their rebellious murmurings, corrects their erroneous carnal ideas regarding the mode of receiving Him.

He points out the source of their murmurings, viz., want of faith in His Divine mission, which they had not humility to pray for, to His Heavenly Father, the source of all blessings (65, 66).

The Evangelist next describes our Lord’s stern resolve, to allow His disciples and apostles leave Him, sooner than withdraw or modify or correct a word of what He delivered, regarding His real presence in the Eucharist (67, 68). He next records the confession of Peter, on behalf of the twelve, in our Lord’s Divinity—our Lord’s reference to the treason of Judas (71, 72).


1 After these things Jesus went over the sea of Galilee, which is that of Tiberias.

After these things,” etc. The occurrences referred to in the preceding chapter, took place about the Pasch or Pentecost of the second year of our Lord’s public ministry. The events the Evangelist is now about recording in this chapter, occurred about the Pasch of the following year. So, that, nearly an interval of a year elapsed between the occurrences recorded in this and the preceding chapter. St. John here passes over the election of the twelve Apostles, the Sermon on the Mount, etc., recorded fully by St. Matthew.

Although the miraculous multiplication of bread was recorded by the other Evangelists; still, St. John repeats it here with some additional circumstances as an appropriate introduction to the discourse, He was about to deliver regarding the heavenly food—His own adorable body—which He promised to give them, and gave them, by a permanent rite, at the Last Supper. The other Evangelists (Matthew 14:13; Mark 6:32; Luke 9:10, etc., record what is narrated here by St. John up to v. 14). It is not known precisely when our Lord left Judea, where the events recorded in the preceding chapter took place.

The Sea of Galilee.” According to Hebrew usage, any large expanse of water is designated a “sea.” Hence, the large lake in question is called, “the Sea of Galilee,” as it was in the province of that name, and “of Tiberias,” situated on its borders. The town was so called, after Tiberius Cæsar, by Herod the Tetrarch, who built it in honour of that Emperor (Josephus, Lib. 18, Antiq. c. 3).

Went over.” (See Matthew 14:13, Commentary on.) Some Commentators maintain, He did not cross the lake from one side to the other, from east to west; but, only crossed several creeks on the same side, the people thus following Him on foot, being even before Him at the several points of destination, owing to the difficulties in sailing. It may be also, that He Himself wished to cross these creeks slowly, so that the people could meet Him.

2 And a great multitude followed him, because they saw the miracles which he did on them that were diseased.

And a great multitude followed Him,” etc. He went by boat; they, on foot. (See Mark 6:32; Mathew 14:13.)

3 Jesus therefore went up into a mountain: and there he sat with his disciples.
4 Now the pasch, the festival day of the Jews, was near at hand.

The Pasch, the Festival day of the Jews,” their greatest and chief festival. The Pasch is mentioned on account of those, who were not well versed in Jewish history or in Jewish religious rite.

For notes on verses 5-15 Fr. MacEvilly refers us to his commentary on Matthew 14:15-22. I”ve reproduced this commentary below.

5 When Jesus therefore had lifted up his eyes and seen that a very great multitude cometh to him, he said to Philip: Whence shall we buy bread, that these may eat?
6 And this he said to try him: for he himself knew what he would do.
7 Philip answered him: Two hundred pennyworth of bread is not sufficient for them that every one may take a little.

Notes on Mt 14:16~St. John (6:5, &c.) states, that our Redeemer, on seeing the multitude, said to Philip, for the purpose of trying him, “Whence shall we buy bread that these may eat?” Likely, He thus spoke, after the Apostles had suggested to Him to dismiss the crowd, as St. Matthew records it here, so that both accounts contain a full statement of the entire transaction. He, probably, interrogated Philip, either because he was slower of apprehension than the other Apostles, and, by thus questioning him, He meant to impress on him the greatness of the miracle He was about to perform; or, perhaps, He asked him specially, because, being a native of Bethsaida, he was better acquainted with the resources of the district, and the places where food could be had.

It is deserving of remark, that St. John, who usually avoids mentioning what is related by the other Evangelists, especially what happened in Galilee, on this occasion refers to this miracle (c. 6), to introduce the subject of the promised bread of life. He had, moreover, particularly in view, to describe the different Passovers during the term of our Redeemer’s preaching, and, as he remained in Galilee during the third Passover, St. John relates circumstantially His works and miracles performed during that time. What is recorded by one Evangelist is not denied by the other. Both narratives form one perfect account.

Our Redeemer suggested to the Apostles to give the multitude wherewith to satiate their hunger, a thing which they regarded, humanly speaking, as utterly impossible. Mark (6:37) and John (6:7) state, that our Lord was told that two hundred pence would be necessary to procure bread, so as to give each a little, and the Apostles well knew this sum was beyond their reach. Hence, the words of Mark (6:37) are generally supposed to be spoken ironically, as if to say: Yes, indeed, we can give them to eat, but we require two hundred pence worth of bread for the purpose, which you know to be beyond our reach. It was only after He elicited from them an admission of the impossibility, humanly speaking, of what He asked, our Redeemer performed the miracle.

8 One of his disciples, Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, saith to him:
9 There is a boy here that hath five barley loaves and two fishes. But what are these among so many?

Notes on Mt 14:17~In order to show more clearly the utter impossibility, humanly speaking, of satiating so large a crowd in the desert, our Redeemer asks, what resources they had at hand; and the Apostles reply, or rather Andrew replies in their name (John 6:8, &c.), that there were only five barley loaves and two fishes, which some boy in the crowd, who, probably, was attending the Apostles, had with him for their immediate use; “but, what are these among so many?” (John 6:9).

10 Then Jesus said: Make the men sit down. Now, there was much grass in the place. The men therefore sat down, in number about five thousand.
11 And Jesus took the loaves: and when he had given thanks, he distributed to them that were set down. In like manner also of the fishes, as much as they would.

Notes on Mt 14:18-19, 21~After commanding them to bring forward the five loaves, &c., He then ordered His disciples to arrange the men in companies, and make them sit down on the grass, with which the place abounded. This they did, arranging them in companies of hundreds and fifties (Mark 6:40; Luke 9:14). By this arrangement the number could be more easily ascertained, and the parties more regularly served.

Five thousand men.” (or, as the Greek has it, ὡσεὶ πεντακισχιλίοι, “about five thousand”). St. John (6:10), has the same form, “about five thousand.”

Besides women and children,” who might, probably, amount to an equal number, but whom it was not usual with the Jews to number. Hence, we find in the Book of Numbers, whenever the priests, and Levites, and soldiers, were numbered, the women and children were left unnumbered.

To feed a multitude in the desert was a wonderful miracle in the eyes of the Jews. “Nunquid poterit, parare mensam in deserto.”

And looking up to heaven,” which (John 6:11) expresses by “giving thanks,” that is, thanking His Heavenly Father, from whom, with His Divinity, He received power of working miracles, for His great goodness in vouchsafing to work so great a miracle, for the temporal and spiritual benefit of His people. It may mean, He invoked the beneficent power of his Father on the loaves, &c.

He took the five loaves,” &c., to show that He was Himself the author of the great miracle He was about performing.

He blessed.” St. Mark says (6:41), “He blessed and broke the loaves.” St. Luke (9:16) says, “He blessed them.” viz., the loaves; and by this benediction, imparted to them the occult efficaciousness of being multiplied.

And gave the loaves to His disciples, and the disciples to the multitudes.” The miraculous multiplication probably occurred partly, in the hands of our Redeemer; and partly, in the hands of the disciples, when distributing them, and placing them in the hands of the crowd, without any outward show. How this occurred, we cannot say. One thing seems certain, that it was not effected by the creation of new loaves or new fishes. For, from the Evangelists, it is quite clear, “He divided the two fishes among them all,” as also the five barley loaves (Mark 6:41; John 6:11).

12 And when they were filled, he said to his disciples: gather up the fragments that remain, lest they be lost.
13 They gathered up therefore and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves which remained over and above to them that had eaten.

Notes on Mt 14:20~To place the miracle beyond the reach of cavil or doubt, our Redeemer ordered (John 6:12), that, what remained after the multitude were satiated, should be gathered up. This exceeded in quantity what was originally set before our Lord to be distributed. And to show, that in the exercise of charity, economy and frugality should not be neglected, He did not wish that any of it should be lost.

Twelve full baskets of fragments,” a basket for each of the Apostles.

These “baskets” were, probably, made of osiers. They were commonly used by the Jews on their journeys in other countries, to save their provisions from heathen contact and pollution. Their size is not known. They must certainly have been of considerable dimensions, to serve the purpose referred to. Juvenal (Satire 3–14), refers to them as badges of the Jewish people: “Judæis, quorum Cophinus fœnumque supellex.” Also, speaking of a fortune-telling Jewess (Satire vi. 541), he says, “Cophino fœnoque relicto.” The use of the hay was, probably, to stop the interstices of these wicker baskets, which carried their provisions and money. It is not likely they carried hay about with them in such quantities, as would serve for beds, as some authors imagine. Grotius remarks (Matt. 16:9; Mark 8:19), “In these baskets or little panniers, they used to carry along with them, bread.”

14 Now those men, when they had seen what a miracle Jesus had done, said: This is of a truth the prophet that is to come into the world.
15 Jesus therefore, when he knew that they would come to take him by force and make him king, fled again into the mountains, himself alone.

Notes on Mt 14:22~Our Redeemer, perceiving that the people “would come and make Him king” (John 6:15), forthwith, both from motives of prudence, and to teach us to avoid all vain display, “obliged His disciples to go up into the boat, and to go before Him over the water.” Mark adds (6:45), “to Bethsaida,” whilst He dismissed the crowd. The word, “obliged,” as St. Jerome remarks, shows the great reluctance of the Apostles to be, even for the shortest period, separated from their dear Lord. Their departure, however, would enable Him to dismiss the crowd the more readily, and prevent them from conspiring with the multitude to make Him king. It would afford Him leisure to be alone, for the purposes of prayer, and would also prepare the way for the miracle of calming the sea, which followed. Perhaps the reluctance on the part of the disciples to depart, arose from seeing the glory which awaited their Master, from the crowd, who wished to make Him king. They were ordered to cross the lake in the direction of Bethsaida, but they came to Capharnaum. (John 6) Capharnaum and Bethsaida of Galilee were both on the western shore of the lake, so there is no contradiction between St. Mark and St. John. They went towards Bethsaida, but they reached Capharnaum, it might be, after having first arrived at Bethsaida, on the west shore of the lake; or, it may be, they sailed first to Capharnaum, and then to Bethsaida, which was not far distant (Patrizzi in Marcum vi. 45).

Posted in Bible, Catholic, Christ, Notes on the Gospel of John, Notes on the Lectionary, Scripture | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »


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