The Divine Lamp

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

Posts Tagged ‘Latin Mass’

Commentaries for Quinquasgesima Sunday (Dominica in Quinquagesima) Extraordinary Form

Posted by Dim Bulb on January 31, 2016

Dominica in Quinquagesima ~ II. classis

MISSAL AND BREVIARY:

COMMENTARIES ON THE LESSON: 1 Corinthians 13:1-13.

COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL: Luke 18:31-43.

HOMILIES AND HOMILY NOTES:

  • Our Motive. Homily on how and why charity must be our motive.

Posted in Catholic, Latin Mass Notes, Scripture | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Father Maas’ Commentary on Matthew 11:1-11

Posted by Dim Bulb on December 3, 2013

In this section the evangelist narrates first John’s embassy to Jesus, Mt 11:1–6; secondly, Christ’s testimony concerning John, Mt 11:7–15; thirdly, the rebuke of the people, Mt 11:16–24; fourthly, our Lord’s call of the citizens of the kingdom, Mt 11:25–30.

Mat 11:1  And it came to pass, when Jesus had made an end of commanding his twelve disciples, he passed from thence, to teach and to preach in their cities.
Mat 11:2  Now when John had heard in prison the works of Christ: sending two of his disciples he said to him:
Mat 11:3  Art thou he that art to come, or look we for another?
Mat 11:4  And Jesus making answer said to them: Go and relate to John what you have heard and seen.
Mat 11:5  The blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead rise again, the poor have the gospel preached to them.
Mat 11:6  And blessed is he that shall not be scandalized in me.

1. The Baptist’s embassy (Mt 11:1-6). The gospel gives first the circumstances of the embassy (1-2a); secondly (2b-3), the event itself; thirdly, the answer of our Lord (4-6).

 Circumstances of John’s embassy. These are [1] on the part of our Lord contained in the statement that he had made an end of commanding [an expression which according to its Greek original may comprise strict commands, councils, forewarnings, and promises] his disciples, and was preaching and teaching in the cities of Galilee; [2] on the part of the Baptist, we are told that he heard in prison the works of Christ.

[1] On the part of Jesus. The third gospel, which professes to follow a chronological order, states that Jesus sent out his Twelve [Lk. 9:1–6] some time after the Baptist’s embassy [Lk. 7:18 f.]. As the first evangelist confirms the doctrine of our Lord contained in the sermon on the mount [cc. 5–7] by the miracles of cc. 8, 9, so he corroborates the beginnings of the foundation of the kingdom [c. 10.] by the testimony of the Baptist [c. 11.]. “From thence” may therefore be referred to the place in Galilee determined in 9:35. “Teach” and “preach” are expressed by two Greek words meaning the exercise of a master and a herald respectively; the former explains and instructs [cf. lxx. in Gen. 41:43; 2 Chronm36:22; Esth. 6:9, 11], the latter proclaims publicly and solemnly [Ex. 32:5; 36:6; 2 Kings 10:20; 2 Chron 20:3]. “In their cities” refers either to the cities of the apostles [Euthymius, Alb. Fritzsche, etc.], or to those of the inhabitants of Judea and Galilee [Bede, Rabanus, Paschasius, Maldonado].

[2] On the part of John. The history of John’s imprisonment is told in Mt. 14:3, 4; according to Josephus [Ant. XVIII. v. 2] he was shut up in the fortress Machærus, the modern Mkhaur, situated in the southern part of Perea, east of the Dead Sea, near the Arabian frontier. If the present text of Josephus [Ant. XVIII. v. 1] be accurate, this naturally strong and artfully fortified place [Joseph. B. J. VII. vi. 1, 2] belonged to the Arabian king Aretas at the time that Herod Antipas first put away his lawful wife, the daughter of Aretas, and married Herodias. Schürer [The Jewish People in the Time of Jesus Christ, Div. I. vol. ii. p. 26; Engl. Transl. Edinburgh, 1890] mentions a number of conjectures concerning the manner in which the fortress might have come into the hands of Herod Antipas before the time of John’s imprisonment,—for it can hardly be supposed that the Baptist should have been detained in a foreign stronghold,—the most probable of which is that Tiberius ordered Aretas to surrender the place to Antipas [cf. Wieseler, Chronological Synopsis, pp. 216, 217; Beweis des Glaubens, 1870, p. 166]. The “works of Christ” which John heard in prison are his miracles [Jn. 5:36; Lk. 7:18]. That the confinement of the Baptist was not very strict may be inferred from the fact that he heard, probably through his disciples, of the events of the outer world; the same seems to follow from Mk. 6:20, 29.

John’s embassy (2b-3). —sending two of his disciples, he said to him. [1] The sending. The reading “sending two of his disciples” is less probable than “sending through his disciples.” The former reading owes its origin probably to the parallel passage in the third gospel [7:19], while it is hard to understand how such an easy and clear reading could have given room to the difficult reading “through:” the latter must therefore represent the earlier text. Again, the latter reading is based on a Hebrew idiom, which fully accords with the nature of the first gospel [cf. Ex. 4:13; Lev. 16:21; 1 Sam 16:20; 2 Sam 12:25; 15:36; etc.]. There is no necessity of transposing the words so as to read “sending, said to him by his disciples” [cf. Meyer], since it is self-evident that John did not speak to Jesus immediately. The third gospel [Lk 7:20], too, emphasizes the sending of the disciples rather than their instrumentality as speakers.

[2] The question. In the question, or rather its second part “or look we for another,” it is doubtful in the original Greek whether we have the indicative or the subjunctive. The Vulgate, Schegg, Fritzsche, etc. prefer the indicative, so that we may interpret, “or are the conditions such that we look for another?” Fillion and most Protestant writers prefer the subjunctive mood, which according to their view expresses a deliberation in the present question. Jesus is addressed, or at least asked, whether he be “he that is to come.” This expression is, according to the language of the Old Testament, a Messianic title: cf. Gen. 49:10; Ez. 21:27; Ps. 118:26; 39:8; Deut. 18:15. It is for the same reason that in Rabbinic language the Messianic kingdom was named עֹלָם הַבָּא, δ αἰὼν ὁ ἐρχόμενος [cf. Mk. 10:30; Lk. 18:30; Jn. 6:14; Mt. 12:32]. Similar language we meet in the epistles of St. Paul: Eph. 1:21; Heb. 6:5; 9:11, so that the question must have been quite clear to our Lord and his surrounding.

[3] Motive of the Baptist. Writers are very much at variance concerning the motive that impelled the Baptist to send his messengers and ask the foregoing question, [a] Many of the more recent Protestant commentators [cf. Edersheim i. p. 607; Meyer, Keil, Weiss] and some Catholic writers [cf. Schanz, Loisy, Evang. synopt. pp. 244 ff.] maintain that the Baptist sent his envoys and asked the foregoing question to settle his own doubts concerning the Messiasship of Jesus. They are of opinion that the lengthy imprisonment had a depressing effect upon John, so that he began to doubt about the true character of our Lord. It is true that Tert. [De baptism, c. 10] believed the special assistance of the Holy Ghost had left the Baptist when Jesus had begun his public ministry, so that the former fell into a state of religious doubt concerning the very person whose precursor he had been [Contra Marcion. iv. 18]. While the latter opinion is singular, to say the least, the first-mentioned authors do not sufficiently distinguish between the time of spiritual desolation and that of actual transgression. Besides, a doubt in matters of faith after once possessing the light of faith, as John did, implies grievous sin.

[b] The author of “Quæstion. et responsion. ad orthodox.” [qu. 38; cf. 87] contends that John sent his embassy, not indeed to learn whether the person concerning whom he had testified in his ministry was the Messias, but to establish the identity of the wonder-worker with the person in whose favor he had testified [cf. Lam. Mansel]. But the gospel shows that the ministry of the Baptist and of our Lord overlapped in such a manner that John could hardly be ignorant of the identity of our Lord’s person.

[c] Gams, Schegg, and other writers imagine that the Baptist sent his embassy in order to urge our Lord to hasten the manifestation of his royal power; some writers add that John himself hoped to regain his liberty by the manifestation of our Lord’s Messianic character. We need not state that this interpretation is wholly at variance with the humility of the Baptist manifested at the first public appearance of Jesus [cf. Mt. 3:11].
[d] Origen, [hom. in lib. Reg. 2. c. xxviii; de engastrimytho], Jerome [ad Mt. xi. 3; ep. ad Algas. ep. 121, qu. 1], Gregory the Great [hom. in Ez. i. 1, n. 5; hom. vi. 1 in evang.], Bede, Paschasius, Bruno Gregory Nazianzen [or. xliii. n. 75], Eusebius, Emess. [or. i.], Ruffinus Toran. [expos. symb.] believe that John asked our Lord whether he was the one to come into Limbo,—whether in other words the Baptist, foreseeing his own death, might announce the coming of the Messias to the souls of the Old Testament detained in Limbo. Both the form of the question and of the answer show that this was not the meaning of the Baptist’s embassy. A similar view is mentioned in the works of Chrysostom, Theophylact, Euthymius, Ambrose [in Luc. vii. 19; l. v. n. 98]. The Baptist is said not to have known the mystery of Christ’s death, or if he knew it, to have doubted whether the Word Incarnate must really subject himself to such shame and suffering. Chrysostom, Theophylact, Euthymius, Alb. Thomas Aquinas, Dionysius reject this opinion. It is not probable that he who was more than a prophet understood the mystery of the redemption less than a prophet [cf. Is. 53; Ps. 22:17 ff.; 68:22; etc.]; nor can we suppose that he who uttered the words concerning the Lamb of God [Jn. 1:29] was ignorant of the manner in which the sins of the world were to be taken away.

[e] While the Fathers generally reject the opinion according to which the Baptist sent to Jesus in order to satisfy his own doubt concerning the Messiasship of our Lord [Hilary, Theodor. heracl. in cat. Origen, in cat. Ambrose, in Luc. vii. 19; l. 5, n. 93–95, Jerome, ep. ad Algas. 121, qu. 1, Augustine, serm. 66, n. 4, Chrysostom, Theophylact, Euthymius, Cyril of Alexandria, ad h. l. in cat. Basil. or. 34, Euseb. Alex. Opus Imperfectum], they also agree for the most part with the greater number of later writers in maintaining that the Baptist intended to convince or confirm his own disciples and the multitudes at large in their faith of the Messiasship of Jesus [Bede, Paschasius, Thomas Aquinas, Faber Stapulensis, Dionysius, Cajetan, Jansenius, Maldonado, Lapide, Men. Tir. Gord. Calmet, Arn. Bisping, Fillion, Friedlieb, Knabenbauer Tolet. in Luc. 7:20, Grimm, iii. 175 f.]. This opinion agrees not only with the character of the Baptist as a precursor of our Lord, but also with the gospel record concerning his lively faith in the person of Jesus on their meeting in the earlier part of our Lord’s public life [cf. John 1:26–36; 3:29], as well as with the Baptist’s zeal to lead his own followers to the faith in our Lord [cf. John 3:26 ff.; Mt. 9:14; Mk. 2:18; Lk. 1:17; etc.]. The circumstance that the Baptist asked the question in the first person, and seemingly in his own name, and that Jesus answered the question as if it had been asked by John for himself, loses its weight by the consideration that such an answer of our Lord directed to his faithful precursor must have been a boundless source of consolation to the latter.

Our Lord’s answer (4-6). The explanation may be reduced to the following considerations: [1] As to grammatical form it must be noted that our version “the poor have the gospel preached to them” rests upon sufficiently good authority, since the passive voice of the Greek verb occurs also in Lk. 7:22; 16:16; Heb. 4:2, 6; Gal. 1:11; 1 Pet. 1:25; 4:6; though we grant that the middle voice of the verb is more common, it does not agree with the prophecies to which our Lord appeals. The verb “scandalized” is construed with the preposition ἐν following it in Mt. 13:57; 26:31; Mk. 6:3; 14:27; Lk. 7:23, so that the construction in the present passage is not unusual.

[2] In its character, the present answer of Jesus agrees with others given by him in public [cf. Jn. 5:36; 10:25, 38; 14:12; 15:24]. Instead of answering directly, our Lord appeals to a series of facts containing the answer and cutting short any logical quibbling that might result from a different manner of proceeding.

[3] Lk. 7:21 is careful to add here that our Lord “in that same hour cured many of their diseases, and hurts, and evil spirits, and to many that were blind he gave sight.” Of their very nature all these facts contained a divine testimony for the truth of our Lord’s mission, since miracles as such are God’s own seal and signature.

[4] Considering, moreover, the object of these various miracles, they proclaim Jesus as the Redeemer from the various consequences of sin, and therefore render it antecedently probable that his sacred person will also be the Redeemer from sin itself, the promised Messias [Alb.].

[5] This inference becomes a certainty by the fact that Is. 35:5; 61:1 had predicted the Messias as noted for exactly those miraculous deeds that were done and appealed to by our Lord; for while the Messianic prophecy is thus fulfilled in the person of Jesus, the fulfilment is of such a nature that God alone can bring it about, and therefore above all suspicion of merely human calculation.

[6] Finally, in the last words, “blessed is he that shall not be scandalized in me” our Lord not only warns the Baptist’s disciples and the multitudes to follow the evidence thus put forth for his Messianic claims, in spite of their preconceived notions of a grand Messianic liberator of the Jewish nation, but he also points to a new series of prophecies which must be fulfilled in him by their very refusal of listening to his Messianic message [cf. Isa 8:6; 53:1, 4; Chrysostom, Jerome].

There then follows Christ’s testimony concerning John (Mt 11:7-15).

Mat 11:7  And when they went their way, Jesus began to say to the multitudes concerning John: What went you out into the desert to see? a reed shaken with the wind?

In order to remove all suspicion concerning the faith of the Baptist [Opus Imperfectum, Chrysostom, Jerome, Euthymius], and especially to show the multitudes the true consequence of their veneration for John, Jesus began to sound his praises as soon as the Baptist’s disciples “went their way.” Our Lord avoided thus all appearance of flattery [Chrysostom] and even of impropriety [Thomas Aquinas, Theophylact, Opus Imperfectum, Bruno, Alb. Cajetan, Hans.], The earnestness of Christ’s praise and warning manifests itself even in the form of his expressions: “What went you out into the desert to see? a reed shaken with the wind?” The particle at the beginning of the next clause shows [ἀλλά; cf. Winer, Neutestam. Sprachidiome, liii. 7; Hartung, Partikellehre, 2. p. 38; Klotz ad Devar. p. 13; Weiss, Knabenbauer] that Jesus did not suppose his hearers had acted against the supposition implied in the question, i. e. they had not gone out to see the tall reed of the Jordan valley as it bent under the pressure of the storm [Beza, Grotius, Wetstein, Gratz, Fritzsche, de Wette, Schegg, Hofmann, Knabenbauer; cf. Schanz], nor had they supposed to find in John a man of light and inconstant character [Chrysostom, Jerome, Rabanus, Paschasius, Bruno, Alb. Thomas Aquinas, Faber Stapulensis, Dionysius, Jansenius, Calmet, Arnoldi, Schanz, Fillion, etc.], nor a characterless man acting under the influence of the evil spirit [Hilary], nor finally a carnal-minded person [Gregory the Great,  hom. vi. in evang.]. Our Lord rightly adds, “went you out into the desert.” For the multitudes had actually left the cities and towns of Jndea, in order to go out into the desert where John was preaching and baptizing [cf. Mt. 3:5; Mk. 1:5].

Mat 11:8  But what went you out to see? a man clothed in soft garments? Behold they that are clothed in soft garments, are in the houses of kings.

A man in soft garments. Jesus ascends here in his discourse; supposing that his hearers had not undertaken their journey into the desert for as foolish a reason as suggested in the first clause, he now shows that they had not even gone to see and hear a common man, clothed in soft garments; for such are in the “houses,” not in the prisons, of kings. The last expression may have been an implied condemnation of the court of Herod with its luxury and voluptuousness.

Mat 11:9  But what went you out to see? A prophet? Yea I tell you, and more than a prophet.
Mat 11:10  For this is he of whom it is written: Behold I send my angel before my face, who shall prepare thy way before thee.

But what went you out to see? John the prophet. The Greek particle rendered “but” implies here again a negative answer to the preceding question [cf. Jn. 7:49; 1 Cor. 6:6; 10:20]. Jesus therefore reasons with the multitudes thus: You surely did not leave your homes to see in the desert the Jordan’s banks waving with reeds, or to find in John a man as fickle by nature as a reed, or to see in him a man grown weak through a voluptuous life. Now he continues, according to the better reading, “But what went you out? to see a prophet?” You might have sought and found in him more than a prophet,—the “more” is expressed by the neuter gender in the Greek text [cf. Mk. 7:36; Lk. 12:48; Heb. 6:17], since the masculine of the word does not occur in the New Testament; the Hebrew equivalent would be יוֹתֵר מִן [cf. Schegg; Schanz],—for in John is fulfilled the prophecy of Mal. 3:1. It is important to notice the difference between the text of the prophet and that of the evangelist. The prophet writes: “Behold, I send my angel, and he shall prepare the way before my face,” while the evangelist has it: “Behold, I send my angel before thy face, who shall prepare thy way before thee.” The prophet speaks in the name of the Messias and therefore uses the first person, but the Messias puts the prophet’s words in the mouth of the Father addressing the Son, and therefore both the first and second person occur in the prophecy. The first part of the evangelist’s report agrees with Ex. 23:20 [lxx.], the second part follows the prophet’s text in its Hebrew form. Without inferring from this circumstance the existence of an Aram. original of the first gospel [cf. Hilgenfeld], or a Syriac popular version [Böhl], we may safely conclude from it that the first evangelist was better aequainted with the Hebrew text of the Old Testament than with its lxx. version. We may also see in these words of our Lord a confirmation of John’s own testimony concerning his mission [Jn. 1:23; cf. Is. 40:3; Mal. 3:1]. Finally, the word “angel” both in the Greek and the Hebrew text [cf. 1 Sam 11:3; 2 Sam 11:19 ff.; 1 Kings 19:2; 2 Kings 5:10; Job 1:14; etc.] signifies “messenger.” It is true that some commentators [Theophylact, Paschasius, Thomas Aquinas, Sylveira l. 5, c. 13, q. 23] urge the technical meaning of “angel,” and thereby infer some special praise due to the Baptist. But even in the New Testament we are not allowed to interpret angel in this special sense unless we have special reasons to do so [cf. Lk. 9:52; Apoc. speaking of bishops]; moreover, the dignity of a “messenger” is in proportion to the importance of his message and his nearness to the master. In the case of John, his message is the most important of the world’s history, and he not merely predicts his Master, but points him out with his finger [cf. Chrysostom, Thomas Aquinas].

Mat 11:11  Amen I say to you, there hath not risen among them that are born of women a greater than John the Baptist: yet he that is the lesser in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.

Not a greater than John the Baptist. Here Jesus gives his own opinion concerning John. The expression “hath not risen” corresponds to a Greek and Hebrew verb that is often employed of God’s raising up a prophet or a judge [cf. Judges 2:18; 3:9, 15; 1 Sam 2:35; Lk. 7:16; Jn. 7:52; etc.]. The phrase “born of woman” may imply the infirmity of man; but in the present context it indicates merely the solemnity and earnestness of the occasion [Job 14:1; 15:14; 25:4; Ecclus. 10:18]. While there can be no doubt about the extraordinary degree of sanctity attained by John the Baptist [cf. Barradas, Sylveira, Snarez, in 3 part. Thomas Aquinas, q. 38, a. 4, disp. 24, sect. 3; Canisius, De verbi dei corruptelis, part, i.], it has been often discussed in what precise sense the testimony of Jesus concerning the Baptist ought to be taken:—

[1] Does our Lord speak of the office and dignity or of the sanctity of John? Cyril of Alexandria, [Thesaur.], Dionysius, Maldonado, Jansenius, Sylveira, Barradas, Tir. refer our Lord’s testimony to the personal merits and sanctity of the Baptist. Not to speak of other inconveniences, it follows from this opinion that either the Baptist is less in sanetity than the lowest New Testament saint, or that “greater” and “lesser” must in the same sentence be applied to different points of comparison, the former regarding personal sanctity, the latter referring to outward dignity. Hilary, Ambrose, Isidore of Pelusiu, [ep. i. 33], Chrysostom, Cyril of Jerusalem, [catech. iii. 6], Alb. Tolet. van Steenkiste, Bisping, Fillion, Reischl, Schanz, Knabenbauer, etc. are therefore right in explaining the words of Jesus concerning the official dignity of the Baptist. This consists substantially in the office of precursor, but other circumstances lend it much lustre, e.g. the miraculous birth, the sanctification in his mother’s womb, the life in the desert, etc.

[2] Another point discussed in connection with our Lord’s testimony regards the comparative greatness of the Baptist and the Old Testament heroes: Is John said to be greater than they, or is he placed on their own level? If the words of Jesus be taken strictly, they only say that no one born of woman is greater than John; John may therefore have many equals. Jerome, Augustine, [cont. adversar. leg. et prophet, ii. 5] Opus Imperfectum, state that Jesus placed John only on the same level with the Old Testament saints; but Opus Imperfectum does not adopt this view in the end, and Augustine, writing against the opponents of the law and the prophets, is anxious to confer on the latter all the dignity possible. Again, the context appears to render such an explanation impossible, because the Baptist is declared to be “more than a prophet.” The reasons alleged by Cajetan for John’s equality with the Old Testament prophets do not consider the foregoing argument, taken from the context.

[3] Finally, it must be determined whether John is compared only with the prophets, or with all men of the Old Testament. This question is rendered necessary by the third gospel [Lk 7:28], where the word “prophet” enters the comparison; again, we have already seen that on the part of the Baptist, not his personal sanctity, but his office, is the term of comparison, so that we may well seek for something similar on the part of the Old Testament saints. Augustine [contr. litter. Petiliani, ii. n. 87], Jansenius, Tol. are right in remarking that the prophets of the Old Testament surpassed its just ones in dignity and office; if, then, the Baptist is declared not to be inferior to any one of them, and to be more than a prophet, he is superior to any Old Testament dignity and office that can be thought of.

yet he that is the lesser in the kingdom of heaven. Superiority of the New Testament. Thus far Jesus has shown what impression the doctrine and the example of the Baptist ought to produce on the multitudes. He now appeals to their own self-love, as it were, showing that they can attain to a dignity superior to that of John, if they are only willing to follow his teaching. Though writers agree that this is the general drift of our Lord’s words, they differ in explaining their precise meaning.

[1] Christ himself, who is less in age, and according to the belief of the by-standers also in sanctity, than the Baptist, is greater than the Baptist [Chrysostom, Theophylact, Euthymius, Opus Imperfectum, Bruno, Faber Stapulensis, Cajetan, Jansenius, Barradas, Sylveira, Arnoldi, Canisius, etc.]. Though Suarez believes this opinion is very probable on account of its extrinsic authority, Maldonado shows that it is not satisfactory. First, it does not bring out clearly the contrast between the Old and the New Testament; secondly, when our Lord compares his own person with other persons, he speaks more clearly [cf. Mt. 12:41, 42]; thirdly, the proposition laid down by Jesus is general, and should not be limited to any one individual; fourthly, the comparison loses its force of argument if it be limited to Jesus alone.

[2] He that is the least among the blessed in heaven is greater than John the Baptist [Jerome, Bede, Rabanus, Paschasius, etc.]. But, in the first place, the context does not treat of the blessed in heaven; secondly, the comparison between the blessedness of heaven and the condition of the Baptist has no value in the argument of our Lord.

[3] The same reasons may be urged against those that explain the passage as signifying that the least of the angels is greater than John the Baptist [cf. Augustine, Dionysius].

[4] Maldonado mentions another explanation, according to which every one that is more humble than John the Baptist is greater than he; this opinion has not even much extrinsic authority.

[5] He that is lesser [either than John or than the other members of the kingdom] in the kingdom of heaven is greater than John; i. e. whoever belongs to the kingdom of heaven, though he occupy a less dignified position in it than John occupies in the old dispensation, excels John in dignity; or, whoever belongs to the new dispensation, though he be inferior to all his brethren, is still superior in dignity to John the Baptist [Cyril of Alexandria, Thesaur.; Isidore of Pelusium, ep. i. 68; Theodoret of Cyrus, heracl. cat.; Tostat. q. 36, in c. 11; Tol. in Lue. vii. 28; Maldonado, Calmet, Bisping, Schegg, Reischl, Grimm, Fillion, Schanz, Keil, Weiss, Mansel, etc.]. The dignity of the New Testament as compared with the Old is well set forth by St. Paul [Gal. 2:19; 4:1–7, 22–31; Heb. 10:20; Rom. 4:25; 7:4; Eph. 2:14–16; cf. Dan. 9:27]. It cannot be said that our Lord himself baptized John, and that the latter therefore belonged to the New Testament; for though John’s baptism by Jesus may be admitted as probable [Cyril of Alexandria, Thesaur. ass. 11; Opus Imperfectum, hom. 4; Thomas Aquinas,  3 p. q. 38, a. 6, ad 3; Suarez, l. c. sect. 6, n. 3], it must be remembered that the Church was not completely founded till after the death of Jesus Christ, so that the Baptist is rightly called the end of the law and the beginning of the gospel [S. Thomas Aquinas, 3 p. q. 38, a. 1, ad 2; cf. 2a 2ae, q. 174, a. 4, ad 3; Suarez, l. c. 3, 8].

Posted in Bible, Catholic, Catholic lectionary, Christ, Devotional Resources, fathers of the church, Latin Mass Notes, Notes on the Gospel of Matthew, Notes on the Lectionary, Scripture | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Commentaries and Resources for the First Sunday of Advent (Extraordinary Form)

Posted by Dim Bulb on November 23, 2013

Resources for the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite can be found here. At present only Year A is available. For information on the two forms of the Roman Rite see here.

EXTRAORDINARY FORM
FIRST SUNDAY OF ADVENT

MISSAL AND BREVIARY:

COMMENTARIES ON THE LESSON: Romans 13:11-14.

COMMENTARIES ON THE GOSPEL: Luke 21:25-33.

  • Pending. My Notes on Luke 21:25-33. Still hoping to post, but don’t hold your breath.

HOMILIES AND HOMILY NOTES BY FATHERS AND DOCTORS:

MORE HOMILIES AND HOMILY NOTES FROM GREAT PREACHERS:

  • Work for Advent. A sermon plan on the Epistle, can provide points for meditation or study. This and the next three sermon plans are from Father George Howe.
  • Mortal Sin. A sermon plan on the Epistle, can provide points for meditation or study.
  • Christ the Judge. A sermon plan on the Gospel, can provide points for meditation or study.

Posted in Devotional Resources, Latin Mass Notes | Tagged: , , | 3 Comments »

Sunday, November 3, 2013: Resources for Sunday Mass (Ordinary and Extraordinary Forms)

Posted by Dim Bulb on October 30, 2013

ORDINARY FORM OF THE ROMAN RITE
SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 3, 2013
THIRTY-FIRST SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME

READINGS AND OFFICE:

Today’s Mass Readings (NABRE). Translation used in the USA.

Today’s Mass Readings (NJB). Scroll down slightly. The NJB is used in most other English speaking countries.

Today’s Divine Office.

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

COMMENTARIES ON THE FIRST READING: Wisdom 11:22-12:2.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Wisdom 11:22-12:2.

Word-Sunday Notes on Wisdom 11:22-12:2.

Pending (maybe): My Notes on Wisdom 11:22-12:2.

COMMENTARIES ON THE RESPONSORIAL: Psalm 145:1-2, 8-9, 10-11, 13, 14.

Father Boylan’s Introduction to Psalm 145. Entire psalm.

St Augustine’s Notes on Psalm 145. Entire psalm.

Pope Benedict XVI’s Commentary on Psalm 145. Entire psalm.

Word-Sunday Notes on Psalm 145. Entire psalm.

COMMENTARIES ON THE SECOND READING: 2 Thessalonians 1:11-2:2.

Father Callan’s Commentary on 2 Thessalonians 1:11-2:2.

Bishop MacEvilly’s Commentary on 2 Thessalonians 1:11-2:2.

Word-Sunday Notes on 2 Thessalonians 1:11-2:2.

Navarre Bible Commentary on 2 Thessalonians 1:11-2:2.

COMMENTARIES ON THE GOSPEL READING: Luke 19:1-10.

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Luke 19:1-10.

Cornelius a Lapide’s Commentary on Luke 19:1-10.

Bishop MacEvilly’s Commentary on Luke 19:1-10.

St Cyril of Alexandria’s Homiletic Commentary on Luke 19:1-10.

Word-Sunday Notes on Luke 19:1-10.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Luke 19:1-10.

Pending: GENERAL RESOURCES:

Sacred Page Blog: The Importance of Making Things Right. Catholic scripture scholar Dr. John Bergsma’s reflections on the readings.

St Charles Borromeo Parish Bible Study. Notes on all the readings. Link may be time sensitive.

Lector Notes. Historical and theological background on the readings.

Gospel Summary with Life Implications. St Vincent’s Archabbey.

Historical Cultural Context. Examines the gospel in light of the 1st century Mediterranean world.

Thoughts From the Early Church. Brief excerpt on the gospel from Excerpt from Philoxenus of Mabbug.

Scripture in Depth. Brief look at all the readings.

The Bible Workshop. Links to relevant articles, a reading guide on the gospel, review of the readings, suggested lessons (homily ideas).

Prepare For Mass. Various links, videos, etc.

Pending: PODCASTS:

EXTRAORDINARY FORM OF THE ROMAN RITE
SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 3, 2013
Dominica IV quae superfluit Post Epiphaniam I. Novembris ~ II. classis

MISSAL AND BREVIARY:

Daily Roman Missal. Be sure correct date is set.

Roman Breviary. Be sure correct date is set.

Goffine’s Devout Instructions on the Epistle and Gospel.

COMMENTARIES ON THE LESSON: Romans 13:8-10.

Bernardin de Piconio’s Commentary on Romans 13:8-10.

Bishop MacEvily’s Commentary on Romans 13:8-10.

Father Callan’s Commentary on Romans 13:8-10.

St John Chrysostom’s Commentary on Romans 13:8-10.

COMMENTARIES ON THE GOSPEL READING: Matthew 8:23-27.

Cornelius a Lapide’s Commentary on Matthew 8:23-27.

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Matthew 8:23-27.

Bishop MacEvilly’s Commentary on Matthew 8:23-27. On 18-27.

Father Maas’ Commentary on Matthew 8:23-27.

HOMILIES AND HOMILY NOTES:

St Jerome’s Homily on Matthew 8:23-27.

What is the Meaning of Jesus is Asleep? A Homily by St Augustine.

The Mystical Ship, Part 1: Aquinas’ Homily Notes on the Gospel. Can be used for homily ideas, points for meditation or further study.

The Mystical Ship, Part 2: Aquinas’ Homily Notes on the Gospel. Can be used for homily ideas, points for meditation or further study.

NOTE: The following links are to online books. You can increase the text size by using the site’s zoom feature (the magnifying glass icon).

Homily on the Gospel. Fr. Augustine Wirth.

Homily on the Gospel. Bishop Bonomelli.

Homily on the Epistle. Fr. Augustine Wirth.

Homily on the Epistle. On site. Bishop Bonomelli.

Paying Our Debts: Sermon Notes on Romans 13:8. Can be used to provide points for meditation, further study, homilies, etc.

The Decalogue: Sermon Notes on Romans 13:10. Can be used to provide points for meditation, further study, homilies, etc.

The Storm a Type of the Church and the Soul: Sermon Notes on Matt 8:24. Can be used to provide points for meditation, further study, homilies, etc.

The Storm at Sea as a Type of Our Passions: Sermon Notes on Matt 8:24. Can be used to provide points for meditation, further study, homilies, etc.

St Jerome’s Homily on Matthew 8:23-27.

Posted in Bible, Catholic, Catholic lectionary, Catholic Sunday Lectionary, Christ, Latin Mass Notes | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments »

Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on Colossians 1:12-20

Posted by Dim Bulb on October 21, 2013

This post opens with Fr. MacEvilly’s brief analysis of Colossians chapter 1 followed by his notes on verses 12-20. Text in purple indicates his paraphrasing of the text he is commenting on. Text in red, if any, are my additions.

ANALYSIS OF COLOSSIANS CHAPTER 1

The Apostle commences this Epistle with the usual form of Apostolical salutation (Col 1:1, 2). In the next place, he gives thanks to God for the gifts of grace and the divine virtues of faith, hope, and charity, bestowed on the Colossians (Col 1:3–5). These gifts and virtues were to terminate in the enjoyment of the future blessings promised in the Gospel. From the mention of the Gospel, he takes occasion to confirm the doctrine preached to them by Epaphras, as a faithful minister of the Gospel. He prays that the Lord would grant, them a more perfect knowledge of his holy will, and strength and power to lead lives worthy of God, in the performance of good works, and the patient endurance of sufferings for his sake (Col 1:6–12).

The Apostle then renders thanks to God for the grace of faith, and the other blessings of redemption bestowed on all Christians; and from this, takes occasion to point out the attributes of Christ, and his superior excellence over the angels. He claims for him in a special way, the prerogatives of Creator and Redeemer, of which the heretics wishes to deprive him, by transferring them to the angels. The apostle, therefore, asserts, that he is the image of the invisible God—the Creator of all things, the angels included—the preserver, by his Providence, of all things created—the Redeemer of all men, Jews and Gentiles—the head of the Church—the reconciler of offended heaven with sinful man—the very fulness of the Divinity (Col 1:12–21).

He says that the Colossians will be partakers of the blessings of Redemption, provided they persevere in the faith announced to them, which is the same with that preached throughout the rest of the world. He declares himself to be appointed by the will of God a minister of the Gospel, in order to announce to the Gentiles a mystery hitherto concealed from them—a mystery for the fulfilment or accomplishment of which among the Gentiles, he cheerfully submits to suffering and privations of every kind (Col 1:22-29).

Col 1:12  Giving thanks to God the Father, who hath made us worthy to be partakers of the lot of the saints in light:

We give thanks to God the Father, who, of his pure mercy and grace, has vouchsafed to make us sharers by the light of faith in the inheritance of the saints, which consists in light, or the beatific vision of God.

“Giving thanks to God the Father.” The Greek omits, God. Some persons connects this verse with verse 9, thus: “we cease not praying God to grant you this grace also of thanking him for having called you,” &c. According to the connexion in the Paraphrase, a new sentence is commenced, and St. Paul having concluded his petitions in the preceding verse, now thanks God for the benefits here enumerated. “The lot of the saints,” τοῦ κληρου τῶν ἁγ ων. Eternal life is called a “lot,” to express its gratuitousness, and the absence of strict claim on our part signified by the absence of a claim on the part of those who gain a thing by casting lots. And though we merit eternal life; still, it is primarily founded on grace. In crowning our merits, he only crowns his own gifts.—St. Augustine (from his Treatise ON GRACE AND FREE WILL). “In light.” The light of faith here, or the light of glory hereafter, by which we shall see God, face to face. “It may, however, denote both, as in Paraphrase.”

Col 1:13  Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness and hath translated us into the kingdom of the Son of his love,

Who has rescued us from the power of darkness, i.e., of demons and infidels, and translated us to the kingdom, i.e., the Church of his beloved Son here, which is the portal to the kingdom of heaven hereafter.

“Darkness,” taken in a moral sense in SS. Scripture, denotes evil; hence, it means here, the power of the devil, the prince of darkness. “The Son of his love,” a Hebraism, for his most beloved Son.

Col 1:14  In whom we have redemption through his blood, the remission of sins:

 Through whom we have obtained redemption, which consists in the remission of our sins, and which he effected by giving his blood by way of ransom or price for us.

In the following verses the Apostle claims for Christ, the titles of Creator and Redeemer, the two grand prerogatives of which the Simonians attempted to deprive him, and which they wished to transfer to angels. In this verse, he claims for Him the title of Redeemer, upon which he dilates more fully at verse 20—after claiming for him the title of Creator in the intervening verses, 16, 17, 18, 19. The words “through his blood,” are not in the Douay-Rheims Version, made from the Sixtine Edition of the Vulgate, nor in the Codex Vaticanus, nor in MSS. or Versions generally.

Col 1:15  Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature:

15. Who is the perfect image of the invisible God (having the same identical nature with Him), existing before any creature, having been begotten of the Father by an eternal generation.

Before asserting that he is Creator, the Apostle first claims for Christ the supreme attribute of Divinity, and the eternal Sonship of God. Others say, that the object of the Apostle in this verse is, to show the great benefits of Redemption from the exalted nature of the person by whom it was effected. Christ is the perfect delineation of that invisible God whom no one ever saw, and exhibits the perfect image which the person possessing the nature of God could alone exhibit. He was begotten of God by an eternal generation; hence, as far anterior to the EONS of the Gnostics in time, as he is superior to them in causality, which latter is shown in the following verse.

Col 1:16  For in him were all things created in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones, or dominations, or principalities, or powers. All things were created by him and in him.

16. For by him were all things created in heaven and earth, both visible and invisible, men and angels of every rank and order—whether thrones or dominations, or principalities or powers, all things were created by him and unto him, i.e., for his glory.

In this verse is refuted the false doctrine of the Gnostics, who asserted that this material visible world was created by the ministry of angels. “Through him and in him.” In Greek, unto him, i.e., unto his glory.

Col 1:17  And he is before all: and by him all things consist.

17. And he is before all creatures, and in him, and through him, all things subsist and are preserved.

In this verse, the Apostle refers to the Divine attribute of Providence, whereby all created things are preserved. From this and the preceding verses, it is clear, that the “image,” εἰκων, referred to in verse 15, must regard the substantial image of God, and the possession of the divine nature; since of God only could it be said that all things were created “by him,” and “in him,” or unto him, as in the Greek, i.e., for his glory, as also that by his providence all things subsist and are preserved. And it was this God—born of the Father before all ages, begotten by eternal generation—his substantial image, by whom all things were made and are still preserved—that submitted to the ignominious tortures of the cross, for what?—to make atonement for the sins of his own creatures—the sins by which he himself was offended. He, though God, submits to tortures, which he could not merit, to free us, worms of earth, from the eternal tortures of the damned which we justly deserved. What excessive love! Sic amantem quis non redamaret. The Latin phrase is from the the famous hymn ADESTE FIDELIS and translates something like: Who would not return the love of one who has loved so much.

Col 1:18  And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things he may hold the primacy:

18. And this same person of whom we are treating as God, is, as man, the head of the Church, which is his mystical body; he is the principle and author of the resurrection, and is himself the first born, or first fruits of the dead, consecrating the resurrection of all by raising himself from the grave. So that whether viewed as God, or as man, he holds pre-eminence over all things created.

He now treats of him, as man; as such, he is the head of his mystical body, the Church—towards her, he exercises all the duties, which the relation of head imposes on him, governing and vivifying her by the continual influx of his graces. He is “the beginning,” which appears from the Greek, ὅς ἐστιν ἀρχὴ, to refer to the words immediately following, viz., “the first born from the dead.” Hence, it means, “he is the principle and author of the resurrection.”

Col 1:19  Because in him, it hath well pleased the Father that all fulness should dwell:

19. For, it has pleased God the Father, that in Christ, all fulness, all perfection of power necessary for him as head, to govern, and of grace, to vivify his body, should permanently and inseparably dwell, and essentially reside.

“All fulness,” i.e., all perfection of wisdom, grace, power, befitting him, as head of the Church. He has the fulness, not only of grace, but of divinity. “Should dwell,” perpetually, inseparably, and essentially. All grace befitting him as head, dwelt in him in the sense already explained, in order that from the head it would descend to the members, and that each might derive from him, as source, the graces necessary for his state and place in the body. The Greek word for “fulness,” πληρωμα, had a special significance, in the false system of the Gnostics.

Col 1:20  And through him to reconcile all things unto himself, making peace through the blood of his cross, both as to the things that are on earth and the things that are in heaven.

20. And it hath pleased the Father, to reconcile all things to himself through him—making peace, by the blood which he shed on the cross, between the angels in heaven and men on earth, between whose union under one common head, sin stood as an obstacle.

The Apostle again refers in this verse to the other great prerogative of Christ, viz., that of Redeemer, to which he alluded before (verse 14). “The things on earth, and the things in heaven.” He reconciled men and angels, and united them, hitherto so far dissevered from each other, under one common headship, having destroyed, by the blood which he shed on the cross, the chiefest obstacle to this union, viz., sin.

Posted in Bible, Catholic, Catholic lectionary, Christ, Devotional Resources, Latin Mass Notes, Notes on Colossians, Notes on the Lectionary, Scripture | Tagged: , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

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

Posted by Dim Bulb on October 15, 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Bishop MacEvilly’s Commentary on Matthew 18:23-35

Posted by Dim Bulb on October 9, 2013

Mat 18:23  Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened to a king, who would take an account of his servants.
Mat 18:24  And when he had begun to take the account, one as brought to him, that owed him ten thousand talents.
Mat 18:25  And as he had not wherewith to pay it, his lord commanded that he should be sold, and his wife and children, and all that he had, and payment to be made.
Mat 18:26  But that servant falling down, besought him, saying: Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all.
Mat 18:27  And the lord of that servant being moved with pity, let him go and forgave him the debt.
Mat 18:28  But when that servant was gone out, he found one of his fellow-servants that owed him an hundred pence: and laying hold of him, he throttled him, saying: Pay what thou owest.
Mat 18:29  And his fellow-servant falling down, besought him, saying: Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all.
Mat 18:30  And he would not: but went and cast him into prison, till he paid the debt.

“Therefore,” is interpreted by some thus, because; as if assigning a reason for the foregoing declaration, made to St. Peter, that we should forgive our offending brother, every time he repents. The word may, however, retain its usual meaning, thus: In order that you may understand how just and necessary it is for you always to forgive your repentant brother, know you, “therefore,” that “the kingdom of heaven is likened”—rendered like by Me—“to a king” &c. It has been already observed, that this form of expression only means, that something occurs in the kingdom of heaven similar to what is expressed in the parable; for, it is not the kingdom of heaven that is likened to the king, &c., but it is the King of heaven that is strictly compared to the “king,” referred to in the parable.

By “the kingdom of heaven,” here, is understood, the Church, embracing the Church, militant and triumphant. In truth, it may be said to regard the entire economy or supernatural dealings of God with man. It has been already more than once observed, that in the interpretation of parables, and their application to the subject they are intended to illustrate, there are certain parts of these parables necessarily and directly intended for illustration; there are other parts that are merely ornamental, and introduced solely with a view of rendering the parabolical narrative complete, and in harmony with what usually occurs, without any reference to the principal subject. The ornamental parts and necessary parts can be easily seen from the context and the scope of the parable. There is no difficulty in perceiving what the scope or object of the present parable is. Our Redeemer Himself applies it in the clearest terms, “So shall My Heavenly Father,” &c. (v. 35.) The scope of the parable, and the intention of our Blessed Lord, are, to show, that the Almighty is most merciful towards all repentant sinners; but most severe towards those who refuse to forgive their brethren their offences. Then, the necessary parts of this parable are—

First. The king, who entered into an account, and forgave the immense sum of ten thousand talents. This illustrates the infinite malice of sin, as being committed against a person of infinite dignity; and the infinite mercy of God, freely and generously, out of His infinite mercy and compassion, remitting His offending creature, this immense debt of mortal sin. A part connected with this is merely ornamental, wherein it is said that the master ordered, “his wife” &c. (v. 25), “to be sold.” This is allusive to the permission among the Romans, and even among the Jews (2 Kings 4:1), given to creditors, of selling all the effects of their debtors, even their wife and children, in discharge of the debt (Debt servitude was a recognized way of paying off debts in the ancient Mediterranean world and the Law of Moses allowed it but with certain regulations to stop abuse, e.g., the debtor could only serve a maximum of 6 years). In the parable, they have hardly any application, unless it be, perhaps, to show the severity of the punishment inflicted for mortal sin. But they, by no means, imply that the Almighty eternally punishes a man’s wife or children, for his sins, or that any one is condemned to eternal tortures, save for his own sins. The amount contained in the “ten thousand talents,” is disputed. However, here it is sufficient to know that it is put for a sum of indefinite magnitude, compared with the sum of “a hundred pence” (v. 28).

The second necessary part regards the servant, who after receiving the remission of an immense sum—“ten thousand talents”—goes forth, and throttling his follow-servant, who owed him a mere trifle, compared with the sum remitted to himself, inexorably casts him into prison, without giving him a moment’s respite or delay. This sets forth, in the clearest light, the cruelty and inhumanity of the sinner, who, after being gratuitously and mercifully forgiven his mortal sins, by his Lord and Master, and Creator, refuses forgiveness to his “fellow-servant,” his fellow-creature, with whom he shares the same common nature, whose weakness he knows, on whom he is often dependent for mutual aid and assistance.

Mat 18:31  Now his fellow servants seeing what was done, were very much grieved, and they came, and told their lord all that was done.

The third part of the parable refers to the grievous sin, of which the man who refuses to forgive his neighbour, and harbours feelings of vindictiveness towards him, becomes guilty, and to the eternal punishment, which God has in store for such a sinner. The ornamental part, attached to this portion, is, when his fellow-servants complain of the cruel conduct of this servant to their master. This has hardly any application in the parable. It does not imply that the Angels or Saints of heaven accuse the unforgiving man; it is merely added for ornament sake, because this usually happens among men. It may, perhaps be intended to convey, that the Angels and just, and God Himself, are so offended at the ingratitude and cruelty of the sinner, who refuses to forgive his brother, that the most severe judgment is exercised upon him. The part wherein it is insinuated, that the former debt, remitted by God, revives (v. 34), may be also regarded as ornamental, it being natural that such would occur in cases like this, among men; but, it does not imply that sins, once remitted, ever again revive—the common opinion being, that, although our past merits revive, by penance, the guilt of sin being removed; our sins, once forgiven, do not revive, “for the gifts of God are without repentance” (Rom. 11:29), unless, perhaps, it may be said, that the circumstance of receiving the remission of our former sins against God, so aggravates the sin of refusing to forgive our fellow-creature, owing to the ingratitude it contains, that it is virtually equivalent to the former sins, and shall entail as severe a punishment, as the former sins would, if still unremitted; or, at least, that the subsequent sins would be less severely punished, had the former not been forgiven. Besides the ingratitude involved in every sin of relapse, there is a special ingratitude in that of refusing to pardon our neighbour, owing to its opposition to the benefit of forgiveness, already received from God.

The first part of the parable shows us the infinite mercy and clemency of our good God towards repentant sinners. “Being moved with compassion, he forgave him the debt” (v. 27), viz., the immense debt of mortal sin, represented by the ten thousand talents.

The second part shows us the execrable inhumanity of some men towards their fellow-creatures.

The third, the severity of God’s judgment against such, viz., “judgment without mercy,” &c. (St. James 2)

Mat 18:32  Then his lord called him: and said to him: Thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all the debt, because thou besoughtest me:
Mat 18:33  Shouldst not thou then have had compassion also on thy fellow servant, even as I had compassion on thee?
Mat 18:34  And his lord being angry, delivered him to the torturers until he paid all the debt.
Mat 18:35  So also shall my heavenly Father do to you, if you forgive not every one his brother from your hearts.

This is the application of the parable, by our Redeemer Himself. “So shall My heavenly,” &c., that is, He shall “deliver us to the torturers till we pay all the debt” (v. 34); that is to say, punish us eternally, since, for eternity, we can make no atonement whatever, even by the most excruciating tortures, for the infinite evil of mortal sin.

It is observed, that our Redeemer says, “My” (not your) “Heavenly Father,” to convey, that the man of vengeance cannot properly call God his Father, whose children he persecutes and injures.

“Every one his brother.” The circumstance of our neighbour being our brother, destined for the same common inheritance of glory, should move us to extend forgiveness to him.

“From your hearts.” It will not do to affect forgiveness externally. It must come from the “heart,” under pain of our being refused forgiveness by God. For the gall of hatred, our Lord wishes us to substitute the honey of charity.

This parable shows us how grievous a sin, and how hateful before God it is, to cherish rancour or hatred in our hearts, against our neighbour, who may chance to have given us offence; and how agreeable an act of sacrifice before God it is, to lay aside all such feelings, and forget all past injuries done us, as if they never took place. We have but little to forgive our neighbour, compared with what God has remitted to us. He forgave ten thousand talents; we forgive, at most, but two hundred pence. What a powerful stimulus, therefore, the consideration of all God has forgiven us, and that repeatedly, should be for us to remit from our hearts all personal insults, comparatively trifling, offered us by our neighbour.

Besides the reasons already adduced in the foregoing, to aid us in forgiving our enemies, who may have gratuitously and ungratefully injured, and are still bent on injuring us, from which our corrupt nature so strongly recoils, there are several considerations to aid us still more.

First. There is no precept more emphatically inculcated by our Lord than this (see Sermon on the Mount). We should, therefore, make every sacrifice to show our gratitude to Him, by obeying His commandments, be they ever so opposed to flesh and blood. Our enemy may not be entitled to our forgiveness. But God, our Sovereign Benefactor, for whose sake only we pardon, is.

Secondly. The prayer we every day repeat, “forgive us … as we forgive,” &c., points out our duty in this respect. We tell a lie to God, whenever, with rancour and hatred in our hearts, we address to Him, this, His own prayer.

Thirdly. The example of the Saints of old. Consider the unprovoked hostility of Saul, and his bitter, persistent, unmitigated persecutions of David, and how David, when he had him in his power, spared him. He publicly bewails his death on the mountains of Gilboe. Consider the example of Joseph—his treatment of his unnatural brethren.

Fourthly. The peace of soul, and tranquillity of conscience, produced by this victory over one’s self, illustrated in the life of St. John Gualbert (July 12).

Fifthly. The dreadful consequences of harbouring feelings of vengeance. See this illustrated in the History of Sapricius, who lost the crown of martyrdom, and denied the faith, by not pardoning Nicephorus, while the latter, owing to his spirit of forgiveness, merited the martyr’s crown (Lives of Saints, 9th February).

Sixthly. Consider all God pardoned us, and how often; His countless benefits, general and particular, in consideration of which, He asks us to pardon His delinquent children. How often do we not see in the world, worthless, undeserving children pardoned, on account of their good parents?

Seventhly. The most important consideration of all—our Lord’s example, pardoning His enemies, during life, and at death. He, the God of heaven, pardons offences He could not deserve. We, sinful creatures, cannot pardon our fellow-creatures, offences we richly deserved, and which we should lovingly accept from God’s hands, as a trifling commutation for the eternal torments of hell, we so often merited. “Why is earth and ashes proud?” (Eccles. 10:9).

Eighthly. The chief means for achieving this victory over corrupt nature, is God’s grace, which is to be obtained only by fervent and persevering prayer.

 

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Bishop MacEvilly’s Commentary on Ephesians 6:10-17

Posted by Dim Bulb on October 9, 2013

This post opens with the Bishop’s brief analysis of Ephesians 6 which is followed by his notes on verses 10-17. Text in purple indicates his paraphrasing of the scripture he is commenting on.

AN ANALYSIS OF EPHESIANS CHAPTER 6

In this chapter, the Apostle continues the subject of obedience and its reciprocal duties. He first inculcates on children, the duty of obedience to their parents, and assigns for this several motives, (verses 1, 2, 3). He directs parents on the other hand, to avoid, in the education of their children, the excess of either severity or indulgence, and to instruct and correct them, according to the doctrine of the Lord (4).

The next class whom he instructs in the duty of obedience, are slaves, whom he enjoins to obey their temporal masters with reverence and sincerity, as Christ their Lord; and this not only in their presence, but always and in all places, serving them with benevolence and affection, keeping God in view, from whom they may expect an eternal recompense (5–8); and on masters he enjoins, on the other hand, the reciprocal duty of kindness and forbearance towards their slaves, knowing that they too have to render an account before a just Judge, who regards not the persons, but the merits of men (9).

After having laid down the rule of conduct which the Ephesians were to pursue in the different relations of life, the Apostle concludes the Epistle, with a general exhortation to fight manfully, in the spiritual struggle against the enemies of salvation (10). He exhorts them to put on the armour of God (11); he points out the power and cunning of their spiritual enemies. Hence the necessity of putting on the full spiritual panoply, the several parts of which he describes (12–17). But, as the victory must come from above; hence, the necessity of fervent prayer, which he entreats them to offer up, at all times, for all Christians (18), and for himself in particular, that he might receive strength to announce the Gospel with freedom and intrepidity (19). He sends Tychicus to console them, and concludes with a prayer to God, to grant the man increase of peace, and of all spiritual blessings.

Eph 6:10  Finally, brethren, be strengthened in the Lord and in the might of his power.

Finally, brethren, assume courage, relying on the Lord, who is your captain in the warfare in which you are continually engaged, and on the might of his strength.

“Finally, brethren.” (in the common Greek, my brethren). The pronoun is wanting in many manuscripts, and the words, “my brethren,” are not found at all in the Codex Vaticanus. After having laid down the rule of conduct to be followed by the Ephesians in the several relations of life, the Apostle concludes the Epistle by a general exhortation to fight manfully in the struggle wherein they are continually engaged against the enemies of salvation. For a soldier, two things are indispensable to secure success, viz., courage and arms. In this verse, he tells them to assume courage, relying on the Lord, &c.

Eph 6:11  Put you on the armour of God, that you may be able to stand against the deceits of the devil.

And put on the panoply, and complete armour of God, that you may be able to stand against and frustrate the insidious attacks of the devil.

“The armour of God.” In the Greek it is, την πανοπλιαν, the panoply, or complete suit of armour. “The deceits of the devil.” By the “devil,” some understand, adversary. From the following verse it is clear, however, that the word refers to the spirit of darkness, to that infernal adversary, who goes about like a roaring lion, seeking for his prey.—(1 Peter, 5:8).

Eph 6:12  For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood; but against principalities and powers, against the rulers of the world of this darkness, against the spirits of wickedness in the high places.

For our wrestling is not merely against weak men, composed of flesh and blood like ourselves? but against the evil spirits who fell from the orders of principalities and powers, and are themselves most powerful; against those spirits who exert their power in this lower darksome world—against wicked, cunning spirits, who dwell in the air, whence they descend to wage their fiendish war against us.

The reason why we should be thus securely clad in full and complete armour, is derived from the nature of the enemies whom we have to combat. For, our adversaries are “not flesh and blood,” i.e., men like ourselves, but “principalities and powers,” wicked spirits who fell from these, as well as from all the other orders of angels, and retained, even after their fall, the names of the respective orders, to which they belonged. Under “principalities and powers,” are included all the other orders of fallen spirits; but the Apostle expressly specifies “principalities and powers,” to give an idea of their very great power, and of the dominion which they exercise over sinners. It seems the more probable opinion, that angels fell from each of the nine orders of blessed Spirits at the instigation of Lucifer, their rebel chief, to whom Isaias alludes, under the figure of the haughty King of Babylon (14:12), and Ezechiel (28:17), under that of the King of Tyre. Dazzled with his own superior excellence, out of pride he aspired to be like unto God, and drew a great part of the heavenly host after him in his revolt.—(Apocal. 12:4). In an instant, they were hurled from their abode of bliss and condemned to hell.—(2 Peter, 2:4; Jude, v. 6). While some of these wicked spirits are confined to the abyss, others are permitted at large, till the last day.—(Luke, 8:31). Some of these dwell in the air, whence the descend to wage their fiendish war with mankind. St. Jerome assures us, in his commentary on this passage, that “it is the common opinion of all the learned, that the entire space or vacuum between heaven and earth is filled with these hostile powers.” The power of these fiends is very great, owing to the perfection of their nature. For, it is the common opinion, that they are not shorn of their innate natural strength by their fall, although restrained in its exercise; just as a sinner who falls from grace, still retains the strength of his nature. These spirits have exerted great powers in several instances by divine permission. They hurried the swine into the lake, killed the husbands of Sara, slew armies in one night, often stirred up tempests, and struck whole provinces with terror. We are told by Job, “there is no power on earth which can be compared with him who was made to fear no one.”—(12:24). God sometimes permits these wicked spirits to exert their innate strength on natural agents through secondary causes, in causing diseases among men, in raising storms, and producing other physical evils in this world. Such effects are sometimes ascribed to the wicked spirits in SS. Scripture (vide Calmet sur les Mauvais Anges.) The power of the devil is greatly restricted since the coming of Christ.—(Apoc. 20:2, 3). But, sometimes, he is permitted, even now, to exert his malice against man. To counteract the exercise of his power, we have the exorcisms and prayers of the Church—(See Butler’s Lives of Saints, October 2nd.) Such are the enemies we have to encounter, in our warfare here below. How powerful! Although the flesh and the world tempt us as well as the demon; still, he is the principal enemy, and the others he uses as instruments. “Against the rulers of the world of this darkness.” This more probably refers to the power which the demons exercise in this lower material world, by making use of creatures to tempt man and injure him. This innate power of the fallen angels is, however, restricted in its exercise, and dependent on the permission of God. He says “of this darkness,” to confine this power to the lower world, lest it be imagined they were rulers of the entire universe. Others understand the words to refer to the spiritual dominion which the demons exercise over infidels, idolaters, and all others who maintain vice and ignorance, and oppose the truth. “Against spirits of wickedness,” i.e., wicked, cunning spirits. The Greek, προς τὰ πνευματικα τῆς πονηρίας, literally is, against the spiritual things of wickedness. “In the high places.” The Greek, εν τοις επουρανιοις, literally means, in the heavenly places. Here, it means the higher regions of the atmosphere.

Eph 6:13  Therefore, take unto you the armour of God, that you may be able to resist in the evil day and to stand in all things perfect.

Having, therefore, such adversaries to combat, take unto you the full and complete armour of God, in order that you may be able to resist in the day of peril and temptation, so that, having been perfectly equipped, and furnished with armour in every respect, you may be able to stand your ground, and conquer your enemies.

“And to stand in all things perfect,” i.e., fully armed and equipped for battle. The Greek will also bear another meaning, giving the word “perfect” an active signification, thus: after having perfected or accomplished all the duties of a soldier, or, after having vanquished all your enemies, the world, the flesh, and the devil, ἅπαντα κατεργασάμενοι (omnia perficientes), you may be able to hold out and enjoy your victory, δυληθῆτε στῆναι. This interpretation gives the word “perfect” an active signification. The Vulgate reading is, however, preferable.

Eph 6:14  Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth and having on the breastplate of justice:

Stand, therefore, in battle, having your loins girt with truth for a belt, and with justice, for a breastplate.

“Stand therefore.” The first part of military training is to stand to their arms. “Having your loins girt with truth,” as a belt. The first part of the Christian panoply is the belt, which is “truth,” i.e., sincerity and fidelity in fulfilling one’s words and promises. In which sense it is said of our Redeemer, “erit fides (i.e., fidelitas), cinctorium lumborum ejus(this is referring to Isa 11:5~And justice shall be the girdle of his loins: and faith the girdle of his reins). The next is the “breastplate,” which is “justice,” i.e., the general virtue or practice of universal holiness. For, as the breastplate defends the principal and vital parts of man, so shall the general practice of holiness preserve the soul and conscience of a Christian against sin, the arms which the devil uses in the warfare.

Eph 6:15  And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace.

And let your shoes or boots be a prompt alacrity and ready willingness to follow at any risk the way of the gospel—the message of peace from heaven to earth—and announce it to heretics and infidels.

The shoes are the next part of the armour, which signify the prompt alacrity to walk in the way of the gospel, and to proclaim the message of peace contained in it to heretics and infidels, and to defend it against all attacks. This alacrity and promptitude to practise the precepts of the gospel, and announce it to others, is properly compared to boots, because the fervent are prepared for all difficulties, as those who are shod are prepared for the most arduous journeys and paths.

Eph 6:16  In all things taking the shield of faith, wherewith you may be able to extinguish all the fiery darts of the most wicked one.

In all temptations, taking the shield of faith, whereby you may be enabled to repel and extinguish all the fiery darts of the most wicked and most subtle enemy.

“In all things,” by which some understand, “above or before all things.” The exposition in Paraphrase is preferable. “Extinguish the fiery darts,” &c. In these words, allusion is made to a most destructive species of warfare anciently resorted to, viz., that of shooting arrows to which was attached combustible matter for the purpose of firing the tents, &c., of the enemy. Reference is made to them in Herodotus and Thucydides. The best mode of neutralizing their effects was to extinguish these arrows, which was done most effectually, by opposing to them some hard matter, such as shields. In the spiritual combat, such “fiery darts” mean fierce, violent temptations. The most effectual way of extinguishing these temptations of the devil and the flesh, is by opposing to them the “shield of faith,” i.e., the consideration of the truths of faith above all, of the four last things, and of the menaces, the punishments, and rewards which they point out to us.

Eph 6:17  And take unto you the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit (which is the word of God).

And take unto you for helmet, the hope of salvation; and take for sword, supplied you by the Holy Ghost, the truths revealed by God, and firmly believed by faith.

 The next part of the panoply is, the helmet, by which is meant “salvation,” or, as it is more clearly expressed (Thessalonians, 5:8), “the hope of salvation.” Because as the helmet protects the head, so does the hope of future rewards direct to good our thoughts and our intentions, which are the heads of our actions. “And the sword of the spirit,” &c. The only offensive weapon mentioned is “the sword,” by which is meant “the word of God,” i.e., the revealed truths of faith, whether known from Scripture or Tradition; for the knowledge of the truths of faith, the rewards and punishments of a future life, will make the Christian soldier more vigilant not to be taken by surprise; more resolute and determined to battle manfully and perseveringly against the enemy. Or, according to others, the revealed word of God will supply the Christian soldier with ample means of refuting the gainsayer, whether infidel or heretic. The former meaning is preferable, because the enemies in the combat are the spirits of wickedness.

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Sunday, October 6, 2013: Resources for Sunday Mass (Ordinary and Extraordinary Forms)

Posted by Dim Bulb on October 1, 2013

ORDINARY FORM OF THE RITE
SUNDAY, OCTOBER 6, 2013
TWENTY-SEVENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME

READINGS AND OFFICE:

Today’s Mass Readings (NABRE). Translation used in the USA.

Today’s Mass Readings (NJB). Scroll down slightly. The NJB is used in most other English speaking countries.

Today’s Divine Office.

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

COMMENTARIES ON THE FIRST READING: Habakkuk 1:2-3, 2:2-4

Navarre Bible Commentary on Habakkuk 1:2-3, 2:2-4.

Pending: My Notes on Habakkuk 1:2-3, 2:2-4.

Word-Sunday Notes on Habakkuk 1:2-3, 2:2-4.

COMMENTARIES ON THE RESPONSORIAL: Psalm 95:1-2, 6-7, 8-9.

Father Boylan’s Introduction to Psalm 95.

Patristic/Medieval Commentary on Psalm 95.

Father Tauton’s Commentary on Psalm 95.

Word-Sunday Notes on Psalm 95.

COMMENTARIES ON THE SECOND READING: 2 Timothy 1:6-8, 13-14.

Father Callan’s Commentary on 2 Timothy 1:6-8, 13-14.

Pending: Bishop MacEvilly’s Commentary on 2 Timothy 1:6-8, 13-14

Word-Sunday Notes on 2 Timothy 1:6-8, 13-14.

Homilist’s Catechism on 2 Timothy 1:6-8, 13-14.

Navarre Bible Commentary on 2 Timothy 1:6-8. 13-14.

COMMENTARIES ON THE GOSPEL READING: Luke 17:5-10.

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Luke 17:5-10.

St Cyril of Alexandria’s Homiletic Commentary on Luke 17:5-10. Excerpts.

Word-Sunday Notes on Luke 17:5-10.

Homilist’s Catechism on Luke 17:5-10.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Luke 17:5-10.

GENERAL RESOURCES:

Sacred Page Blog: Lessons in Faith and Faithfulness. Catholic biblical scholar Dr. John Bergsma looks at the readings.

Sacerdos. Gives theme of the readings, doctrinal message, suggested pastoral applications.

The Bible Workshop. Guide to the Gospel; review of the readings, suggestions for a lesson (i.e., homily).

Scripture in Depth. Succinct summary of the readings.

Thought From the Early Church: Augustine of Hippo. Brief commentary.

Historical Cultural Context. The gospel reading in light of 1st century Mediterranean culture.

Lector Notes. Brief historical and theological background

The Wednesday Word. Time sensitive link. Reflections and commentary on the Sunday readings by Father Dom Henry Wansbrough, O.S.B. He is a world renowned biblical scholar who contributed four commentaries on the NT section of the New Catholic Commentary on Holy Scripture (Matt, Mark, Acts, Pastorals), and was general editor of the New Jerusalem Bible.

Prepare For Mass. Devotional video’s, links, etc.

PODCASTS:

Dr. Scott Hahn’s Sunday Bible Reflections. Very brief. Does good job of highlighting basic theme(s).

Father Robert Barron’s Podcast Homily. Link is to archive page. New homily should be posted soon.

Franciscan Sister’s Bible Study PodcastThe Study for this Sunday (Oct 6) should become available sometime Thursday. Looks at the readings in some detail.

St Martha’s Parish Bible Study of the Sunday Readings. Looks at the readings in some detail.

Inside the Bible, Episode 8~The Minor Prophets. From an EWTN series on Fr. Kenneth Baker’s “Inside the Bible,” a popular, basic introduction to the books of the Bible. Episode 8 treats of Habakkuk (and others). I would suggest listening to episodes 7 & 8.

Father Mike’s Bible Study Podcast. Introduction to the Minor Prophets Obadiah-Malachi, thus including Habbakkuk.

St Paul Repository Podcast on Habakkuk the Prophet. Scroll down and click on the player.

Father Mike’s Bible Study Podcast on 2 Timothy. Introduction to the letters to Timothy, Titus & Philemon.

Part 1: St Irenaeus Ministries Podcast on 2 Timothy. Introduction and study of 1:1-7. Click on POD icon.

Part 2: St Irenaeus Ministries Podcast on 2 Timothy. On 1:8-18. Click on POD icon.

Father Mike’s Bible Study Podcast on Luke. Introduction to the gospel.

St Irenaeus Ministries Podcast Study of Luke 15-17. Click on POD icon.

EXTRAORDINARY FORM OF THE ROMAN RITE
SUNDAY, OCTOBER 6:2013
TWENTIETH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST
Dominica XX Post Pentecosten I. Octobris ~ II. classis

MISSAL AND BREVIARY:

Daily Roman Missal.

Goffine’s Devout Instructions on the Gospel and Epistle. Contains the readings with some brief instruction.

Roman Breviary.

COMMENTARIES ON THE LESSON: Ephesians 5:15-21.

Father Hitchcock’s Commentary on Eph 5:15-21.

Bishop MacEvily’s Commentary on Eph 5:15-21.

Father de Piconio’s Commentary on Eph 5:15-21.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Eph 5:15-21 in Two Parts:

Part 1: Eph 5:15-21

Part 2: Eph 5:21On 21-32.

COMMENTARIES ON THE GOSPEL: John 4:46-54.

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on John 4:46-53.

Cornelius a Lapide’s Commentary on John 4:46-53.

Navarre Bible Commentary on John 4:46-53. On 43-54.

HOMILIES AND HOMILY NOTES: for both Lesson (Epistle) and Gospel.

Pope St Gregory the Great’s Homily on the Gospel.

Aquinas’ Homily Notes on Ephesians 5:15. Can provide points for meditation or further study.

Aquinas’ Homily Notes on John 4:46-53. Can provide points for meditation or further study.

Homily on the Epistle. Bishop Bonomelli. Online book, use site’s zoom feature to increase text size if needed.

Homily on the Gospel. Bishop Bonomelli. Online book, use site’s zoom feature to increase text size if needed.

Homiletic Sketch on the Epistle. Online book, use site’s zoom feature to increase text size if needed.

Homiletic Sketch on the Gospel. Online book, use site’s zoom feature to increase text size if needed.

On the Rule of Faith (Gospel). Online book, use site’s zoom feature to increase text size if needed.

Liturgical Sketch (Gospel). Online book, use site’s zoom feature to increase text size if needed.

Symbolical Sketch (Gospel). Online book, use site’s zoom feature to increase text size if needed.

Moral Sketch (Gospel). Online book, use site’s zoom feature to increase text size if needed.

Another Moral Sketch. Online book, use site’s zoom feature to increase text size if needed.

Posted in Catholic, Catholic lectionary, Catholic Sunday Lectionary, Latin Mass Notes | Tagged: , , , | 6 Comments »

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

Posted by Dim Bulb on September 26, 2013

Mat 18:1  At that hour the disciples came to Jesus, saying: Who, thinkest thou, is the greater in the kingdom of heaven?

At that hour the disciples came, &c. There seems to be a discrepancy here with Mar_9:31, where it is said that the disciples disputed about this matter in the way, and that afterwards, when they were in the house, Christ prevented them, and asked them what they were doing in the way? S. Chrysostom answers that the Apostles had often disputed about this same matter, and at length Christ anticipated them with this question. When, therefore, they saw that their thoughts were known to Christ, they opened the matter to Him of their own accord, and asked him to resolve their question for them. Various things gave rise to these disputations, but the immediate cause was Christ having paid the didrachma for Peter only. Hence they envied him, as preferred to them, and then each began to be anxious that he might be promoted to the first rank. Hear S. Jerome, “Because they saw that the same piece of money had paid the tribute both for the Lord and Peter, from the equality of the payment, they thought Peter was preferred above the rest of the Apostles. Therefore they asked, Who, thinkest thou, is the greater in the kingdom of heaven? Jesus knowing their thoughts, and understanding the cause of their error, desired to heal their desire of glory by teaching them to contend in humility.” Again, they saw that Peter, James and John had been taken apart by Christ on Tabor, and they grieved that they too had not been taken. Lastly, they had heard that Christ was shortly to die, and rise again, and enter into His glorious kingdom, and they prematurely were occupying themselves about these things, and seeking how they might become chiefs.

The greatest, i.e., in the kingdom of Messiah, which the Apostles expected Christ would establish on the earth indeed, though a heavenly and Divine kingdom, that is, in the Church. For the Church Militant on earth is tending towards the Church Triumphant in Heaven, as to the kingdom promised it by Christ. Maldonatus understands the passage as follows: He who is less, i.e., more humble in the Church is greater in the Church, and therefore greater in the kingdom of Heaven. He proves this: 1, from the occasion of this question, because from Christ’s having paid the didrachma for Peter, the Apostles conjectured he was to be the future head of the church; 2, because Christ regarded the question as a mark of ambition: and it is ambition to seek the first place in the Church, but not in Heaven. Charity persuades us to seek the first places in Heaven. This explanation is probable; but we may understand the passage more simply, by taking the kingdom of Heaven to mean literally Heaven. The Apostles are charged by Christ with ambition, because they looked upon the kingdom of Heaven like an earthly kingdom, which is often compassed because of pride, and even seized by force of arms.

Mat 18:2  And Jesus, calling unto him a little child, set him in the midst of them.

And Jesus calling unto him a little child, &c. Mark adds that He took him in His arms. It is thought, says Jansen, that this little boy was S. Martial, who afterwards became a disciple of S. Peter, and was sent by him to preach the Gospel in Gaul, and converted the inhabitants of Limousin, of Toulouse, and Bourdeaux. But others say that S. Martial was one of the seventy-two disciples. He could not, therefore, have been a little child at this time.

Mat 18:3  And said: amen I say to you, unless you be converted, and become as little children, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.

Converted, i.e., from this emulation and ambition of yours, which is at least a venial sin, and therefore an impediment to entrance into the kingdom of Heaven.

As little children: for, speaking generally, they do not envy others, nor covet precedence, but are simple, humble, innocent, and candid. I say generally, for S. Augustine (Confess. l 1, c. 7) testifies that he had seen an infant at its mother’s breasts growing pale with envy, because he saw his twin brother sucking at the same breasts. But there is no little child who is ambitious of a kingdom, or of the first place in a kingdom, as the Apostles were.

Christ bids us become like little children. Briefly, and to the point, does S. Hilary sum up their characteristics which ought to be imitated by believers. “They,” he says, “follow their father; they love their mother: they wish no evil to their neighbour; they regard not the care of riches; they are not wont to be insolent, nor to hate, nor to tell lies. They believe what they are told; they regard as true what they hear. Let us return, therefore, to the simplicity of little children, for when we have that, we bear about with us a likeness of the Lord’s humility.”

The way, therefore, to Heaven is humility; and the entrance and the door of Heaven is humility, because, save through it, there is no access to Heaven. S. Antony saw in spirit the whole world full of gins, and souls who desired to fly to Heaven caught in them, and being thus ensnared by the demons, thrust into hell. He cried out with groans, “0 Lord, who shall escape all these snares?” And he heard the answer, “Humility shall escape them all.” Christ, that He may cure the ambition of His disciples by a zeal for humility, makes use of three reasons to persuade them. The first is in this verse, in which he declares that none who are devoid of it shall enter Heaven. The second is in the following verse; that humility exalts, and that if you wish to be great in the kingdom of Heaven you must be small and humble on earth. The third is in the fifth verse; that humility is conformity to Christ, Who humbled Himself below the Apostles and all men, Who humbled Himself even unto death. Therefore, whoso receiveth him that is humble receiveth Christ.

Mat 18:4  Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, he is the greater in the kingdom of heaven.

Whosoever therefore shall humble himself, &c., i.e., shall be as humble through virtue as this little child is by nature: or who shall be lowly in mind as he is little in body. Christ then bids us become like little ones, not in want of wisdom but in simplicity and innocence, and directly in humility. Thus the Apostles (1Cor 14:20). “Brethren be not children in understanding: howbeit in malice be ye children, but in understanding be ye men.” Origen gives the reason, “A little child has no overweening ideas of himself, and does not boast of rank or riches. We see that infants until their third or fourth year, even if they belong to the nobility, put themselves on an equality with boys of lowly birth, and are as ready to love poor children as rich ones.”

Moraliter: learn here the paradox of Christian wisdom. If you wish to be great in heaven, desire to be unknown on earth, and to be little among men, to be despised and made of no account. If you wish to be raised to the chief thrones in the empyrean, place thyself even below the feet of Judas, as S. Francis Borgia did. For it has been fixed and sanctioned by the eternal law of God, that “whoso exalteth himself shall be abased, and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.” There once was seen a lofty and glorious throne among the Seraphim, and a voice was heard which said, “This seat is kept for the lowly Francis.” So Bonaventura in his life.

Humility is grateful and honourable with God, with angels and with men. Even if you would act upon mere policy, you must embrace humility, because it is in favour with all men. Hence courtiers, be they as ambitious as they may, yet marvellously humble themselves both in word and deed; but because they labour under the secret arrogance of the mind, it is difficult for them not to betray their hauteur from breaking out by some indication in their countenance. S. Jerome, or rather S. Paulinus (Epist. ad Celant. 14), says, “You can have nothing more excellent, or more loveable than humility. She is the chief preserver, and as it were the guardian of all virtues. And there is nothing which can make us so pleasing to God and men, as that when we are deservedly great by reason of our life, we should be the lowest by reason of humility.” As the Scripture says, “The greater thou art, humble thyself in all things, and thou shalt find favour before God.” Moreover S. Jerome says (Epis. 45, ad Anton.), “Our Lord as a teacher of humility to His disciples, when they were disputing about dignity, took a little child and said, whosoever of you shall not be converted to be like an infant, cannot enter into the kingdom of heaven. But that He might appear not only to teach, but also to do, He fulfilled this by His example, when, whilst washing His disciples’ feet, He kissed His betrayer; when He conversed with the Samaritan woman; when He talked with Mary sitting at His feet about the kingdom of heaven; when, rising from the dead, He appeared first to the women. But Satan fell from the state of an archangel for no other cause than pride, which is the vice contrary to humility.” Humility, therefore, makes man to become an angel, even as pride made an angel become a devil. The first gift which is given to a man from beholding the Divine light is self-knowledge, says S. Denys (Epist. 7, ad Titum), and this is humility. For humility is a virtue by which a man thinketh vilely of himself through self-knowledge, and reckons himself inferior to all; either because he esteems himself viler, weaker, or more wretched than all, or because he piously thinks others are endowed with greater grace and other gifts of God than he is. That is a golden saying of blessed Nilus: “Blessed is he whose life is lofty, his spirit lowly.” Hear, too, the words of Cæsarius (Hom. 30): “As from an earthly fountain, or a terrestrial river, no one can drink unless he be willing to stoop, so also no one can draw living water from Christ, the Fountain of Life, and from the river of the Holy Ghost, unless he shall humble himself, according to that which is written—’God resisteth the proud.'” Lastly, S. Jerome gives a mirror of humility in S. Paula, of whom he writes thus in her epitaph: “She shines, amongst a multitude of gems, as the most precious of all, and, as a ray of the sun, obscures the little sparkles of the stars. Thus she surpassed the virtues of all by the power of her humility. She was the least of all, that she might become greater than all; and the more she cast herself down, the more she was lifted up by Christ. She was obscure, and yet she could not lie hid. By flying from glory, she merited renown, which follows virtue like its shadow, and—deserting those who hunger after it—seeks those who despise it.”

Mat 18:5  And he that shall receive one such little child in my name, receiveth me.

And he that shall receive, &c. That is in hospitality, to his table, by favour, or by assisting in any other way. By receive is here meant any kind of benefit or charity, or benevolence. Observe, Luke has this little child. From this it appears that Christ speaks: 1. Of a child who is truly a little one: 2. Of a mystical child, viz., of a person who is lowly and humble. He rises from one to the other, playing upon the expression little one (parvulus). It is as though Christ said, So pleasing is humility to Me, that I delight in children, because they bear humility about with them, in appearance, in their stature, their age, their innocence: and I would have all My disciples become little children, and imitate little children, and so deserve to be received by all men. For men will think that in them they receive Me, because they receive them for My sake. For of Me Isaiah prophesied “Unto us a child (pavulus) is born, to us a son is given.” Like unto this is the voice of Christ in the following chapter, verse 14. S. Jerome observes that a little one is here spoken of, “because he who is offended is a little one; for those who are older do not take offence.” Mark and Luke add, He that receiver Me, receiveth Him that sent Me. Luke gives the reason, He that is least among you all, i.e., who is the most humble of you all, he is the greatest, that is to say, with Me and My Father which is in Heaven. “He is lowly,” says S. Augustine, “who chooses rather to be an abject in the house of the Lord than to dwell in the tabernacles of sinners.” (Vulg.) This saying of Christ, S. Elizabeth, the daughter of the King of Hungary, stamped upon her very inmost heart. She fed and served daily nine hundred poor people, sick, full of scabs and ulcers. The lepers she washed with her own hands, wiped and kissed their ulcers. In such offices she delighted, and was wont to say, “How good and kind the Lord is to me, in that He suffers me to wash and wipe these people.”

Mat 18:6  But he that shall scandalize one of these little ones that believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone should be hanged about his neck, and that he should be drowned in the depth of the sea.

But he that shall scandalize, &c. Syriac, shall be for a stumbling block to. That means, as Theophylact says, shall injure, as S. Chrysostom says, shall despise. It is opposed to the word, shall receive, in verse 5. So Maldonatus. But it is better to take, as Jansen does, the word offence in its proper meaning. For this is plain from what follows. So there is an antithesis between it and receive. As thus, he who shall receive a little child in My name, i.e., shall cherish and advance him in My faith and love and worship, receives Me. But whoso shall offend one of these little ones, that is, shall by wicked word or example turn him from My love and worship, it would be better for him that he were drowned in the sea.

It were better for him, i.e., as Luke has it (17:2), It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and be cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones. It were better to be sunk in the sea than to scandalize little ones upon earth, because drowning is the death of the body, but causing a scandal is the death of the soul, both your own and the the souls of those whom you cause to stumble, and lead into sin. S. Matthew leaves out the second part of the antithesis, which Luke expresses in the words, than that he should offend one of these little ones. S. Jerome gives a different turn. “It is better for him,” he says, “to receive a short punishment for a fault, than to be reserved for eternal torments: for the Lord will not punish twice for the same offence.”

You will ask how this verse is connected with what precedes, and how this offence applies to the Apostles? S. Jerome replies, “Although this sentence may be taken as generally applicable against all who cause any one to stumble, nevertheless according to the sequence of the words, it can even be understood as spoken against the Apostles, who by asking which was the greatest in the kingdom of Heaven, seemed to contend among themselves about pre-eminence. And if they remained in this fault, they might destroy those whom they were inviting to the faith, by giving them cause of offence, when they saw the Apostles fighting among themselves about dignity. And when He says, it were better for him that a very heavy millstone were hung about his neck, He is speaking according to the custom of the country: for this was a method of punishing very great criminals amongst the ancient Jews, that a heavy stone should be tied to them, and that they should be sunk in a deep place.”

Millstone (Vulg. mola asinaria; Gr. μύλος ο̉νικὸς) This is a millstone which in Palestine, say SS. Hilary and Ambrose, is turned by asses. Whence the Syriac translates, the millstone of an ass. It means a large and heavy millstone, which could not be turned by a man, but which would require a horse or an ass to turn it. Or it may mean the nether millstone upon which the upper millstone revolves. This nether millstone is called in Greek όνος, an ass, because it sustains the weight and burden of the upper millstone. Thus, too, the Hebrews call the upper stone רככ recheb, a horseman, because it rides, as it were, upon the nether stone.

Let the clergy and religious, who contend for pre-eminence among themselves, take note of this passage. For such contention causes seculars to stumble, and is a great disgrace and cause of reproach to religion. And it were better for them that they should be sunk with a millstone in the depths of the sea than that they should give cause of scandal to Christian people.

Mat 18:7  Woe to the world because of scandals. For it must needs be that scandals come: but nevertheless woe to that man by whom the scandal cometh.

Woe to the world, &c.; that is, great and dreadful evils, both present and future, impend over men of the world, on account of God’s wrath because of scandals, active as well as Passive. For they who cause others to stumble by their ambition, or by the example of their evil life, are guilty of the punishment of hell. And they who are scandalized, and follow the evil examples of others, are condemned as their followers and associates, and both alike perish. The world is full of scandals, because it is full of wicked men, libertines, spend-thrifts, and avaricious people. In order that they may satisfy their lusts, they cause all to stumble. Wherefore the larger part of mankind is damned because of scandals. Wherefore it follows, it must needs be, &c. Moreover, scandals, or offences—of which Christ is here speaking—are persecutions, derision, injuries of the righteous; also evil examples, false doctrines, things done or said unseasonably; for there are many things which are good and lawful in themselves, but by reason of inopportuneness of time, or place, when they are done before the uninstructed, become an occasion of scandal.

It must needs be, &c. Not absolutely, nor per se, but by supposition. For the various dispositions and corruptions of so many men being foreseen and presupposed; together with their levity, ambition, cupidity, forasmuch as they are free to be wicked, it is not possible but that sometimes by some, yea frequently by many, there should be (at least indeterminately, and in the gross) scandals, i.e., crimes, and other things which cause the little ones to stumble. So S. Paul says (1 Cor. 11:38): There must be heresies. Thus it is necessary in genere, and in the gross, that a just man should commit venial sin sometimes; although the particular acts of each individual are free, not absolutely determined. Therefore, any individual may avoid venial sins, considered one by one, but not all venial sins altogether. For let us grant that in individual cases a man may give such care and attention as not to sin, yet it is impossible that—taking all contingent events in the lump—a man should not sometimes be remiss, and fail, or slip. For this is the infirmity of the mind of man since the Fall. In the same way it is necessary that the most skilful archer, who to a certainty hits the mark as often as he chooses to do so, should sometimes miss it, if he is perpetually shooting at it. For this is a condition and result of human weakness—that mind, hand, or eye cannot long keep up the strain of their attention, that a man should hit the mark a hundred times running. He must miss sometimes.

But nevertheless woe to that man, &c. Because he determinately, and of free will, in this or that wicked or indiscreet action gives an offence to the little ones, and so sins mortally. SS. Jerome and Bede apply these words to Judas, who gave the greatest scandal to the whole world, when he betrayed Christ. But the words are of general application, and threaten the woe of eternal damnation to all who are a cause of offence. Christ here teaches three things concerning scandals: 1. How grave they are in themselves and in their consequences. 2. How numerous they are, and that they must needs come; speaking generally. 3. How carefully they are to be avoided. Wherefore He subjoins,

Mat 18:8  And if thy hand, or thy foot, scandalize thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee. It is better for thee to go into life maimed or lame, than having two hands or two feet, to be cast into everlasting fire.
Mat 18:9  And if thy eye scandalize thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee. It is better for thee having one eye to enter into life, than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire.

And if thy hand, &c. (verses 8 and 9), as I have expounded on chapter 5:30.

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

See that you despise not one of these little ones, &c., viz., those who are lowly, whom the world despises as poor and miserable. For although they may be weak, yet have they guardian angels who are strong, who may accuse you to God the Father, whom they always behold, and by His command may severely avenge and punish all offences and wrongs done to those who have been committed to their charge.

For I say to you, &c. From this passage, and from Gen_48:16, and Act_12:15, and from the general tradition of the Fathers, doctors teach that all Christians, yea indeed all men, have an angel who is appointed by God to be their guardian from birth unto death. Hear S. Jerome “Great is the dignity of souls, that each has from his birth an angel appointed to watch over him.” And again, “The angels offer daily, through Christ, the prayers of those who are to bc saved. It is therefore a perilous thing to despise one whose desires are carried to the eternal and invisible God by the ministry of angels.” All the rest of the Ancients, and even the Protestant doctors, teach the same thing. Suarez cites them (lib. 6 de Angelis, c. 17, n. 8). He shews in opposition to Calvin and the Centuriators that it is an error to deny that a guardian angel is given by God to all men, not only to believers and the righteous, as Origen seems to have supposed, but even to unbelievers and the reprobate. Wherefore Antichrist will have his guardian angel, as S. Thomas teaches (1 part. quæst. 113, art. 4, ad. 3). Suarez teaches the same, and that guardian angels are ordinarily of the ninth, or lowest order of the angelic hierarchy, who are designated by the common appellation of angels. But to some special individuals of surpassing excellence or dignity, as Apostles, Prophets, Patriarchs, Bishops, Kings, guardians have been assigned of the eighth order, who are called archangels. Hence Gabriel was the guardian of the Blessed Virgin, and he is thought by many to belong to the order of the Seraphim. In saying that all men have a guardian angel, I except Christ, for He needed not an angel, whose Divinity was a sufficient guardian of His humanity. Nevertheless Christ had many angels, always at hand to minister to His wants. On this subject we must read Origen with caution, who pretends that guardian angels sometimes sin through negligence in their guardianship, and therefore are deprived for a time of the vision of God. But this is an error, for all the angels are blessed, and therefore immutable and impeccable.

The offices of the guardian angels are as follows:—1. To avert dangers both of the body and the soul. 2. To illuminate and instruct those committed to their charge, and to urge them to good works. 3. To restrain the demon, that he may not suggest wicked thoughts, or furnish occasions of sin. 4. To offer to God the prayers of him whom he guards. 5. To pray for him. 6. To correct him if he sin. 7. To stand by him at the hour of death, to comfort and assist him in his last struggle. 8. After death to convey the soul to Heaven, or if it need purgatory, to accompany it thither, and when there to console it from time to time, until purgatory being over, he carries it to Heaven.

You will ask why the expression their angels connotes not only the little ones who believe in Christ, which is the direct antecedent, but all other men? S. Chrysostom replies that angels denote not any angels, but those of surpassing dignity, as though the care of the little ones were committed to the highest angels. S. Thomas interprets the highest angels to mean not the chief of the highest order the Seraphim, but the chief of the ninth order of angels, so that the highest angels in that order are the guardians of men; those in the middle ranks, of animals; and the lowest, the guardians of trees and plants. To this we may add the opinion of Maldonatus, who thinks that the guardians of little ones are higher in rank than those of other men. And by little ones he understands not children, but the humble and the righteous, for whom God has greater care than for other men, as the whole of Scripture testifies. He proves that the angels of the little ones are greater and more honourable for this reason, that they always behold the face of God. Not that the other angels do not see It, but because by this expression the Hebrews signify one who is near to God, and His friend. It is a metaphor taken from courts, where the most honourable are those who are nearest to the king, and therefore most frequently see His face. Thus the Queen of Sheba says of the servants of Solomon, “Blessed are these thy servants, who stand before thee, and hear thy wisdom.”

2. Their angels, denotes that the angels of little ones have special care of them, more than the angels of those who are grown up. Of little ones, I say, both those who are so in age and faith, as well as in their lot and condition. For these, since they are weak in judgment and prudence, have the greater need of the care and guardianship of angels. It is a saying of the common people, that infants and idiots are the chief objects of angels’ care, for truly, unless angels had special care of infants, they would continually fall into the fire or water, and would be injured by pigs and beasts, and run over by horses and carriages.

3. Their angels, means that they are the peculiar friends of the little ones. For the angels marvellously love little children and the humble, because they, as it were, belong to them, and are most like them. For the angels are very humble, and by their humility they overcame Lucifer, saying, with S. Michael, their captain, mi ca el, i.e., who is as God? (See Philo Berlemont, in the Paradise for Children).

Moraliter: Learn from hence, first, how great is the dignity of souls, that they have angels for their guardians. In the next place how great is the condescension of God, that he assigns to us such guides. For these are they of whom it is said in Psalm 104, “Who maketh His angels spirits, His ministers a flaming fire.” In the last place, how great is the humility and love of the angels, who do not disdain these offices, but delight in them, because they see their Lord and God made man, as S. Bernard says. Wherefore the same S. Bernard says, on the words of the Psalm, He shall give His angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways, “What reverence ought these words to instil into thee, what devotion, what confidence. Reverence for the angel’s presence, devotion for his kindness, confidence for his guardianship. Walk warily, even as one to whom angels are present, in all thy ways. Whithersoever thou turnest aside, in whatever corner thou art, reverence thy angel. Do not dare to do in his presence what thou wouldst not dare to do if I saw thee.”

Again, since the angels make it their business to purify, illuminate and perfect us, it is right that we should obey them by striving with all our might to attain to great sanctity and perfection, that we should emulate the life and habits of the angels, as those who are to be by and bye their companions in Heaven, for as the Apostle says, “Ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God.” And, “Ye are come unto the city of the living God, to an innumerable company of angels.” Wherefore let us put away far from us all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, and especially all pride and contention. Nothing so provokes the angels to indignation as quarrels and scandals, as Christ here teaches, for they are the very angels of peace and edification.

In fine, let us often converse with our angels in spirit, as St. Bernard says, “Have the angels, my brethren, for your friends, and often go to them in earnest thought and devout adoration, for they are always present to guard and comfort you.”

That their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father, &c., that is, the shining essence of God. The angels always see clearly without a veil, as it were face to face. The angels, says S. Augustine (lib. 9. de Civit. c. 22.), enjoy the immutable and ineffable beauty of God, with the holy love of Whom they burn. they despise all lower things, and themselves among them, that they may enjoy wholly, because they are good, that Good, by which they are good. The face of God then is the beauty and the brightness of the Divinity, clearly manifesting Itself to the angels, and making them blessed; for otherwise, strictly speaking, God has not a face, even as he has not a body.

Who is in Heaven: S. Gregory (2 Moral. c. 2.), and S. Bernard (Serm. 5, de dedicat. Eccles.) observe that the angels, even when they go forth from Heaven, always behold the face of God. For they are blessed wheresoever they are; therefore, wheresoever they are, they are said to be in Heaven. For where there is the vision and glory of God, there is Paradise and Heaven. Hence S. Gregory says, “They both stand before God, and are sent; because through this, that they have been circumscribed, they go forth; and through this, that they are also present within, they never go away. And therefore they always see the face of the Father, and yet come to us, because they go forth abroad to us in spiritual presence, and yet they keep themselves there by interior contemplation.” And a little before, “What can they be ignorant of in things that can be known, who know Him who knoweth all things?” They are not therefore called away from the guardianship of the humble through desire of returning to God, because they never depart from God, but wheresoever they are, they have Him present. They do all things, and guard the little ones in God, and for the sake of God.

 

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