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 ‘Notes on Matthew’

St John Chrysostom’s Homiletic Commentary on Matthew 25:1-30

Posted by Dim Bulb on November 4, 2017

These parables are like the former parable of the faithful servant, and of him that was ungrateful and devoured his Lord’s goods. For there are four in all, in different ways admonishing us about the same things, I mean about diligence in almsgiving, and about helping our neighbor by all means which we are able to use, since it is not possible to be saved in another way. But there He speaks more generally of all assistance which should he rendered to one’s neighbor; but as to the virgins, he speaketh particularly of mercifulness in alms, and more strongly than in the former parable. For there He punishes him that beats, and is drunken, and scatters and wastes his lord’s goods, but here even him that doth not help, nor spends abundantly his goods upon the needy. For they had oil indeed, but not in abundance, wherefore also they are punished.

But wherefore doth He set forth this parable in the person of the virgins, and doth not merely suppose any person whatever? Great things had He spoken of virginity, saying, “There are eunuchs, who have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of Heaven’s sake;” and, “He that is able to receive, let him receive it.”1 He knew also that the generality of men would have a great opinion of it. For indeed the work is by nature great, and is shown so by this, that neither under the old dispensation was it fulfilled by these ancient and holy men, nor under the new was it brought under the compulsion of the law. For He did not command this, but left it to the choice of his hearers. Wherefore Paul also said “Now, concerning virgins I have no commandment of the Lord.”2 “For though I praise him that attains thereto, yet I constrain not him that is not willing, neither do I make the thing an injunction.” Since then the thing is both great in itself and hath great honor with the multitude, lest any one attaining to this should feel as though he had attained to all, and should be careless about the rest, He putteth forth this parable sufficient to persuade them, that virginity, though it should have everything else, if destitute of the good things arising out of almsgiving, is cast out with the harlots, and He sets the inhuman and merciless with them. And most reasonably, for the one was overcome by the love of carnal pleasure, but these3 of money. But the Jove of carnal pleasure and of money are not equal, but that of carnal pleasure is far keener and more tyrannical. And the weaker the antagonist, the less excusable are these4 that are overcome thereby. Therefore also He calls them foolish, for that having undergone the greater labor, they have betrayed all for want of the less. But by lamps here, He meaneth the gift itself of virginity, the purity of holiness; and by oil, humanity, almsgiving, succor to them that are in need.

“Then, while the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept.” He shows that the time intervening will not be short, leading His disciples away from the expectation that His kingdom was quite immediately to appear. For this indeed they hoped, therefore He is continually holding them back from this hope. And at the same time He intimates this too, that death is a sleep. For they slept, He saith.

“And about midnight there was a cry made.” Either He was continuing the parable, or again He shows that the resurrection will be at night. But the cry Paul also indicates, saying, “With a shout, with a voice of an archangel, with the last trump, He shall come down from Heaven.”5 And what mean the trumpets, and what saith the cry? “The bridegroom cometh.” When therefore they had trimmed their lamps, the foolish say unto the wise, “Give us of your oil.” Again He calls them foolish, showing that nothing can be more foolish than they who are wealthy here, and depart naked thither, where most of all we have need of humanity, where we want much oil. But not in this respect only were they foolish, but also because they looked to receive it there, and sought it out of season; and yet nothing could be more humane than those virgins, who for this especially were approved. Neither do they seek for it all, for, “Give us,” they say, “of your oil;” and the urgency of their need is indicated; “for our lamps,” they say, “are going out.” But even so they failed, and neither the humanity of those whom they asked, nor the easiness of their request, nor their necessity and want, made them obtain.

But what now do we learn from hence? That no man can protect us there, if we are betrayed by our works, not because he will not, but because he cannot. For these too take refuge in the impossibility. This the blessed Abraham also indicated, saying, “Between us and you there is a great gulf,”1 so that not even when willing is it permitted them to pass it.

“But go to them that sell, and buy.” And who are they that sell? The poor. And where are these? Here, and then should they have sought them, not at that time.

2. Seest thou what great profit arises to us from the poor? shouldest thou take them away, thou wouldest take away the great hope of our salvation. Wherefore here must we get together the oil, that it may be useful to us there, when the time calls us. For that is not the time of collecting it, but this. Spend not then your goods for nought in luxury and vainglory. For thou wilt have need of much oil there.

Having heard these things, those virgins went their way; but they profiled nothing. And this He saith, either pursuing the parable, and working it up; or also by these things showing, that though we should become humane after our departure, we shall gain nothing from thence towards our escape. Therefore neither did their forwardness avail these virgins, because they went to them that sell not here, but there; nor the rich man, when he became so charitable, as even to be anxious about his relations. For he that was passing by him that was laid at the gate, is eager to rescue from perils and from hell them whom he did not so much as see, and entreats that some be sent to tell them these things. But nevertheless, he derived no benefit from thence, as neither did these virgins. For when they having heard these things went their way, the bridegroom came, and they that were ready went in with Him, but the others were shut out. After their many labors, after their innumerable toils, and that intolerable fight, and those trophies which they had set up over the madness of natural appetite, disgraced, and with their lamps gone out, they withdrew, bending down their faces to the earth. For nothing is more sullied than virginity not having mercy; so that even the multitude are wont to call the unmerciful dark. Where then was the profit of virginity, when they saw not the bridegroom? and not even when they had knocked did they obtain, but they heard that fearful saying, “Depart, I know you not.”2 And when He hath said this, nothing else but hell is left, and that intolerable punishment; or rather, this word is more grievous even than hell. This word He speaks to them also that work iniquity.3

“Watch therefore, for ye know not the day nor the hour.”4 Seest thou how continually He adds this, showing how awful our ignorance concerning our departure hence? Where now are they, who throughout all their life are remiss, but when they are blamed by us, are saying, At the time of my death, I shall leave money to the poor. Let them listen to these words, and be amended. For indeed at that time many have failed of this, having been snatched away at once, and not permitted so much as to give charge to their relations touching what they wished to be done.

This parable was spoken with respect to mercy in alms; but the one that comes after this, to them that neither in money, nor in word, nor in protection, nor in any other things whatever, are willing to assist their neighbors, but withhold all.

And wherefore can it be that this parable brings forward a king, but that a bridegroom? That thou mightest learn how close Christ is joined unto the virgins that strip themselves of their possessions; for this indeed is virginity. Wherefore Paul also makes this as a definition of the thing. “The unmarried woman careth for the things of the Lord;”5 such are his words: and, “For that which is comely, and that ye may attend upon the Lord without distraction. These things we advise,” he saith.

And if in Luke the parable of the talents is otherwise put, this is to be said, that the one is really different from the other. For in that, from the one capital different degrees of increase were made, for from one pound one brought five, another ten; wherefore neither did they obtain the same recompense; but here, it is the contrary, and the crown is accordingly equal. For he that received two gave two, and he that had received the five again in like manner; but there since from the same beginning one made the greater, one the less, increase; as might be expected, in the rewards also, they do not enjoy the same.

But see Him everywhere, not requiring it again immediately. For in the case of the vineyard, He let it out to husbandmen, and went into a far country; and here He committed to them the talents, and took His journey, that thou mightest learn His long-suffering. And to me He seems to say these things, to intimate the resurrection. But here it is no more a vineyard and husbandmen, but all servants. For not to rulers only, nor to Jews, but to all, doth He address His discourse. And they who bring a return unto Him confess frankly, both what is their own, and what their Master’s. And the one saith, Lord, “Thou gavest me five talents;” and the other saith, “two,” indicating that from Him they received the source of their gain, and they are very thankful, and reckon all to Him.

What then saith the Master? “Well done, thou good” (for this is goodness to look to one’s neighbor) “and faithful servant; thou wast faithful over few things, I will set thee over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy Lord,”1 meaning by this expression all blessedness.

But not so that other one, but how? “I knew that thou art a hard man, reaping where thou sowedst not, and gathering where thou strawedst not: and I was afraid, and hid thy talent: lo, there thou hast that is thine.”2 What then the Master? “Thou oughtest to have put my money to the exchangers,”3 that is, “that oughtest to have spoken, to have admonished, to have advised.” But are they disobedient? Yet this is nought to thee.

What could be more gentle than this? For men indeed do not so, but him that hath put out the money at usury, even him do they make also responsible to require it again. But He not so; but, Thou oughtest, He saith, to have put it out, and to have committed the requiring of it again to me. And I should have required it with increase; by increase upon the hearing, meaning the showing forth of the works. Thou oughtest to have done that which is easier, and to have left to me what is more difficult. Forasmuch then as he did not this, “Take,” saith He, “the talent from him, and give it to him that hath ten talents?4 For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance; but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath.”5 What then is this? He that hath a gift of word and teaching to profit thereby, and useth it not, will lose the gift also; but he that giveth diligence, will gain to himself the gift in more abundance; even as the other loseth what he had received. But not to this is the penalty limited for him that is slothful, but even intolerable is the punishment, and with the punishment the sentence, which is full of a heavy accusation. For “cast ye,” saith He, “the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”6 Seest thou how not only the spoiler, and the covetous, nor only the doer of evil things, but also he that doeth not good things, is punished with extreme punishment.

Let us hearken then to these words. As we have opportunity, let us help on our salvation, let us get oil for our lamps, let us labor to add to our talent. For if we be backward, and spend our time in sloth here, no one will pity us any more hereafter, though we should wail ten thousand times. He also that had on the filthy garments condemned himself, and profited nothing. He also that had the one talent restored that which was committed to his charge, and yet was condemned. The virgins again entreated, and came unto Him and knocked, and all in vain, and without effect.

Knowing then these things, let us contribute alike wealth, and diligence, and protection,7 and all things for our neighbor’s advantage. For the talents here are each person’s ability, whether in the way of protection, or in money, or in teaching, or in what thing soever of the kind. Let no man say, I have but one talent, and can do nothing; for thou canal even by one approve thyself. For thou art not poorer than that widow; thou art not more uninstructed than Peter and John, who were both “unlearned and ignorant men;”8 but nevertheless, since they showed forth a zeal, and did all things for the common good, they attained to Heaven. For nothing is so pleasing to God, as to live for the common advantage.

For this end God gave us speech, and hands, and feet, and strength of body, and mind, and understanding, that we might use all these things, both for our own salvation, and for our neighbor’s advantage. For not for hymns only and thanksgivings is our speech serviceable to us, but it is profitable also for instruction and admonition. And if indeed we used it to this end, we should be imitating our Master; but if for the opposite ends, the devil. Since Peter also, when he confessed the Christ, was blessed, as having spoken the words of the Father; but when he refused the cross, and dissuaded it, he was severely reproved, as savoring the things of the devil. But if where the saying was of ignorance, so heavy is the blame, when we of our own will commit many sins, what favor shall we have?

Such things then let us speak, that of themselves they may be evidently the words of Christ. For not only if I should say, “Arise, and walk;”1 neither if I should say, “Tabitha, arise,”2 then only do I speak Christ’s words, but much more if being reviled I bless, if being despitefully used I pray for him that doeth despite to me. Lately indeed I said, that our tongue is a hand laying hold on the feet of God; but now much more do I say, that our tongue is a tongue imitating the tongue of Christ, if it show forth the strictness that becometh us, if we speak those things which He wills. But what are the things which He wills us to speak? Words full of gentleness and meekness, even as also He Himself used to speak, saying to them that were insulting Him, “I have not a devil;”3 and again, “If I have spoken evil, bear witness of the evil.”4 If thou also speak in this way; if thou speak for thy neighbor’s amendment, thou wilt obtain a tongue like that tongue. And these things God Himself saith; “For he that bringeth out the precious from the vile, shall be as my mouth;”5 such are His words.

When therefore thy tongue is as Christ’s tongue, and thy mouth is become the mouth of the Father, and thou art a temple of the Holy Ghost, then what kind of honor could be equal to this? For not even if thy mouth were made of gold, no nor even of precious stones, would it shine like as now, when lit up with the ornament of meekness. For what is more lovely than a mouth that knoweth not how to insult, but is used to bless and give good words? But if thou canst not bear to bless him that curses thee, hold thy peace, and accomplish but this for the time; and proceeding in order, and striving as thou oughtest, thou wilt attain to that other point also, and wilt acquire such a mouth, as we have spoken of.

4. And do not account the saying to be rash. For the Lord is loving to man, and the gift cometh of His goodness. It is rash to have a mouth like the devil, to have a tongue resembling that of an evil demon, especially for him that partakes of such mysteries, and communicates of the very flesh of the Lord. Reflecting then on these things, become like Him, to the utmost of thy power. No longer then will the devil be able so much as to look thee in the face, when thou art become such a one as this. For indeed he recognizes the image of the King, he knows the weapons of Christ, whereby he was worsted. And what are these? Gentleness and meekness. For when on the mountain Christ overthrew and laid low the devil who was assaulting him, it was not by making it known that He was Christ, but He entrapped him by these sayings, He took him by gentleness, he turned him to flight by meekness. Thou also must do this; shouldest thou see a man become a devil, and coming against thee, even so do thou likewise overcome. Christ gave thee also power to become like Him, so far as thy ability extends. Be not afraid at hearing this. The fear is not to be like Him. Speak then after His manner, and thou art become in this respect such as He, so far as it is possible for one who is a man to become so.

Wherefore greater is he that thus speaks, than he that prophecies. For this is entirely a gift, but in the other is also thy labor and toil. Teach thy soul to frame thee a mouth like to Christ’s mouth. For it can create such things, if it will; it knows the art, if it be not remiss. And how is such a mouth made? one may ask. By what kind of colorings? by what kind of material? By no colorings, indeed, or material; but by virtue only, and meekness, and humility.

Let us see also how a devil’s mouth is made; that we may never frame that. How then is it made? By curses, by insults, by envy, by perjury. For when any one speaks his words, he takes his tongue. What kind of excuse then shall we have; or rather, what manner of punishment shall we not undergo; when this our tongue, wherewith we are allowed to taste of the Lord’s flesh, when this, I say, we overlook, speaking the devil’s words?

Let us not overlook it, but let us use all diligence, in order to train it to imitate its Lord. For if we train it to this, it will place us with great confidence at Christ’s judgment seat. Unless any one know how to speak thus, the judge will not so much as hear him. For like as when the judge chances to be a Roman, he will not hear the defense of one who knows not how to speak thus; so likewise Christ, unless thou speak after His fashion, will not hear thee, nor give heed.

Let us learn therefore to speak in such wise as our Judge is wont to hear; let it be our endeavor to imitate that tongue. And shouldest thou fall into grief, take heed lest the tyranny of despondency pervert thy tongue, but that thou speak like Christ. For He too mourned for Lazarus and Judas. Shouldest thou fall into fear, seek again to speak even as He. For He Himself fell into fear for thy sake, with regard to His manhood.1 Do thou also say, “Nevertheless, not as I will, but as Thou wilt.”2

And if thou shouldest lament, weep calmly as He. Shouldest thou fall into plots and sorrows, treat these too as Christ. For indeed He had plots laid against Him, and was in sorrow, and saith, “My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death.”3 And all the examples He presented to thee, in order that thou shouldest continually observe the same measures, and not destroy the rules that have been given thee. So shalt thou be able to have a mouth like His mouth, so while treading on the earth, thou wilt show forth a tongue like to that of Him who sits on high; thou wilt maintain the limits He observed in despondency, in anger, in suffering, in agony.

How many are they of you that desire to see His form? Behold, it is possible, not to see Him only, but also to become like Him; if we are in earnest.

Let us not delay then. He doth not so readily accept prophets’ lips, as those of meek and forbearing men. “For many will say unto me,” He saith, “Have we not prophesied in Thy name? And I will say unto them, I know you not.”4

But the lips of Moses, because he was exceeding gentle and meek (“for Moses,” it is said, “was a meek man above all the men which were upon the face of the earth”5), He so accepted and loved, as to say, “Face to face, mouth to mouth, did He speak, as a man speaketh unto his friend.”6

Thou wilt not command devils now, but thou shalt then command the fire of hell, if thou keep thy mouth like to Christ’s mouth. Thou shalt command the abyss of fire, and shalt say unto it, “Peace, be still,”7 and with great confidence shalt set foot in the Heavens, and enjoy the kingdom; unto which God grant all of us to attain, by the grace and love towards man of our Lord Jesus Christ, with whom, be unto the Father, together with the Holy Ghost, glory, might, honor, now and always, and world without end. Amen.

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Father Maas’ Commentary on Matthew 1:18-25

Posted by Dim Bulb on September 23, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted by Dim Bulb on July 30, 2017

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

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

The evil passions:

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

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

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

c. The pride of life: love of honours,

ii. Incitements to the passions:

a. Objects acting on the senses or the imagination.

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

c. Idleness: Sirach 33:29.

d. Want of self-restraint.

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

Why to be subdued?

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

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

iii. Holy Scripture warns us:

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

iv. Examples and teaching of the Saints:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ix. To subdue the passions is a glory.

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

x. Whoso subdues them is truly free.

How to be subdued?

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

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

iii. You must wage war against them :

a. With determination.

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

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

d. Without discouragement, even should you fall.

e. With confidence in God.

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

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

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

Posted by Dim Bulb on July 30, 2017

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

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

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

I. The Church:

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

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

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

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

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

ii. Scandals in the Church:

a. Fall of even an Apostle.

b. Heresies and Schisms:

Arianism, condemned A.D. 325.

The Iconoclasts, 8th c.

Schism in England, i6th c.

c. Dissensions, disputes, etc.

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

a. Fervent prayer: Lord, save us.

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

b. Faith and Confidence in God who overrules all.

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

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

II. The Soul:

i. Individual souls tempted to sin:

a. Against God: pride, irreligion.

b. Against Neighbours: injustice of any kind.

c. Against Self: sensuality, idleness.

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

a. Poverty, sickness, deaths.

b. Persecution from neighbours,

iii. Act then, as sailors in a storm:

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

1. Curb the love of pleasure.

2. Mortify the senses.

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

b. They make for the high seas :

1. Avoid the world and its pleasures.

2. Soar aloft in prayer.

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

1. Cast forth sin in humble confession.

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

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

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

Lessons:

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

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

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

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

Posted by Dim Bulb on July 30, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Firstly, the smallness of the beginning.

Secondly, breadth of the middle.

Thirdly, the height of the end.

Fourthly, the narrowness of the bottom.

Fifthly, the wideness of the top.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted by Dim Bulb on July 22, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted by Dim Bulb on July 4, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted by Dim Bulb on July 2, 2017

ANALYSIS OF MATTHEW 14

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted by Dim Bulb on July 2, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Matthew 13:1-23

Posted by Dim Bulb on July 1, 2017

13:1–9

1. The same day went Jesus out of the house, and sat by the sea side.
2. And great multitudes were gathered together unto him, so that he went into a ship, and sat; and the whole multitude stood on the shore.
3. And he spake many things unto them in parables, saying, Behold, a sower went forth to sow;
4. And when he sowed, some seeds fell by the way side, and the fowls came and devoured them up:
5. Some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth:
6. And when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away.
7. And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung up, and choked them:
8. But other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold.
9. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.

Chrysostom. When He had rebuked him that told Him of His mother and His brethren, He then did according to their request; He departed out of the house, having first corrected His brethren for their weak desire of vainglory; He then paid the honour due to His mother, as it is said, The same day Jesus went forth out of the house, and sat down by the sea side.

Augustine. (De Cons. Ev. ii. 41.) By the words, The same day, he sufficiently shews that these things either followed immediately upon what had gone before, or that many things could not have intervened; unless indeed ‘day’ here after the Scripture manner signifies a period.

Rabanus. For not only the Lord’s words and actions, but His journeyings also, and the places in which He works His mighty works and preaches, are full of heavenly sacraments. After the discourse held in the house, wherein with wicked blasphemy He had been said to have a dæmon, He went out and taught by the sea, to signify that having left Judæa because of their sinful unbelief, He would pass to the salvation of the Gentiles. For the hearts of the Gentiles, long proud and unbelieving, are rightly likened to the swelling and bitter waves of the sea. And who knows not that Judæa was by faith the house of the Lord.

Jerome. For it must be considered, that the multitude could not enter into the house to Jesus, nor be there where the Apostles heard mysteries; therefore the Lord in mercy to them departed out of the house, and sat near the sea of this world, that great numbers might be gathered to Him, and that they might hear on the sea shore what they were not worthy to hear within; And great multitudes were gathered unto him, so that he went into a ship, and sat down, and all the people stood on the shore.

Chrysostom. The Evangelist did not relate this without a purpose, but that he might shew the Lord’s will therein, who desired so to place the people that He should have none behind Him, but all should be before His face.

Hilary. There is moreover a reason in the subject of His discourse why the Lord should sit in the ship, and the multitude stand on the shore. For He was about to speak in parables, and by this action signifies that they who were without the Church could have no understanding of the Divine Word. The ship offers a type of the Church, within which the word of life is placed, and is preached to those without, and who as being barren sand cannot understand it.

Jerome. Jesus is in the midst of the waves; He is beaten to and fro by the waves, and, secure in His majesty, causes His vessel to come nigh the land, that the people not being in danger, not being surrounded by temptations which they could not endure, might stand on the shore with a firm step, to hear what was said.

Rabanus. Or, that He went into a ship and sat on the sea, signifies that Christ by faith should enter into the hearts of the Gentiles, and should gather together the Church in the sea, that is in the midst of the nations that spake against Him. And the crowd that stood on the sea shore, neither in the ship nor in the sea, offers a figure of those that receive the word of God, and are by faith separated from the sea, that is from the reprobate, but are not yet imbued with heavenly mysteries. It follows; And he spake many things unto them in parables.

Chrysostom. He had not done thus on the mount; He had not framed His discourse by parables. For there were the multitudes only, and a mixed crowd, but here the Scribes and Pharisees. But He speaks in parables not for this reason only, but to make His sayings plainer, and fix them more fully in the memory, by bringing things before the eyes.

Jerome. And it is to be noted, that He spake not all things to them in parables, but many things, for had He spoken all things in parables, the people would have departed without benefit. He mingles things plain with things dark, that by those things which they understand they may be incited to get knowledge of the things they understand not. The multitude also is not of one opinion, but of divers wills in divers matters, whence He speaks to them in many parables, that each according to their several dispositions may receive some portion of His teaching.

Chrysostom. He first sets forth a parable to make His hearers more attentive, and because He was about to speak enigmatically, He attracts the attention by this first parable, saying, Behold, a sower went forth to sow his seed.

Jerome. By this sower is typified the Son of God, who sows among the people the word of the Father.

Chrysostom. Whence then went out He who is every where present, and how went He out? Not in place; but by His incarnation being brought nearer to us by the garb of the flesh. Forasmuch as we because of our sins could not enter in unto Him, He therefore came forth to us.

Rabanus. Or, He went forth, when having left Judea, He passed by the Apostles to the Gentiles.

Jerome. Or, He was within while He was yet in the house, and spake sacraments to His disciples. He went therefore forth from the house, that He might sow seed among the multitudes.

Chrysostom. When you hear the words, the sower went out to sow, do not suppose that is a tautology. For the sower goes out oftentimes for other ends; as, to break up the ground, to pluck up noxious weeds, to root up thorns, or perform any other species of industry, but this man went forth to sow. What then becomes of that seed? three parts of it perish, and one is preserved; but not all in the same manner, but with a certain difference, as it follows, And as he sowed, some fell by the wayside.

Jerome. This parable Valentinus lays hold of to establish his heresy, bringing in three different natures; the spiritual, the natural or the animal, and the earthly. But there are here four named, one by the wayside, one stony, one thorny, and a fourth the good ground.

Chrysostom. Next, how is it according to reason to sow seed among thorns, or on stony ground, or by the wayside? Indeed in the material seed and soil of this world it would not be reasonable; for it is impossible that rock should become soil, or that the way should not be the way, or that thorns should not be thorns. But with minds and doctrines it is otherwise; there it is possible that the rock be made rich soil, that the way should be no more trodden upon, and that the thorns should be extirpated. That the most part of the seed then perished, came not of him that sowed, but of the soil that received it, that is the mind. For He that sowed put no difference between rich and poor, wise or foolish, but spoke to all alike; filling up his own part, though foreseeing all things that should come to pass, so that He might say, What ought I to have done that I have not done? (Is. 5:4) He does not pronounce sentence upon them openly and say, this the indolent received and have lost it, this the rich and have choked it, this the careless and have lost it, because He would not harshly reprove them, that He might not alienate them altogether. By this parable also He instructs His disciples, that though the greater part of those that heard them were such as perished, yet that they should not therefore be remiss; for the Lord Himself who foresaw all things, did not on this account desist from sowing.

Jerome. Note that this is the first parable that has been given with its interpretation, and we must beware where the Lord expounds His own teachings, that we do not presume to understand any thing either more or less, or any way otherwise than as so expounded by Him.

Rabanus. But those things which He silently left to our understanding, should be shortly noticed. The wayside is the mind trodden and hardened by the continual passage of evil thoughts; the rock, the hardness of the self-willed mind; the good soil, the gentleness of the obedient mind, the sun, the heat of a raging persecution. The depth of soil, is the honesty of a mind trained by heavenly discipline. But in thus expounding them we should add, that the same things are not always put in one and the same allegorical signification.

Jerome. And we are excited to the understanding of His words, by the advice which follows, He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.

Remigius. These ears to hear, are ears of the mind, to understand namely and do those things which are commanded.

13:10–17

10. And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables?
11. He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given.
12. For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath.13. Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand.
14. And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive:
15. For this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed: lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.
16. But blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear.
17. For verily I say unto you, That many prophets and righteous men have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them.

Gloss. (ap. Anselm.) The disciples understanding that the things which were spoken by the Lord to the people were obscure, desired to hint to Him that He should not speak in parables to them. And his disciples came to him, and said, Why speakest thou to them in parables?

Chrysostom. (Hom, xlv.) Wherein it is worthy admiration, that the disciples who desire to learn of Him, know when they ought to ask Him, for they do not this before the multitude. This Matthew declares, when he says, And they came to him; (Mark 4:10) and Mark more expressly says, that they came to him when he was alone.

Jerome. We must enquire how they could come to Him at that time when Jesus was sitting in the ship; we may understand that they had at the first entered into the ship, and standing there, made this enquiry of Him.

Remigius. The Evangelist therefore says, came to him, to express that they eagerly enquired of Him; or they might indeed approach Him bodily, though the space between them was small.

Chrysostom. And observe moreover their goodness, how great their thought for others, that they enquire about what concerns others, before what relates to themselves. For they say not, ‘Why speakest thou to us in parables?’ but to them. And he answered and said unto them, Because it is given to you to know the mystery of the kingdom of heaven.

Remigius. To you, I say, who adhere to Me, and believe in Me. By the mystery of the kingdom of heaven, He intends the Gospel doctrine. To them, that is, to them that are without, and who would not believe on Him, the Scribes namely and Pharisees, and to the rest who continue in unbelief, it is not given. Let us then, with the disciples, come unto the Lord with a pure heart, that He may think us worthy to interpret to us the evangelic teaching; according to that, They who draw near to his feet, shall receive of his doctrine. (Deut. 33:3)

Chrysostom. In saying this, He does not imply any necessity or fate, but shews at once, that they, to whom it is not given, are the cause of all their own miseries, and yet that the knowledge of the Divine mysteries is the gift of God, and a grace given from above. Yet this does not destroy free will, as is manifest from what follows, for to prevent that either these should despair, or those be remiss, when they hear that to you it is given, He shews that the beginning of all lays with ourselves, and then He adds, For whoso hath, to him shall be given, and he shall abound; and whoso hath not, from him shall be taken what he hath. As much as to say, Whoso has the desire and the zeal, to him shall be given all those things which are of God; but whoso lacketh these, and does not contribute that part that pertains to him, to him neither are the things which are of God given, but even those things that he hath are taken from him; not because God takes them away, but because he hath made himself unworthy of those that he has. Wherefore we also, if we see any hearkening carelessly, and having exhorted him to attend, he do not heed us, let us be silent; for should we persevere in urging him, his sloth-fulness will be the more charged against him. But him that is zealous to learn, we draw onwards, pouring forth many things. And He well said according to another Evangelist, That which he seemeth to have; (Luke 8:18.) for, in truth, he has not even that he has.

Remigius. He that has a desire to read, shall have given to him power to understand, and whoso has not desire to read, that understanding which by the bounty of nature he seems to have, even that shall be taken from him. Or, whoso has charity, to him shall be given the other virtues also; and from him who has not charity, the other virtues likewise shall be taken away, for without charity there can be nothing good.

Jerome. Or, To the Apostles who believe in Christ there is given, but from the Jews who believed not on the Son of God there is taken away, even whatever good they might seem to have by nature. For they cannot understand any thing with wisdom, seeing they have not the head of wisdom.

Hilary. For the Jews not having faith, have lost also the Law which they had; and Gospel faith has the perfect gift, inasmuch as if received it enriches with new fruit, if rejected it subtracts from the riches of ancient possession.

Chrysostom. But that what He had said might be made more manifest He adds, Therefore speak I unto them in parables, because seeing they see not, and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand. Had this been a natural blindness, He ought to have opened their eyes; but forasmuch as it is voluntary, therefore He said not simply, ‘They see not,’ but, Seeing they see not. For they had seen the dæmons going out, and they said, He casts out dæmons by Beelzebub; they heard that He drew all men to God, and they say, This man is not of God. (John 9:16) Therefore because they spake the very contrary to what they saw and heard, to see and to hear is taken from them; for they profit nothing, but rather fall under judgment. For this reason He spake to them at first not in parables, but with much clearness; but because they perverted all they saw and heard, He now speaks in parables.

Remigius. And it should be noted, that not only what He spake, but also what He did, were parables, that is, signs of things spiritual, which He clearly shews when He says, That seeing they may not see; but words are heard and not seen.

Jerome. This He says of those who were standing on the shore, and separated from Jesus, and who because of the dashing of the waves heard not distinctly what was said.

Chrysostom. And that they should not say, He slanders us as an enemy, He brings forward the Prophet declaring the same opinion, as it follows, That there might be fulfilled in them the prophecy of Isaiah, who said, With the hearing ye shall hear and shall not understand, and seeing ye shall see and shall not behold. (Is. 6:9)

Gloss. (non occ.) That is; With the hearing ye shall hear words, but shall not understand the hidden meaning of those words; seeing ye shall see My flesh indeed, but shall not discern the divinity.

Chrysostom. This He said because they had taken away their own sight and hearing, shutting their eyes, and hardening their hearts. For not only did they not hear at all, but they heard obtusely, as it follows, The heart of this people is waxed gross, and they have heard hardly with their ears.

Rabanus. The heart of the Jews is made gross with the grossness of wickedness, and through the abundance of their sins they hear hardly the Lord’s words, because they have received them ungratefully.

Jerome. And that we should not suppose that this grossness of the heart and heaviness of the ears is of nature, and not of choice, He adds the fruit of their own wilfulness, For they have shut their eyes.

Chrysostom. Herein He points out how extreme their wickedness, how determined their aversion. Again to draw them towards Him, He adds, And be converted, and I should heal them; which shews that if they would be converted, they should be healed. As if one should say, If he would ask me I would immediately forgive him, this would point out how he might be reconciled; so here when He says, Lest they should he converted and I should heal them, He, shews that it was possible they should be converted, and having done penitence should be saved.

Augustine. (Quæst. in Matt. q. 14.) Otherwise; They have shut their eyes lest they should see with their eyes, that is, themselves were the cause that God shut their eyes. For another Evangelist says, We hath blinded their eyes. But is this to the end that they should never see? Or that they should not see so much as this, that becoming discontent with their own blindness and bewailing themselves, should so be humbled, and moved to confession of their sins and pious seeking after God. For Mark thus expresses the same thing, Lest they should be converted, and their sins should be forgiven them. From which we learn, that by their sins they deserved not to understand; and that yet this was allowed them in mercy that they should confess their sins, and should turn, and so merit to be forgiven. But when John relating this expresses it thus, Therefore they could not believe because Esaias said again, He hath blinded their eyes and hardened their heart, that they should not see with their eyes, and understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them, (John 12:39) this seems to be opposed to this interpretation, and to compel us to take what is here said, Lest they should see with their eyes, not as though they might come to see after this fashion, but that they should never see at all; for he says it plainly, That they should not see with their eyes. And that he says, Therefore they could not believe, sufficiently shows that the blindness was not inflicted, to the end that moved thereby, and grieving that they understood not, they should be converted through penitence; for that they could not, unless they had first believed, and by believing had been converted, and by conversion had been healed, and having been healed understood; but it rather shews that they were therefore blinded that they should not believe. For he speaks most clearly, Therefore they could not believe. But if it be so, who would not rise up in defence of the Jews, and pronounce them to be free from all blame for their unbelief? For, Therefore they could not believe, because he hath blinded their eyes. But because we must rather believe God to be without fault, we are driven to confess that by some other sins they had thus deserved to be blinded, and that indeed this blinding prevented them from believing; for the words of John are these, They could not believe, because that Esaias said again, He hath blinded their eyes. It is in vain then to endeavour to understand it that they were therefore blinded that they should be converted; seeing they could not be converted because they believed not; and they could not believe because they were blinded. Or perhaps we should not say amiss thus—that some of the Jews were capable of being healed, but that being puffed up with so great swelling pride, it was good for them at first that they should not believe, that they might understand the Lord speaking in parables, which if they did not understand they would not believe; and thus not believing on Him, they together with the rest who were past hope crucified Him; and at length after His resurrection, they were converted, when humbled by the guilt of His death they loved Him the more because of the heavy guilt which had been forgiven them; for their so great pride needed such an humiliation to overcome it. This might indeed be thought an inconsistent explanation, did we not plainly read in the Acts of the Apostles that thus it was. This then that John says, Therefore they could not believe, because he hath blinded their eyes that they should not see, (Acts 2:37) is not repugnant to our holding that they were therefore blinded that they should be converted; that is to say, that the Lord’s meaning was therefore purposely clothed in the obscurities of parables, that after His resurrection they might turn them to wisdom with a more healthy penitence. For by reason of the darkness of His discourse, they being blinded did not understand the Lord’s sayings, and not understanding them, they did not believe on Him, and not believing on Him they crucified Him; thus after His resurrection, terrified by the miracles that were wrought in His name, they had the greater compunction for their great sin, and were more prostrated in penitence; and accordingly after indulgence granted they turned to obedience with a more ardent affection. Notwithstanding, some there were to whom this blinding profited not to conversion.

Remigius. In all the clauses the word ‘not’ must be understood; thus; That they should not see with their eyes, and should not hear with their ears, and should not understand with their heart, and should not be converted, and I should heal them.

Gloss. (ap. Anselm.) so then the eyes of them that see, and will not believe, are miserable, but your eyes are blessed; whence it follows; Blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear.

Jerome. If we had not read above that invitation to his hearers to understand, when the Saviour said, He that hath, ears to hear let him hear, we might here suppose that the eyes and ears which are now blessed are those of the body. But I think that those eyes are blessed which can discern Christ’s sacraments, and those ears of which Isaiah speaks, The Lord hath given me an ear. (Is. 50:4)

Gloss. (ord.) The mind is called an eye, because it is intently directed upon what is set before it to understand it; and an ear, because it learns from the teaching of another.

Hilary. Or, He is speaking of the blessedness of the Apostolic times, to whose eyes and ears it was permitted to see and to hear the salvation of God, many Prophets and just men having desired to see and to hear that which was destined to be in the fulness of times; whence it follows; Verily I say unto you, that many Prophets and just men have desired to see the things that ye see, and to hear the things that ye hear, and have not heard them.

Jerome. This place seems to be contradicted by what is said elsewhere. Abraham rejoiced to see my day, and he saw it, and was glad. (John 8:56)

Rabanus. Also Isaiah and Micah, and many other Prophets, saw the glory of the Lord; and were thence called ‘seers.’

Jerome. But He said not, ‘The Prophets and the just men,’ but many; for out of the whole number, it may be that some saw, and others saw not. But as this is a perilous interpretation, that we should seem to be making a distinction between the merits of the saints, at least as far as the degree of their faith in Christ, therefore we may suppose that Abraham saw in enigma, and not in substance. But ye have truly present with you, and hold, your Lord, enquiring of Him at your will, and eating with Him.1

Chrysostom. These things then which the Apostles saw and heard, are such as His presence, His voice, His teaching. And in this He sets them before not the evil only, but even before the good, pronouncing them more blessed than even the righteous men of old. For they saw not only what the Jews saw not, but also what the righteous men and Prophets desired to see, and had not seen. For they had beheld these things only by faith, but these by sight, and even yet more clearly. You see how He identifies the Old Testament with the New, for had the Prophets been the servants of any strange or hostile Deity, they would not have desired to see Christ.

13:18–23

18. Hear ye therefore the parable of the sower.
19. When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart. This is he which received seed by the way side.
20. But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it;
21. Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended.
22. He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful.
23. But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.

Gloss. (ap. Anselm.) He had said above, that it was not given to the Jews to know the kingdom of God, but to the Apostles, and therefore He now concludes, saying, Hear ye therefore the parable of the sower, ye to whom are committed the mysteries of heaven.

Augustine. (De Gen. ad lit. viii. 4.) It is certain that the Lord spoke the things which the Evangelist has recorded; but what the Lord spake was a parable, in which it is never required that the things contained should have actually taken place.

Gloss. (ap. Anselm.) He proceeds then expounding the parable; Every man who hears the word of the kingdom, that is, My preaching which avails to the acquiring the kingdom of heaven, and understandeth it not; how he understands it not, is explained by, for the evil one—that is the Devil—cometh and taketh away that which is sown in his heart; every such man is that which is sown by the way side. And note that that which is sown, is taken in different senses; for the seed is that which is sown, and the field is that which is sown, both of which are found here. For where He says carrieth away that which is sown, we must understand it of the seed; that which follows, is sown by the way side, is to be understood not of the seed, but of the place of the seed, that is, of the man, who is as it were the field sown by the seed of the Divine word.

Remigius. In these words the Lord explains what the seed is, to wit, the word of the kingdom, that is of the Gospel teaching. For there are some that receive the word of the Lord with no devotion of heart, and so that seed of God’s word which is sown in their heart, is by dæmons straightway carried off, as it were the seed dropped by the way side. It follows, That which is sown upon the rock, is he that heareth the word, &c. For the seed or word of God, which is sown in the rock, that is, in the hard and untamed heart, can bring forth no fruit, inasmuch as its hardness is great, and its desire of heavenly things small; and because of this great hardness, it has no root in itself.

Jerome. Note that which is said, is straightway offended. There is then some difference between him who, by many tribulations and torments, is driven to deny Christ, and him who at the first persecution is offended, and falls away, of which He proceeds to speak, That which is sown among thorns. To me He seems here to express figuratively that which was said literally to Adam; Amidst briers and thorns thou shalt eat thy bread, (Gen. 3:18) that he that has given himself up to the delights and the cares of this world, eats heavenly bread and the true food among thorns.

Rabanus. Rightly are they called thorns, because they lacerate the soul by the prickings of thought, and do not suffer it to bring forth the spiritual fruit of virtue.

Jerome. And it is elegantly added, The deceitfulness of riches choke the word; for riches are treacherous, promising one thing and doing another. The tenure of them is slippery as they are borne hither and thither, and with uncertain step forsake those that have them, or revive those that have them not. Whence the Lord asserts, that rich men hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven, because their riches choke the word of God, and relax the strength of their virtues.

Remigius. And it should be known, that in these three sorts of bad soil are comprehended all who can hear the word of God, and yet have not strength to bring it forth unto salvation. The Gentiles are excepted, who were not worthy even to hear it. It follows, That which is sown on the good ground. The good ground is the faithful conscience of the elect, or the spirit of the saints which receives the word of God with joy and desire and devotion of heart, and manfully retains it amid prosperous and adverse circumstances, and brings it forth in fruit; as it follows, And brings forth fruit, some a hundred-fold, some sixty-fold, some thirty-fold.

Jerome. And it is to be noted, that as in the bad ground there were three degrees of difference, to wit, that by the way side, the stony and the thorny ground; so in the good soil there is a three-fold difference, the hundred-fold, the sixty-fold, and the thirty-fold. And in this as in that, not the substance but the will is changed, and the hearts as well of the unbelieving as the believing receive seed; as in the first case He said, Then cometh the wicked one, and carrieth off that which is sown in the heart; and in the second and third case of the bad soil He said, This is he that heareth the word. So also in the exposition of the good soil, This is he that heareth the word. Therefore we ought first to hear, then to understand, and after understanding to bring forth the fruits of teaching, either an hundred-fold, or sixty, or thirty.

Augustine. (De Civ. Dei, xxi. 27.) Some think that this is to be understood as though the saints according to the degree of their merits delivered some thirty, some sixty, some an hundred persons; and this they usually suppose will happen on the day of judgment, not after the judgment. But when this opinion was observed to encourage men in promising themselves impunity, because that by this means all might attain to deliverance, it was answered, that men ought the rather to live well, that each might be found among those who were to intercede for the liberation of others, lest these should be found to be I so few that they should soon have exhausted the number allotted to them, and thus there would remain many unrescued from torment, among whom might be found all such as in most vain rashness had promised themselves to reap the fruits of others.

Remigius. The thirty-fold then is borne of him who teaches faith in the Holy Trinity; the sixty-fold of him who enforces the perfection of good works; (for in the number six this world was completed with all its equipments;) (Gen. 2:1) while he bears the hundred-fold who promises eternal life. For the number one hundred passes from the left hand to the right; and by the left hand the present life is denoted, by the right hand the life to come. Otherwise, the seed of the word of God brings forth fruit thirty-fold when it begets good thoughts, sixty-fold when good speech, and an hundred-fold when it brings to the fruit of good works.

Augustine. (Quæst. Ev. i. 9.) Otherwise; There is fruit an hundred-fold of the martyrs because of their satiety of life or contempt of death; a sixty-fold fruit of virgins, because they rest not warring against the use of the flesh; for retirement is allowed to those of sixty years’ age after service in war or in public business; and there is a thirty-fold fruit of the wedded, because theirs is the age of warfare, and their struggle is the more arduous that they should not be vanquished by their lusts. Or otherwise; We must struggle with our love of temporal goods that reason may be master; it should either be so overcome and subject to us, that when it begins to rise it may be easily repressed, or so extinguished that it never arises in us at all. Whence it comes to pass, that death itself is despised for truth’s sake, by some with brave endurance, by others with content, and by others with gladness—which three degrees are the three degrees of fruits of the earth—thirty-fold, sixty-fold, and an hundred-fold. And in one of these degrees must one be found at the time of his death, if any desires to depart well out of this life.

Jerome. (vid. Cyp. Tr. iv. 12.) Or, The hundred-fold fruit is to be ascribed to virgins, the sixty-fold to widows and continent persons, the thirty-fold to chaste wedlock.

Jerome. (Ep. 48. 2.) For the joining together of the hands, as it were in the soft embrace of a kiss, represents husband and wife. The sixty-fold refers to widows, who as being set in narrow circumstances and affliction are denoted by the depression of the finger; for by how much greater is the difficulty of abstaining from the allurements of pleasure once known, so much greater is the reward. The hundredth number passes from the left to the right, and by its turning round with the same fingers, not on the same hand, it expresses the crown of virginitya.

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