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Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on Matthew 17:14-20

Posted by Dim Bulb on August 1, 2015

14 And when he was come to the multitude, there came to him a man falling down on his knees before him saying: ‎
“And when He was come to the multitude,” &c. St. Luke (9:37) says, this happened “the following day when they had come down from the mountain.” On the day after the Transfiguration—our Redeemer having most likely devoted the night to prayer on the mountain—when they came down from the mountain, He saw a great crowd about His disciples, whom He left at the foot of the mountain, among the rest, “the Scribes disputing with them” (Mark 9:13). The subject about which the Scribes, or those learned in the law, were disputing, probably regarded the unsuccessful attempts of the disciples to expel the demon; and, most likely, the Scribes, in the absence of our Divine Redeemer, availed themselves of this circumstance to lessen their credit, as well as that of their Divine Master, with the crowd, and to charge them with acting on former occasions when they expelled demons, not from Divine, but diabolical agency. We are also informed by St. Mark (ibidem), that the people on seeing our Lord, “were astonished and seized with fear.” probably, either because they regarded His timely and unexpected appearance as extraordinary, as if He knew the embarrassment His disciples were in, and came to their rescue; or, because the brightness of majesty might have been still apparent on His countenance after the Transfiguration, as happened Moses after his long converse with God on Mount Sinai (2 Cor. 3:7).

“Running, they saluted Him,” and reverently welcomed Him. We are told by St. Mark, that our Redeemer asked what the subject of their questioning or controversy was. This He knew already, but He proposed the question with a view of, rescuing His disciples from their embarrassment, that thus He might create an occasion for performing the miracle. Neither party reply, the disciples being, probably, confounded at their unsuccessful attempts at expelling the devil; and the Scribes being afraid to expose their malice to the severe reproaches of our Redeemer; and, moreover, the father of the child whose cure was, probably, the subject of dispute, anticipated every reply, by at once rushing forward, and, casting himself on his knees, besought Him to have pity on his son, “his only son” (Luke 9:38), “who was a lunatic, and suffers much.” Mark (9:16), says, “he hath a dumb devil;” and our Redeemer, in casting him out (Mark 9:24), calls him “a deaf and dumb spirit.” St. Matthew calls him “a lunatic.” Very probably, the evil spirit, knowing the times men are afflicted with lunacy, acted on this boy at those times, with a view of inducing the belief, that the moon was the cause of the sorrows and sufferings of the men thus affected, that he might cause them to blaspheme this great luminary, this remarkable creature of God. From the account given of him by St. Mark (9:17), his illness would seem to be like epilepsy, or the falling sickness. These effects were produced by the devil. The effects mentioned by St. Mark, in v. 17, are, for brevity’ sake, expressed by St. Matthew, “and he suffereth much.”

“For, he falleth often into the fire,” &c. These words were, most probably, used by the father of the boy, in reply to our Redeemer’s question, regarding the length of time he had been thus afflicted (Mark 9:20, 21); and then the father says, “the devil oftentimes cast him into the fire and into waters;” but these circumstances are, for brevity’ sake, mentioned here, by anticipation, by St. Matthew.

15 Lord, have pity on my son, for he is a lunatic, and suffereth much: for he falleth often into the fire, and often into the water. And I brought him to thy disciples, and they could not cure him. ‎

And I brought him to Thy disciples,” &c. This, probably, suggested the questioning among the Scribes, respecting the nature and origin of the power successfully exercised by the Apostles, on former occasions, in the expulsion of demons.

16 Then Jesus answered and said: O unbelieving and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I suffer you? Bring him hither to me. ‎

This has reference to the incredulous Jewish nation, to whose incredulity our Redeemer, in the first instance, and in public, attributes the unsuccessful efforts of His Apostles. Their failure was owing to the incredulity of the Jews, and to their own want of faith, as appears from the following: our Redeemer takes occasion to tax, in the first instance, and in public, the father of the boy, and the Jewish people, in general, with their incredulity. This is prominently referred to here, although, no doubt, the want of faith in the Apostles is also taxed indirectly by Him.

O unbelieving and perverse,” that is, incorrigible, “generation,” people and nation, “how long shall I be with you?” &c. This simply denotes the indignation of our Redeemer at the incredulity of the Jews; and conveys that He is losing His time and labour, in working so many prodigies among them, to confirm His doctrine, and bring them to the faith; just as a physician, who would find, that all his prescriptions were neglected, by a languishing patient, would exclaim: “How long shall I be coming to this house, this sick bed, when all my labour, and pains, and skill, are lost, undervalued, and become useless?” Others say, these words express a desire of dying, of leaving the Jews, and transferring His graces to the Gentiles.

Bring him to Me.” Even in His anger, He remembers mercy; whilst He reproves their infidelity, He pities the poor sufferer.

17 And Jesus rebuked him, and the devil went out of him, and the child was cured from that hour.

St. Mark tells us (9:19), that when brought before our Lord, the spirit troubled him, and rolling on the ground, he foamed; and that our Redeemer questioned the father how long he was thus suffering. The father said that he had been so from his infancy, and that the devil cast him into the fire and water which is expressed by St. Matthew (v. 14), that “he falleth into the fire,” &c. And our Redeemer having called upon the father to believe, thereby insinuating that it was to his want of faith, the unsuccessful efforts of the disciples, of which he complained, were partly attributable, he exclaimed, “I believe, Lord; help my unbelief,” i.e., my weak, imperfect faith. Then, our Redeemer threatened the unclean spirit, which is expressed here by St. Matthew, “Jesus rebuked him,” as is more circumstantially expressed by St. Mark, “He threatened the unclean spirit, saying to him: Thou deaf and dumb spirit, I command thee go out of him, and enter no more into him” (Mark 9:24).

And the devil went out of him.” St. Mark (9:25) describes it thus: “And crying out, and greatly tearing him, he went out of him, and he became as one dead,” &c.

And the child was cured from that hour.” From this, it is quite clear that St. Matthew regarded, as the effect of diabolical possession and agency, what the father of the boy calls, “lunacy.” And, indeed, in the account left us by St. Mark (9:17–21), the father himself attributes the convulsive spasms to the evil spirit that possessed him from his infancy.

‎18 Then came the disciples to Jesus secretly, and said: Why could not we cast him out? ‎

The Apostles, fearing lest they might have incurred the displeasure of their Divine Master, and lest, also, the power of miracles formerly conferred on them might have been withdrawn, in punishment of their sins, “come to Him secretly;” or, as St. Mark more fully expresses it, “when He was come into the house, and ask Him, Why we could not cast him out?” They did not wish to ask in public, lest they should be redargued before the multitude; and, on the other hand, our Blessed Lord did not wish to put to shame in public, those who were destined to be the future teachers of the earth, and the foundations of His Church. He wished to consult for their authority, by not publicly reproaching them before the multitude, who might afterwards undervalue their teaching.

19 Jesus said to them: Because of your unbelief. For, amen I say to you, if you have faith as a grain of mustard seed, you shall say to this mountain: Remove from hence hither, and it shall remove: and nothing shall be impossible to you. ‎

He attributes this failure to two causes—the imbecility of their faith, and want of prayer and fasting. “Because of your unbelief.” Their faith was weaker than it should be, considering the length of time they spent in the school of Christ, and the Apostolic office conferred on them.

As a grain of mustard seed.” This was a proverbial phrase in vogue among the Jews, to designate the smallest quantity; as, on the other hand, the removing of a mountain was an hyperbolical phrase, designating a thing almost impossible of accomplishment. The words may then mean: If the Apostles had possessed the least portion of that active, lively, energetic faith of miracles which they ought to have, and which, although small, relative to them, was in itself very great, they might perform the most arduous and stupendous wonders. The lively, active properties of the faith referred to is clearly expressed by the well-known properties of the mustard seed. This faith of miracles includes theological or Divine faith in the omnipotent power and goodness of God, together with the firmest, unbounded confidence, that He will grant the fruit of our petitions. This faith of miracles could not be regarded, in itself, as very small, since St. Paul calls it, omnem fidem—“all faith” (1 Cor. 13:2); but, whilst very great as regards the rest of the faithful, it might be regarded as very small, comparatively, and in regard to the Apostles. Had they possessed this active, energetic faith of miracles in the smallest degree, relative to them, not only could they have expelled the demon, who resisted them, and whose fierce resistance probably caused them such diffidence; but they would be able to perform the most stupendous wonders. The allusion to the “grain of mustard seed,” regards not alone the smallness of a thing, but also its active, energetic properties. It conveys a reproach to the Apostles for not possessing this faith in the present instance.

You shall say to this mountain.” Mount Thabor, at the foot of which they were staying. St. Jerome takes the word in a mystical sense, to designate the devil, this fallen angel of pride. Elsewhere allusion is made to this faith of miracles (21:21).

Of course it is supposed that the glory of God, and our own or neighbour’s good, require the exercise of this great power, and that its exercise would not proceed from vain curiosity or presumption; because, if so, it would not proceed from “faith.” We have not read of the Apostles having transferred mountains. Most likely, no occasion or necessity occurred for their doing so. But, we read of them performing more wonderful and arduous things, such as the raising of the dead to life; and in latter times, we read of this miracle having been performed by St. Gregory Thaumaturgus (Eusebius, Histor. Lib. vii. c. 25). No doubt, the Apostles would have removed mountains if the necessity or some justifying cause for their doing so had arisen; moreover, they may have done so, as all the miracles of the saints are not recorded.

And nothing shall be impossible to you,” acting under the influence of this faith, whenever the glory of God and the salvation of men shall demand it; but not when it is sought to gratify curiosity, or please men. Hence, our Redeemer refused to work miracles in the presence of Herod, demanding him to do so, from motives of curiosity and vain glory.

20 But this kind is not cast out but by prayer and fasting.

Besides the want of faith—and faith is a general condition required for working all miracles—a second cause of their failure is here assigned, peculiar to this and like cases. “This kind,” is understood by St. Chrysostom to refer to devils in general, to the whole genus of demons. This, however, is improbable, as we find that the Apostles expelled some evil spirits by the simple invocation of the name of Christ (Luke 10:17), without having recourse to prayer and fasting. Hence, the words refer to a certain description of obstinate and ferocious, powerful devils, whose expulsion requires, not only that the person who undertakes it be gifted with the ordinary faith of miracles, sufficient for the expulsion of ordinary demons; but also that this faith be increased and intensified by fervent “prayer,” extraordinary confidence in God, “and fasting,” which, by subjecting the flesh to the Spirit, by elevating and uniting the soul to God, better fits him for wrestling with the demons, who dread a man of “faith,” of prayer and fasting, as they do the good angels of God. This description of ferocious demons, sometimes for a long time, possess men, so that their possession becomes a kind of second nature for the unfortunate man possessed. Hence, our Redeemer asked (Mark 9:20), “How long is it that this happened to him?

Fasting wonderfully assists us in rendering our prayers more fervent; in causing our minds to be disengaged from earthly desires, and raising up our thoughts to Heaven. “Qui corporali jejunio, vitia comprimis, mentem elevas, virtutem largiris et præmia” (Preface of the Mass for Lent). Faith expels the demon by believing; prayer, by petitioning; fasting, by tormenting and starving him; as an enemy is driven out of a fortress, not only by force, but by starving him out (Maldonatus). Hence, the merit of fasting, so much decried by the enemies of religion and God’s Church. Can that be true religion that affects to undervalue, and scorns what our Blessed Redeemer recommends? It is on account of the words of our Blessed Lord here, the Church, in her exorcisms, employs, besides the invocation of the name of Christ, much prayer and fasting. As there are certain orders of angels naturally more powerful than others; and, as the demons fell from the several orders of angelic spirits, and, as is commonly believed, are not shorn by their fall, of their natural strength; hence, there are certain demons more powerful than others, in wrestling with whom greater strength and power are required, as in the present instance. The fasting here recommended is, by no means, opposed to what our Redeemer says of not fasting while the Bridegroom was on earth amongst His disciples, as this latter refers to immoderate fasting, such as the disciples of John were practising, and such as they charged the disciples of our Lord, at the instigation of the Pharisees, with not practising. Our Redeemer Himself assigns other reasons (9:14–17). He fasted forty days and forty nights, and it was in imitation of His forty days fast, which had been long before prefigured in the Law and in the Prophets by the forty days’ fast of Moses (Exod. 34:28) and Elias (3 Kings 19:8), these glorious witnesses of His manifestation in Thabor, that the Church instituted and continued from the earliest Apostolic age, the forty days’ fast of Lent, “which has been regarded by the entire Church throughout the globe, among the chief points of Ecclesiastical discipline, consecrated in some measure by Jesus Christ Himself, handed down by the Apostles, prescribed by the sacred canons, retained and observed by the Church from the very beginning. It is the watchword of our warfare, whereby we are distinguished from the enemies of the Cross of Christ, and avert the scourges of Divine vengeance,” &c. (Benedict XIV. Brief, non ambigimus.)

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Father Maas’ Commentary on Matthew 17:14-20

Posted by Dim Bulb on August 1, 2015

14 And when he was come to the multitude, there came to him a man falling down on his knees before him saying: ‎15 Lord, have pity on my son, for he is a lunatic, and suffereth much: for he falleth often into the fire, and often into the water. And I brought him to thy disciples, and they could not cure him.

14. And when he was come to the multitude.] 4. Power of faith. Here we have first a prayer addressed to Jesus, then the answer to the prayer, and finally an instruction given to the disciples.

a. Prayer. “When he was come to the multitude,” i. e. the day after the transfiguration [cf. Lk. 9:37]. “Lord have pity,” first because I pray for “my son”; secondly, “he is a lunatic, and suffereth much.” It is evident from v. 17 that the boy was also possessed, and the second gospel [cf. Mk. 9:14–29] adds that he was dumb and suffered “from his infancy.” Jans, is of opinion that all his suffering was the effect of his possession, but Caj. Schanz, Knab. maintain that the possession was added to his natural infirmities, his epilepsy and dumbness. No doubt, the devil aggravated the natural affliction of the sufferer considerably, for the father testified “he falleth often into the fire, and often into the water.” “I brought him to thy disciples” shows that the father knew of the miracles wrought by them; “they could not cure him” states only the fact without implying blame of the apostles or doubt concerning the power of Jesus [cf. Cyr.]; according to Mk. 9:21, 22 the faith of the petitioner seems to have been very feeble, so that his lack of faith may have been the cause of the apostles’ failure [cf. Mt. 13:58].

16 Then Jesus answered and said: O unbelieving and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I suffer you? Bring him hither to me. ‎17 And Jesus rebuked him, and the devil went out of him, and the child was cured from that hour.

16. Then Jesus answered and said.] b. Grant of the petition. “O unbelieving and perverse generation” is addressed not to the whole human race [cf. Orig.], nor to the father alone [Jer. Euth. Theoph.], nor to the disciples alone [Hil. Meyer, Arn. Bisp.], but to all present [cf. Deut. 32:5; Phil. 2:15], including the people seduced by the suggestions of the scribes [Chrys. Cyr. Br. Thom. Jans. Mald. Lap. Bar. Schegg], the father showing such a weak faith [cf. Mk. 9:21; Chrys. Mald.], and the disciples who had failed in the cure of the sufferer [Pasch. Dion. Fab. Caj. Calm. Schanz, Fil. Knab. Keil]. “How long shall I be with you,” not as if our Lord had wished to suffer the death of the cross rather than remain with them [cf. Chrys. Cyr.]; but he complained of their slowness to comply with his ardent longing for their spiritual welfare [Jer. Jans. Mald.], manifesting at the same time his lovingkindness in the words, “Bring him hither to me.” “And Jesus rebuked him,” not the boy [cf. Theoph. Rab.], nor his sinfulness [cf. Bed. Pasch. Thom.], nor both the devil and the boy [cf. Euth.], nor the devil or the boy indiscriminately [cf. Jer. Bisp.]; but the rebuke was directed to the devil alone, as is distinctly stated in the second and third gospel [Mk. 9:24; Lk. 9:43; Cyr. Dion. Fab. Caj. Jans. Mald. Calm. Arn. Schanz, Fil. Knab.]. The miracle was both an exorcism and a miraculous cure of the boy’s natural infirmities.

‎18 Then came the disciples to Jesus secretly, and said: Why could not we cast him out? ‎19 Jesus said to them: Because of your unbelief. For, amen I say to you, if you have faith as a grain of mustard seed, you shall say to this mountain: Remove from hence hither, and it shall remove: and nothing shall be impossible to you. 20 But this kind is not cast out but by prayer and fasting.

18. Then came the disciples to Jesus.] c. Instruction of the disciples. When Jesus had entered a house [Mk. 9:2], the disciples inquired after the cause of their failure, having either not heard [cf. Schegg] or not fully understood [cf. Schanz] the foregoing words of the Master about their unbelief. “Because of your unbelief,” Jesus repeats in presence of the disciples; the devil may have given such striking signs of his power [cf. Mk. 9:19, 25] as to make the apostles hesitate in their faith [cf. James 1:6, 7]. “Faith as a grain of mustard seed” does not denote great and extraordinary faith [cf. Pasch. Jer. Thom. Bed. Sylv. Br.], though the kingdom of heaven is compared to a grain of mustard seed [cf. Mt. 8:31], and though St. Paul [1 Cor. 8:2] represents the faith sufficient to move mountains as something remarkable; nor does the expression signify a lively and vehement faith similar to the qualities of the mustard seed when crushed [cf. Euth. Dion. Fab. Caj. Jans.]; nor again a fruitful and growing faith like the fruitfulness and growth of the mustard plant [cf. Br. Bar.]; for in all these meanings there would be no reason for comparing the faith to a grain of mustard seed rather than to mustard seed in general. Recalling the smallness of the grain of mustard seed [cf. Mt. 8:31 f.], we must here understand by “faith as a grain of mustard seed” even the least amount of sincere faith [Chrys. Hil. Mald. Calm. Arn. Reischl, Bisp. Grimm, Schegg, Schanz, Fil. Knab. etc.], a meaning that also agrees better with the context [cf. Mald.]. Nor is there any discrepancy between the words of Jesus thus understood and those of St. Paul [1 Cor. 8:2]: the faith of miracles implies first the theological virtue of faith; secondly, the application of that universal faith to one particular object concerning which the thaumaturgus firmly believes that God will hear him; thirdly, a firm trust and confidence in the will of the wonder-worker as to the success of his undertaking [cf. Suar. De fid. disp. viii. sect. i. 3, 6]. The words of Jesus view this faith intensively, and assert that the least amount of it suffices to perform any miracle; the apostle views the same faith extensively, or as to its contents, and maintains that it embraces “all faith,” i. e. all kinds of faith. We need not then assume a hyperbole in our Lord’s words [Bar. and Sylv. against Mald.]. “This mountain” does not mean the devil [cf. Hil. Jer. Theoph. Bed. Br.], but it partly refers to the mountain at the foot of which the words were spoken [cf. Mt. 17:1], partly it alludes to a well-known proverb [cf. Zach. 4:7; Buxtorf, Lex. Talm. p. 1653; Lightf. in Mt. 21:21; Wünsche, p. 204] according to which the moving of mountains expressed extraordinary and incredible deeds of strength. There is no need to inquire why the apostles did not move mountains in their later life [cf. Theoph. Thom.], though Chrys. testifies that some saints did transfer mountains, as is well known of Gregory of Neocesarea [cf. Bed. ad Marc. xi. 23]; the Lord’s words merely mean, “Nothing shall be impossible to you.”

The following verse is wanting in א* B 33 e ff syr [cu her] sah cop [cd] æth [rom] Eus [can], and is therefore omitted by Tisch. W H Weiss; but the omission rests on too little testimony, while the interpolation of the verse out of the second gospel is improbable on account of the discrepancy. “This kind” does not refer to all devils [cf. Chrys. Euth. Thom. Grimm], for many of them were expelled by the mere command of the exorcists [cf. Acts 16:18; Lk. 10:17; 9:49]; but it denotes specially wicked demons [Jer. Leo, serm. 87, 2; Bed. Pasch. Alb. Dion. Caj. Jans. Mald. Lap. Bar. Calm. Arn. Schegg, Reischl, Fil. Knab. etc.]. “Prayer and fasting” are needed on the part of the possessed person [Chrys.], on the part of the exorcist or the wonder-worker [Orig.], on the part of both the demoniac and the exorcist [Theoph. Euth.]. It is as reasonable that the possessed person should make use of spiritual weapons against his spiritual enemies, as that the exorcist should attain to a closer union with God by prayer and victory over his inordinate affections before beginning to grapple with God’s enemies.

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Father Maas’ Commentary on Matthew 16:13-23

Posted by Dim Bulb on August 1, 2015

13 And Jesus came into the quarters of Cesarea Philippi: and he asked his disciples, saying: Whom do men say that the Son of man is? ‎14 But they said: Some John the Baptist, and other some Elias, and others Jeremias, or one of the prophets. ‎15 Jesus saith to them: But whom do you say that I am?

13. And Jesus came into the quarters.] In this section we have first Peter’s confession, vv. 13–20; secondly, Peter’s rebuke, vv. 21–28; thirdly, Peter’s presence at the transfiguration, 17:1–13; fourthly, the necessity and power of faith, vv. 14–20; fifthly, Peter’s tribute money, vv. 21–26.

1. Peter’s confession. We must first consider its preliminaries, secondly the act itself, thirdly the consequent promises, a. Preliminaries. After the apostles have been severed from the Pharisees, they need an authority which they must obey and on which they may rely: Jesus is to be their head in the future, and he will exercise his power by his vicar. A knowledge of his person and nature is therefore of vital importance for the disciples in general, and especially for him who is to represent his authority among men. The importance of the appointment is indicated by the prayer which our Lord uttered before this action [cf. Lk. 9:18], as he had prayed before the election of the apostles [cf. Lk. 6:12].

“Cesarea Philippi” was a town in Gaulonitis at the foot of Mount Libanus, not far from the source of the Jordan, a day’s journey from Sidon; it had been called Laish [Judg. 18:7, 29], and afterwards Dan, but in later times Paneas or Panias, from the mountain Panium, under which it lay [Jos. Ant. XV. x. 3]. The tetrarch Philip enlarged it and gave it the name of Cesarea in honor of Tiberius [Jos. Ant. XVIII. ii. 1; cf. Euseb. H. E. vii. 17]. In later times King Agrippa further enlarged it and called it Neronias in honor of the emperor Nero [Jos. Ant. XX. ix. 4]. This must not be confounded with the Cesarea Stratonis situated on the Mediterranean, and occurring Acts 10:1. According to Mk. 8:27 [cf. Lk. 9:18] and the Greek text of Matthew the following questions must have been asked on the way. Sylv. [cf. Grimm, iii. p. 621] sees a special providence in the fact that the primacy of the Church was first promised outside the Jewish territory, since this foreshows the future conversion of the Gentiles. Stray testimonies concerning the divine sonship of Jesus had been given already [Jn. 1:49; 6:70; Mt. 14:33], but their meaning was not certain beyond doubt.

“Who do men say,” i. e. men excluding the scribes and Pharisees; having thus recalled the opinion of others concerning the person of Jesus, the disciples would naturally strive to excel them in their own estimate of the Master [cf. Chrys.]. “The Son of man” is the title adopted from Daniel 7:13 [cf. Mt. 8:20; 9:6; 10:23; 11:19; 12:8; etc.], perhaps through motives of humility [cf. Jer. Jans. etc.]. “Some John the Baptist” is in accord with the belief of Herod [Mt. 14:2]; “other some Elias,” according to the general opinion of the Jews [cf. Mt. 17:10; 11:14] based on Mal. 4:5, 6 [cf. Ecclus. 48:10, 11]; “and others Jeremias,” perhaps because Jesus was as free in his blame of the Jewish leaders as Jeremias had been [Mald. Jans.], but more probably because according to 2 Mac 2:1–12; 15:13–16 Jeremias had hidden the ark of the covenant, so that his return, together with the restoration of the ark, was expected about the time of the Messias, an opinion that seems to be confirmed by 4 Esdr. 2:18 [cf. 1:10]; “or one of the prophets” appears to be one of the great earlier prophets of Israel grown mightier by his resurrection [cf. Mt. 14:2], or it is the prophet promised in Deut. 18:15 [cf. Jn. 1:21; 6:24], Within a year from this time the wretched people will be so misled as to demand Christ’s death from the Roman governor. “You” signifies that the disciples ought to distinguish themselves in their knowledge of the Master, having been long with him, and witnessed many miracles [Chrys.].

16 Simon Peter answered and said: Thou art Christ, the Son of the living God.

16. Simon Peter answered.] b. Peter’s formal profession. “Simon Peter” had distinguished himself by his profession after the eucharistic discourse [Jn. 6:70]; seeing now some hesitation on the part of his fellow apostles, he breaks forth into his profession to prevent any other less dignified answer [Chrys. Sylv. Grimm, iii. p. 625], at the same time complying with that special divine illumination and inspiration which the words of Christ ascribe to him. “Thou art Christ,” or the Messias; the parallel accounts [Mk. 8:29; Lk. 9:20] emphasize the Messiasship as the main point of Peter’s profession, since the readers of the second and third gospel identify the Messianic dignity with the divinity. The Jewish readers of the first gospel had no such definite idea of the identity of the two terms, so that the evangelist must add “the Son of the living God.” That this must be understood of natural sonship is evident from the following considerations: first, this truth could not be known except by revelation [“flesh and blood hath not revealed it to thee, but my Father who is in heaven”], while sonship in the Old Testament meaning could be known without revelation; secondly, in the immediate context Jesus speaks of his Father in heaven, and we may suppose that he uses the terms in the sense which Peter gave them; thirdly, the Greek article before “Son” emphasizes the expression so as to raise its meaning above that usually given to it; fourthly, Jesus is called “the Son of God” in opposition to John the Baptist, Jeremias, or any of the prophets, all of whom were sons of God by adoption; fifthly, the addition of “living” before “God” does probably not merely serve to distinguish the true God from the false gods [cf. Schanz, etc.], but represents Christ’s divine sonship as flowing from the very life of God, and therefore as natural [Orig. Caj. Sylv.; cf. Hil. Chrys. Euth. Theoph. Thom. Mald.].

Chrys. Aug. [serm. 76, 1], Ambr. [de incarn. c. iv.], Jer. Alb. Thom. Dion. Schegg are of opinion that Peter professed the belief in the divine sonship of Jesus in the name of all apostles. But this can be admitted only in the sense that the other apostles either later on embraced or actually, but accidentally, held the belief expressed by Peter, or that Peter held even at that time a certain superiority over his fellow apostles [cf. Jn. 1:42; Mt. 8:14; 10:2; Lk. 5:2 ff.]. To say that Peter formally expressed the actual belief of the other apostles involves either a previous consultation of the apostles, or on the part of Peter a knowledge of the secrets of hearts; neither of these conditions is known to have existed. The gospel rather favors the view that Peter professed the belief in Christ’s divinity in his own name only: when Peter answers for all, his words indicate this [cf. Jn. 6:69, 70]; but far from presenting such an indication, the present passage pronounces blessed only Peter for the divine revelation with which he has been favored: “Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-Jona.” Hil. [ad c. xiv. n. 17], Opt. [De schism. Donat. vii. 3], Aster, amas. Basil, seleuc. [orat. 25, 4], Jans. Mald. Bar. Tost. Lap. Sylv. Knab. etc. are therefore right in maintaining that this profession of faith in Christ’s divinity was a personal act, not a corporate expression.

17 And Jesus answering said to him: Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-Jona: because flesh and blood hath not revealed it to thee, but my Father who is in heaven. ‎18 And I say to thee: That thou art Peter; and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. ‎19 And I will give to thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven. And whatsoever thou shalt bind upon earth, it shall be bound also in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth, it shall be loosed also in heaven. ‎20 Then he commanded his disciples, that they should tell no one that he was Jesus the Christ.

17. And Jesus answering.] c. Christ’s words to Peter. These proclaim first Peter’s blessedness, secondly his dignity as rock of the Church, thirdly his power of the keys, fourthly his power to bind and loose, α. Peter’s blessedness. “Simon Bar-Jona” [Bar-Jona does not mean “son of a dove” nor does it allude to the prophet Jonas, for the better codd. of Jn. 1:42; 21:15; 21:16, 17 read “son of John,” and in 2 Par. 28 the lxx. render the Hebrew “John” by “Jona”] is in opposition to Peter’s words “Christ the Son of the living God.” “Blessed art thou” because by God’s special benefit thou art possessed of a knowledge that is life eternal [Jn. 17:3; Thom. Sylv.]. “Flesh and blood” is said of man not aided by the special assistance of God [1 Cor. 15:50; Ecclus. 14:19]; Peter has not found the truth by the light of reason, nor is he the disciple of man [cf. Gal. 1:16; Eph. 6:12], but he is taught by the heavenly Father [cf. Mt. 11:27; Jn. 6:44, 45]. “I say to thee” is parallel to Peter’s profession: as thou hast professed my divinity, I shall reveal thy dignity [cf. Leo, serm. iv. 2].

β. Peter the rock of the Church. “Thou art Peter” [Rock], “and upon this rock”: in the Greek and the Latin text the word expressing “rock” is masculine in the first place, and feminine in the second [Petrus, petra; πέτρος, πέτρα]. But since Jesus spoke Aramaic, all difficulty vanishes, there being only one word [כֵּף or כֵּיפָא]. The Greek writer [and the Latin translator followed him] saw that the feminine noun could not well be employed as the name of Simon, while the masculine noun agreed less with the idea of foundation-stone or firm rock [see, however, Horn. H. η. 270, γ. 288, π. 411; Pind. Nem. xi. 26; Sophocl. Oed. C. 19, 1595; Philoct. 272; Diod. Sic. i. 32], a meaning expressed by the feminine form [cf. Grot.]. “Church” is regarded by Bleek, Holtzmann, Harnack as a later interpolation, because Jesus usually spoke of “the kingdom” or “the kingdom of heaven.” But as “the kingdom” is an Old Testament expression [cf. 1 Par. 28:5; Ps. 21:31; Abd. 21] employed by Jesus [cf. Jn. 18:36; etc.], so is קָהָל [rendered by the lxx. ἐκκλησία], corresponding to our church, an Old Testament expression [Num. 15:3; 20:4; Deut. 23:2–4; 1 Par. 28:8; Mich. 2:5] denoting the holy convocation of Israel. If, then, the former expression could be appropriated by our Lord, why not the latter? Finally, since Israel is often called “the house of the Lord” in the Old Testament [cf. Num. 12:7; 7:7; Os. 7:1; 9:8, 15], the metaphor of “building” my Church was naturally enough employed by Jesus [cf. 1 Cor. 3:9 ff.; Gal. 2:9; Eph. 2:10; 1 Tim. 3:15; Heb. 3:6; 1 Pet. 2:5]. Nor is there any difficulty about the meaning of the metaphor: the Church of Christ is to be built on the rock in question, as on its foundation. The rock will be to the Church what the foundation is to the building; will give it, therefore, stability, and firmness [cf. Mt. 7:24], and unity. Now since the stability, firmness, and unity of the Church, as of every society, are supplied by the ruling authority, it follows that the rock must be the seat of authority in the Church; and since the foundation must remain as long as the building, the rock on which the Church is built must persevere as long as the Church is to last.

The next point to be discussed concerns the identity of the rock on which the Church is to be built. Opinions: First, the rock is Jesus himself. Reasons: α. when Jesus said “thou art Peter [Rock], and upon this rock I will build my Church,” he may have pointed to himself while pronouncing the second clause [Schöttgen, Schultz, Chrysander, etc.]. β. According to 1 Cor. 3:11 there is no foundation beside Christ Jesus. γ. According to 1 Cor. 10:4 Christ is the rock. δ. The difference of gender in the Latin and Greek text between Petrus and Petra, πέτρος and πέτρα. ε. Cassiodorus [in Ps. 45:5], the author of the explanation of the fifth penitential Psalm [n. 36; in the works of Gregory the Great], Theodoret [in 1 Cor. 3:11], and Primasius [in Apoc. 21] understand the foundation-rock of the Church to be identical with Christ. But (a) the difference of gender in the Latin and Greek text between Petrus and Petra, πέτρος and πέτρα, has been explained already, (b) As to 1 Cor. 3:11 and 10:4, and the patristic writers, Christ is surely the primary foundation-rock of the Church, as he alone can forgive sins by his own power [Chrys.]. But as he has communicated the power of forgiving sins to his ministers, so he may have delegated one of his ministers to be his vicar in the office of foundation of the Church, (c) That Christ did communicate this vicarious office of “rock of the Church” to Peter, himself remaining the primary foundation, is expressly maintained by Leo [serm. iv. 2; in ep. x. 1], August. [Retract, i. 21; etc.], Jer. [in Mt. 7:26; 16:18]; Rab. Druthm. Anselm. laud. Zachar. Chrys. Thom. (d) There must be some relation between “Rock” in the first clause of Christ’s address to Peter, and “rock” in the second [especially, since he calls it “this rock”], unless we assume that our Lord’s words had a wholly arbitrary meaning; the assumption that our Lord pointed to himself does not change this alternative.

Secondly, the rock on which Jesus declared he would build his Church is the faith professed by Simon Peter, whether we take it as the doctrine “thou art Christ, the Son of the living God,” or as the profession of the doctrine, “Simon Peter answered and said.” Reasons: (a) The Church is really based on the divinity of Jesus Christ, is sustained by the profession of this truth, has always upheld this belief, and is one by this profession. (b) Hil. [in lib. vi. de trinit. n. 36], Ambr. [de incarn. c. v. n. 34], Chrys. Leo [serm. iii. c. 2, 3], Aug. [tract, vii. in Joh. n. 14], Cyr. [l. iv. in Is. c. 44, v. 23; cf. Ballerini, De vi ac ratione primatus, c. 12, ed. 1845, pp. 71–78; Palmieri, De Rom. Pontifice, pp. 246, 247] identify the rock on which the Church is built with the faith of Peter in Christ’s divinity or its profession.

But on the other hand: [a] No society has ever received its stability, its firmness, and its unity by a certain doctrine or by its profession; the permanent adherence of a society to a doctrine, or its permanent profession of the same, is rather the effect of the social principle of unity than this principle itself. [b] All the foregoing Fathers maintain, either in the context of the cited passages or in other passages, that Peter is the rock on which the Church has been built: Hil. [in h. 1; in Ps. 131, n. 4; in Ps. 141], n. 8; in lib. vi. de Trinit. n. 20], Ambr. [in Luc. lib. vi. n. 70; de virginit. c. 16, n. 105; de fid. lib. iv. c. 5, n. 56; enarrat. Ps. 40 n. 30], Chrys. Leo [serm. iii. c. 2, 3], Aug. [ad Ps. 30, serm. ii. n. 5; in Ps. 100, serm. iii. n. 2, 7; Ps. 138 n. 22], Cyr. Alex, [in 1.]. The foregoing Fathers, therefore, somehow identified the faith or its profession with the person of Peter, as in point of fact Christ called rock of the Church not Peter as such, but Peter illumined by the revelation of Christ’s divinity, Peter conspicuous by his profession of this faith. Peter’s faith in Christ’s divinity, or his profession of this faith, is therefore the rock of the Church in two ways: first, meritoriously, since Peter merited thereby to become rock of the Church; secondly, in part also formally, since Peter endued with this faith and its profession became the rock of the Church cf. Palmieri, De roman. pontif. 1877, p. 252; Natalis Alex. H. E. tom. iii. p. 99; sæc. i. diss. iv. n. 3]. [c] Weiss and Holtzmann among the more recent Protestant commentators grant that this second view, so common among the older Protestant theologians, must be abandoned.

Thirdly, we need not delay over those who attempt to combine the first and second opinion [Glassins], nor over those who regard the college of apostles as the foundation of the Church [Apoc. 21:14], nor again over those who make the apostles and the prophets the rock of the Church [Eph. 2:20], nor finally over those who seek the foundation of the Church in the body of the faithful. The first and the second opinions are rejected by the foregoing arguments; the third opinion has been implicitly considered where we investigated in what sense Peter can be said to have made his profession of faith in the name of all apostles; the fourth opinion has no foundation whatever in the present passage, and the same must be said of the fifth. It is true that some writers ask, how every Christian may become a Peter, by believing and professing like Peter [cf. Orig. in Matt. tom. xii. n. 10, 11; Theoph. Rab. Pasch. Druthm. Erasm.]; but as the question how we can become an apostle like Peter presupposes that Peter is a true apostle, so does the question of the foregoing writers imply that Peter is really the foundation of the Church; for starting from this supposition, they apply our Lord’s words to the inner life of all Christians.

Fourthly, the rock on which the Church is built is the apostle Peter. Reasons: a. The words taken in their literal sense do not admit another explanation: “thou art Rock, and upon this rock.…” Jesus could not have expressed himself more obscurely, had he not intended to build his Church on Peter; he could not have stated his meaning more clearly, if he meant to build his Church on Peter. b. All that follows is addressed to Peter, and there is no sign that our Lord changes his subject. c. External evidence is all in favor of this explanation: first, before the rise of Arianism, no other opinion was expressed [cf. Tert. de præscript. hær. 22; Cypr. ep. 71, 3; ad Jubai. n. 10; Firmilian. ep. ad Cypr. n. 16; Orig.]; secondly, when the Arian heresy rose, the patristic writers began to extol Peter’s belief in and profession of Christ’s divinity in the highest terms, but, as we have seen, though regarding this faith and profession as meritoriously the foundation of the Church, they held it as formally so only in so far as it was inherent in the person of Peter; thirdly, those writers who maintained that Jesus himself was the rock of the Church understood this of the principal foundation, for they all regarded Peter as the foundation of the Church by participation; fourthly, those writers who used the passage in an ascetic sense presupposed that Peter was the rock of the Church; fifthly, to these may be added Bas. [cont. Eunom. ii. 4; in Is. c. ii. n. 66], Gregor. naz. [or. 22], Chrys. Euth. and others as enumerated by Palmieri [De Romano Pontifice, Romæ, 1877, pp. 225–278], Schrader [De unitate Romana, Friburg, 1862, pp. 140 ff.]; Passaglia [De prærogativis b. Petri, Ratisb. 1850, 1. ii. cc. 3–10, 14]; Ballerini [De vi ac ratione primatus, c. 12, Monasterii Westph. 1845, pp. 71–78]; Natal. Alex. [H. E. tom. iii. p. 99, Paris, 1730]; Suar. [Defens. fidei cath. adv. anglic. sect, errores, lib. iii. cc. 10–12]; Bellarm. [De Romano Pontifice, lib. i. cc. 10–13]; sixthly, among the learned Protestants of more recent times Bengel, Kuinoel, Rosenmüller, Dodwell, Michaelis, Parkhurst, Fritzsche, Bloomfield, Alford, Mansel, Holtzmann, Weiss, Meyer, regard the rock of the Church as identical with the person of Peter.

Keil, Wichelhaus, Zeller, etc. grant to Peter only a primacy of honor, esteeming him first among equals, while Hammond, Camero, Rosenmüller, Bengel, Bloomfield, and Mansel place his primacy in the fact that he was the first to preach the gospel to both Jews and Gentiles [Acts 2:14 ff.; 10; 15:7]; but according to the former view Peter would be rather the façade than the foundation of the Church, and according to the latter he would be the layer of the corner-stone instead of being the foundation. Meyer, Weiss [p. 393], Huther [Briefe Petri, 3d ed. 1867, pp. 2 f.], etc. admit the primacy of Peter, but deny that it passed over to his successors; as if after Peter’s death the Church could have remained without a foundation; in connection with this point, Harnack [patr. apostol. opp.; 1 Clem. i. 5] and Hilgenfeld [Zeitschrift f. w. Th. 1877, p. 508] reject the denial of Lipsius and Zeller that Peter was ever in Rome. Bleek, Holtzmann, and Harnack are probably more logical, when they deny that Jesus really uttered the words to Peter as they are recorded in the first gospel; but then they proceed on a principle already rejected where we treated of the authenticity of the gospel. Mk. 8:33; 9:35; 10:44; Mt. 16:23, the expressions of St. Paul about the apostolate and his behavior toward St. Peter do not contradict the solemn declaration of Peter’s primacy [cf. Holtzm.].

“The gates of hell” in the Old Testament repeatedly signify “the gates of death” or “hades” [cf. Is. 38:10; Job. 38:17; Ps. 9:15; 106:18], so that the expression signifies the house or palace of death to which the souls of the dead must repair. If, then, death “shall not prevail against it,” i. e. either the Church [Hil. in Ps. 130, n. 4; Caj. Mald, etc.] or both the Church and the rock [Orig. Pasch. Leo ep. ad episc. Vienn. x. 1], it shall stand forever [Schegg, Bisp. Schanz, Fil. Keil, Weiss, Mansel, Holtzm. etc.; cf. 1 Cor. 15:26, 55]. But since “the gates of hell” may have a wider meaning in the New Testament than in the Old, since the Greek expression rendered “shall not prevail against it” implies the idea of an attack [cf. Ex. 17:11; 4 Kings 24:2; 2 Par. 8:3; 17:5; Is. 24:20; 15:18; Dan. 11:21; Wisd. 7:30], since again the parable in Mt. 7:25 clearly implies a hostile attack against the house built on a rock, and since finally both our Lord and the apostles warn us repeatedly to beware of the attacks of our enemy, the devil [cf. 2 Cor. 4:4; Eph. 6:12; 1 Petr. 5:8; Apoc. 4:8; 20:14]: for these reasons we may explain the passage “the kingdom or city [cf. Gen. 22:17; 24:60; Ex. 20:10; Deut. 5:14; 12:12; 15:7; Esth. 3:2; 4:2; 5:9, 13; etc.] of the devil shall not overcome it” [cf. Orig. Caj. Mald. Bar. Arn. Knab. etc.]. The attacks of the enemy consisting in the inroad of heresies [Orig. Jer. Br. Druthm. Zach. Alb. Thom.], in divers persecutions [Theoph. Cyr. Rab.], in temptation to sin [Euth. Br. Pasch. Thom.], and even in temporal afflictions [Dion.], the victory of the Church implies not only her gift of perpetuity, but also that of infallibility.

γ. Peter’s power of the keys. “And I will give to thee the keys of the kingdom of, heaven” agrees well with the figure of a house. Euth. Bed. Rab. Pasch. Druthm. Zach. Thom. explain this power of the keys given to Peter as the power of admitting into the Church; but since commonly the power of the keys signifies supreme dominion [cf. Is. 22; Apoc. 1:18; 3:17], the keys being in the hands of the supreme ruler, and since this meaning of the expression is even upheld by the Rabbinic writers. [cf. Wünsche, p. 195], Christ gave to Peter in the power of the keys not only the power of admitting and excluding, but also the highest power of ruling the kingdom, second only to that of our Lord himself [Chrys. Caj. Jans. Mald. Suar. Bar. Sylv. Bellarm. Lap. Calm. Arn. Schegg, Schanz, Fil. Knab. etc.].

δ. Peter’s power to bind and loose. The supreme power of Peter is further determined in the words, “whatsoever thou shalt bind upon earth, it shall be bound also in heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth, it shall be loosed also in heaven.” This power to bind and to loose is not merely the power to preach the gospel, though the latter contains the norm of admission into and exclusion from the kingdom [Keil, Düsterdick, Müller]; nor is it merely the power to communicate from the treasure-house of the kingdom or to withhold these spiritual goods from men [cf. Schegg]; nor again is it merely the power to forgive sins and remit its punishments [cf. Tert. de pudicit. c. xxi.; Chrys. Euth. Theoph. Bed. Rab. Druthm. Thom. Dion. Grimm, 3. p. 648], but it implies supreme legislative and judicial power in the kingdom [Caj. Suar. Jans. Lap. Sylv. Bar. Calm. Arn. Reischl, Fil. Knab. Palm. l. c. p. 265]. For the words of our Lord must be explained not from a stray passage in Diodorus Siculus [i. 27] and Josephus [B. J. I. v. 2], but from the common language of the Jewish doctors whose terminology had become known to the common people together with the Pharisaic precepts [cf. Mt. 5:34–36; 15:2, 5; 19:3; 23:2–4, 16–22; Acts. 21:24; 2 Cor. 11:24; Num. 30:3, 10; Dan. 6:8, 9, 14, 16]. Even though the expression “to bind” or “to loose” meant nothing among the Jews but the authoritative declaration of what was licit or illicit according to the Mosaic law, the power of thus authoritatively interpreting the teaching of Christ and his spirit would imply legislative power. But as Morinus [Commentar. hist, de disciplina in administr. sacr. pœnitent. lib. i. c. viii. Antuerp. 1682, p. 19], Wünsche [p. 196], and Ed. [ii. p. 85] maintain, the expressions “to bind” and “to loose” denote authoritative declarations on all that refers to religion and practice, so that our Lord rightly extended Peter’s power to bind and to loose all things “whatsoever” in the kingdom of God [cf. Lightf. Schöttgen, Wetstein, Wünsche, Fritzsche, Ahrens, Steitz, Meyer, Weizsäcker, Grimm, Keim, Knab. etc.].

This great promise to Peter is immediately followed by Christ’s prohibition to “tell that he was Jesus the Messias.” Chrys. Euth. Theoph. Jer. Thom. Jans. Mald. Calm, believe that before the resurrection Jesus did not urge his divinity upon his followers lest they might be scandalized at his coming sufferings. But the prohibition concerns the manifestation not of his divinity, but of his Messiasship; the corrupt Messianic ideas of the Jews did not permit him to appear publicly as the Messias, since the people would have attempted to realize the temporal Messianic kingdom they generally expected [cf. Mt. 8:4; 8:12–15; John. 6:15].

21 From that time Jesus began to shew to his disciples, that he must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the ancients and scribes and chief priests, and be put to death, and the third day rise again.

21. From that time Jesus.] 2. Peter’s rebuke. In this section we have first the scandal of Peter, vv. 21–23; then the description of the Christian cross, vv. 24–28. a. Scandal of Peter. “From that time” denotes the period when Jesus had been acknowledged by Peter as the Son of the living God; it was some time after the third Easter in Christ’s public life, about ten months before his death. “Jesus began to show” clearly what till then he had only hinted at [cf. Jn. 2:19; 3:14]: “that he must go to Jerusalem,” according to the will of his Father [cf. Mt. 17:10, 21; 20:18; 26:54; Lk. 24:25–27, 46], “and suffer many things from the ancients, and scribes, and chief priests,” i. e. from the civil, religious, and learned authorities of the nation [cf. Mt. 2:4]. The slowness of the apostles to understand the clear words “he must … be put to death, and the third day rise again” [cf. Mk. 9:31; Lk. 18:34] may be explained first as agreeing with the general obscurity of prophecies before their fulfilment; secondly, the prophecy was contrary to the apostles’ wishes, and therefore hard to believe; thirdly, they might suspect that Jesus spoke in a parable, and this the more, because Os. 6:2, 3 employs a similar metaphor; finally, the minds of the apostles at the time of the passion were so disturbed that they could hardly be expected to recall even the clearest prophecies. That Jesus predicted his resurrection clearly is seen from Mt. 28:6; Lk. 24:6–8.

22 And Peter taking him, began to rebuke him, saying: Lord, be it far from thee, this shall not be unto thee. ‎23 Who turning, said to Peter: Go behind me, Satan, thou art a scandal unto me: because thou savourest not the things that are of God, but the things that are of men.

22. “And Peter taking him” apart, “began to rebuke him,” but was interrupted after the first words. “Lord, be it far from thee” is a strong expostulation [cf. Jer. 1 Mach. 2:21]; “this shall not be unto thee” is either explanatory of the foregoing words [Grot.], or a prayer [Fritzsche,], or again a confident declaration on Peter’s part [Alf.]. “Who turning,” either to Peter with a stern countenance, or from Peter in indignation. “Go behind me,” i. e. out of my sight. “Satan” is addressed to the devil, according to Hil. Chrysol. [serm. 27], and Marcellus [cf. Euseb. cont. Marcell. i. 2], so that our Lord said: “Go behind me [Peter]; Satan, thou art a scandal to me”; but the context demands that the word be referred to Peter. Not as if Peter had pronounced his words at the suggestion of the devil, nor as if “Satan” in the New Testament too could be regarded as an appellative meaning “adversary” [Num. 22:22; 1 Kings. 29:4; 2 Kings 19:23; 3 Kings 5:18, etc.; cf. Orig. Chrys. Euth. Theoph. Jer. Bed. etc.]; but because Peter, speaking from human affection for Jesus, suggested what the devil himself had suggested in the temptation [Mt. 4:3–9], so that the apostle materially at least furthered the devil’s cause [cf. Chrys. Euth.]. Hence Peter was “a scandal” unto Jesus, savoring “the things that are of men,” i. e. measuring them according to a human standard, not estimating them according to the light of revelation.

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Haydock Bible Commentary on Proverbs 9:1-6

Posted by Dim Bulb on July 31, 2015

Text in red are my additions.

1 WISDOM hath built herself a house, she hath hewn her out seven pillars.

House. The sacred humanity, (S. Ignat. S. Aug. de Civ. Dei. xvii. 20.) or the Church. S. Greg. Mor. xxxiii. 15.—Here we may receive all instruction, the seven sacraments, and the gifts of the Holy Ghost. Pleasure had mentioned here attractions: now those of true wisdom are set before us. C.—God sent his pastors at all times, to invite people to embrace the latter. They are all included in the number seven, both before and under the law, as well as in the gospel, where S. Paul styles SS. Peter, James, and John, pillars. Gal. 2. This is the literal sense, on which the mystical is grounded, and both are intended by the Holy Ghost, intimating that the uncreated wisdom took flesh of the blessed Virgin, prepared the table of bread and wine, as Priest according to the order of Melchisedec, and chose the weak of this world to confound the strong, as S. Aug. explain this passage. Sup. and q. 51. W.

2 She hath slain her victims, mingled her wine, and set forth her table.

Victims. Moses ordered the blood to be poured out at the door of the tabernacle, and a part given to the priests, after which the rest might be taken away. The like was probably done at Jerusalem. Lev. 17:4. These victims are contrasted with those of pleasure. c. 7:14.—Mingled. It was not customary for any but barbarians and the gods to take pure wine. Some mixed two, others three, five, or even twenty parts of water. But the scholiast of Aristophanes says, the best method was to have three parts water, and two of wine. Mercury complains that his wine was half water. Arist. Plut. v. Sun. i.—The Fathers often apply this text to the feast of Jesus Christ in the blessed Eucharist. C.—S. Cyprian (ep. iii.) citeth the whole passage of Christ’s sacrifice in the forms of bread and wine. W.

3 She hath sent her maids to invite to the tower, and to the walls of the city:

Maids. Sept. “servant men,” the pastors of the church, inviting all to piety in so public a manner, that none can plead ignorance. S. Greg. C.—To invite. Prot. “she crieth upon the highest places of the city.” H.—Christ enjoins his apostles to preach on the roofs. Matt. 10:37.

4 Whosoever is a little one, let him come to me. And to the unwise she said:

Little one. Simple, but not inconstant, like children. 1 Cor. 14:20. Pleasure addresses the same, (c. 7:7) but for their destruction. C.

5 Come, eat my bread, and drink the wine which I have mingled for you. ‎

Bread was, along with water, the stay and staff of life in ancient Israel (Isaiah 3:1). An abundance of wine signified divine blessing (Prov 3:9-10, Deut 7:13). Bread and wine supplied enough to dine on adequately (Judges 19:19; cf. Lam 2:12).  It is not hard to see how the image came to symbolize spiritual sustenance (Isa 55:1-3). In the present context it seems to symbolize the benefits of wisdom (see Sir 15:3).Of special note is the benefit of “life” and “prudence” in verse 6.

Note how “Lady Wisdom” speaks of “My” bread and wine. This stands in marked contrast to “Lady Folly” who, like Lady Wisdom, also invites little ones to eat and drink (compare 4-5 with 16-17). But it is water (not wine!) that is stolen, and bread acquired surreptitiously (see verses 13-18). 

6 Forsake childishness, and live, and walk by the ways of prudence.

The meal Lady Wisdom offers is here related to prudence, protection against Lady Folly. It gives life, unlike Folly’s banquet that leads to death (verse 18).

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Patristic/Medieval Commentary on Psalm 78

Posted by Dim Bulb on July 26, 2015

This post is complete but needs some editing. The following abbreviations are used for authors cited (a number of other authors are cited specifically by name):

(G) Gehohus.

(DC) Denis (Dionysius) the Carthusian.

(Cd) Balthazar Corderius.

(L) Lorinus.

(C) Cassiodorus.

(Ay) Michael Ayguan.

(A) Augustine.

(P) Parez.

(R) Remigius of St. Germanus.

(B) Bruno of Aste.

(Lu) Ludolphus,

(z) Euthymius Zigabenus.

Title: Maschil of Asaph. LXX. and Vulgate: Of understanding, for Asaph. Chaldee Targum: The understanding of the Holy Ghost, by the hand of Asaph. Arabic Psalter: Of Asaph, an address to the people.


Arg. Thomas. That Christ feeds His people with the spiritual food of manna. The Voice of the Prophet to the Jews. The Voice of Christ touching the impiety of the Jews, and of Christians, eating the Lord’s Flesh, murmuring against Him. The Voice of Christ touching the Jews, when God showed them many wonders by Moses, and they believed him not.

Ven. Bede. Asaph, as we have said before, is to be explained as the synagogue, that is, gathering together, but as Understanding is prefixed, he shows that the faithful synagogue is here meant. In the first part of the Psalm only two verses are ascribed to the person of the Lord, to increase respect for the utterances whose opening the King Himself hath appointed. Hear My law, O My people. In the second part Asaph speaks more fully, charging the Jews with ingratitude for the Lord’s bounties, and with despising His commands through their wicked heart. Which we have heard and known. Thirdly, he sums up the gifts which God bestowed on Israel, who, nevertheless, ceased not to murmur. Marvellous things did He in the sight of our forefathers. Fourthly, he tells what punishment came upon them, and how the sentence was mitigated by the Lord’s mercy: When the Lord heard this He was wroth. Fifthly, they were punished for their murmurings, but they returned again to entreat the Lord, acknowledging His wondrous works. While the meat was yet in their mouths. In the sixth place, they spake again deceitfully and followed their wonted errors, yet the mercy of God destroyed them not as they deserved. They did but flatter Him with their mouth. Seventhly, he tells how they provoked the Lord in the wilderness, though Egypt had been afflicted for their sakes. Many a time did they provoke Him in the wilderness. Eighthly, the sin of Jewish obstinacy is joined to the narrative of the Lord’s bounties. But as for His own people, He led them forth like sheep. Ninthly, a terrible vengeance follows, so that He forsook the tabernacle in Silo, and delivered His people into captivity, and afterwards chose the Mount Sion, and David for king, of whose seed Christ, the Physician of salvation, should come. When God heard this, He was wroth.

Syriac Psalter. Of Asaph. He implies in it that they ought to keep God’s commandments, and not be as their forefathers.

Eusebius of Cæsarea. A plain statement of Christ to the Church concerning the transgression of the former people.

This long Psalm is unquestionably a religious protest from the Temple of Jerusalem against the schism of the Northern kingdom headed by the powerful tribe of Ephraim, at some period after the reign of Solomon. There are two occasions which seem to fit in with its language more than any others, to either of which it may be ascribed. The first is the outbreak of war between Abijah and Jeroboam I., and perhaps just after the great battle in which the latter was defeated. (2 Chron. 13) The second is the proclamation of Hezekiah, summoning all Israel and Judah to keep the Passover together at Jerusalem for the first time, since the revolt from Rehoboam. (2 Chron. 30) The former of these opinions is that preferred by most critics; but the mention of Asaph in the title does not interfere with either view, as the name undoubtedly denotes a family, and not a single person.

1 Hear my law, O my people: incline your ears unto the words of my mouth.

They begin by asking who is the speaker here. And the answers vary. Some, of whom the greatest are S. Augustine, Cassiodorus, and Dionysius the Carthusian, take it of the Father; S. Athanasius, S. Jerome, and Beda, with several others, (G.) of Christ; S. Bruno of the Church, the mystical synagogue; and others of Asaph himself, or David. My people, whom I have made Mine own by separating thee from the nations, (D. C.) and by delivering thee from Pharaoh’s power. Hear My law, (G.) not only that given on Sinai, especially the ten moral precepts, but the higher law (of which the earlier dispensation was but a figure) given after your rescue from the darkness of the spiritual Egypt by the offering of the true Paschal Lamb. Hear, ye on whom I have not laid the burden of the old Law, but to whom I have given a new law, written not on tables of stone, but on the tables of your hearts by My finger, in giving you the Holy Ghost, to teach you all truth and to declare to you things to come. Incline your ears in faith to the words of My mouth, not going back, because they are hard to be understood, but saying with the Apostle, “Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life.”*

2 I will open my mouth in a parable: I will declare hard sentences of old;

We have an inspired commentary on these words in that chapter of the Gospels which itself contains seven parables. “All these things spake Jesus unto the multitude in parables;* and without a parable spake He not unto them: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Prophet, saying, I will open My mouth in parables; I will utter things which have been kept secret from the foundation of the world.”* The passage is thus fatal to the bare literal interpretation of Holy Writ,* as it teaches us that all the events recorded therein have a deeper mystical intent underlying the narrative,* a truth on which S. Paul dwells more than once. I will open My mouth. This form of speech occurs but rarely in Scripture,* and always marks some important utterance to follow. Thus begins the account of Job’s words: “Then Job opened his mouth.” (Cd.) It is spoken again of Christ’s Sermon on the Mount,* of S. Philip’s instruction to the eunuch,* and of S. Peter’s recognition of the Gentiles.*Hard sentences of old. The Gospel gloss receives a supercommentary from the Apostle, (L.) exhaustive of the meaning: “The preaching of Jesus Christ,* according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began, but now is made manifest, and by the Scriptures of the Prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of the faith.” Of old. The Vulgate reads from the beginning. Where note that Christ is the beginning and the end; because the beginning is infinite,* so must be the end. Wherefore, He is ever beginning, whether He begin or end. He ever beginneth, for He can lack no perfection, and therefore cometh to no defect, and He is thus perfect, because He is the Alpha and Omega.

3 Which we have heard and known: and such as our fathers have told us;

4 That we should not hide them from the children of the generations to come: but to show the honour of the Lord, his mighty and wonderful works that he hath done.

We have heard from the Prophets of the Old Testament, (C.) we have known by the revelation of Christ the Word,* as it is written, “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, (Ay.) and our hands have handled, of the Word of Life.”*Our fathers have told us. According to the Commandment in the Law,* which bade them explain to their sons the testimonies, statutes, and judgments which the Lord enjoined them. That we should not hide them. The Vulgate reads, They have not been hidden from their sons in the other generation. They explain it, (C.) their sons by succession of teaching, not of race, the spiritual generation of the Christian Church. Another generation, (A.) notes S. Augustine, because regenerate. The honour of the Lord (where the Vulgate reads praises) denotes,* according to S. Albert, the increase and preservation of the children of Israel, and belongs to God’s attribute of goodness. The mighty works refer to the deliverance from Egypt, and belong to His power. The wonderful works to the miraculous feeding, expressive of His wisdom.

5 He made a covenant with Jacob, and gave Israel a law: which he commanded our forefathers to teach their children;

6a (6) That their posterity might know it: and the children which were yet unborn;

6b (7) To the intent that when they came up: they might show their children the same;

He made a covenant. The LXX. and Vulgate,* a little more forcibly, He raised up a covenant, or testimony. (A.) The earlier commentators agree in seeing here a reference to the Ark of the Covenant or testimony,* which was the visible witness to the Law, which had been witnessed before by Angels. (P.) Gerhohus, in a beautiful passage too long to extract, (G.) tells us that all the early Hebrew story, from the visions of Bethel and Peniel, was only the testimony borne by halting Jacob to the coming Lawgiver; and when He, the true Israel, the Prince with God, appeared, then mere testimony ceased, and the Law went forth from Sion, written with His finger on the hearts of His Apostles and elect. (R.) When they came up, out of their sins,* to be born anew in the laver of baptism, then they were to be taught fully the mysteries of God theretofore hidden from them. (D. C.) These are they of whom the Apostle speaks: “My little children, of whom I travail in birth again, until Christ be formed in you.”*

7 (8) That they might put their trust in God: and not to forget the works of God, but to keep his commandments;

8 (9) And not to be as their forefathers, a faithless and stubborn generation: a generation that set not their heart aright, and whose spirit cleaveth not steadfastly unto God;

Cardinal Hugo tells us that the three theological virtues are summed up in the former of these verses.* Hope is expressly named; Faith keeps God’s doings in remembrance; Love seeks to obey Him for His own sake. The union and growth of these virtues in the soul is, then, the end proposed by the whole teaching of this psalm. (L.) They note the epithets of the ninth verse, and point out that all unbelievers against knowledge are included under them; Jews, being faithless and stubborn; heretics, choosing error, that set not their heart aright; and bad Christians, whose spirit cleaveth not steadfastly unto God.

9 (10) Like as the children of Ephraim: who being harnessed, and carrying bows, turned themselves back in the day of battle.

The Targum here mentions a Jewish legend that the Ephraimites sallied out of Egypt thirty years before the Exodus, (Ay.) and after a severe defeat from the first enemies they encountered, (C.) returned to their bondage.* Other literalist interpretations take the words of the pressure put on Aaron to make the golden calf; of the defeat by the Amalekites, (D. C.) at Hormah; of the slaughter of Ephraim’s sons by the Gittites;* and of the more fatal rout by the Philistines, when the Ark was taken, so that the Israelites, in that sense, kept not the covenant of the Lord;* and of the alliance of Ephraim and Syria against Jerusalem, (P.) in the days of Ahaz. The mystical explanations are not less various.* The Doctor of Grace tells us that the words are spoken of them who live by works, and not by faith, that the bows denote outward acts and that shooting with the bow, and then turning back in the battle, implies heeding and purposing in the day of hearing, and deserting in the day of temptation. (A.) S. Gregory the Great explains the passage of Doctors of the Church,* whom Ephraim, “fruitfulness,” denotes, shooting their arrows of rebuke with the elastic cord of the New Testament from the stiff bow of the Old, (B.) but often shrinking from the toil of resolute struggle against the sins and vices of the day.* Again, as Ephraim was set above his elder brother, Manasseh, so the Jewish people was chosen in preference to the Gentile nations, but fell away in its time of probation, despite the arrows of boastful promise to keep the statutes of the Lord. (Ay.) Or we may take it of the rich of this world, abounding in temporal fruitfulness, uttering crafty words of feigned religion, but turning back, and getting behind Satan, in the day of battle,* that is, in the very first approach of a struggle against sin, being too cowardly to await the actual conflict.

10 (11) They kept not the covenant of God: and would not walk in his law;

11 (12) But forgat what he had done: and the wonderful works that he had showed for them.

They kept not the covenant as they had promised, (Cd.) saying, “Speak thou unto us all that the Lord our God shall speak unto thee, and we will hear it, and do it.” (Lu.) And would not walk in His law, by making progress and persevering therein.* It is not their actions that are here blamed, but their will, since even when they did so walk, it was not heartily. Wherefore they are said not to have done it, because they did it not of good will and love, for there are men who do right, but would cease doing so if they dared. Fear, not love; necessity, not will;* the fear of punishment, not the desire of righteousness, compels them. Thus they go on from falling away and turning back, which may be mere weakness, into forgetting what God has done, which is black ingratitude and sin, especially as the works were wonderful and for them. So when Christ came, (G.) not to destroy the Law, but to fulfil it, by making its moral precepts more stringent, the Jews hated Him, forgat all His wondrous works of healing and mercy, would not walk in His law, and slew Him.

12 (13) Marvellous things did he in the sight of our forefathers, in the land of Egypt: even in the field of Zoan.

Our forefathers. (A.) They raise the question here why the forefathers, but just blamed for unbelief, should be cited here as authorities. The Targum explains it of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to which S. Augustine objects that they were dead before the miracles in Egypt were wrought, though they may have been still present in spirit; and he prefers to understand it of Moses and Aaron. In the land of Egypt. That is, as they for the most part agree, in the spiritual darkness of this world, of which Egypt is a common type in the Bible. In the field of Zoan. The name in the LXX. and Vulgate here is Tanis, a mere linguistic corruption. The word means “low country,” and the expositors, understanding it as “lowly command,” (A.) allegorize it freely. S. Augustine takes it of the lesson of humility given us in the dark world, that we may be exalted in the world to come. Cassiodorus points the remark by citing the words of Christ, (C.) “Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly of heart, and ye shall find rest for your souls.”* And this law He gave to our fathers His first disciples, when He wrought His miracles in their sight. (G.) He who is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, is the Lord of Apostles, Martyrs, Confessors, of whom they were the types. Apostles, because as He told Abraham to go forth from his own country, so He sent His Apostles throughout the world, wherefore S. Peter said, “Lo, we have left all, and followed Thee.” Martyrs, because they devoted themselves freely to death as His Sacrifice, like Isaac. Confessors, because Leah and Rachel, Jacob’s two wives, denote the active and the contemplative life. S. Albert explains Tanis or Zoan of the Blessed Virgin, compared to a plain or field, because it is healthy, smooth,* wide, and fruitful, while she was sinless, gentle, loving, the Mother of the Divine Food; and that field Zoan,* the “lowly command,” because she said, “Be it unto me according to thy word;” and again, “He hath regarded the lowliness of His handmaiden.”

13 (14) He divided the sea, and let them go through: he made the waters to stand on an heap.

He not only brought the children of Israel through the Red Sea, (A.) but brought His spiritual Israel through the waters of Baptism, (G.) reddened with His own Blood, making the flowing and ebbing tides of carnal desire stand still. (Ay.) On a heap, The LXX. and Vulgate read, As in a leathern bottle, because on the one hand these desires are swollen, and on the other, they are so restrained by God’s grace as to be unable to flow out and drown the soul.

14 (15) In the day-time also he led them with a cloud: and all the night through with a light of fire.

The cloud is the Incarnation of Christ, (A.) whereby He led His people, during the day-time of the world, visible to them in the lowliness of His Flesh. (G.) But in the night, when no man can work, that terrible night of the Judgment,* He will appear as “a consuming fire” in the awful might of His Godhead. (C.) Or, the cloud of the day-time is the shadowy type of the earlier dispensation, the fire of the night, the revelation of the antitype, Christ Himself, in the evening of the world. Again, the cloud may denote the Sacramental veils under which He is now hidden, the fire, (Ay.) the open vision yet to come. Once more, the cloud typified Him of Whom it is written, “Thou hast been a shadow from the heat,”* and Who, that He might bestow that shadow, was willing to be planted as a tree in this world, so that the Bride cries: “I sat down under His shadow with great delight.” (D. C.) And then the first words tell us of the cool refreshment of His divine grace; and the latter, speaking of the Light of Light, express the glory of wisdom, the enlightenment of the inner man by Christ in all trouble and distress, seeing that He is ever near the afflicted. S. Cyril of Alexandria inverts one of the foregoing explanations, saying that Christ led the Jews in the darkness by fire,* that is, by a law of threatenings and punishment,* but that He leads Christians in the light by the watery clouds of Baptism.

15 (16) He clave the hard rocks in the wilderness: and gave them drink thereof, as it had been out of the great depth.

16 (17) He brought waters out of the stony rock: so that it gushed out like the rivers.

“Wherever they went,” (G.) observes Gerhohus, “He brought waters for them out of the Rock, which followed them. Not that the rock moved from its place, but the water which flowed therefrom followed them. And one has expressed this wondrous mystery very well in verse, saying:

Bis silicem virgâ Dux perculit atque Propheta,

Ictio bina Ducis sunt duo ligna Crucis,

Fons est de petrâ populo datus absque metretâ,

Larga salus homini corpore de Domini,

For the smitten Rock is Christ crucified, from Whose right side flowed pure and living water, of which whoso drinks, it shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life. This we say of the Spirit,* Whom they that believe in Him receive. And this Spirit was certainly typified in that visible water which flowed from the right side of the Temple, to wit, of Christ’s Body.* For Christ had as it were two sides: the left, according to time, of His weakness and mortality; the right, according to time, of His glorified Humanity. From the left side water did not issue, so long as Jesus was not yet glorified; but His right side poured out water for the salvation of His people, because He, crowned with the glory and honour of the Resurrection, on the very day of His Resurrection and glory breathed on the Apostles, saying, ‘Receive ye the Holy Ghost:* whosesoever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whosesoever sins ye retain, they are retained.’ Also, when crowned with the diadem of the Ascension, He poured forth the water of the Holy Ghost in such abundance that the Apostles and Disciples, drinking thereof, were accounted drunken, and said to be full of new wine.” In the wilderness. In Judea, forsaken of God for its sins, as one will have it; on the Cross, where He was desolate and unfriended, (D. C.) as the Carthusian more touchingly explains it. But the majority keep to the usual allegory of the world, as opposed to the Laud of Promise. He brought waters out of the stony rock. (Ay.) Smiting our hard hearts with His Cross, He caused floods of penitential tears to burst forth. So runs that ancient Western collect: “Almighty and most merciful God,* Who broughtest a well of living water out of the rock for Thy thirsting people; bring forth tears of compunction from our hard hearts, that we may lament our sins, and of Thy pity, obtain pardon thereof.”*Like the rivers:

Prestad me, fuentes e rios,

Vuestras eternas corrientes,

Aunque en estas cinco fuentes

Las hallan los ojos mios.

17 (18) Yet for all this they sinned more against him: and provoked the most Highest in the wilderness.

Their additional sin, observes S. Augustine, (A.) was unbelief, wherefore it is said that they provoked God in drought,1 because, though their bodies drank of the water from the rock, (G.) their minds remained parched and dry of all spiritual grace. And as even Moses failed in belief at this time and place, saying, “Must we fetch you water out of this rock?”* so the Scribes and Pharisees, smiting the true Rock with the two beams of the Cross, believed not that living water would flow out. The punishment of Moses and Aaron for their sin was exclusion from the Promised Land;”* unto whom I sware in My wrath: that they should not enter into My rest,” and the punishment of the unbelieving Jews is exclusion from the Paradise of God.* And they too provoke God in the dry place who through hardness of heart refuse to weep for their sins.

18 (19) They tempted God in their hearts: and required meat for their lust.

Note, (R.) observes Remigius, that the tempting consisted in asking with their lips for that which they thought beyond God’s power to give them, and thus the Psalmist condemns all untrustful prayer.* One mediæval commentator applies this text to monks seeking mitigation of their fasts and rules of diet from their superiors, without adequate cause. The Carthusian, (D. C.) more deeply, extends it to all Christians who neglect the Saviour’s counsel:* “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness;” and, “Take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?” but are anxiously disquieted about mere temporal things. (Ay.) They remind us, as. to tempting, (L.) that the act is ascribed to God, to man, and to the devil, and in all cases it implies making trial of the person tempted. It is never taken in a good sense when man is said to tempt God, by making unnecessary trial of His power, goodness, or wisdom, it is never in a bad sense when God is said to tempt man, it may be good or bad when one man tempts another, and it is always evil when the devil tempts man.

19 (20) They spake against God also, saying: Shall God prepare a table in the wilderness?

20 (21) He smote the stony rock indeed, that the water gushed out, and the streams flowed withal: but can he give bread also, or provide flesh for his people?

Gerhohus acutely remarks that the form their unbelief took was ascribing the miracle of the water to natural causes. (G.) They admitted the fact, but denied its true character, and now demanded a test from Moses; (C.) and he thus pierces more deeply into the nature of their sin than those who see here a denial of God’s omnipotence.* The words have been also most aptly applied to those unbelievers who said, “How can this Man give us His Flesh to eat?”* and then to the heretics of a later day,* acknowledging one Baptism for the remission of sins, but denying the Real Presence in the Holy Eucharist, Another acute criticism of Gerhohus deserves citation. (G.) He observes that two objections have been brought against the order of events in this Psalm; first, that the literal manna preceded the striking of the rock; and next, that the institution of the Holy Eucharist preceded the issue of water from Christ’s side. He replies that the Prophet has done it rightly, because the Passion, whose power and virtue underlie the Sacrament, and give it efficacy, began before the Last Supper, because the Betrayal had taken place, and the horror of the Agony was drawing near; and Christians now must be baptized into the Passion and Death of Christ before they can approach to feed on His Flesh and Blood at the Holy Altar, the Table which He has prepared for His people in the wilderness of this world. Yet another interpretation may be added, taking the words of those who disbelieve in the full remission of sins. They allow that God can touch a hard heart, and dissolve it into tears of remorse; they doubt His power to strengthen the penitent in perseverance, and to feed his soul with divine grace unto the end.

21 (22) When the Lord heard this, he was wroth: so the fire was kindled in Jacob, and there came up heavy displeasure against Israel.

22 (23) Because they believed not in God: and put not their trust in his help.

For He was wroth, (C.) the Vulgate reads He delayed. And they explain it that in His longsuffering He deferred the punishment deserved, nay, even heard their petition. And this longsuffering of the Lord is most plainly evident, observes the Carthusian, under the New Law. (D. C.) Heathen philosophers knew somewhat of God’s majesty; Jews knew His righteousness, but only Christians know His patience. (L.) So the fire was kindled in Jacob.* They take it literally of the burning at Taberah when the people complained, and then of avenging wrath in general. (R.) But Remigius and Richard of Hampole agree in seeing here the fire of appetite kindled in the hearts of the murmurers by their own act, on account of which displeasure came up, so as to reach the very chief of the people. The English hermit continues his explanation by pointing out that when Jacob (that is, all Christians bound to wrestle against sin,) is kindled with earthly passion, then wrath ascends upon Israel, on those priests and prelates whose duty it is to warn and correct by precept and example.*In His help. The A. V. more correctly, agreeing with the LXX. and Vulgate, In His salvation: and thus the words tell us of that day when the firebrand of the Roman soldier caught the golden window of the Temple,* and the doom of Israel was accomplished because it believed not in God’s Salvation, the Crucified Son of David. Cardinal Hugo explains this whole passage,* like the previous verses, as referring to the impugners of the Holy Eucharist; and the Carthusian takes it of all sinful Christians, (D. C.) unrepentant even when the Church has been scourged by infidels, heretics, and tyrants, for their sins.

23 (24) So he commanded the clouds above: and opened the doors of heaven.

This, (C.) observes Cassiodorus, is one of the parables and hard sentences of the Psalm, and denotes the command given to the clouds, His preachers, to declare, through the Holy Scriptures, (D. C.) which are the doors of heaven,* the advent of the Saviour, Who comes to be received as the Manna of our souls, in the mystery of Communion. They take the clouds also of the Angels, employed as messengers of the Incarnation, as when S. Gabriel came to Nazareth, and the heavenly host appeared to the shepherds of Bethlehem, and the doors of heaven are then explained as the mouth of the Apostles, opened to preach Wisdom, or, more literally, as denoting the everlasting doors lifted up to allow the egress of the angelic herald. And Rupert beautifully explains these doors of the body and soul of the Virgin Mother of God. The Lord opened her soul to receive His command in faith, and her womb that His Only-begotten might come forth:

Tu Regis alti janua

Et porta lucis fulgida;*

Vitam datam per Virginem

Gentes redemptæ plaudite!

24 (25) He rained down manna also upon them for to eat: and gave them bread from heaven.

25 (26) So man did cat angels’ food: for he sent them meat enough.

The Greek Fathers remind us that the literal manna is said by Christ not to have come from heaven,* when the Jews quoted this very text:* “Verily, (Z.) verily,* I say unto you, Moses gave you not that bread from heaven, but My Father giveth you the true bread from heaven,” and that manna is called Angels’ food, not because the Angels eat of it, but because they ministered it. And the Chaldee Targum, paraphrasing thus, “food which came down from the dwelling-place of Angels,” (D. C.) partly supports this teaching. The Latin Fathers, however, seasonably remind us that Christ, the true Manna, is rightly called Angels’ food, because the heavenly powers derive their life and vigour from contemplating Him in open vision. So S. Peter Damiani:

Where the Sacred Body lieth,* eagle souls together speed,

There the Saints and there the Angels find refreshment in their need,

And the sons of earth and heaven on that One Bread ever feed.

How Christ is fitly compared to Manna, we may read in the eloquent words of the Carmelite. (Ay.) “As the manna came down like dew or rain, so Christ descended upon earth into the Virgin like the rain into a fleece of wool. As the manna was like coriander seed, a fragrant herb, so Christ was the fruit of the Blessed Virgin, a sweet and fruitful plant, as she herself rightly speaks,* As the vine brought I forth pleasant savour.’ It is said to have been white, because of His purity, which He ever retained, for ‘He did no sin, neither was guile found in His mouth.’ It is said to have been beaten in a mortar, because of the pains which He endured. Its taste was like honey, because of His spiritual sweetness. And it is particularly stated that the children of Israel gathered it every day except on the Sabbath. Where note, that the six days wherein it was gathered denote our toilsome life in this world, and by the Sabbath we understand that blessed life which is free from labour. So long as we live in this world, then, we need this spiritual food of Christ’s Body. Therefore It is daily sacrificed in the Church, and is received for the support of devout believers. Wherefore It is that daily bread for which we daily ask, saying, ‘Give us this day our daily bread.’ But in the life of blessedness, there will be no need of this Sacrament, because we shall see Him as He is. Therefore it is said, that the manna was not gathered on the Sabbath, but that a double portion was gathered on the sixth day, to signify that this food, given to the righteous at their end, not merely increases their merit, but leads them to the kingdom. And it seems wonderful that all meted the same measure, so that he who gathered much had no more, and he who gathered little, no less; which figured that in the Sacrament whole Christ is contained in the whole, and the whole in each part, so that he who receives an entire Host, receives just as much as he who takes a part, and conversely.* It is said to have been collected to the amount of an omer, which is a measure of three pints, to denote that we have to take account of three things in that Sacrament, to wit, the Body, Soul, and Divinity, which are united. And observe, that the children of Israel said, when they saw that food, Man hu, which is, being interpreted, What is this? For if we ponder on what this Sacrament contains, we shall find many wonders, surpassing all natural thought.” To set down here all that Saints of old have loved to say on this great mystery, (A.) in hymn, and liturgy, and comment, would be impossible. Enough, if we cite a very few. Thus, in accordance with that belief expressed by so many Saints, that the Angels throng round the Altar when the Holy Sacrifice is being offered,* we have the Prayer of the Cherubic Hymn from the ancient Church of Jerusalem:

King of Kings,* yet born of Mary, as of old on earth He stood,

Lord of Lords, in human vesture,—in the Body and the Blood,

He will give to all the faithful His own self for heavenly food.

Rank on rank the host of heaven spreads its vanguard on the way,

As the Light of Light descendeth from the realms of endless day,

That the powers of hell may vanish as the darkness clears away.

At His feet the six-winged Seraph, Cherubim with sleepless eye,

Veil their faces to the Presence, as with ceaseless voice they cry,

Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia, Lord Most High!

They tell us, (Cd.) too, of the purity and holiness, like that of Angels, which befits those who would receive that Food, even Him Who feedeth among the lilies. “Hadst thou the purity of Angels,* and the holiness of S. John the Baptist,” says one whose golden words have strengthened countless devout souls, “thou wouldest not be worthy to receive or handle this Sacrament. For it is due to no human merits that man may hallow and touch the Sacrament of Christ, and take the Bread of Angels for his food.” The word which all the old Versions agree in rendering Angels is, more literally, mighty ones. Fitly is that meat called “the food of mighty men” which strengthened so many athletes in the arena of martyrdom, which gave women and children the valour of heroes, so that of their last struggle they might say,

O that Bread! that Bread of Angels!

O that Corn of mighty men!

Never, never had we tasted

Of its mightiness as then!

He sent them meat enough. The LXX. agreeing with modern critics, translate by ἐπισιτισμόν, food for the journey, a fitting name for the mystic food, whether as the cake baken on the coals of bitter suffering,* in the strength of which Elijah went through the wilderness forty days and forty nights unto the mount of God, typifying the pilgrimage of all Christian souls, or as the viaticum in that yet more awful journey when the soul goes forth alone. The Vulgate reads cibaria, in the plural,* and Rupert reminds us, that though Christ be the One Bread, yet as He gives Himself freely like the rain, in all lands and nations and countless churches, we may well say foods, (D. C.) multiplied as He is unspeakably to be the nourishment of His people. (B.)

O esca viatorum,

O panis Angelorum,

O Manna coelitum,

Esurientes ciba,

Dulcedine non priva

Cor te quærentium.

Enough, for all, and that to the end of the world.

26 (27) He caused the east wind to blow under heaven: and through his power he brought in the south-west wind.

In the first clause S. Jerome’s version reads, (Ay.) He took away the east wind, that is,* made it cease to blow, in order that the westerly wind from the Red Sea might bring over the quails from Africa. And it is explained mystically of God sometimes punishing man by taking from him the wholesome but painful wind of discipline, (Cd.) and giving him the softer but dangerous airs of temporal prosperity.* Another interpretation sees here the rejection of the Jewish people, and the bringing in the Gentiles in their room. (D. C.) The Vulgate reading, transtulit, is explained by the Carthusian to denote the sending forth preachers, whom the winds typify, through the world; the south wind (Vulg. Auster) denoting the most saintly and lofty teachers of the Gospel, and the south-west wind a lower and less mystical class.* Cardinal Hugo, keeping still the Eucharistic Sacrifice in view, understands here the breath of the Holy Spirit effecting the consecration, and the attendant ranks of angels which accompany the rite.

27 (28) He rained flesh upon them as thick as dust: and feathered fowls like as the sand of the sea.

Flesh, (B.) in that He taught them the doctrine of the Incarnate Word; and that like dust, either because He was light in arising, because of His holiness, and free from all the waters of sin, or because He was humbled even to the dust for our sakes. Feathered fowls.* Cardinal Hugo explains it of the Angels who bore the soul of Christ from heaven to earth at the Incarnation. (G.) Gerhohus takes it of the winged words of doctrine, clean or unclean, according as they are Catholic or heretical. Ayguan, (Ay.) interpreting the flesh as bodily troubles, takes the fowls to be spiritual consolations, arising up from those very troubles, and bearing our souls upwards towards God. Another will have it that both clauses denote earthly pleasures:* the flesh which brings us to the dust; the frivolous enjoyment, which, uplifting us for a brief moment, brings at last to barrenness and bitterness, denoted by the sand of the sea. Once more, the feathered fowls have been explained in a good sense, as contemplative Saints, friends of God, (D. C.) whom He rains upon the Church to be the pastors of souls.

28 (29) He let it fall among their tents: even round about their habitation.

Their tents, (Z.) implying the general diffusion of the gift throughout the host of Israel; their habitation, showing that each person in the camp had his own private share. Thus it tells us of the Flesh of Christ given to the Churches at large, and also to be the food of individual Christians. Their tents, again, (D. C.) as so often, denoting the militant Saints of active life; their habitation the stiller retreat of the contemplative, both filled alike with the bounty of God.

29 (30) So they did eat, and were well filled; for he gave them their own desire: they were not disappointed of their lust.

They remind us that in the eagerness of the Jews for earthly food,* and the full contentment of their longing, we may see the Christian desire for spiritual delights, and especially for Communion with Christ in His own Sacrament. He gives them Himself, the Desire of all nations; He does not disappoint them, for He is more than they can imagine or hope.

30–31 (31) But while the meat was yet in their mouths, the heavy wrath of God came upon them, and slew the wealthiest of them: yea, and smote down the chosen men that were in Israel.

Not in the mouths of the elect, (D. C.) but of them who eat unworthily, into whom Satan enters, as he did into the traitor Judas, and of whom the Apostle says, “Whosoever shall eat this bread or drink this cup of the Lord unworthily, shall be guilty of the Body and Blood of the Lord.”*And slew the wealthiest of them. The A. V. more exactly reads, as does the Vulgate, the fattest of them. That is, continues the Carthusian, He slays spiritually them who receive Christ carnally, by taking from them charity and grace. For, as the Apostle says,* “He that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s Body.” And smote down (Vulg., hindered) the chosen men that were in Israel. He excluded those who seemed to be eminent in the Church from entering the heavenly kingdom, because of unworthy communion; for the word chosen does not always in Holy Writ imply election to everlasting life.* The slaying applies sometimes even to temporal chastisements, since the Apostle adds to the previous sayings, “For this cause many are weak and sickly amongst you,* and many sleep.”

32 But for all this they sinned yet more: and believed not his wondrous works.

33 Therefore their days did he consume in vanity: and their years in trouble.

They refer the words in the first place to the evil report brought back by the spies, (Ay.) and to the consequent reluctance of the Israelites to attempt the conquest of Canaan; (P.) followed as it was by the punishment of the forced wandering in the desert, till all the adults save Caleb and Joshua were consumed in vanity, that is, cut off in the vain and endless toil of the wilderness; thus losing, as Parez adds, the hope revealed to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, of being buried in the land where Messiah should make His grave,* that they might share in His Resurrection; a hope which induced Joseph to command the removal of his bones from Egypt.* In trouble. The LXX., Syriac, and Vulgate read with speed. And they explain it of the sudden judgments which fell on them, as in the matter of Korah, and of the fiery serpents, (Ay.) Exactly like this was the unbelief of the Jews in the time of Christ, refusing to believe, though they saw so many signs and wonders wrought by Him. Wherefore it is said,* “But though He had done so many miracles before them, yet they believed not on Him: that the saying of Esaias the Prophet might be fulfilled, which he spake, Lord, who hath believed our report? and to whom hath the arm of the Lord been revealed?”* They preferred to go back into the Egypt of the carnal and ceremonial law, (P.) and their doom is to perish in the spiritual wilderness, finding no entrance into the rest of the people of God. (z.) Vanity and speed are rightly conjoined here, remarks Euthymius, because all who live easy and frivolous lives find the years pass swiftly by them; while those who labour intently in the paths of virtue find their time long by reason of their toil.

34 When he slew them, they sought him: and turned them early, and inquired after God.

“God,” observes Lactantius, rebuking the heathen,* “passes away most readily from men’s recollection, just when they ought to give honour to Divine mercy, as enjoying His bounties. But if any heavy trouble come upon them—if the terrors of war resound—if deadly pestilence brood over them—if long drought deny sustenance to the corn—if wild storms or hail come upon them—they have recourse to God; they ask His aid; God is besought to help.… They never remember God save when they are in distress; but when fear is over and perils are gone, then they hurry eagerly to the temples of the gods. To these they make libations and sacrifices, and offer crowns. But God, Whom they besought in their need, they do not thank by so much as a word.”

Here, too, a false repentance is set before us. They sought Him, (Ay.) not for the sake of eternal life, (A.) but fearing to end the vapour too soon. It was not they whom He slew that sought Him, but those who feared to be slain in like manner. But the Scripture speaks thus because they were one people, (G.) and it is spoken as of one body. Early, like hirelings obliged to come at a fixed hour, but not like men ready to endure the burden and heat of the day, far less to persevere until the evening, like that true labourer of God of whom it is written, “Man goeth forth to his work, and to his labour, until the evening.”* And inquired after God. The Vulgate reads, came unto Him. How may this be? asks Gerhohus. Is He, Who is everywhere, to be approached on foot, in chariots or on horses, in ships, or any like means? Nay, only by the movements of the heart can we come to God or depart from Him.

35 And they remembered that God was their strength: and that the high God was their Redeemer.

It would not be said here,* tersely remarks a Saint,* that they remembered, (P.) if they had not first forgotten. Their strength, or, as LXX. and Vulgate, their helper, against Amalek, their redeemer from Pharaoh. Where note that the title Redeemer is here given to the Father, (C.) as it is also in another place to the Son,* “If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed;” and in a third passage to the Holy Ghost, “for the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death;”* wherefore the attributes of power and redemption are common to the Holy Trinity. Moreover, the Son is our Helper, (B.) by co-operating with our good works, as He was our Redeemer on the Cross.

36 Nevertheless, they did but flatter him with their mouth: and dissembled with him in their tongue.

37 For their heart was not whole with him: neither continued they steadfast in his covenant.

The old Versions, (Ay.) yet more forcibly, read, They loved Him in their mouth. This false love, offered to Him before Whom all the secrets of the heart are bare, endured till the time of Christ. Wherefore He Himself saith, “Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying,* This people draweth nigh unto Me with their mouth, and honoureth Me with their lips; but their heart is far from Me.”* Isaiah foresaw, comments S. Hrabanus, the deceits wherewith the Jews should craftily war against the Gospel, and he speaks in the person of the Lord. For they honoured Christ with their lips when they said, “Master, we know that Thou art true, and teachest the way of God in truth;”* but their heart was far from Him, when they “sent forth spies, which should feign themselves just men, that they might take hold of His words.”* And if we take the passage to refer to false Christians, especially to the traitor Apostle, we may dwell on the reading of the Illyrian Psalter, They kissed Him with their lips. Their heart was not right, remarks Gerhohus, (G.) precisely because it was not with Him. And they were not steadfast in His covenant, (P.) because they failed to keep the precepts of the Law, even under the terrible sanctions of the blessings and curses.* Nor were they faithful in the inheritance of the New Testament, (A.) faith in which, though veiled, was found amongst the elect even then; and now that it is revealed, it is not found in many of the called. A German commentator sums up this verse with a quaint old Teutonic saw:

Lieben ohne Treu,*

Beichten ohne Reu,

Und beten ohne Innigkeit,

Die drei Ding sind verlohrne Arbeit.1

38a (38) But he was so merciful, that he forgave their misdeeds: and destroyed them not.

38b (39) Yea, many a time turned he his wrath away: and would not suffer his whole displeasure to arise.

God is merciful to both good and bad, “for He maketh His sun to rise upon the evil and the good, (Ay.) and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust;” and this as regards temporal blessings. But this is the mercy of His left hand, not of His right; temporal, not spiritual; since it is common to good and bad. In this wise God was merciful to that nation, in that He did not root it out from the earth, as it deserved. The spiritual mercy, that of His right hand, whereby sins are remitted and eternal blessings are conferred, is quite other. That He did not bestow on that evil generation, for the greater part of them perished in the wilderness, for murmuring and rebelling against God. Therefore, when it is said that He forgave their misdeeds, it is not to be understood of their evil fathers, but of the children who succeeded them, such as David, Hezekiah, Josiah, and Daniel, and other righteous men, to whose misdeeds God was merciful when they sinned, as clearly appears in the case of David. And destroyed them not. It is well said, many a time.* Once He spared them at the intreaty of Moses, (L.) after the sin of the Golden Calf;* a second time at Taberah; thirdly,* when Aaron stood with his censer between the living and the dead; fourthly, by means of the brazen serpent; fifthly, by suffering the younger generation to enter Canaan. (G.) And even when the sins continued, He reserved the root of the tree whose branches He lopped, (B.) from which shot forth the Apostles and the first company of believers, (R.) not suffering His whole displeasure to arise. Even still He holds to His pledge, keeping a remnant of the Jews undestroyed, that they may turn at the last to Christ.

The Doctor of Grace warns us that this text has been abused by those who, (A.) desirous of continuing in sin, exalt God’s mercy at the expense of His justice. But, rejoins he, if, to speak in their own words, God will perhaps not destroy even bad men, He will certainly not destroy good men. Why then do we not rather choose that wherein there is no doubt? For they that lie to Him in their tongue, while their heart holds somewhat else, think and wish even God to be a liar, when He threatens them with everlasting punishment. But as they do not deceive Him with their lie, so He does not deceive them with His truth.

39 (40) For he considered that they were but flesh: and that they were even a wind that passeth away, and cometh not again.

Two things are set before us here:* God’s clemency, for He considered; and man’s wretchedness. The latter is twofold. He is but flesh, and therefore liable to sin. He is a spirit that passeth away from God and holiness,* and has no power to come again; as it is written, “None that go unto her return again, neither take they hold of the paths of life.”* No power of himself, (A.) doubtless, adds S. Augustine, but he can be called back by grace. And that fitly; for man, who fell at another’s tempting, (G.) may well be restored by another’s help. But he who fell by his own pride may rise again, if he can,* with no helper; but because he cannot, he may be styled as truly as man is (nay, more truly) a spirit that passeth away, and cometh not again, even as the Truth said unto him, “Get thee hence, Satan.”* It was not said to him, as in the Song of Songs to the faithful soul, the Bride of God, “Return, return, O Shulamite; return, return, that we may look upon thee.”* And the words are also a terse definition of death, telling us how the spirit passeth away from this world, and cometh not again, (Ay.) but leaves the flesh here behind.

And what’s a life? a weary pilgrimage,

Whose glory in one day doth fill thy stage

With childhood, manhood, and decrepit age.*

And what’s a life? the flourishing array

Of the proud summer meadow, which to-day

Wears her green blush, and is to-morrow hay.

And what’s a life? a blast sustained with clothing,

Maintained with food, retained with vile self-loathing,

Then, weary of itself, again to nothing.

40 (41) Many a time did they provoke him in the wilderness: and grieved him in the desert.

Already, (Ay.) when they were but in the second year of their wanderings, God complained that they had tempted Him “ten times;”* and it may thence be gathered how often they did so during the eight and thirty years which followed. The ten occasions were—(1) Murmuring at the three days’ thirst,* after the passage of the Red Sea; (2) Complaining for lack of food; (3) The second demand for water, at Rephidim; (4) The Golden Calf; (5) The demand for flesh-meat; (6) The attempt to return into Egypt after the report of the spies; (7) The mutiny after the death of Korah; (8) The complaint because of the judgment of the mutineers; (9) The third demand for water, at Kadesh; (10) The revolt at Mount Hor, punished with fiery serpents. The place where they committed their sin was an aggravation of it, because it was precisely in the wilderness, with no human help near, (G.) that they ought to have felt most dependence on and trust in God.* The words hold true still of all who are far from the spiritual Church,* wandering in the wilderness of their sins, in the dry place unwatered by the streams of grace.

41 (42) They turned back, and tempted God: and moved the Holy One in Israel.

Turned. Whence and whither? From good to evil. Moved. The LXX. and Vulgate read exasperated. But the A. V. reads limited, that is, set bounds to His omnipotence. The Hebrew is הִתְווּ, the Hiphil of תָּוָה, which is properly “to mark with a Thau,” the sign of the Cross. Hence the Targum explains the passage signed Him with a sign, which Delitzsch adopts in the sense of casting a stigma on Him.* Most of the old Versions and of modern critics agree with the Vulgate,* taking תָּוָה in the sense of the Syriac ܬܘ݀ܐ; but Gerhohus,* keeping to the hint given by the Chaldee, boldly paraphrases, (G.) They crucified the Holy One in Israel; (L.) and thus limited Him, the Omnipresent, to the narrow bounds of the Rood.

42 (43) They thought not of his hand: and of the day when he delivered them from the hand of the enemy.

43 (44) How he had wrought his miracles in Egypt: and his wonders in the field of Zoan.

So, (Lu.) too, bad Christians have thought not of His hand, nailed for them on the Cross, that day when He delivered them, after having wrought His miracles in the darkness of this world, of which Egypt is the type, (R.) and shown His wonders in Zoan, the “low estate” of His humble Manhood, the “lowliness” of His Maiden Mother, the mean origin of His princes, the Apostles.* Hereupon there follows a list of plagues sent on the Egyptians, agreeing in number with those recorded in Exodus, (A.) but differing in details and order. The three omissions are the lice, the boils, and the darkness; the additions are the caterpillar or “blight,” (Vulg. ærugo,) the frost, and the hot thunderbolts—a special agent of destruction, and not a mere accompaniment of the storms. (L.) Lorinus applies here the canon of S. Jerome, that when in Holy Writ the topic is the praise of God, the historical order is frequently departed from, and a rhetorical one adopted instead, inverting the sequence of events. The actual order of the ten plagues may be recalled by Cardinal Hugo’s mnemonic verses:*

Sanguis, rana, cyniph, muscæ, pecus, ulcera, grando,

Bruchus, caligo, mors, invaluere necando.

44 (45) He turned their waters into blood: so that they might not drink of the rivers.

The especial appropriateness of the plagues which fell on the Egyptians to the circumstances and the religion of the country, (A.) has often been dwelt on. Their mystical import has not been less discussed. The first plague, of blood, is thus interpreted as the punishment for breach of the first Commandment, denoting, as it does,* the change of men’s thoughts from pure and lofty ideas of God to carnal and animal ones, leading to debased idolatry. (Ay.) Again, it is taken as the token of Divine anger for the decree enjoining the drowning of the Hebrew infants. Rupert combines these two ideas,* explaining the passage of idolatrous persecutors, who shed the blood of the Saints, and whose punishment is to be blood-drinking, not for one or two days, but a whole week, that is, through eternity. Cardinal Hugo takes it in two ways: first, of those who give themselves up to flesh and blood, so that all things turn into condemnation for them; and secondly, of the tasteless water of the old Law, changed into the Blood of the New Covenant, ruddy from the veins of Christ.* Once more, another mediæval writer speaks thus: “There is a conversion of water into blood, but that is confined to the Egyptians. There is another conversion of water into wine, but that is at a marriage. And there is a. third conversion, of wine into blood, but that is in the Lord’s Supper.* The first conversion, of water into blood, is said to mean that the water of deadly wisdom, the wisdom of this world, the prudence of the flesh, turns into blood; that is, into death for them who walk according to the flesh. For the prudence of the flesh is death, and the wisdom of the flesh is at enmity with God. The Prophet, censuring men of this stamp, saith, ‘What hast thou to do in the way of Egypt, to drink muddy water?1 or what hast thou to do in the way of Assyria, to drink the waters of the river?’* For all earthly wisdom, whereof the Egyptians (the friends of this world, God’s enemies) drink, is hateful to God. Therefore the water of Egypt is that which is turned into blood, because its blood is on them who drink it. The second change is of water into wine, and this seems to denote conversion, to wit, of fear into the love of righteousness. This change takes place at a marriage, because the Church is betrothed to God in faith and righteousness, that righteousness which is of faith in Jesus Christ. The third change, of wine into blood, is when righteousness so delights the soul, that one is ready to contend for it unto blood and death; and this is the perfection of righteousness.”

What is this silent might,

Making our darkness light,*

New wine our waters, heavenly Blood our wine?

Christ, with His Mother dear,

And all His Saints, is here,

And where they dwell is Heaven, and what they touch, divine.

45 (46) He sent lice among them, and devoured them up: and frogs to destroy them.

The A. V. here, instead of lice,* reads divers sorts of flies, which represents a reading suggested by S. Jerome in the LXX., κοινόμυιαν,* instead of the usual one, κυνόμυιαν or dog-fly. The Hebrew word is עָרֹב, a mixture; and the very ancient tradition mentioned in the Book of Wisdom, and accepted by Josephus, R. Jonathan, R. Aben Ezra, and R. Ishaki,* alleges the plague to have been not of flies, but of wild beasts. Gesenius, however, giving the sense of to suck to the radical עָרַב, follows Bochart in accepting the LXX.* interpretation, which is also that of the Roman, Gallican, Arabic, and Illyrian Psalters. S. Isidore, holding this view, urges that the fly, as a restless insect,* was the fit punishment for restless and unquiet minds; and the Carmelite adds, that the dog-fly aptly denotes the animal passions and pursuits of the Egyptians. So far back as Origen’s time the text was applied in this sense against the Cynics. (Ay.) S. Augustine notes the fact that dogs are born blind,* so that they cannot see their parents; (A.) and Rupert, therefore, takes this, the fourth plague,* as punishment for breach of the fourth Commandment, (according to the Latin reckoning,) which extends,* the Gloss tells us, to those who despise the prelates of the Church. Frogs denote talkative vanity,* especially, as some will have it, (B.) the idle fables of heathen poetry and philosophy; and thus the peril of sins of the tongue is pointed out,* in particular those committed by heretics in their resistance to the Gospel, (D. C.) by the word destroy. S. Gregory Nyssen, however, takes frogs,* as denizens of the mud, to denote persons of voluptuous and self-indulgent life, whom the very waters do not cleanse. Ayguan expands this idea, taking the frogs to mean the three chief sins of the modern world, pride, luxury,* and avarice.* The frog dwells in foul and muddy waters, (Ay.) which denote luxury. Next, the belly of the frog is far larger than any other part of its body, and keeps close to the ground; thus signifying those who are greedy of earthly riches. Thirdly, the frog advances by leaps; and this is a type of those who attempt to lift themselves to high position by a sudden bound, unwilling to pass by the true mean of the middle space, whereby honour is won. Wherefore of these three sins it is said, “I saw three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon.”*

46 (47) He gave their fruit unto the caterpillar: and their labour unto the grasshopper.

The LXX. reads ἐρυσίβη, or blight, with which the Vulgate arugo agrees. (A.) Aquila and S. Jerome have bruchus,* and the probable meaning of חָסִיל is the wingless locust, or the larva of the locust. The blight, says a Saint, is hidden sin, and particularly the sin of self-sufficiency, which kills the soul when it seems to be healthiest, The grasshopper, or rather the locust, observes S. Augustine, is malice hurting with the mouth, that is, with false witness. And Rupert, taking the same view, teaches that it especially denotes the false witness of heretics, saying, that as the locusts were carried into Egypt, not by their own flight, but by a wind, so those who quote Scripture against the truth are not borne, as they suppose, on the wings of knowledge, but by the wind of spiritual pride, to the subversion of their hearers, (C.) and their own destruction.* And others refer the term chiefly to envious detractors. (D. C.)

47 (48) He destroyed their vines with hailstones: and their mulberry-trees with the frost.

“By this plague is shown,” says the Carmelite,* “how God alarms the life of the evil by the words of His preachers, (Ay.) and calls them back to grace. Wherefore Gregory saith, By hail or snow, cold and hard,* we understand the hearts of the evil. But since Almighty God chooses His Saints from such, and knows well how many elect He possesses who are as yet exposed amidst the life of the evil, He fittingly describes Himself as having His treasures in snow and hail. These elect He brings out at His command, and by heavenly grace makes them white with the purity of righteousness. Saul was hail and snow at first by his cold insensibility; but he was made to be snow and hail against the breasts of his adversaries, by the whiteness of his righteousness and by the smiting of his vigorous speech. O what a treasure God had then in snow and hail, when the Lord saw him, His secretly elect, living in the life of evil! O what hail was that He took in His hand to smite full many a breast of the adversaries, hail wherewith He laid low so many hearts that resisted Him! Let no man, then, be uplifted because of his own works, nor despair of them whom he sees to be still cold, because he does not see the treasures in the snow and hail.” The Lord destroys vines with hailstones when He strikes at carnal pleasures with the wise sayings of preachers. Others, following S. Augustine, take the verse in a bad sense, (A.) of the sins of violence and coldness. (D. C.) So the tyrannical and rapacious, while oppressing others, slay their own souls, and destroy their own former good works with the frost of hatred and ill-will, which is iciness of the soul.* The Vulgate for vines reads vineyards, and then we may take the vineyard to be the Church, and the mulberry-trees its Priests; for they should bear fruit, at first white in purity of life; then red, in fervour of charity; and lastly black, in mortification of the flesh. Of these it is written, “To the end they might provoke the elephants to fight, they showed them the blood of grapes and mulberries.”* Frost, arising from the waters, is the love of riches, which is fatal to the priesthood; and hail denotes their quarrels and dissensions.

48 (49) He smote their cattle also with hailstones: and their flocks with hot thunderbolts.

“By the death of beasts,” remarks S. Augustine, (A.) “was typified, so far as I can judge, the loss of chastity. For concupiscence, whereby offspring ariseth, we have in common with beasts. To have this, therefore, tamed and ordered, is the virtue of chastity.” By the death of irrational cattle, (Ay.) consequently, the fate of those is denoted who live like beasts, not restraining their unlawful passions with the bridle of continence. Their flocks. The LXX. and Vulgate read,* their possession. And this possession, say they, is the orderly condition of the mind or soul, which is wasted with fire, (Vulg.) when delivered over to the flames of passion or luxury. (A.) S. Augustine, noting that this plague is not specified in Exodus, suggests that it denotes fierce anger, which may lead even to homicide.

49 (50) He cast upon them, the furiousness of his wrath, anger; displeasure, and trouble: and sent evil angels among them.

S. Augustine comments at much length on this passage, (A.) touching the punitive ministry of good and evil angels, pointing out that both have great sway over the powers of nature, and that evil spirits are sometimes permitted by God to exhibit this influence of theirs. They may tempt also, as in the cases of Job and Ahab; and may, as well as good angels, be employed as the executioners of God’s wrath. And he decides that evil angels were the instruments of the slaughter of the beasts and the first-born in Egypt, and also of the hardening of the Egyptian hearts, inasmuch as they were suffered to suggest sin to those whom God had forsaken because of their unbelief. But when God punishes the righteous with temporal penalties,* He does it by the hands of His good angels. The Greek Fathers, however, say that the angels are here called evil, (Z.) not by reason of their nature, but merely as bringing evils on the heads of sinners.

50 (51) He made a way to his indignation, and spared not their soul from death: but gave their life over to the pestilence;

51 (52) And smote all the first-born in Egypt: the most principal and mightiest in the dwellings of Ham.

The words He made a way denote that there could have been no approach made even to punish sinners, (C.) unless they were first deprived of the protection of God,* so that the enemy had power to hurt them. (G.) And that way was God’s hidden justice, whereby He might have chastised the Egyptians for the sin of their will; but He made that way broad and conspicuous, by permitting them to commit sins of act, drawing down fearful vengeance. Wherefore it is said that He spared not their souls from death, because He allowed those souls to sink into the death of sin even before He smote their bodies, giving their life over to the pestilence. The LXX. and Vulgate read this clause, And shut up their cattle in death. (B.) Literally, by the hail and murrain; spiritually, by slaying their virtues of meekness and obedience, (D. C.) and by eternal condemnation of their carnal desires and works.* And smote all the first-born in Egypt. (A.) They refer it to a mightier overthrow than that in the Book of Exodus—to the victory of the Incarnate Saviour over the devil and his angels,* and over the false teachers who are their allies.* And He has made us partakers of this victory by causing us also to renounce the devil, his pomps, and his angels. That, too, adds Rupert,* by slaying original sin, the parent of so many offences, after the immolation of the true Paschal Lamb. They point out also that the words denote the spiritual chastisement of unfaithful Christians, when God deprives them of His grace. For the first-born mean those things which claim the highest love and reverence, (C.) such as the two great commandments of love of God and love of one’s neighbour, or as faith and righteousness. (R.) Faith when formed is, as it were, the first-born of the soul, and God slays it when men persist in abiding in Egypt, the darkness of this world. (D. C.) The Carmelite is even more mystical in his view. Taking this plague as vengeance for breach of the tenth commandment, (Ay.) he says that they who covet, wish to be the heirs of those whose goods they desire, and therefore wish them to have no other heirs, no first-born. This is, in its degree, a sin like the slaughter of the Hebrew children: and God punishes it by slaying faith, the firstborn of spiritual works, in the souls of the covetous. The most principal and the mightiest in the dwellings of Ham. (L.) The LXX. and Vulgate read, The first-fruits of all their labour in the tabernacles of Ham. There is a contest between the commentators as to whether these words refer to children, to the fruits of the earth, (Lu.) or to the first-born of cattle. There is more agreement as to the mystical signification,* which is, (D. C.) that God slays the fervour of charity and the principal virtues in souls which persist in dwelling amongst the ungodly.

52 (53) But as for his own people, he led them forth like sheep: and carried them in the wilderness like a flock.

53 (54) He brought them out safely, that they should not fear: and overwhelmed their enemies with the sea.

He led them forth. The LXX. and Vulgate, (G.) more emphatically, He took them away. That is, (P.) away from the jaws of the lion and the wolf, from the power of the devil, from worldly conversation, from evil companionship, (D. C.) as He saith by Hosea, “I will ransom them from the power of the grave, I will redeem them from death.”* And He hath elsewhere spoken of the elect, “Ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world.”* This the Saviour doth whenever He pours the grace of conversion into man. (L.) There is a wild Jewish legend that a sheep appeared of a sudden to the people of the Exodus, spoke with human voice, and pointed out the way; and that these words of the Psalmist refer to that event, true enough in a higher sense. Ayguan’s gloss, (Ay.) that they recall the sacrifice of the Paschal lamb, which opened the road from Egypt, may be mentioned, but will hardly be adopted. (D. C.) And carried them. The A. V., better, guided them, as the Good Shepherd, in the wilderness, of this world’s exile, whereof the forty years’ wandering was a type, like a flock, because of the unity of that Church which He founded,* and that flock one of sheep, because the sheep, (Ay.) by their inoffensiveness, their patience, their silence, (D. C.) and their usefulness to man, aptly signify devout and faithful souls, which their Shepherd feeds with the priceless food of His own precious Body and Blood. Safely. The LXX. and Vulgate read, In hope. Rightly,* for hope is the chariot whereon God brings His elect to Himself across the wilderness of penitence, as Joseph sent for Jacob. The hope of the Israelites was the Land of Promise, ours is the better Country. (A.) We are being led home in hope, “for by hope we are saved.”* That they should not fear. It is written in the Book of Exodus, that when Pharaoh pursued the children of Israel,* “they were sore afraid.” R. Kimchi answers that their fear lasted but a moment,* and was calmed by the words of Moses, “Fear ye not; stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord.” Ayguan’s reply is, that there are two kinds of fear:* one which causes abandonment of a plan, (Ay.) and the other which is less effective; and that only this slighter fear affected the Israelites. (D. C.) And then it is taken of the constancy of Martyrs and Confessors in resisting suffering, losses, and temptations, because of the hope within them.

Fides spe corroborate,

Caritate radicata,*

Fulget in martyribus,

Corda Deo præparata,

Passione sociata,

Præstant sacris legibus.

And overwhelmed their enemies with the sea, (C.) by destroying our ghostly foes, (R.) and blotting out our sins in the cleansing waters of Baptism.

54 (55) And brought them within the borders of his sanctuary: even to his mountain which he purchased with his right hand.

The borders. So the Hebrew and S. Jerome. (L.) But the LXX. and Vulgate read, The mountain of His sanctification, not improbably from the copyists of the former confounding ὄρος and ὄρος. The words imply first the entrance into Canaan generally, and then the special conquest of Jerusalem itself. And the mountainous character of Palestine, especially on its Lebanon border, enables some of the commentators, though following the Vulgate text, to give this true explanation. Others apply the first clause to Jerusalem, whose “foundation is upon the holy hills,” (C.) and the latter to Mount Sion, or Moriah,* whereon the Temple stood. The mystical interpretation presents no difficulty.* The Church into which God leads His elect is mountainous,* because He hallows them by confession, praise, contemplation, and employment about heavenly things. The arrival at the borders denotes the life of less perfect Christians, the ascent of the mountain the victory of the Saints, of whom is written, “Lord, who shall dwell in Thy tabernacle, and who shall rest upon Thy holy hill?”* And this mountain He purchased with His right hand,* when He stretched that hand out to be nailed upon the Cross. Wherefore He says of this especial glory vouchsafed to His dearest ones, “Moreover, I have given to thee one portion above thy brethren, which I took out of the hand of the Amorite with My sword and with My bow.”*

55 (56) He cast out the heathen also before them caused their land to be divided among them for an heritage, and made the tribes of Israel to dwell in their tents.

Here, as so often,* they dwell on the seven Canaanitish nations as typical of the seven deadly sins, assigning them, however, somewhat variously; and show how every penitent soul is like Mary Magdalene, out of whom Christ cast seven devils. Less mystical, though not less true, is the gloss of Cassiodorus, (R.) that the words tell us of the disappearance of barbarous Pagan customs before the civilizing advance of the Gospel, (C.) whereby, as another points out, Christians now dwell in lands formerly occupied by idolaters. (D. C.) Caused their land to be divided. This clause is more fully expressed by the LXX. and Vulgate, (C.) He divided by lot to them in the line of distribution. Cassiodorus, agreeing herein with a suggestion of the Pseudo-Dionysius,* that lot sometimes means a splendour or appointment of the Spirit, takes these words to denote the various degrees of gift, reward, and beatitude in the kingdom of heaven.

In domo Patris

Summæ majestatis

Ecce sunt pulchræ

Mansiones multæ,

Quæ sunt certantum

Pro virtute tantum

Ac triumphantum.

By lot, because it is not of man’s judgment,* but by the election of God; (B.) by lot, because it is a free gift of the Spirit,* and not of man’s purchasing, and in the line of distribution, that the exact limits of each virtue may be marked out, (Ay.) so that frugality may not narrow itself into covetousness, nor liberality expand into waste. Or, again, (B.) the line may denote the varying amount of grace and power given to each believer,* “according to the measure of the gift of Christ.” (D. C.) Once more, the passage has been explained of the partition of the mission-field of the world amongst the Apostles, (A.) an event formerly celebrated in the Western Church by a special festival. And made the tribes of Israel to dwell in their tents. S. Augustine, who explains the heathen to be evil spirits, takes these words to mean the exaltation of ransomed men to the thrones left vacant by the fall of the rebel angels; (D. C.) while others are content with seeing here, as in the earlier clause, the victory of Christianity over Paganism.* And it is also taken of heavenly virtues dwelling in souls once the habitation of evil thoughts, because “where sin abounded, grace did much more abound.”*

56 (57) So they tempted, and displeased the most high God: and kept not his testimonies;

57 (58) But turned their backs, and fell away like their forefathers: starting aside like a broken bow.

58 (59) For they grieved him with their hill-altars: and provoked him to displeasure with their images.

There are six distinct sins here enumerated.* Deceit, in tempting God; infidelity, in displeasing Him; omission of duty, in keeping not His testimonies; apostasy, in falling away; breach of promised vows, in likeness to a broken bow; idolatry, in the hill-altars and images. They all agree that the broken bow refers to faultiness of will, as the bow is the intention, of which the practical issue is the arrow. (B.) The A. V. reading, a deceitful bow, is the true rendering; and the meaning is therefore that of feebleness and laxity in spiritual things, when there is no real elasticity in the soul, sufficient to project a prayer or a good work as far as the mark, and therefore failing in the time of need. (Z.) Euthymius, dwelling on the LXX. word στρεβλόν, crooked or twisted, explains it of a will which is not straight and honest, and which therefore cannot send the arrow in the right line, though it may do so with sufficient force. (A.) The Latin Fathers, for the most part reading a perverse bow, explain it of a weapon turned against its owner,* rather than against his enemies. And it is thus taken especially of evil-living preachers, whose denunciations of sin recoil on their own heads. So it is written,* “They return, but not to the Most High: they are like a deceitful bow.” (D. C.) And the hill-altars imply spiritual pride, which gives not God the glory, but exalts human merit;* while the images are any objects of love and admiration which are not given us by God, but framed by ourselves in our hearts, even if not endued with bodily form.

59 (60) When God heard this, he was wroth: and took sore displeasure at Israel.

60 (61) So that he forsook the tabernacle in Silo: even the tent that he had pitched among men.

He heard it, (Z.) as He heard the voice of Abel’s blood crying out, as He heard the voices of Sodom and Gomorrah. For sins cry out before God, and disclose their authors. And took sore displeasure at Israel. The LXX. and Vulgate, even more forcibly, And brought Israel exceedingly to nothing. Literally, in the first instance, by the successive overthrows and bondage He permitted them to endure; and later, spiritually, by the transfer of their privileges to the Gentiles. He forsook the tabernacle in Silo, when the Ark was captured in the days of Eli, (A.) and the tabernacle left empty. The Ark never returned to Shiloh again, and thus the vengeance which fell on that guilty city is cited as a warning to Jerusalem: “Go ye now to My place which was in Shiloh, where I set My Name at the first, and see what I did to it for the wickedness of My people Israel.”* Mystically,* they take it first of the rejection of the whole Jewish nation; (D. C.) then of the Christian Church, when punished for its sins; and finally of our bodies, which are the temples of the Holy Ghost,* forsaken by God when He leaves the soul, in displeasure at a carnal life. “Wherefore is added, Even the tent that He had pitched amongst men. It is not said, observes Gerhohus, that He dwelt in walls, but in men. (G.) For God, Who is a Spirit, dwells not in habitations made with hands, but in rational spirits; for which reason, they who worship Him must worship in spirit. But He chooses to have temples or tabernacles made with hands, wherein He may be served by men, whose minds He inhabits by faith working through love. And if this faith and love be quenched in men, He cares little for the mere walls of temples, however beautiful and costly. Thus He abandons heretics, who break away from the unity of the Church, in whose bodies and souls He had once dwelt through faith. Wherefore, (R.) adds another commentator, it is needful to bear in mind that saying, “Trust ye not in lying words, saying, The temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, are these.”* There remains one mystical sense, yet more profound, which is strangely omitted by all the commentators. It is the reference to Him of Whom the dying patriarch spake by the name of Shiloh,* Who was sent forth from the Father when “the Word was made flesh,* and tabernacled among us.” Because of our sins, which He bore in His own Body on the tree, He was forsaken in His last trial by His Father, so that He cried, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?” Then, far more truly than when the Ark was taken, or the Temple spoiled, was that fulfilled which follows:

61 (62) He delivered their power into captivity: and their beauty into the enemy’s hand.

Into captivity, in the garden, and in the grave; into the enemy’s hand, when Judas betrayed, and Pilate condemned, and death seized Him; their Power,* because “the Arm of the Lord;” their Beauty, because He is “fairer than the children of men.” They take the passage otherwise,* and variously. Some explain it of the Ark, (A.) the power in which the Jews trusted for victory, (G.) the beauty which they had adorned with cost and skill.* Others understand here the bravest and goodliest of the youth, (Ay.) slain in the battle with the Philistines at Aphek; and again in the slaughter and captivity of a far later age, under Titus and Hadrian. Mystically, it is interpreted of those who, by boasting of their own good works,* suffer the enemy to rule over their souls, and thus deliver up that holiness which was their power and beauty into his hands.* Or it may denote the soldiers of the Church, especially bishops and priests, (D. C.) giving their bodies, which are their power,* up to sin, while their souls, their true beauty, also become the slaves of their ghostly foes. Our power and beauty,* observes another, (R.) are our baptism and other divine graces, which we lose when we think we can be saved by faith alone, without good works as its fruit.

62 (63) He gave his people over also unto the sword: and was wroth with his inheritance.

The LXX. and Vulgate read, yet more strongly, He shut up His people in the sword. (Ay.) And they point out how complete was this chastisement; for not only was there a terrible slaughter at the time, but “there was no smith found throughout all the land of Israel; for the Philistines said, Lest the Hebrews make them swords or spears:* but all the Israelites went down to the Philistines, to sharpen every man his share, and his coulter, and his axe, and his mattock.” An earlier book tells us how vigilantly this mode of repression was carried out. “Was there a shield or spear seen among forty thousand in Israel?”* Nor was it less strict later; for “there was neither sword nor spear found in the hand of any of the people that were with Saul and Jonathan; but with Saul and with Jonathan his son was there found.”* Mystically, adds the Carmelite, (Ay.) God shuts up His people with the sword whenever He suffers any to be overcome by the temptation of the devil. For the sword denotes evil counsel. But note, that this cannot be without our own consent. Wherefore Gregory shows in that saying in Job,* “The sword drawn, and coming out of the sheath,* the devil lays his snares for the righteous, but while he is plotting evil in his thoughts, the sword is in its sheath; and while he is carrying out his wicked scheme, then the sword is being drawn from the sheath, because the evil deed discloses the hidden thought. And observe that it says, “drawn and coming out of the sheath;” drawn by the seducer, but coming forth by our own will. The Carthusian, writing when the recovery of the Holy Sepulchre was still a lingering hope of Western chivalry and religion, takes the passage to denote the slaughter of Christians in the Holy Land by the Saracens, permitted for their sins, (D. C.) because God was wroth with His inheritance.

64 The fire consumed their young men: and their maidens were not given to marriage.

65 Their priests were slain with the sword: and there were no widows to make lamentation.

They take the fire mystically of carnal passions, (Ay.) working more fatal results than the sword and brands of the Philistines. (D. C.) Given to marriage. This, though a paraphrase, is the most probable meaning of the Hebrew הוּלָּלוּ, were praised, to wit, in the bridal songs. The LXX. and Vulgate, however, refer it to the funeral ode, and translate, were not lamented. (Ay.) And they explain it that sin had grown to such a height, (D. C.) that there was no compassion felt for those who had forfeited their purity, but rather admiration for such as showed most openly their want of it. (A.) Others, more literally, (C.) refer the words to the number and frequency of the slaughters, which left neither time for solemn rites, nor persons to perform them.* Philip de la Grève explains the young men to mean constancy of mind, and the maidens purity, which are most abundant when the soul is guarded with devout prayer, and is kept apart from bodily pleasures, which two conditions are typified by the priests and the widows of the latter verse. But when prayer and continence disappear, then constancy and purity fail also. Their priests were slain with the sword. The words refer first to the death of Hophni and Phinehas,* and then, mystically, (G.) to all clerks and religious persons who fail either in soundness of doctrine or holiness of life. (D. C.) They are slain with the sword of God’s “Word, proceeding out of their own mouths as they preach. And there were no widows to make lamentation. Literally, the text refers to the death of Phinehas’* wife in childbirth. Widows and maidens are taken of Religious women. The Vulgate reads, were not lamented. (G.) Gerhohus, very boldly, explains it that devout persons, in times of great spiritual coldness, are slow to lament over the loss of mere physical purity on the part even of Religious, because there is a possibility of such a terrible fall rousing them to true repentance and zeal; while, if they possess that one merit, and no other, they may trust in it to their destruction, and be counted amongst the foolish virgins, (D. C.) who took no oil in their lamps. The Carthusian, conversely, takes these latter words to mean that coldness had spread so widely, that no one was found to weep for those living in carnal sin, of whom the Apostle says, “She that liveth in pleasure is dead while she liveth.”*

65 (66) So the Lord awaked as one out of sleep: and like a giant refreshed with wine.

First, and most truly, it is spoken of that Lord Who awaked—what time His priests of the elder Law had spiritually died by their sin against Him—out of His sleep of three days in the grave,* refreshed with the strong wine of the Cup of His Passion, which He had drunk to the very dregs. Giant He, as the noble old hymn calls Him:

Geminæ Gigas substantiæ,*

Alacris ut currat viam.

He awaked, then, (G.) at the cry of Samuel and His other faithful servants lamenting that the Ark was carried captive into idol temples. He awakes in anger still when His priests, through neglect of godly discipline, give His Sacred Body, the Ark of the New Covenant, to unworthy communicants, the shrine of whose hearts is full of earthly idols.

66 (67) He smote his enemies in the hinder parts: and put them to a perpetual shame.

Literally,* the text refers us to the diseases which He sent on the Philistines so long as they retained the Ark. Mystically, the Fathers of Nicæa explain it of the evil powers,* behind whom the Lord came in the might of His Resurrection, and gave them over to everlasting reproach. He still smites His enemies in the hinder parts when they look back on things behind, (A.) and that after putting their hands to the plough,* either by giving them up to their sins in the latter part of their life here, and suffering all those little suggestions of the evil spirits, which are like mice, to devour them, or by final condemnation in the end of the world, (C.) which is, in fearful truth, perpetual shame. (G.) Ayguan discusses at much length,* and with illustrations borrowed from his classical lore, (Ay.) the three motives which cause men to smite—corrective love, hostile anger, and judicial punishment, of which the first and third alone can be predicated of God.

67 (68) He refused the tabernacle of Joseph: and chose not the tribe of Ephraim;

68 (69) But chose the tribe of Judah: even the hill of Sion which he loved.

He does not say that He refused the tabernacle of Reuben, (A.) nor the others of Judah’s elders; for it might be replied that they deserved such rejection, as they were rebuked by their dying father for their sins. Nor does He speak of rejecting Benjamin, whence a king had already sprung; but those are named who seemed to excel in merit. For Joseph fed his father and brethren in Egypt, and after being wickedly sold, was justly exalted, because of his piety, chastity, and wisdom; and Ephraim was preferred before his elder brother by his grandfather Jacob’s blessing: and yet God refused the tabernacle of Joseph, (Z.) (for Shiloh lay in the territory of Ephraim,) and chose not the tribe of Ephraim. We learn herein the rejection of the whole Jewish people, which looked for mere earthly rewards, and the election of the Gentiles in their stead; not because of merit, but of grace.* And as Joseph denotes increase, and Ephraim means fruitfulness, (G.) so these words teach us that God does not choose the powerful and wealthy of this world, as it is written, “For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble.”* He chooses Judah, which means praise, or as the old commentators take it, confession, denoting those sinners who acknowledge their own weakness, and give Him the glory. So Peter attained to the blessing of Judah, when he confessed Christ. As to the one was said, “Judah, thou art he whom thy brethren shall praise,”* so to the other was spoken,* “I have prayed for thee that thy faith fail not, and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.” Of Judah was said, “Judah is a lion’s whelp; he stooped down, he couched as a lion.”* And to Peter was signified by what death he should glorify God, that is, girt by another, and with hands extended on the Cross, dying as Christ the Lion, and Lion’s whelp died, to whom Peter was made like in death. But one thing which is said of Judah far surpasses the person of Peter, “Thy father’s children shall bow down before thee,”* which saying pertains especially to Christ, the only Man to be worshipped amongst men. The name Judah befits not Peter only, who confessed the Rock, but all God’s elect, who believe with the heart unto righteousness, and make confession with the mouth unto salvation. So the Lord chooses the tribe of Judah out of the mass of the ungodly.* The more obvious references, to the Davidic descent of Christ, and to the chief manifestations of His miracles in Jerusalem, are not forgotten by the expositors. The Carmelite mentions a Hebrew legend to account for the preference of Judah, that when Moses began the passage of the Red Sea, the Israelites all hung back in fear, till Amminadab, (Ay.) Prince of the house of Judah, set them the example of boldly entering the waters. Mount Sion, “expectation,” is the Church Militant which He loved, as it is written by the Apostle, “Christ also loved the Church, and gave Himself for it, that He might sanctify and cleanse it.”*

69 (70) And there he built his temple on high: and laid the foundation of it like the ground which he hath made continually.

The LXX. and Vulgate read, He built His holy thing as of a unicorn1 upon the earth, (C. which He founded for evermore.* The words as of a unicorn denote that Christians uplift the strong horn of their faith to the One God, the Undivided Trinity. Holy thing (ἁγίασμα, sanctificium,) they take diversely. First of that “holy thing”* born from the earth of Virgin flesh, (G.) but set up above the heavens for evermore. Then it is taken of the Body of the Head, of that Church, the Sanctuary of God stablished on the earth in the hearts of the faithful and bound together in the unity of the Spirit, (C.) so as to have “One Lord, (G.) one faith, one baptism.”* They dwell also on some of the supposed characteristics of the unicorn, (Ay.) such as his solitary habits,* and repulse of all other beasts from his den, which they explain of the law forbidding a stranger to minister in the Temple,* and of Solomon’s peaceful rule over the neighbouring peoples. The love of the unicorn for chastity, so that he can be captured only as he sleeps in the lap of a virgin, is a myth of which another commentator here avails himself;* and a third sees in the strength of the single horn the firm union of faith and charity, based on belief and worship of One God, (B.) and growing up towards heaven. The Æthiopic Psalter, nearly agreeing with modern critics in reading, He built His tabernacle in heaven on high and founded it on the earth for evermore, gives a far truer and deeper meaning than these quaint fancies. For that Sanctuary which is alike in heaven above and on earth beneath, is the Only-begotten Son, God and Man at once, and that for evermore, because of the indissoluble hypostatic union of the Two Natures in His Person.

70 (71) He chose David also his servant: and took him away from the sheep-folds.

Though the words are spoken of Christ, (A.) yet He is called here servant, and not Son. And that because the nature which was taken of David was not that Substance which is co-eternal with the Father, but the “form of a servant.”* And took Him away from the sheep-folds, exalting Him to the throne of glory, (C.) after He had fulfilled His office, as the Good Shepherd upon earth. Or, as others will have it, taking Him from the Jewish nation, the “few sheep in the wilderness,”* lost ones of the house of Israel, to whom He was first sent, (G.) and giving Him the wider and more glorious rule over the Gentile Church.

71 (72) As he was following the ewes great with young ones he took him: that he might feed Jacob his people, and Israel his inheritance.

Great with young, (R.) because Christ did not ascend until His Church began to be fruitful in faith and good works; great with young, even under the Jewish Law, for many zealous and just ones were found in it ready to bear fruit, of whom three thousand on one day and five thousand on another, shorn of their fleeces by abandoning their old habits and possessions, (G.) came up from the waters of Baptism at the call of Peter. (C.) That He might feed Jacob His people, militant here on earth, and Israel His inheritance, the Church Triumphant in heaven, looking ever on His Face. (R.) Others see in Jacob a type of the Jewish Church, in Israel of the Christian; and yet another interpretation is that Jacob is the faithful, but yet imperfect Christian, engaged in wrestling with his sins and overthrowing them,* while Israel is he who has attained to the peaceful contemplation of God. (Ay.) The Carmelite, eagerly searching out every point that may suggest his Lord, tells us that there are eight marks of a good shepherd. He must have bread in a wallet, a dog in a string, a staff with a rod, a horn and a pipe. The bread is the Word of God. The wallet is remembrance of that Word. The dog signifies zeal, which the shepherd should have for the Lord’s house, that he may drive wolves thence with the holy barkings of sound preaching and unwearied prayer. The string which leads the dog, is moderation and discretion in zeal. The staff is comfortable exhortation, to support the weak, and console them lest they fall in time of trouble. The rod is lawful power, to correct the restless. The horn, by whose alarming sound warriors are roused to battle, is the awful threat of hell, at which Christ’s soldiers gird themselves with the spirit of might to war against soft sins. The pipe, with its sweet notes, denotes the pleasantness of everlasting bliss, which the faithful Shepherd sweetly and oft-times chants in the ears of His flock. It is thus that God chose David to feed Jacob His servant.

72 (73) So he fed them with a faithful and true heart: and ruled them prudently with all his power.

The A. V., nearer at once to the Hebrew and to the Vulgate, reads, So He fed them according to the integrity of His heart; and guided them by the skilfulness of His hands. Truly in the innocency of His heart, (A.) for in Him was no spot of sin, He fed them with the Word, (C.) even with Himself, and in the skilfulness of His hands,* because He wrought in wisdom all the works whereby He taught His people what to choose and what to shun. (L.) Or, more touchingly, when He, in His dying hour, like His ancestor, “guiding His hands wittingly,”* suffered them to be nailed upon the Cross, it was that He might guide us, according to that lovely reading, in the glory of His hands. Thus He leads His people from passive innocency of heart,* which He gives them by purifying their souls, on by skilfulness of hands in every good work, (B.) till He brings them into the eternal pastures:*

Bone Pastor, Panis vere,*

Jesu nostri miserere,

Tu nos pasce, nos tuêre,

Tu nos bona fac videre

In terrâ viventium:

Tu qui cuncta scis et vales,

Qui nos pascis hic mortales,

Tuos ibi commensales

Coheredes et sodales,

Fac sanctorum civium!


Glory be to the Father of David; glory be to the Son, Who is David; glory be to the Holy Ghost, Who is the abundance of the pastures of David the Shepherd.

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


Almighty God,* most bountiful provider, refresh us with the food of spiritual manna; that guided by the skilfulness of Thine hands, we may glory at Thy right hand in the mountain Thou hast purchased. Through. (1.)

Almighty,* Incomprehensible, and Merciful Lord, Who destroyest not sinners so often as they grieve Thee by their offences, set mercy before Thy wrath; and as often as we provoke Thee to smite, so often let Thy loving-kindness cause Thee to forgive. Feed us, then, with the Bread of Angels; that receiving its might, we may overcome the wily craft of the evil one, and through Thine aid enter through the open gates of heaven into the number of its citizens. (11.)

O Lord Most High,* be Thou our Helper, that by the abundance of Thy might, we may be filled with comfortable strength, and by the overflowing bounties of Thy grace, may be enriched with the gifts of freedom. (11.)

O God,* Who givest the Bread of Heaven to the sons of men; and feedest an earthly being with the fatness of Angels, grant us the abundant corn of Thy Word, and refresh us with that spiritual food wherewith Thou didst nourish our fathers in the wilderness. (11.)

O Lord,* we who set our hope in Thee, forget not Thy works, for Thou art wonderful in Thy Saints with righteousness and mercy, and terrible amongst the ungodly, in that Thou bestowest seasonable remedies upon the righteous, and repayest the wicked the chastisements due to them. We therefore beseech Thee, most merciful God, that Thou wouldest enlighten with the light of Thy commandments them whom Thou savest from their cruel enemies, removing from them the waves of temptations, showing to them a path of safety, and refreshing them in this world’s wilderness with the Body of Thy Christ as their heavenly Bread. (11.)

O God, (D. C.) Who hast pity upon all, and ceasest not to receive with fatherly kindness them who return unto Thee; remember, we beseech Thee, that we are but flesh; and be ready to turn Thy wrath away, nor kindle all that wrath against us, but soften it, and vouchsafe us Thine unfailing grace. Through. (1.)

Christ the Lord,* Who was elected for our redemption by the Father’s counsel; taking flesh from the flock of mortals, feeding the Christian people, whether it be the Sup-planter of its sins, or with the soul the Beholder of God; in the goodness of His heart vouchsafe to feed His Church, abiding in His will, and set it in the heavenly Jerusalem. To Him be glory with the eternal Father, and the Holy Ghost, for ever and ever. Amen.


Gregorian. Thursday. Matins.

Monastic. The same.

Parisian. Wednesday. Matins.

Ambrosian. Tuesday of Second Week. II. Nocturn.

Lyons. Thursday. Matins.

Quignon. Tuesday. Matins.


Gregorian. As preceding.

Parisian. First portion: The children * which were yet unborn; to the intent that when they came up, they might teach their children the same; that they might put their trust in God. Second portion: He took away * His people like sheep, and brought them out in hope.

Monastic. Incline * your ear to the words of My mouth.

Ambrosian. As preceding Psalm.

Lyons. First portion: As Monastic. Second portion: He chose the tribe of Judah, even the hill of Sion, which He loved.

Mozarabic. Incline your car to the words of My mouth, * My people, hear My law.

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Commentaries for the Nineteenth Week in Ordinary Time, Year I

Posted by Dim Bulb on July 19, 2015


Commentaries for the Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B.

Note: in 2015 this day falls on Aug. 10, the Feast of St Lawrence. The readings for the feast replace the normally scheduled ones. A link to commentaries for the feast is supplied first, followed by commentary on the normal readings.

Commentaries for the Feast of St Lawrence.

Today’s Mass Readings.

Today’s Divine Office.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Deuteronomy 10:12-22.

Father Boylan’s Introduction to Psalm 147.

Pope John Paul II’s Commentary on Psalm 147. On verses 12-20 which covers the verses used in the Responsorial.

St Augustine’s Notes on Psalm 147.

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Matthew 17:22-27.

Cornelius a Lapide’s Commentary on Matthew 17:22-27.

Father Maas’ Commentary on Matthew 17:22-27.

Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on Matthew 17:22-27.

Father Callan’s Commentary on Matthew 17:22-27.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Matthew 17:22-27.


Today’s Mass Readings.

Today’s Divine Office.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Deuteronomy 31:1-8.

Pope John Paul II’s Commentary on the Responsorial: Deuteronomy 32:4ab, 7, 8, 9, 12. On verses 1-12.

Cornelius a Lapide’s Commentary on Matthew 18:1-5, 10, 12-14.

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Matthew 18:1-5, 10, 12-14.

Father Maas’ Commentary on Matthew 18:1-5, 10, 12-14. On 1-14.

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

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

Navarre Bible Commentary on Matthew 18:1-5, 10, 12-14.


Today’s Mass Readings.

Today’s Divine Office.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Deuteronomy 34:1-12.

Father Boylan’s Introduction to Psalm 66.

A Patristic/Medieval Commentary on Psalm 66.

St Augustine’s Notes on Psalm 66.

Father Maas’ Commentary on Matthew 18:15-20.

Maldonado’s Commentary on Matthew 18:15-20.

Cornelius a Lapide’s Commentary on Matthew 18:15-20.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Matthew 18:15-20.


Navarre Bible Commentary on Joshua Joshua 3:7-10, 11, 13-17.

Father Boylan’s Introduction to Psalm 114.

St Augustine’s Notes on Psalm 114.

Pope John Paul II’s Commentary on Psalm 114.

Cornelius a Lapide’s Commentary on Matthew 18:21-19:1.

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Matthew 18:21-19:1.

Father Maas’ Commentary on Matthew 18:21-19:1.

Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on Matthew 18:21-19:1.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Matthew 18:21-19:1.


Today’s Mass Readings.

Today’s Divine Office.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Joshua 24:1-13.

Father Boylan’s Introduction to Psalm 136.

St Augustine’s Notes on Psalm 136.

St Albert the Great’s Commentary on Psalm 136.

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Matthew 19:3-12).

Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on Matthew 19:3-12.

Pending: Father Maas’ Commentary on Today’s Gospel (Matthew 19:3-12).

Navarre Bible Commentary on Matthew 19:3-12.

Note: in 2015 this day falls on Aug 15, the Solemnity of the Assumption. The readings for the Solemnity replace the normally scheduled ones. A link to commentaries for both the Solemnity and its vigil are supplied first, followed by commentary on the normal readings.

Commentaries for the Vigil of the Solemnity of the Assumption.

Commentaries for the Solemnity of the Assumption.

Today’s Mass Readings.

Today’s Divine Office.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Joshua 24:14-29.

Father Boylan’s Introduction to Psalm 16.

Patristic/Medieval Commentary on Psalm 16.

St Augustine’s Notes on Psalm 16.

St Thomas Aquinas’ Lecture on Psalm 16.

Pope John Paul II’s Commentary on Psalm 16.

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Matthew 19:13-15.

Cornelius a Lapide’s Commentary on Matthew 19:13-15.

Father Maas’ Commentary on Matthew 19:13-15.

Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on Matthew 19:13-15.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Matthew 19:13-15.


Commentaries for the Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B.

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St Augustine’s Notes on Psalm 114

Posted by Dim Bulb on July 19, 2015

1. The river Jordan, when they were entering across it into the land of promise, when touched by the feet of the priests who bore the Ark, stood still from above with bridled stream, while it flowed down from below, where it ran on into the sea, until the whole people passed over, the priests standing on the dry ground.1 We know these things, but yet we should not imagine in this Psalm, to which we have now answered by chanting Allelujah, that it is the purpose of the Holy Spirit, that while we call to mind those deeds of the past, we should not consider things like unto them yet to take place. For “these things,” as the Apostle saith, “happened unto them for ensamples.”2

2. “When Israel came out of Egypt, and the house of Jacob from among the strange people” (ver. 1), “Judah was His sanctuary, and Israel His dominion” (ver. 2); “the sea saw that and fled, Jordan was driven back” (ver. 3). Think not that past deeds are related unto us, but rather that the future is predicted; since, while those miracles also were going on in that people, things present indeed were happening, but not without an intimation of things future.… Some things he has related differently to what we have learnt and read there: that he might not truly be thought to be repeating past acts rather than to be prophesying future things. For in the first place, we read not that the Jordan was driven back, but that it stood still on the side nearest the source of its streams, while the people were passing through; next, we read not of the mountains and hills skipping: all which he hath added, and repeated. For after saying, “The sea saw that, and fled; Jordan was driven back:” he added, “The mountains skipped like rams, and the little hills like young sheep” (ver. 4): and then asketh, “What aileth thee, O thou sea, that thou fleddest: and thou, Jordan, that thou wast driven back?” (ver. 5). “Ye mountains, that ye skipped like rams; and ye little hills, like young sheep?” (ver. 6).

3. Let us therefore consider what we are taught here; since both those deeds were typical of us, and these words exhort us to recognise ourselves. For if we hold with a firm heart the grace of God which hath been given us, we are Israel, the seed of Abraham: unto us the Apostle saith, “Therefore are ye the seed of Abraham.”3 … Let therefore no Christian consider himself alien to the name of Israel. For we are joined in the corner stone with those among the Jews who believed, among whom we find the Apostles chief. Hence our Lord in another passage saith, “And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, that there may be one fold and one Shepherd.”4 The Christian people then is rather Israel, and the same is preferably the house of Jacob; for Israel and Jacob are the same. But that multitude of Jews, which was deservedly reprobated for its perfidy, for the pleasures of the flesh sold their birthright, so that they belonged not to Jacob, but rather to Esau. For ye know that it was said with this hidden meaning, “That the elder shall serve the younger.”5

4. But Egypt, since it is said to mean affliction, or one who afflicteth, or one who oppresseth, is often used for an emblem of this world; from which we must spiritually withdraw, that we may not be bearing the yoke with unbelievers.6 For thus each one becometh a fit citizen of the heavenly Jerusalem, when he hath first renounced this world; just as that people could not be led into the land of promise, save first they had departed from Egypt. But as they did not depart thence, until freed by Divine help; so no man is turned away in heart from this world, unless aided by the gift of the Divine mercy. For what was there once prefigured, the same is fulfilled in every faithful one in the daily travailings of the Church, in this end of the world, in this, as the blessed John writeth, last time.7 Hear the Apostle the teacher of the Gentiles, thus instructing us: “I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; and were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea, and did all eat the same spiritual meat, and did all drink the same spiritual drink; for they drank of that spiritual rock that followed them, and that rock was Christ. But with many of them God was not well pleased, for they were overthrown in the wilderness. Now these things were our examples.”8 What more do ye wish, most beloved brethren? For it is surely clear, not from human conjecture, but from the declaration of an Apostle, that is, of God and our Lord: for God spoke in them, and though from clouds of flesh, yet it was God who thundered: surely then it is clear by so great testimony that all these things which were done in figure, are now fulfilled in our salvation; because then the future was predicted, now the past is read, and the present observed.

5. Hear what is even more wonderful, that the hidden and veiled mysteries of the ancient books are in some degree revealed by the ancient books. For Micah the prophet speaketh thus. “According to the days of thy coming out of Egypt will I show unto him marvellous things, etc.9 … In this Psalm, therefore, although the wonderful spirit of prophecy doth look into the future, yet it seemeth, as it were, to be merely detailing to the past. “Judah,” he saith, “was His sanctuary: the sea saw that and fled:” “was,” “saw,” and “fled,” are words of the past tense; and “Jordan was driven back, and the mountains skipped, and the earth trembled,” in like manner have a past expression, without, however, any difficulty in understanding by them the future.… For though it was so long after the departure of that people from Egypt, and so long before these seasons of the Church, that he sang what I have quoted; nevertheless, he witnesseth that he is foretelling the future without any question. “According to the days,” he saith, “of thy coming out of the land of Egypt will I show unto him marvellous things.” “The nations shall see and be confounded.” This is what is here said, “The sea saw that, and fled:” for if in this passage, through words of the past tense the future is secretly revealed, as is the case; who would venture to explain the words, “shall see and be confounded,” of past events? And a little lower down he1 alludeth more clearly than light itself to those very enemies of ours, who followed us flying, that they might slay us, that is, our sins, which are overwhelmed and extinguished in Baptism, just as the Egyptians were drowned in the sea, saying, since “He retaineth not His anger for ever, because He is of good will and merciful, He will turn again, He will have compassion upon us, He will drown our iniquities: and Thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea.”

6. What is it, most beloved? ye who know yourselves to be Israelites according to Abraham’s seed, ye who are of the house of Jacob, heirs according to promise, know that even ye have gone forth from Egypt, since ye have renounced this world; that ye have gone forth from a foreign people, since by the confession of piety, ye have separated yourselves from the blasphemies of the Gentiles. For it is not your tongue, but a foreign one, which knoweth not how to praise God, to whom ye sing Allelujah. For “Judah” hath become “His sanctuary” in you; for “he is not a Jew which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh; but he is a Jew which is one inwardly, and by circumcision of the heart.”2 Examine then your hearts, if faith hath circumcised them, if confession hath cleansed them; in you “Judah” hath become “His sanctuary,” in you “Israel” hath become “His dominion.” For “He gave” unto you “the power to become the sons of God.”3 …

7. But I would not that ye should seek without yourselves, how the Jordan was turned back, I would not ye should augur anything evil. For the Lord chideth those who have “turned” their “back” unto Him, “and not their face.”4 And whoever forsaketh the source of his being, and turneth away from his Creator; as a river into the sea, he glides into the bitter wickedness of this world. It is therefore good for him that he turn back, and that God whom he had set behind his back, may be before his face as he returneth; and that the sea of this world, which he had set before his face, when he was gliding on towards it, may become behind him; and that he may so forget what is behind him, that he may “reach forward to what is before him;”5 which is profitable for him when once converted.…

8. “Tremble, thou earth, at the presence of the Lord, at the presence of the God of Jacob” (ver. 7). What meaneth, “at the presence of the Lord,” save at the presence of Him who said, “Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.”6 For the earth trembled; but because it had remained slothful, it was made to tremble, so that it might be more firmly fixed at the presence of the Lord.

9. “Who turned the hard rock into standing waters, and the flint stone into springing wells” (ver. 8). For He melted Himself, and what may be called His hardness to water those who believe on Him, that He might in them become “a fountain of water gushing forth unto everlasting life;”7 because formerly, when He was not known, He seemed hard. Hence they who said, “This is an hard saying, who can bear it?”8 were confounded, and waited not until He should flow and stream upon them when the Scriptures were revealed. The rock, that hardness, was turned into pools of water, that stone into fountains of waters, when on His resurrection, “He expounded unto them, commencing with Moses and all the prophets, how Christ ought to suffer thus;”9 and sent the Holy Ghost, of whom He said, “If any man thirst, let him come unto Me, and drink.”10

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August 10~Commentaries for the Feast of St Lawrence, Deacon and Martyr

Posted by Dim Bulb on July 19, 2015

Today’s Mass Readings.

Today’s Divine Office.

Cornelius a Lapide’s Commentary on 2 Corinthians 9:6-10. Includes verse 11.

Bernardin de Piconio’s Commentary on 2 Corinthians 9:6-10. Includes verse 11.

R.D. Byles’ Commentary on 2 Corinthians 9:6-10.

Father Callan’s Commentary on 2 Corinthians 9:6-10.

Navarre Bible Commentary on 2 Corinthians 9:6-10.

Father Boylan’s Introduction to Psalm 112.

Patristic/Medieval Commentary on Psalm 112.

St Augustine’s Notes on Psalm 112.

Pope Benedict XVI’s Commentary on Psalm 112.

Cornelius a Lapide’s Commentary on John 12:24-26.

St Augustine’s Tractate on John 12:24-26.

St Cyril of Alexandria’s Commentary on John 12:24-26.

Navarre Bible Commentary on John 12:24-26.

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Commentaries for the Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Posted by Dim Bulb on July 19, 2015


Today’s Mass Readings.

Today’s Divine Office.


Pending: My Notes on the First Reading for Sunday Mass (1 Kings 19:4-8).

Navarre Bible Commentary on 1 Kings 19:4-8.

Word-Sunday Notes on 1 Kings 19:4-8.

Homilist’s Catechism on 1 Kings 19:4-8.


Father Boylan’s Introduction to Psalm 34.

St Augustine’s Notes on Psalm 34. On entire psalm.

St Thomas Aquinas’ Lecture on Psalm 34. On entire psalm.

Word-Sunday Notes on Psalm 34.


Bernardin de Piconio’s Commentary on Epheisans 4:30-5:2.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Ephesians 4:30-5:2.

St John Chrysostom’s Homiletic Commentary on Ephesians 4:30-5:2.

Father Hitchcock’s Commentary on Ephesians 4:30-5:2.

Word-Sunday Notes on Ephesians 4:30-5:2.

Homilist’s Catechism on Ephesians 4:30-5:2.

Speaking of Scripture Blog. An excerpt from Dr. Peter Willaimson’s outstanding Commentary on Ephesians, part of the New Catholic Commentary on Sacred Scripture which he co-edits. Unfortunately, the brief excerpts can’t do the series justice.


Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on John 6:41-51.

Cornelius a Lapide’s Commentary on John 6:41-51.

Father MacIntyre’s Commentary on John 6:41-51.

Fathers Noaln’s and Brown’s Commentary on John 6:41-51.

Navarre Bible Commentary on John 6:41-51.

St Augustine’s Tractate on John 6:41–51. Includes verses 52-59.

Word-Sunday Notes on John 6:41-51.

Homilist’s Catechism on John 6:41-51.


Taste and See the Goodness of the Lord. Catholic biblical scholar, Dr. John Bergsma, gives his thoughts on the readings and responsorial (Sacred Page Blog).

Sacerdos. Theme of the readings, doctrinal message, pastoral application.

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

The Bible Workshop. A few links to related resources, a reading guide to the Gospel, a comparison of the readings highlighting connections between them, a suggested lesson (i.e., homily).

Dr. Scott Hahn Podcast. Brief audio highlighting the major theme(s). Text available.

St Martha’s Podcast Study of the Readings.

Wednesday Word. 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.

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

Commentaries for the Eighteenth Week in Ordinary Time

Posted by Dim Bulb on July 19, 2015


Commentaries for the Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B.


Today’s Mass Readings.

Today’s Divine Office.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Numbers 11:4b-15.

Father Boylan’s Introduction to Psalm 81.

St Augustine’s Notes on Psalm 81.

Pope John Paull II’s Commentary on Psalm 81.

Father Maas’ Commentary on Matthew 14:13-21.

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Matthew 14:13-21.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Matthew 14:13-21.

St John Chrysostom’s Homily on the Gospel. This homily comments on verses 13-22.

St Ephraim’s Hymn Number 3. Many allusions to the Eucharist can be found in this hymn.


Today’s Mass Readings.

Today’s Divine Office.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Numbers 12:1-13.

Father Boylan’s Introduction to Psalm 51.

Pope John Paul II’s Commentary on Psalm 51.

Aquinas’ Lecture on Psalm 51.

St Albert the Great’s Commentary on Psalm 51.

Part 1: St John Fisher’s Homiletic Commentary on Psalm 51:1-10.

Part 2: St John Fisher’s Homiletic Commentary on Psalm 51:11-21.

Audio Study of Psalm 51. Podcast on entire Psalm from St. Irenaeus Ministries.

St John Chyrsostom’s Homiletic Commentary on Matthew 14:22-36.

Cornelius a Lapide’s Commentary on Matthew 14:22-36.

Father Maas’ Commentary on Matthew 14:22-36.

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Matthew 14:22-36.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Matthew 14:22-36.


Today’s Mass Readings.

Today’s Divine Office.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Numbers 13:1-2, 25–14:1, 26a-29a, 34-35.

Father Boylan’s Introduction to Psalm 106.

St Augustine’s Notes on Psalm 106.

Aquinas Catena Aurea on Matthew 15:21-28.

Cornelius a Lapide on Matthew 15:21-28.

Father Maas’ Commentary on Matthew 15:21-28.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Matthew 15:21-28.

In 2015 this day falls on August 6, the Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord. Below I’ve provided a link to commentaries for the feast, followed by commentaries for the normal Thursday readings

Commentaries for the Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord.

Today’s Mass Readings.

Today’s Divine Office.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Numbers 20:1-13.

Father Boylan’s Introduction to Psalm 95.

A Patristic/Medieval Commentary on Psalm 95.

Father Tauton’s Commentary on Psalm 95.

Aquinas Catena Aurea on Matthew 16:13-23.

Juan de Maldonado’s Commentary on Matthew 16:13-23.

Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on Matthew 16:13-23.

Father Maas’ Commentary on Matthew 16:13-23.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Matthew 16:13-23.


Today’s Mass Readings.

Today’s Divine Office.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Deuteronomy 4:32-40.

Father Boylan’s Introduction to Psalm 77.

St Augustine’s Notes on Psalm 77.

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Matthew 16:24-28.

Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on Matthew 16:24-28.

Father Maas’ Commentary on Matthew 16:24-28.

Cornelius a Lapide’s Commentary on Matthew 16:24-28.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Matthew 16:24-28.


Today’s Mass Readings.

Today’s Divine Office.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Deuteronomy 6:4-13.

Father Boylan’s Introduction to Psalm 18.

St Augustine’s Notes on Psalm 18.

St Thomas Aquinas’ Lecture on Psalm 18.

Cornelius a Lapide’s Commentary on Matthew 17:14-20.

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Matthew 17:14-20. Includes verse 21.

Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on Matthew 17:14-20.

Father Maas’ Commentary on Matthew 17:14-20.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Matthew 17:14-20.


Commentaries for the Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B.

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