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 ‘Patristics’

St John Chrysostom’s Homiletic Commentary on Philippians 2:1-4

Posted by Dim Bulb on August 5, 2017

But Paul does not so; he calls to our remembrance no carnal, but all of them spiritual benefits. That is, if ye wish to give me any comfort in my temptations, and encouragement in Christ, if any consolation of love, if ye wish to show any communion in the Spirit, if ye have any tender mercies and compassions, fulfil ye my joy. “If any tender mercies and compassions.” Paul speaks of the concord of his disciples as compassion towards himself, thus showing that the danger was extreme, if they were not of one mind. If I can obtain comfort from you, if I can obtain any consolation from our love, if I can communicate with you in the Spirit, if I can have fellowship with you in the Lord, if I can find mercy and compassion at your hands, show by your love the return of all this. All this have I gained, if ye love one another.

Ver. 2. “Fulfil ye my joy.”

That the exhortation might not seem to be made to people who were still deficient, see how he says not, “do me joy,” but “fulfil my joy”; that is, Ye have begun to plant it in me, ye have already given me some portion of peacefulness, but I desire to arrive at its fulness? Say, what wouldest thou? that we deliver thee from dangers? that we supply somewhat to thy need? Not so, but “that ye be of the same mind, having the same love,” in which ye have begun, “being of one accord, of one mind.” Just see, how often he repeats the same thing by reason of his great affection! “That ye be of the same mind,” or rather, “that ye be of one mind.” For this is more than “the same.”

“Having the same love.” That is, let it not be simply about faith alone, but also in all other things; for there is such a thing as to be of the same mind, and yet not to have love. “Having the same love,” that is, love and be loved alike; do not thou enjoy much love, and show less love, so as to be covetous even in this matter; but do not suffer it in thyself. “Of one accord,” he adds, that is, appropriating with one soul, the bodies of all, not in substance, for that is impossible, but in purpose and intention. Let all things proceed as from one soul. What means “of one accord”? He shows when he says “of one mind.” Let your mind be one, as if from one soul.

Ver. 3. “Doing nothing through faction.”

He finally demands this of them, and tells1 them the way how this may be. “Doing nothing through faction or vainglory.” This, as I always say, is the cause of all evil. Hence come fightings and contentions. Hence come envyings and strifes. Hence it is that love waxes cold, when we love the praise of men, when we are slaves to the honor which is paid by the many, for it is not possible for a man to be the slave of praise, and also a true servant of God. How then shall we flee vainglory? for thou hast not yet told us the way. Listen then to what follows.

“But in lowliness of mind, each counting other better than himself.” Oh how full of true wisdom, how universal a gathering-word2 of our salvation is the lesson he has put forth! If thou deemest, he means, that another is greater than thyself, and persuadest thyself so, yea more, if thou not only sayest it, but art fully assured of it, then thou assignest him the honor, and if thou assignest him the honor, thou wilt not be displeased at seeing him honored by another. Do not then think him simply greater than thyself, but “better,” which is a very great superiority, and thou dost not think it strange nor be pained thereby, if thou seest him honored. Yea, though he treat thee with scorn, thou dost bear it nobly, for thou hast esteemed him greater than thyself. Though he revile thee, thou dost submit. Though he treat thee ill, thou bearest it in silence. For when once the soul is fully assured that he is greater, it falls not into anger when it is ill-treated by him, nor yet into envy, for no one would envy those who are very far above himself, for all things belong to his superiority.

Here then he instructs the one party to be thus minded. But when he too, who enjoys such honor from thee, is thus affected toward thee, consider what a double wall there is erected of gentle forbearance [comp. Phil. 4:5]; for when thou esteemest him thus worthy of honor, and he thee likewise, no painful thing can possibly arise; for if this conduct when shown by one is sufficient to destroy all strife, who shall break down the safeguard, when it is shown by both? Not even the Devil himself. The defense is threefold, and fourfold, yea manifold, for humanity is the cause of all good; and that you may learn this, listen to the prophet, saying, “Hadst thou desired sacrifice, I would have given it: Thou wilt not delight in burnt offerings. The sacrifice for God is a broken spirit, a broken and a contrite heart God will not despise.”1 (Ps. 51:16, 17.) Not simply humility, but intense humility. As in the case of bodily substances, that which is “broken” will not rise against that which is “solid,” but, how many ills soever it may suffer, will perish itself rather than attack the other, so too the soul, even if constantly suffering ill, will choose rather to die, than to avenge itself by attack.

How long shall we be puffed up thus ridiculously? For as we laugh, when we see children drawing themselves up, and looking haughty, or when we see them picking up stones and throwing them, thus too the haughtiness2 of men belongs to a puerile intellect, and an unformed mind. “Why are earth and ashes proud?” (Ecclus. 10:9.) Art thou highminded, O man? and why? tell me what is the gain? Whence art thou highminded against those of thine own kind? Dost not thou share the same nature? the same life? Hast not thou received like honor from God? But thou art wise? Thou oughtest to be thankful, not to be puffed up. Haughtiness is the first act of ingratitude, for it denies3 the gift of grace. He that is puffed up, is puffed up as if he had excelled by his own strength, and he who thinks he has thus excelled is ungrateful toward Him who bestowed that honor. Hast thou any good? Be thankful to Him who gave it. Listen to what Joseph said, and what Daniel. For when the king of Egypt sent for him, and in the presence of all his host asked him concerning that matter in which the Egyptians, who were most learned in these things, had forsaken the field, when he was on the point of carrying off everything from them, and of appearing wiser than the astrologers, the enchanters, the magicians, and all the wise men of those times, and that from captivity and servitude, and he but a youth (and his glory was thus greater, for it is not the same thing to shine when known, and contrary to expectation, so that its being unlooked for rendered him the more admirable); what then, when he came before Pharaoh? Was it “Yea, I know”? But what? When no one urged it on him, he said from his own excellent spirit, “Do not interpretations belong to God?”4 Behold he straightway glorified his Master, therefore he was glorified. And this also is no small thing. For that God had revealed it to him was a far greater thing than if he had himself excelled. For he showed that his words were worthy of credit, and it was a very great proof of his intimacy with God. There is no one thing so good as to be the intimate friend of God. “For if,” says the Scripture, “he [Abraham] was justified by works, he hath whereof to glory, but not toward God.” (Rom. 4:2.) For if he who has been vouchsafed grace maketh his boast in God, that he is loved of Him, because his sins are forgiven, he too that worketh hath whereof to boast, but not before God, as the other (for it5 is a proof of our excessive weakness); he who has received wisdom of God, how much more admirable is he? He glorifies God and is glorified of Him, for He says, “Them that honor Me, I will honor.” (1 Sam. 2:30.)

Again, listen to him who descended from Joseph, than whom no one was wiser. “Art thou wiser,”6 says he, “than Daniel?” (Ezek. 28:3.) This Daniel then, when all the wise men that were in Babylon, and the astrologers moreover, the prophets, the magicians, the enchanters, yea when the whole of their wisdom was not only coming to be convicted, but to be wholly destroyed (for their being destroyed was a clear proof that they had deceived before), this Daniel coming forward, and preparing to solve the king’s question, does not take the honor to himself, but first ascribes the whole to God, and says, “But as for me, O king, it is not revealed to me for any wisdom that I have beyond all men.” (Dan. 2:30.) And “the king worshiped him, and commanded that they should offer an oblation.” (Dan. 2:46.) Seest thou his humility? seest thou his excellent spirit? seest thou this habit of lowliness? Listen also to the Apostles, saying at one time, “Why fasten ye your eyes on us, as though by our own power or godliness we had made this man to walk? (Acts 3:12.) And again, “We are men of like passions with you.” (Acts 14:15.) Now if they thus refused the honors paid them, men who by reason of the humility and power of Christ wrought greater deeds than Christ (for He says, “He that believeth in Me shall do greater works than those that I do” (John 14:12, abr.)), shall not we wretched and miserable men do so, who cannot even beat away gnats,1 much less devils? who have not power to benefit a single man, much less the whole world, and yet think so much of ourselves that the Devil himself is not like us?

There is nothing so foreign to a Christian soul as haughtiness. Haughtiness, I say, not boldness nor courage, for these are congenial. But these are one thing, and that another; so too humility is one thing, and meanness, flattery, and adulation another.

I will now, if you wish, give you examples of all these qualities. For these things which are contraries, seem in some way to be placed near together, as the tares to the wheat, and the thorns to the rose. But while babes might easily be deceived, they who are men in truth, and are skilled in spiritual husbandry, know how to separate what is really good from the bad. Let me then lay before you examples of these qualities from the Scriptures. What is flattery, and meanness, and adulation? Ziba flattered2 David out of season, and falsely slandered his master. (2 Sam. 16:1–3.) Much more did Ahitophel flatter Absalom. (2 Sam. 17:1–4.) But David was not so, but he was humble. For the deceitful are flatterers, as when they say, “O king, live for ever.” (Dan. 2:4.) Again, what flatterers the magicians are.

We shall find much to exemplify this in the case of Paul in the Acts. When he disputed with the Jews he did not flatter them, but was humble-minded (for he knew how to speak boldly), as when he says, “I, brethren, though I had done nothing against the people, or the customs of our fathers, yet was delivered prisoner from Jerusalem.” (Acts 28:17.)

That these were the words of humility, listen how he rebukes them in what follows, “Well spake the Holy Ghost, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall in nowise understand, and seeing ye shall see, and in nowise perceive.” (Acts 28:25; ib. 26.)

Seest thou his courage? Behold also the courage of John the Baptist, which he used before Herod; when he said, “It is not lawful for thee to have thy brother Philip’s wife.” (Mark 6:18) This was boldness, this was courage. Not so the words of Shimei, when he said, “Begone, thou man of blood” (2 Sam. 16:7), and yet he too spake with boldness; but this is not courage, but audacity, and insolence, and an unbridled tongue. Jezebel too reproached Jehu, when she said, “The slayer of his master” (2 Kings 9:31), but this was audacity, not boldness. Elias too reproached, but this was boldness and courage; “I do not trouble Israel, but thou and thy father’s house.” (1 Kings 18:18.) Again, Elias spake with boldness to the whole people, saying, “How long will ye go lame on both your thighs?” (1 Kings 18:21, LXX.) Thus to rebuke was boldness and courage. This too the prophets did, but that other was audacity.

Would you see words both of humility and not of flattery,3 listen to Paul, saying, “But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged of you, or of man’s judgment; yea, I judge not mine own self. For I know nothing against myself, yet am I not hereby justified.” (1 Cor. 4:3, 4.) This is of a spirit that becomes a Christian; and again, “Dare any of you, having a matter against his neighbor, go to law before the unrighteous, and not before the saints”? (1 Cor. 6:1.)

Would you see the flattery of the foolish Jews? listen to them, saying, “We have no king but Cæsar.” (John 19:15.) Would you see humility? listen to Paul again, when he says, “For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake.” (2 Cor. 4:5.) Would you see both flattery and audacity? “Audacity” (1 Sam. 25:10) in the case of Nabal, and “flattery” (1 Sam. 23:20.) in that of the Ziphites? For in their purpose they betrayed David. Would you see “wisdom” (1 Sam. 26:5–12) and not flattery, that of David, how he got Saul into his power, and yet spared him? Would you see the flattery of those who murdered Mephibosheth,1 whom also David slew? In fine, and as it were in outline, to sum up all, audacity is shown when one is enraged, and insults another for no just cause, either to avenge himself, or in some unjust way is audacious; but boldness and courage are when we dare to face perils and deaths, and despise friendships and enmities for the sake of what is pleasing to God. Again, flattery and meanness are when one courts another not for any right end, but hunting after some of the things of this life; but humility, when one does this for the sake of things pleasing to God, and descends from his own proper station that he may perform something great and admirable. If we know these things, happy are we if we do them. For to know them is not enough. For Scripture says, “Not the hearers of a law, but the doers of a law shall be justified.” (Rom. 2:13.) Yea, knowledge itself condemneth, when it is without action and deeds of virtue. Wherefore that we may escape the condemnation, let us follow after the practice, that we may obtain those good things that are promised to us, by the grace and love of our Lord Jesus Christ.

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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.

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St John Chrysostom’s Homiletic Commentary on Ephesians 4:19-28

Posted by Dim Bulb on July 22, 2017

This post is made up from two of St Chrysostom’s homilies. Homily 13 (complete) on 4:19-24; and Homily 14 on verses 25-28.

HOMILY 13
Eph 4:19-24

“This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye no longer walk as the Gentiles also walk, in the vanity of their mind, being darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardening of their heart: who being past feeling, gave themselves up to lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.”

These words are not addressed to the Ephesians only, but are now addressed also to you; and that, not from me, but from Paul; or rather, neither from me nor from Paul, but from the grace of the Spirit. And we then ought so to feel, as though that grace itself were uttering them. And now hear what it saith. “This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye no longer walk as the Gentiles also walk, in the vanity of their mind, being darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardening of their heart.” If then it is ignorance, if it is hardening, why blame it?2 if a man is ignorant, it were just, not that he should be ill-treated for it, nor be blamed, but that he should be informed of those things of which he is ignorant. But mark how at once he cuts them off from all excuse. “Who being past feeling” saith he, “gave themselves up to lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness; but ye did not so learn Christ.” Here he shows us, that the cause of their hardening was their way of life, and that their life was the consequence of their own indolence and want of feeling.

“Who being past feeling,”3 saith he, “gave themselves up.”

Whenever then ye hear, that “God gave them up unto a reprobate mind” (Rom. 1:28), remember this expression, that “they gave themselves up.” If then they gave themselves over, how did God give them over? and if again God gave them over, how did they give themselves over? Thou seest the seeming contradiction. The word, “gave them over,” then, means this, He permitted4 them to be given over. Seest thou, that the impure life is the ground for like doctrines also? “Every one,” saith the Lord, “that doeth ill hateth the light, and cometh not to the light.” (John 3:20.) For how could a profligate man, one more immersed in the practice of indiscriminate lewdness than the swine5 that wallow in the mire, and who is a lover of money, and has not so much as any desire after temperance, enter upon a life like this? They made the thing, saith he, their “work.”6 Hence their “hardening” (ver. 19), hence the “darkness of their understanding.” There is such a thing as being in the dark, even while the light is shining, when the eyes are weak; and weak they become, either by the influx of ill humors, or by superabundance of rheum. And so surely is it also here; when the strong current of the affairs of this life overwhelms the perceptive power of the understanding, it is thrown into a state of darkness. And in the same way as if we were placed in the depths under water, we should be unable to see the sun through the quantity of water lying, like a sort of barrier, above us, so surely, in the eyes of the understanding also a blindness of the heart takes place, that is, an insensibility, whenever there is no fear to agitate the soul. “There is no fear of God,” it saith, “before his eyes” (Ps. 36:1); and again, “The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God.” (Ps. 14:1.) Now blindness arises from no other cause than from want of feeling; this clogs the channel; for whenever the fluids are curdled and collected into one place, the limb becomes dead and void of feeling; and though thou burn it, or cut it, or do what thou wilt with it, still it feels not. So is it also with those persons, when they have once given themselves over to lasciviousness: though thou apply the word to them like fire, or steel, yet noting touches, nothing reaches them; their limb is utterly dead. And unless thou canst remove the insensibility, so as to touch the healthy members, everything thou doest is vain.

“With greediness,” saith he.

Here he has most completely taken away their excuse; for it was in their power, if at least they chose it, not to be “greedy,”1 nor to be “lascivious,” nor gluttonous, and yet to enjoy their desires. It was in their power to partake in moderation2 of riches, and even of pleasure and of luxury; but when they indulged the thing immoderately,3 they destroyed all.

“To work all uncleanness,” saith he.

Ye see how he strips them of all excuse by speaking of “working uncleanness.” They did not sin, he means, by making a false step, but they worked out these horrid deeds, and they made the thing a matter of study. “All uncleanness”; uncleanness is all adultery, fornication, unnatural lust, envy, every kind of profligacy and lasciviousness.

Ver. 20, 21. “But ye did not so learn Christ,” he continues, “if so be that ye heard Him, and were taught in Him even as truth is in Jesus.”

The expression, “If so be that ye heard Him,” is not that of one doubting, but of one even strongly affirming: as he also speaks elsewhere, “If so be that it is a righteous thing with God to recompense affliction to them that afflict you.” (2 Thess. 1:6.) That is to say, It was not for these purposes that “ye learned Christ.”

Ver. 22. “That ye put away as concerning your former manner of life, the old man.”

This then surely is to learn Christ, to live rightly; for he that lives wickedly knows not God, neither is known of Him; for hear what he saith elsewhere, “They profess that they know God, but by their works they deny Him.” (Tit. 1:16.)

“As truth is in Jesus; that ye put away as concerning your former manner of life, the old man.”

That is to say, It was not on these terms that thou enteredst into covenant. What is found among us is not vanity, but truth. As the doctrines are true, so is the life also. Sin is vanity and falsehood; but a right life is truth. For temperance is indeed truth, for it has a great end; whereas profligacy ends in nothing.

“Which waxeth corrupt,” saith he, “after the lusts of deceit.” As his lusts became corrupt, so himself also. How then do his lusts become corrupt? By death all things are dissolved; for hear the Prophet, how he saith, “In that very day his thoughts perish.” (Ps. 146:4.) And not by death only, but by many things besides; for instance, beauty, at the advance of either disease or old age, withdraws and dies away, and suffers corruption. Bodily vigor again is destroyed by the same means; nor does luxury itself afford the same pleasure in old age, as is evident from the case of Barzillai:4 the history, no doubt, ye know. Or again, in another sense, lust corrupts and destroys the old man; for as wool is destroyed by the very same means by which it is produced, so likewise is the old man. For love of glory destroys him, and pleasures will often destroy him, and “lust” will utterly “deceive” him. For this is not really pleasure but bitterness and deceit, all pretense and outward show. The surface, indeed, of the things is bright, but the things themselves are only full of misery and extreme wretchedness, and loathsomeness, and utter poverty. Take off the mask, and lay bare the true face, and thou shalt see the cheat, for cheat it is, when that which is, appears not, and that which is not, is displayed. And it is thus that impositions are effected.

The Apostle delineates for us four men.5 Of these I shall give an explanation. In this place he mentions two, speaking thus, “Putting away the old man, be ye renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new man.” And in the Epistle to the Romans, two more, as where he saith, “But I see a different law in my members warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity under the law of sin which is in my members.” (Rom. 7:23.) And these latter bear affinity to those former two, the “new man” to the “inner man,” and the “old man” to the “outer man.” However, three of these four were subject to corruption. Or rather there are three, the new man, the old, and this, man in his substance and nature.1

Ver. 23. “And that ye be renewed,” saith he, “in the spirit of your mind.”

In order that no one may suppose that, whereas he speaks of old and new, he is introducing a different person, observe his expression, “That ye be renewed.” To be renewed is, when the selfsame thing which has grown old is renewed, changed from one thing into the other. So that the subject indeed is the same, but the change is in that which is accidental. Just as the body indeed is the same, and the change in that which is accidental, so is it here. How then is the renewal to take place? “In the spirit of your mind,” saith he. Whosoever therefore has the Spirit, will perform no old deed, for the Spirit will not endure old deeds. “In the spirit,” saith he, “of your mind,” that is, in the spirit which is in your mind.2

Ver. 24. “And put on the new man.”

Seest thou that the subject is one, but the clothing is twofold, that which is put off, and that which is put on? “The new man,” he continues, “which after God hath been created in righteousness and holiness of truth.” Now wherefore does he call virtue a man? And wherefore vice, a man? Because a man cannot be shown without acting; so that these things, no less than nature, show a man, whether he be good or evil. Now as to undress one’s self and to dress one’s self is easy, so may we see it is with virtue and vice. The young man is strong; wherefore let us also become strong for the performance of good actions. The young man has no wrinkle, therefore neither should we have. The young man wavers not, nor is he easily taken with diseases, therefore neither should we be.

Observe here how he calls this realizing of virtue, this bringing of it into being from nothing, a “creation.” But what? was not that other former creation after God? No, in nowise, but after the devil. He is the sole creator of sin.

How is this? For man is created henceforth, not of water, nor of earth, but “in righteousness and holiness of truth.” What is this? He straightway created him, he means, to be a son: for this takes place from Baptism. This it is which is the reality, “in righteousness and holiness of truth.” There was of old a righteousness, there was likewise a holiness with the Jews. Yet was that righteousness not in truth, but in figure. For the being clean in body was a type of purity, not the truth of purity; was a type of righteousness, not the truth of righteousness. “In righteousness,” saith he, “and holiness,” which are “of truth.”

And this expression is used with reference to falsehood; for many there are, who to them that are without, seem to be righteous, yet are false. Now by righteousness is meant universal virtue. For hearken to Christ, how He saith, “Except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in nowise enter into the kingdom of heaven.” (Matt. 5:20.) And again, he is called righteous, who has no charge against him; for so even in courts of justice we say that that man is righteous, who has been unrighteously treated, and has not done unrighteously in return. If therefore we also before the terrible Tribunal shall be able to appear righteous one towards another, we may meet with some lovingkindness. Toward God indeed it is impossible we should appear so, whatever we may have to show. For everywhere He overcometh in what is righteous, as the Prophet3 also saith, “That Thou mightest prevail when Thou comest into judgment.” But if we violate not what is righteous towards each other, then shall we be righteous. If we shall be able to show that we have been treated unrighteously, then shall we be righteous.

How does he say to them who are already clothed, “put on”? He is now speaking of that clothing which is from life and good works. Before, the clothing was from Baptism, whereas now it is from the daily life and from works; no longer “after the lusts of deceit,” but “after God.” But what means the word “holy”? It is that which is pure, that which is due; hence also we use the word of the last duty in the case of the departed, as much as to say, “I owe them nothing further, I have nothing else to answer for.” Thus it is usual for us to say, “I have acquitted myself of all obligations,”1 and the like, meaning, “I owe nothing more.”

Moral. Our part then is, never to put off the garment of righteousness, which also the Prophet calls, “the garment of salvation” (Isa. 61:10), that so we may be made like unto God. For He indeed hath put on righteousness. This garment let us put on. Now the word, “put on,” plainly declares nothing else, than that we should never at all put it off. For hear the Prophet, where he saith, “He clothed himself also with cursing as with his garment, and it came into his inward parts.” (Ps. 109:18.) And again, “Who coverest Thyself with light as with a garment.” (Ps. 104:2.) And again, it is usual with us to speak concerning men, such an one has “put on” such an one. So then it is not for one day, nor for two, nor for three, but he would have us ever arrayed in virtue, and never stripped of this garment. For a man is not so disfigured when he is stripped of his clothing, as when he is stripped of his virtue. In the former case his fellow-servants behold his nakedness, in the latter his Lord and the Angels. If ever thou happen to see any one going out naked through the public square, tell me, art thou not distressed? When then thou goest about stripped of this garment, what shall we say? Seest not those beggars whom we are wont to call strollers,2 how they roam about, how we pity even them? And yet nevertheless they are without excuse. We do not excuse them when they have lost their clothes by gaming; and how then, if we lose this garment, shall God pardon us? For whenever the devil sees a man stripped of his virtue, he straightway disguises and disfigures his face, and wounds him, and drives him to great straits.

Let us strip ourselves of our riches, that we be not stripped of righteousness. The garb of wealth mars this garment. It is a robe of thorns. Thorns are of this nature; and the more closely they are wrapped around us, the more naked are we made. Lasciviousness strips us of this garment; for it is a fire, and the fire will consume this garment. Wealth is a moth; and as the moth eats through all things alike, and spares not even silken garments, so does this also. All these therefore let us put off, that we may become righteous, that we may “put on the new man.” Let us keep nothing old, nothing outward, nothing that is “corrupt.” Virtue is not toilsome, she is not difficult to attain. Dost thou not see them that are in the mountains? They forsake both houses, and wives, and children, and all preëminence, and shut themselves away from the world, and clothe themselves in sackcloth, and strew ashes beneath them; they wear collars hung about their necks, and have pent themselves up in a narrow cell.3 Nor do they stop here, but torture themselves with fastings and continual hunger. Did I now enjoin you to do the like, would ye not all start away? Would ye not say, it is intolerable? But no, I say not that we must needs do anything like this:—I would fain indeed that it were so, still I lay down no law. What then? Enjoy thy baths, take care of thy body, and throw thyself freely into the world, and keep a household, have thy servants to wait on thee, and make free use of thy meats and drinks! But everywhere drive out excess, for that it is which causes sin, and the same thing, whatever it be, if it becomes excessive, becomes a sin; so that excess is nothing else than sin. For observe, when anger is excited above what is meet, then it rushes out into insult, then it commits every sort of injury; so does inordinate passion for beauty, for riches, for glory, or for anything else. And tell me not, that indeed, those of whom I spoke were strong; for many far weaker and richer, and more luxurious than thou art, have taken upon them that austere and rugged life. And why speak I of men? Damsels not yet twenty years old, who have spent their whole time in inner chambers, and in a delicate and effeminate mode of life, in inner chambers full of sweet ointments and perfumes, reclining on soft couches, themselves soft in their nature, and rendered yet more tender by their over indulgence, who all the day long have had no other business than to adorn themselves, to wear jewels, and to enjoy every luxury, who never waited on themselves, but had numerous handmaids standing beside them, who wore soft raiment softer than their skin, fine linen and delicate, who reveled continually in roses and such like sweet odors,—yea, these very ones, in a moment, seized with Christ’s flame, have put off all that indolence and even their very nature, have forgotten their delicateness and youth, and like so many noble wrestlers, have stripped themselves of that soft clothing, and rushed into the midst of the contest. And perhaps I shall appear to be telling things incredible, yet nevertheless are they true. These then, these very tender damsels, as I myself have heard, have brought themselves to such a degree of severe training, that they will wrap the coarsest horsehair about their own naked bodies, and go with those tender soles unsandaled, and will lie upon a bed of leaves: nay more, that they watch the greater part of the night, and that they take no heed of perfumes nor of any other of their old delights, but will even let their head, once so carefully dressed, go without special care, with the hair just plainly and simply bound up, so as not to fall into unseemliness. And their only meal is in the evening, a meal not even of herbs nor of bread, but of flour and beans and pulse and olives and figs. They spin without intermission, and labor far harder than their handmaids at home. What more? they will take upon them to wait upon women who are sick, carrying their beds, and washing their feet. Nay, many of them even cook. So great is the power of the flame of Christ; so far does their zeal surpass their very nature.

However, I demand nothing like this of you, seeing ye have a mind to be outstripped by women. Yet at least, if there be any tasks not too laborious, at least perform these: restrain the rude hand, and the incontinent eye. What is there, tell me, so hard, what so difficult? Do what is just and right, wrong no man, be ye poor or rich, shopkeepers or hired servants; for unrighteousness may extend even to the poor. Or see ye not how many broils these engage in, and turn all things upside down? Marry freely, and have children. Paul also gave charge to such, to such he wrote. Is that struggle I spoke of too great, and the rock too lofty, and its top too nigh unto Heaven, and art thou unable to attain to such an height? At least then lay hold on lesser things, and aim at those which are lower. Hast thou not courage to get rid of thine own riches? At least then forbear to seize on the things of others, and to do them wrong. Art thou unable to fast? At least then give not thyself to self-indulgence. Art thou unable to lie upon a bed of leaves? Still, prepare not for yourselves couches inlaid with silver; but use a couch and coverings formed not for display, but for refreshment; not couches of ivory. Make thyself small. Why fill thy vessel with overwhelming cargoes? If thou be lightly equipped, thou shalt have nothing to fear, no envy, no robbers, no liers in wait. For indeed thou art not so rich in money as thou art in cares. Thou aboundest not so much in possessions, as in anxieties and in perils, “which bring in many temptations and lusts.” (1 Tim. 6:9.) These things they endure, who desire to gain great possessions. I say not, minister unto the sick; yet, at least, bid thy servant do it. Seest thou then how that this is no toilsome task? No, for how can it be, when tender damsels surpass us by so great a distance? Let us be ashamed of ourselves, I entreat you; for in worldly matters, to be sure, we in no point yield to them, neither in wars, nor in games; but in the spiritual contest they get the advantage of us, and are the first to seize the prize, and soar higher, like so many eagles:1 whilst we, like jackdaws, are ever living in the steam and smoke; for truly is it the business of jackdaws, and of greedy dogs, to be setting one’s thoughts upon caterers and cooks. Hearken about the women of old; they were great characters, great women and admirable; such were Sarah, Rebekah, Rachel, Deborah, and Hannah; and such there were also in the days of Christ. Yet did they in no case outstrip the men, but occupied the second rank. But now it is the very contrary; women outstrip and eclipse us. How contemptible! What a shame is this! We hold the place of the head, and are surpassed by the body. We are ordained to rule over them; not merely that we may rule, but that we may rule in goodness also; for he that ruleth, ought especially to rule in this respect, by excelling in virtue; whereas if he is surpassed, he is no longer ruler.2 Perceive ye how great is the power of Christ’s coming? how He dissolved the curse? For indeed there are more virgins than before among women, there is more modesty in those virgins, and there are more widows. No woman would lightly utter so much as an unseemly word. Wherefore then, tell me, dost thou use filthy speech? For tell me not that they were virgins in despondency or despair.

The sex is fond of ornament, and it has this failing. Yet even in this you husbands surpass them, who pride yourselves even upon them, as your own proper ornament; for I do not think that the wife is so ostentatious of her own jewels, as the husband is of those of his wife. He is not so proud of his own golden girdle, as he is of his wife’s wearing jewels of gold. So that even of this you are the causes, who light the spark and kindle up the flame. But what is more, it is not so great a sin in a woman as in a man. Thou art ordained to regulate her; in every way thou claimest to have the preëminence. Show her then in this also, that thou takest no interest in this costliness of hers, by thine own apparel. It is more suitable for a woman to adorn herself, than for a man. If then thou escape not the temptation, how shall she escape it? They have moreover their share of vainglory, but this is common to them with men. They are in a measure passionate, and this again is common to them with men. But as to those things wherein they excel, these are no longer common to them with men; their sanctity, I mean, their fervency, their devotion, their love towards Christ. Wherefore then, one may say, did Paul exclude them from the teacher’s seat? And here again is a proof how great a distance they were from the men, and that the women of those days were great. For, tell me, while Paul was teaching, or Peter, or those saints of old, had it been right that a woman should intrude into the office? Whereas we have gone on till we have come so debased, that it is worthy of question, why women are not teachers. So truly have we come to the same weakness as they. These things I have said not from any desire to elate them, but to shame ourselves, to chastise, and to admonish us, that so we may resume the authority that belongs to us, not inasmuch as we are greater in size, but because of our foresight, our protection of them, and our virtue. For thus shall the body also be in the order which befits it, when it has the best head to rule. And God grant that all, both wives and husbands, may live according to His good pleasure, that we may all in that terrible day be counted worthy to enjoy the lovingkindness of our Master, and to attain those good things which are promised in Jesus Christ our Lord, with whom to the Father, together with the Holy Ghost, be glory, might, and honor, now and forever and ever. Amen.

HOMILY 14
(excerpt)
Eph 4:25-28

“Wherefore, putting away falsehood, speak ye truth each one with his neighbor; for we are members one of another. Be ye angry, and sin not; let not the sun go down upon your wrath: neither give place to the devil.”

Having spoken of the “old man” generally, he next draws him also in detail;[“And the first exhortation here was suggested by the immediately preceding ἀλήθεια. The figurative form of the precept also (ἀποθέμενοι, ‘putting off’) is an echo from what precedes.”—Meyer.—G. A.]

“>1 for this kind of teaching is more easily learned when we learn by particulars. And what saith he? “Wherefore, putting away falsehood.” What sort of falsehood? Idols does he mean? Surely not; not indeed but that they are falsehood also. However, he is not now speaking of them, because these persons had nothing to do with them; but he is speaking of that which passes between one man and another, meaning that which is deceitful and false. “Speak ye truth, each one,” saith he, “with his neighbor”; then what is more touching to the conscience[“ ‘Members’ one of another, and to ‘lie’ to one another,—how contradictory!”—Meyer.—G. A.]

“>2 still, “because we are members one of another Let no man deceive his neighbor. As the Psalmist says here and there; “With flattering lip and with a double heart do they speak.” (Ps. 12:2.) For there is nothing, no, nothing so productive of enmity as deceit and guile.

Observe how everywhere he shames them by this similitude of the body. Let not the eye, saith he, lie to the foot, nor the foot to the eye. For example, if there shall be a deep pit, and then by having reeds laid across upon the mouth of it upon the earth, and yet concealed under earth, it shall by its appearance furnish to the eye an expectation of solid ground, will not the eye use the foot, and discover whether it yields[εἵκει, Field’s emendation for the reading εἰκῇ of the MSS. He cites the phrase τὸ εἶκον καὶ μὴ ἀντιτυποῦν from Plato, Cratylus, 420 D.—G. A.]

“>3 and is hollow underneath, or whether it is firm and resists?ἀντιτυπεῖ.

“>4 Will the foot tell a lie, and not report the truth as it is? And what again? If the eye were to spy a serpent or a wild beast, will it lie to the foot? Will it not at once inform it, and the foot thus informed by it refrain from going on? And what again, when neither the foot nor the eye shall know how to distinguish, but all shall depend upon the smelling, as, for example, whether a drug be deadly or not; will the smelling lie to the mouth? And why not? Because it will be destroying itself also. But it tells the truth as it appears to itself. And what again? Will the tongue lie to the stomach? Does it not, when a thing is bitter, reject it, and, if it is sweet, pass it on? Observe ministration, and interchange of service; observe a provident care arising from truth, and, as one might say, spontaneously from the heart. So surely should it be with us also; let us not lie, since we are “members one of another.” This is a sure token of friendship; whereas the contrary is of enmity. What then, thou wilt ask, if a man shall use treachery against thee? Hearken to the truth. If he use treachery, he is not a member; whereas he saith, “lie not towards the members.”

“Be ye angry, and sin not.”

Observe his wisdom. He both speaks to prevent our sinning, and, if we do not listen, still does not forsake us; for his fatherly compassion does not desert him. For just as the physician prescribes to the sick what he must do, and if he does not submit to it, still does not treat him with contempt, but proceeding to add what advice he can by persuasion, again goes on with the cure; so also does Paul. For he indeed who does otherwise, aims only at reputation, and is annoyed at being disregarded; whereas he who on all occasions aims at the recovery of the patient, has this single object in view, how he may restore the patient, and raise him up again. This then is what Paul is doing. He has said, “Lie not.” Yet if ever lying should produce anger,[This seems to be a correct account of the connection, but the exact force of the first imperative it is not easy to determine. Winer (Grammar of N. T., Thayer’s translation, pp. 311, 312) takes it permissively: Be angry (I give you leave), but do not sin. He cites in proof Jer. 10:24, which, however, can be otherwise explained, namely, as the imperative of request, used in prayer. Compare the Lord’s prayer. Meyer says it does not seem logical to connect two imperatives by καὶ unless they are taken in the same sense. If the first imperative were permissive, the combination would be exceptive, and ἀλλά, μόνον or πλήν (Jer. 10:24) would be required. Both imperatives then are jussive, and there is an anger which a man not only may, but ought, to feel. So Ellicott and Riddle.—G. A.]

“>1 he goes on again to cure this also. For what saith he? “Be ye angry, and sin not.” It were good indeed never to be angry. Yet if ever any one should fall into passion, still let him not fall into so great a degree. “For let not the sun,” saith he, “go down upon your wrath.” Wouldest thou have thy fill of anger? One hour, or two, or three, is enough for thee; let not the sun depart, and leave you both at enmity. It was of God’s goodness that he rose; let him not depart, having shone on unworthy men. For if the Lord of His great goodness sent him, and hath Himself forgiven thee thy sins, and yet thou forgivest not thy neighbor, look, how great an evil is this! And there is yet another besides this. The blessed Paul dreads the night,[“There does not appear any allusion to the possible effect of night upon anger, as Chrysostom here, and Theophylact also.”—Ellicott. The parallel Pythagorean custom is cited by Ellicott (Hammond and Wetstein): “If they were ever carried away by anger into railing, before the setting of the sun they gave the right hand to each other, embraced each other, and were reconciled.”—G. A.]

“>2 lest overtaking in solitude him that was wronged, still burning with anger, it should again kindle up the fire. For as long as there are many things in the daytime to banish it, thou art free to indulge it; but as soon as ever the evening comes on, be reconciled, extinguish the evil whilst it is yet fresh; for should night overtake it, the morrow will not avail to extinguish the further evil which will have been collected in the night. Nay, even though thou shouldest cut off the greater portion, and yet not be able to cut off the whole, it will again supply from what is left for the following night, to make the blaze more violent. And just as, should the sun be unable by the heat of the day to soften and disperse that part of the air which has been during the night condensed into cloud, it affords material for a tempest, night overtaking the remainder, and feeding it again with fresh vapors: so also is it in the case of anger.

“Neither give place to the devil.”

So then to be at war with one another, is “to give place to the devil”; for, whereas we had need to be all in close array, and to make our stand against him, we have relaxed our enmity against him, and are giving the signal for turning against each other; for never has the devil such place as in our enmities.[This reference to church life is not implied in the context. He follows up what he said before by saying, Give not to the devil opportunity for being active by an angry state of mind.—G. A.]

“>3 Numberless are the evils thence produced. And as stones in a building, so long as they are closely fitted together and leave no interstice, will stand firm, while if there is but a single needle’s passage through, or a crevice no broader than a hair, this destroys and ruins all; so is it with the devil. So long indeed as we are closely set and compacted together, he cannot introduce one of his wiles; but when he causes us to relax a little, he rushes in like a torrent. In every case he needs only a beginning, and this is the thing which it is difficult to accomplish; but this done, he makes room on all sides for himself. For henceforth he opens the ear to slanders, and they who speak lies are the more trusted: they have enmity which plays the advocate, not truth which judges justly. And as, where friendship[Compare Goethe:
Die Freundschaft ist gerecht. Sie kann allein,
Den ganzen Umfang seines Werths erkennen.—G. A.]

“>4 is, even those evils which are true appear false, so where there is enmity, even the false appear true. There is a different mind, a different tribunal, which does not hear fairly, but with great bias and partiality. As, in a balance, if lead is cast into the scale, it will drag down the whole; so is it also here, only that the weight of enmity is far heavier than any lead. Wherefore, let us, I beseech you, do all we can to extinguish our enmities before the going down of the sun. For if you fail to master it on the very first day, both on the following, and oftentimes even for a year, you will be protracting it, and the enmity will thenceforward augment itself, and require nothing to aid it. For by causing us to suspect that words spoken in one sense were meant in another, and gestures also, and everything, it infuriates and exasperates us, and makes us more distempered than madmen, not enduring either to utter a name, or to hear it, but saying everything in invective and abuse. How then are we to allay this passion? How shall we extinguish the flame? By reflecting on our own sins, and how much we have to answer for to God; by reflecting that we are wreaking vengeance, not on an enemy, but on ourselves; by reflecting that we are delighting the devil, that we are strengthening our enemy, our real enemy, and that for him we are doing wrong to our own members. Wouldest thou be revengeful and be at enmity? Be at enmity, but be so with the devil, and not with a member of thine own. For this purpose it is that God hath armed us with anger, not that we should thrust the sword against our own bodies, but that we should baptizeβαπτίζωμεν τὴν μάχαιραν εἰς τὸ τοῦ διαβόλου στῆθος.

“>1 the whole blade in the devil’s breast. There bury the sword up to the hilt; yea, if thou wilt, hilt and all, and never draw it out again, but add yet another and another. And this actually comes to pass when we are merciful to those of our own spiritual family and peaceably disposed one towards another. Perish money, perish glory and reputation; mine own member is dearer to me than they all. Thus let us say to ourselves; let us not do violence to our own nature to gain wealth, to obtain glory.

Ver. 28. “Let him that stole,”[“ ‘The stealer (ὁ κλέπτων) is to steal no more.’ The present participle does not stand for the past, but is used substantively (like ὁ σπείρων, Matt. 13:3). As there were in the apostolic church ‘fornicators’ (1 Cor. 5:1), so there were also ‘stealers,’ and the attempts to tone down the word are arbitrary and superfluous.”—Meyer.—G. A.]

“>2 saith he, “steal no more.”

Seest thou what are the members of the old man? Falsehood, revenge, theft. Why said he not, “Let him that stole” be punished, be tortured, be racked; but, “let him steal no more”? “But rather let him labor, working with his hands the thing that is good, that he may have whereof to give to him that hath need.”

Where are they which are called pure;καθαροί. The Cathari, or pure, was the title which the Novatians indirectly assumed, by maintaining that none were in God’s favor but those who had not sinned after baptism, or who were pure as baptism made them, and by separating from the Church for granting absolution to penitents. The schism originated at Rome in the middle of the third century. Accordingly St. Chrysostom in the text says, that whereas all men need pardon continually, they who affected to be clean or pure without securing it were, as being without it, of all men most unclean. [And he strongly asserts, as against the Novatians, that it is possible to put away the guilt of sins committed after baptism, by ceasing from the practice of them and working that which is good. This view, however, differs from the Protestant view, that the putting away the guilt of sin is at first and always through God’s mercy and grace in Jesus Christ.—G. A.] In the sixth of eleven new Homilies edited by the Benedictines, t. xii. p. 355, he says that we may as well talk of the sea being clear of waves as any soul pure from daily sins, though not from transgressing express commandment, yet from vainglory, willfulness, impure thoughts, coveting, lying, resentment, envy, &c., and he mentions as means of washing away sins, coming to Church, grieving for them, confessing them, doing alms, praying, helping the injured, and forgiving injuries. “Let us provide ourselves with these,” he proceeds, “every day, washing, wiping ourselves clean, and withal confessing ourselves unprofitable,” unlike the Pharisee. “Thus ordering ourselves, we shall be able to find mercy and pardon in that fearful day, &c.” This homily was delivered at Constantinople. [On the Novatians, see Schaff, Church History, II., pp. 196, 197.—G. A.]

“>3 they that are full of all defilement, and yet dare to give themselves a name like this? For it is possible, very possible, to put off the reproach, not only by ceasing from the sin, but by working some good thing also. Perceive ye how we ought to get quit of the sin? “They stole.” This is the sin. “They steal no more.” This is not to do away the sin. But how shall they? If they labor, and charitably communicate to others, thus will they do away the sin. He does not simply desire that we should work, but so “work” as to “labor,” so as that we may “communicate” to others. For the thief indeed works, but it is that which is evil.

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Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Matthew 22:1-14

Posted by Dim Bulb on July 22, 2017

1. And Jesus answered and spake unto them again by parables, and said, 2. The kingdom of heaven is like unto a certain king, which made a marriage for his son, 3. And sent forth his servants to call them that were bidden to the wedding: and they would not come. 4. Again, he sent forth other servants, saying, Tell them which are bidden, Behold, I have prepared my dinner: my oxen and my fatlings are killed, and all things are ready: come unto the marriage. 5. But they made light of it, and went their ways, one to his farm, another to his merchandise: 6. And the remnant took his servants, and entreated them spitefully, and slew them. 7. But when the king heard thereof, he was wroth: and he sent forth his armies, and destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city. 8. Then saith he to his servants, The wedding is ready, but they which were bidden were not worthy. 9. Go ye therefore into the highways, and as many as ye shall find, bid to the marriage. 10. So those servants went out into the highways, and gathered together all as many as they found, both bad and good: and the wedding was furnished with guests. 11. And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment: 12. And he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless. 13. Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 14. For many are called, but few are chosen.

Chrysostom. (Hom. lxix.) Forasmuch as He had said, And it shall be given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof, He now proceeds to shew what nation that is.

Gloss. (interlin.) Answered, that is, meeting their evil thoughts of putting Him to death.

Augustine. (de Cons. Ev. ii. 71.) This parable is related only by Matthew. Luke gives one like it, but it is not the same, as the order shews.

Gregory. (Hom. in Ev. xxxviii. 2.) Here, by the wedding-feast is denoted the present Church; there, by the supper, the last and eternal feast. For into this enter some who shall perish; into that whosoever has once entered in shall never be put forth. But if any should maintain that these are the same lessons, we may perhaps explain that that part concerning the guest who had come in without a wedding garment, which Luke has not mentioned, Matthew has related. That the one calls it supper, the other dinner, makes no difference; for with the ancients the dinner was at the ninth hour, and was therefore often called supper.

Origen. The kingdom of heaven, in respect of Him who reigns there, is like a king; in respect of Him who shares the kingdom, it is like a king’s son; in respect of those things which are in the kingdom, it is like servants and guests, and among them the king’s armies. It is specified, A man that is a king, that what is spoken may be as by a man to men, and that a man may regulate men unwilling to be regulated by God. But the kingdom of heaven will then cease to be like a man, when zeal and contention and all other passions and sins having ceased, we shall cease to walk after men, and shall see Him as He is. For now we see Him not as He is, but as He has been made for us in our dispensation.

Gregory. (ubi sup.) G marriage feast for God the Son, when He joined Him to human nature in the womb of the Virgin. But far be it from us to conclude, that because marriage takes place between two separate persons, that therefore the person of our Redeemer was made up of two separate persons. We say indeed that He exists of two natures, and in two natures, but we hold it unlawful to believe that He was compounded of two persons. It is safer therefore to say, that the marriage feast was made by the King the Father for the King the Son when He joined to Him the Holy Church in the mystery of His incarnation. The womb of the Virgin Mother was the bride-chamber of this Bridegroom.

Pseudo-Chrysostom. Otherwise; When the resurrection of the saints shall be, then the life, which is Christ, shall revive man, swallowing up his mortality in its own immortality. For now we receive the Holy Spirit as a pledge of the future union, but then we shall have Christ Himself more fully in us.

Origen. Or, by the marriage of Bridegroom with Bride, that is, of Christ with the soul, understand the Assumption of the Word, the produce whereof is good works.

Hilary. Rightly has the Father already made this wedding, because this eternal union and espousal of the new body is already perfect in Christ.

Pseudo-Chrysostom. When the servants were sent to call them, they must have been invited before. Men have been invited from the time of Abraham, to whom was promised Christ’s incarnation.

Jerome. He sent his servant, without doubt Moses, by whom I le gave the Law, to those who had been invited. But if you read servants as most copies have, it must be referred to the Prophets, by whom they were invited, but neglected to come. By the servants who were sent the second time, we may better understand the Prophets than the Apostles; that is to say, if servant is read in the first place; but if ‘servants,’ then by the second servants are to be understood the Apostles;

Pseudo-Chrysostom. whom He sent when He said unto them, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, but rather go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. (Mat. 10:5.)

Origen. Or; The servants who were first sent to call them that were bidden to the wedding, are to be taken as the Prophets converting the people by their prophecy to the festival of the restoration of the Church to Christ. They who would not come at the first message are they who refused to hear the words of the Prophets. The others who were sent a second time were another assembly of Prophets.

Hilary. Or; The servants who were first sent to call them that were bidden, are the Apostles; they who, being before bidden, are now invited to come in, are the people of Israel, who had before been bidden through the Law to the glories of eternity. To the Apostles therefore it belonged to remind those whom the Prophets had invited. Those sent with the second injunction are the Apostolic men their successors.

Gregory. (ubi sup.) But because these who were first invited would not come to the feast, the second summons says, Behold, I have prepared my dinner.

Jerome. The dinner that is prepared, the oxen and the fatlings that are killed, is either a description of regal magnificence by the way of metaphor, that by carnal things spiritual may be understood; or the greatness of the doctrines, and the manifold teaching of God in His law, may be understood.

Pseudo-Chrysostom. When therefore the Lord bade the Apostles, Go ye and preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand, it was the same message as is here given, I have prepared my dinner; i.e. I have set out the table of Scripture out of the Law and the Prophets.

Gregory. (ubi sup.) By the oxen are signified the Fathers of the Old Testament; who by sufferance of the Law gored their enemies with the horn of bodily strength. By fatlings are meant fatted animals, for from ‘alere’, comes ‘altilia,’ as it were ‘alitilia’ or ‘alita.’ By the fatlings are intended the Fathers of the New Testament; who while they receive sweet grace of inward fattening, are raised by the wing of contemplation from earthly desires to things above. He says therefore, My oxen and my fallings are killed; as much as to say, Look to the deaths of the Fathers who have been before you, and desire some amendment of your lives.

Pseudo-Chrysostom. Otherwise; He says oxen and fatlings, not as though the oxen were not fatted, but because all the oxen were not fat. Therefore the fatlings denote the Prophets who were filled with the Holy Spirit; the oxen those who were both Priests and Prophets, as Jeremiah and Ezekiel; for as the oxen are the leaders of the herd, so also the Priests are leaders of the people.

Hilary. Or otherwise; The oxen are the glorious army of Martyrs, offered, like choice victims, for the confession of God; the fatlings are spiritual men, as birds fed for flight upon heavenly food, that they may fill others with the abundance of the food they have eaten.

Gregory. (ubi sup.) It is to be observed, that in the first invitation nothing was said of the oxen or fatlings, but in the second it is announced that they are already killed, because Almighty God when we will not hear His words gives examples, that what we suppose impossible may become easy to us to surmount, when we hear that others have passed through it before us.

Origen. Or; The dinner which is prepared is the oracle of God; and so the more mighty of the oracles of God are the oxen; the sweet and pleasant are the fatlings. For if any one bring forward feeble words, without power, and not having strong force of reason, these are the lean things; the fatlings are when to the establishment of each proposition many examples are brought forward backed by reasonable proofs. For example, supposing one holding discourse of chastity, it might well be represented by the turtle-dove; but should he bring forward the same holy discourse full of reasonable proof out of Scripture, so as to delight and strengthen the mind of his hearer, then he brings the dove fatted.

Pseudo-Chrysostom. That He says, And all things are now ready, means, that all that is required to salvation is already filled up in the Scriptures; there the ignorant may find instruction; the self-willed may read of terrors; he who is in difficulty may there find promises to rouse him to activity.

Gloss. (interlin.) Or, All things are now ready, i.e. The entrance into the kingdom, which had been hitherto closed, is now ready through faith in My incarnation.

Pseudo-Chrysostom. (non occ. sed vid. Gloss. ord.) Or He says, All things are now ready which belong to the mystery of the Lord’s Passion, and our redemption. He says, Come to the marriage, not with your feet, but with faith, and good conduct. But they made light of it; why they did so He shews when He adds, And they went their way, one to his farm, another to his merchandize.

Chrysostom. These occupations seem to be entirely reasonable; but we learn hence, that however necessary the things that take up our time, we ought to prefer spiritual things to every thing beside. But it seems to me that they only pretended these engagements as a cloak for their disregard of the invitation.

Hilary. For men are taken up with worldly ambition as with a farm; and many through covetousness are engrossed with trafficking.

Pseudo-Chrysostom. Or otherwise; When we work with the labour of our hands, for example, cultivating our field or our vineyard, or any manufacture of wood or iron, we seem to be occupied with our farm; any other mode of getting money unattended with manual labour is here called merchandize. O most miserable world! and miserable ye that follow it! The pursuits of this world have ever shut men out of life.

Gregory. Whosoever then intent upon earthly business, or devoted to the actions of this world, feigns to be meditating upon the mystery of the Lord’s Passion, and to be living accordingly, is he that refuses to come to the King’s wedding on pretext of going to his farm or his merchandize. Nay often, which is worse, some who are called not only reject the grace, but become persecutors, And the remnant took his servants, and entreated them despitefully, and slew them.

Pseudo-Chrysostom. Or, by the business of a farm, He denotes the Jewish populace, whom the delights of this world separated from-Christ; by the excuse of merchandize, the Priests and other ministers of the Temple, who, coming to the service of the Law and the Temple through greediness of gain, have been shut out of the faith by covetousness. Of these He said not, ‘They were filled with envy,’ but They made light of it. For they who through hate and spite crucified Christ, are they who were filled with envy; but they who being entangled in business did not believe on Him, are not said to have been filled with envy, but to have made light of it. The Lord is silent respecting His own death, because He had spoken of it in the foregoing parable, but He shews forth the death of His disciples, whom after His ascension the Jews put to death, stoning Stephen and executing James the son of Alphæus, for which things Jerusalem was destroyed by the Romans. And it is to be observed, that anger is attributed to God figuratively and not properly; He is then said to be angry when He punishes.

Jerome. When He was doing works of mercy, and bidding to His marriage-feast, He was called a man; (homini regi) now when He comes to vengeance, the man is dropped, and He is called only a King.

Origen. Let those who sin against the God of the Law, and the Prophets, and the whole creation, declare whether He who is here called man, and is said to be angry, is indeed the Father Himself. If they allow this, they will be forced to own that many things are said of Him applicable to the passible nature of man; not for that He has passions, but because He is represented to us after the manner of passible human nature. In this way we take God’s anger, repentance, and the other things of the like sort in the Prophets.

Jerome. By His armies we understand the Romans under Vespasian and Titus, who having slaughtered the inhabitants of Judæa, laid in ashes the faithless city.

Pseudo-Chrysostom. The Roman army is called God’s army; because The earth is the Lord’s, and the fulness thereof; (Ps. 24:1.) nor would the Romans have come to Jerusalem, had not the Lord stirred them thither.

Gregory. (ubi sup.) Or, The armies of our King are the legions of His Angels. He is said therefore to have sent His armies, and to have destroyed those murderers, because all judgment is executed upon men by the Angels. He destroys those murderers, when He cuts off persecutors; and burns up their city, because not only their souls, but the body of flesh they had tenanted, is tormented in the everlasting fire of hell.

Origen. Or, the city of those wicked men is in each doctrine the assembly of those who meet in the wisdom of the rulers of this world; which the King sets fire to and destroys, as consisting of evil buildings.

Gregory. (ubi sup.) But when He sees that His invitation is spurned at, He will not have His Son’s marriage-feast empty; the word of God will find where it may stay itself.

Origen. He saith to His servants, that is, to the Apostles; or to the Angels, who were set over the calling of the Gentiles, The wedding is ready.

Remigius. That is, the whole sacrament of the human dispensation is completed and closed. But they which, were bidden, (Rom. 10:3.) that is, the Jews, were not worthy, because, ignorant of the righteousness of God, and going about to establish their own righteousness, they have not submitted themselves to the righteousness of God. The Jewish nation then being rejected, the Gentile people were taken in to the marriage-feast; whence it follows, Go ye out into the crossings of the streets, and as many as ye shall find, bid to the wedding.

Jerome. For the Gentile nation was not in the streets, but in the crossings of the streets.

Remigius. These are the errors of the Gentiles.

Pseudo-Chrysostom. Or; The streets are all the professions of this world, as philosophy, soldiery, and the like. And therefore He says, Go out into the crossings of the streets, that they may call to the faith men of every condition. Moreover, as chastity is the way that leads to God, so fornication is the way that leads to the Devil; and so it is in the other virtues and vices. Thus He bids them invite to the faith men of every profession or condition.

Hilary. By the street also is to be understood the time of this world, and they are therefore bid to go to the crossings of the streets, because the past is remitted to all.

Gregory. (ubi sup.) Or otherwise; In holy Scripture, way is taken to mean actions; so that the crossings of the ways we understand as failure in action, for they usually come to God readily, who have had little prosperity in worldly actions.

Origen. Or otherwise; I suppose this first bidding to the wedding to have been a bidding of some of the more noble minds. For God would have those before all come to the feast of the divine oracles who are of the more ready wit to understand them; and forasmuch as they who are such are loth to come to that kind of summons, other servants are sent to move them to come, and to promise that they shall find the dinner prepared. For as in the things of the body, one is the bride, others the inviters to the feast, and they that are bidden are others again; so God knows the various ranks of souls, and their powers, and the reasons why these are taken into the condition of the Bride, others in the rank of the servants that call, and others among the number of those that are bidden as guests. But they who had been thus especially invited contemned the first inviters as poor in understanding, and went their way, following their own devices, as more delighting in them than in those things which the King by his servants promised. Yet are these more venial than they who ill-treat and put to death the servants sent unto them; those, that is, who daringly assail with weapons of contentious words the servants sent, who are unequal to solve their subtle difficulties, and those are illtreated or put to death by them. The servants going forth are either Christ’s Apostles going from Judæa and Jerusalem, or the Holy Angels from the inner worlds, and going to the various ways of various manners, gathered together whomsoever they found, not caring whether before their calling they had been good or bad. By the good here we may understand simply the more humble and upright of those who come to the worship of God, to whom agreed what the Apostle says, When the Gentiles which have not the Law do by nature the things contained in the Law, they are a law unto themselves. (Rom. 2:14.)

Jerome. For there is an infinite difference among the Gentiles themselves; some are more prone to vice, others are endowed with more incorrupt and virtuous manners.

Gregory. (ubi sup.) Or; He means that in this present Church there cannot be bad without good, nor good without bad. He is not good who refuses to endure the bad.

Origen. The marriage-feast of Christ and the Church is filled, when they who were found by the Apostles, being restored to God, sat down to the feast. But since it behoved that both bad and good should be called, not that the bad should continue bad, but that they should put off the garments unmeet for the wedding, and should put on the marriage garments, to wit, bowels of mercy and kindness, for this cause the King goes out, that He may see them set down before the supper is set before them, that they may be detained who have the wedding garment in which He is delighted, and that he may condemn the opposite.

Pseudo-Chrysostom. The King came in to see the guests; not as though there was any place where He is not; but where He will look to give judgment, there He is said to be present; where He will not, there He seems to be absent. The day of His coming to behold is the day of judgment, when He will visit Christians seated at the board of the Scriptures.

Origen. But when He was come in, He found there one who had not put off his old behaviour; He saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment. He speaks of one only, because all, who after faith continue to serve that wickedness which they had before the faith, are but of one kind.

Gregory. (ubi sup.) What ought we to understand by the wedding garment, but charity? For this the Lord had upon Him, when He came to espouse the Church to Himself. He then enters in to the wedding feast, but without the wedding garment, who has faith in the Church, but not charity.

Augustine. (cont. Faust. xxii. 19.) Or, he goes to the feast without a garment, who goes seeking his own, and not the Bridegroom’s honour.

Hilary. Or; The wedding garment is the grace of the Holy Spirit, and the purity of that heavenly temper, which taken up on the confession of a good enquiry is to be preserved pure and unspotted for the company of the kingdom of heaven.

Jerome. Or; The marriage garment is the commandments of the Lord, and the works which are done under the Law and the Gospel, and form the clothing of the new man. Whoso among the Christian body shall be found in the day of judgment not to have these, is straightway condemned. He saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither, not having a wedding garment? He calls him friend, because he was invited to the wedding as being a friend by faith; but He charges him with want of manners in polluting by his filthy dress the elegance of the wedding entertainment.

Origen. And forasmuch as he who is in sin, and puts not on the Lord Jesus Christ, has no excuse, it follows, But he was speechless.

Jerome. For in that day there will be no room for blustering manner1, nor power of denial, when all the Angels and the world itself are witnesses against the sinner.

Origen. He who has thus insulted the marriage feast is not only cast out therefrom, but besides by the King’s officers, who are set over his prisons, is chained up from that power of walking which he employed not to walk to any good thing, and that power of reaching forth his hand, wherewith he had fulfilled no work for any good; and is sentenced to a place whence all light is banished, which is called outer darkness.

Gregory. (ubi sup.) The hands and feet are then bound by a severe sentence of judgment, which before refused to be bound from wicked actions by amendment of life. Or punishment binds them, whom sin had before bound from good works.

Augustine. (de Trin. xi. 6.) The bonds of wicked and depraved desires are the chains which bind him who deserves to be cast out into outer darkness.

Gregory. (ubi sup.) By inward darkness we express blindness, of heart; outer darkness signifies the everlasting night of damnation.

Pseudo-Chrysostom. Or, it points to the difference of punishment inflicted on sinners. Outer darkness being the deepest, inward darkness the lesser, as it were the outskirts of the place.

Jerome. By a metaphor taken from the body, there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, is shewn the greatness of the torments. The binding of the hands and feet also, and the weeping of eyes, and the gnashing of teeth, understand as proving the truth of the resurrection of the body.

Gregory. (ubi sup.) There shall gnash those teeth which here delighted in gluttony; there shall weep those eyes which here roamed in illicit desire; every member shall there have its peculiar punishment, which here was a slave to its peculiar vice.

Jerome. And because in the marriage and supper the chief thing is the end and not the beginning, therefore He adds, For many are called, but few chosen.

Hilary. For to invite all without exception is a courtesy of public benevolence; but out of the invited or called, the election will be of worth, by distinction of merit.

Gregory. (ubi sup.) For some never begin a good course, and some never continue in that good course which they have begun. Let each one’s care about himself be in proportion to his ignorance of what is yet to come.

Pseudo-Chrysostom. Or otherwise; Whenever God will try His Church, He enters into it that He may see the guests; and if He finds any one not having on the wedding garment, He enquires of him, How then were you made a Christian, if you neglect these works? Such a one Christ gives over to His ministers, that is, to seducing leaders, who bind his hands, that is, his works, and his feet, that is, the motions of his mind, and cast him into darkness, that is, into the errors of the Gentiles or the Jews, or into heresy. The nigher darkness is that of the Gentiles, for they have never heard the truth which they despise; the outer darkness is that of the Jews, who have heard but do not believe; the outermost is that of the heretics, who have heard and have learned.

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Eleventh Sunday After Pentecost: Commentaries on the Mass Readings (Dominica XI Post Pentecosten )

Posted by Dim Bulb on July 22, 2017

EXTRAORDINARY FORM OF THE ROMAN RITE
ELEVENTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST
Dominica XI Post Pentecosten

 MISSAL AND BREVIARY:

COMMENTARIES ON THE LESSON: 1 Cor 15:1-10.

COMMENTARIES ON THE GOSPEL: Mark 7:31-37.

HOMILIES AND HELP FOR HOMILIES:

HOMILY NOTES: May supply suggestions or ideas for a homily but can also be used as points for meditation and prayer.

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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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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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Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Matthew 10:26-33

Posted by Dim Bulb on May 28, 2017

Ver 26. “Fear them not therefore: for there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; and hid, that shall not be known.27. What I tell you in darkness, that speak ye in light: and what ye hear in the ear, that preach ye upon the housetops.28. And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.”

Remig.: To the foregoing consolation He adds another no less, saying, “Fear ye not them,” namely, the persecutors. And why they were not to fear, He adds, “For there is nothing hid which shall not be revealed, nothing secret which shall not be known.”

Jerome: How is it then that in the present world, the sins of so many are unknown? It is of the time to come that this is said; the time when God shall judge the hidden things of men, shall enlighten the hidden places of darkness, and shall make manifest the secrets of hearts. The sense is, Fear not the cruelty of the persecutor, or the rage of the blasphemer, for there shall come a day of judgment in which your virtue and their wickedness will be made known.

Hilary: Therefore neither threatening, nor evil speaking, nor power of their enemies should move them, seeing the judgment-day will disclose how empty, how nought all these were.

Chrys.: Otherwise; It might seem that what is here said should be applied generally; but it is by no means intended as a general maxim, but is spoken solely with reference to what had gone before with this meaning; If you are grieved when men revile you, think that in a little time you will be delivered from this evil. They call you indeed impostors, sorcerers, seducers, but have a little patience, and all men shall call you the saviours of the world, when in the course of things you shall be found to have been their benefactors, for men will not judge by their words but by the truth of things.

Remig.: Some indeed think that these words convey a promise from our Lord to His disciples, that through them all hidden mysteries should be revealed, which lay beneath the veil of the letter of the Law; whence the Apostle speaks, “When they have turned to Christ, then the veil shall be taken away.” [2Co_3:16] So the sense would be, Ought you to fear your persecutors, when you are thought worthy that by you the hidden mysteries of the Law and the Prophets should be made manifest?

Chrys.: Then having delivered them from all fear, and set them above all calumny, He follows this up appropriately with commanding that their preaching should be free and unreserved; “What I say to you in darkness, that speak ye in the light; what ye hear in the ear, that preach ye upon the housetops.”

Jerome: We do not read that the Lord was wont to discourse to them by night, or to deliver his doctrine in the dark; but He said this because all His discourse is dark to the carnal, and His word night to the unbelieving. What had been spoken by Him they were to deliver again with the confidence of faith and confession.

Remig.: The meaning therefore is, “What I say to you in darkness,” that is, among the unbelieving Jews, “that speak ye in the light,” that is, preach it to the believing; “what ye hear in the ear,” that is, what I say unto you secretly, “that preach ye upon the housetops,” that is, openly before all men. It is a common phrase, To speak in one’s ear, that is, to speak to him privately.

Rabanus: And what He says, “Preach ye upon the housetops,” is spoken after the manner of the province of Palestine, where they use to sit upon the roofs of the houses, which are not pointed but flat. That then may be said to be preached upon the housetops which is spoken in the hearing of all men.

Gloss. ord.: Otherwise; What I say unto you while you are yet held under carnal fear, that speak ye in the confidence of truth, after ye shall be enlightened by the Holy Spirit; what you have only heard, that preach by doing the same, being raised above you bodies, which are the dwellings of your souls.

Jerome: Otherwise; What you hear in mystery, that teach in plainness of speech; what I have taught you in a corner of Judaea, that proclaim boldly in all quarters of the world.

Chrys.: As He said, “He that believeth on me, the works that I do he shall do also, and greater things than these shall he do;” [Joh_14:12] so here He shews that He works all things through them more than through Himself; as though He had said, I have made a beginning, but what is beyond, that I will to complete through your means. So that this is not a command but a prediction, shewing them that they shall overcome all things.

Hilary: Therefore they ought to inculcate constantly the knowledge of God, and the profound secret of evangelic doctrine, to be revealed by the light of preaching; having no fear of those who have power only over the body, but cannot reach the soul; “Fear not those that kill the body, but cannot kill the soul.”

Chrys.: Observe how He sets them above all others, encouraging them to set at nought cares, reproaches, perils, yea even the most terrible of all things, death itself, in comparison of the fear of God.”But rather fear him, who can destroy both soul and body in hell.”

Jerome: This word is not found in the Old Scriptures, but it is first used by the Saviour. Let us enquire then into its origin. We read in more than one place that the idol Baal was near Jerusalem, at the foot of Mount Moriah, by which the brook Siloe flows. This valley and a small level plain was watered and woody, a delightful spot, and a grove in it was consecrated to the idol. To so great folly and madness had the people of Israel come, that, forsaking the neighbourhood of the Temple, they offered their sacrifices there, and concealing an austere ritual under a voluptuous life, they burned their sons in honour of a daemon.

This place was called, Gehennom, that is, The valley of the children of Hinnom. These things are fully described in Kings and Chronicles, and the Prophet Jeremiah. [2Ki_23:10, 2Ch_26:3, Jer_7:32; Jer_32:35] God threatens that He will fill the place with the carcasses of the dead, that it be no more called Tophet and Baal, but Polyandrion, i.e. The tomb of the dead. Hence the torments and eternal pains with which sinners shall be punished are signified by this word.

Aug., City of God, book xiii, ch. 2: This cannot be before the soul is so joined to the body, that nothing may sever them. Yet it is rightly called the death of the soul, because it does not live of God; and the death of the body, because though man does not cease to feel, yet because this his feeling has neither pleasure nor health, but is a pain and a punishment, it is better named death than life.

Chrys.: Note also, that He does not hold out to them deliverance from death, but encourages them to despise it; which is a much greater thing than to be rescued from death; also this discourse aids in fixing in their minds the doctrine of immortality.

Ver 29. “Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father.30. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.31. Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows.”

Chrys.: Having set aside fear of death, that the Apostles should not think that if they were put to death they were deserted by God, He passes to discourse of God’s providence, saying, “Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing, and one of them does not fall to the ground without your Father?”

Jerome: If these little creations fall not without God’s superintendence and providence, and if things made to perish, perish not without God’s will, you who are immortal ought not to fear that you live without His providence.

Hilary: Figuratively; That which is sold is our soul and body, and that to which it is sold, is sin. They then who sell two sparrows for a farthing, are they who sell themselves for the smallest sin, born for flight, and for reaching heaven with spiritual wings. [margin note: see Psa_124:7] Caught by the bait of present pleasures, and sold to the enjoyment of the world, they barter away their whole selves in such a market. It is of the will of God that one of them rather soar aloft; but the law proceeding according to God’s appointment decrees that one of them should fall. In like manner as, if they soared aloft they would become one spiritual body; so, when sold under sin, the soul gathers earthly matter from the pollution of vice, and there is made of them one body which is committed to earth.

Jerome: That He says, “The hairs of your head are all numbered,” shews the boundless providence of God towards man, and a care unspeakable that nothing of ours is hid from God.

Hilary: For when any thing is numbered it is carefully watched over.

Chrys.: Not that God reckons our hairs, but to shew His diligent knowledge, and great carefulness over us.

Jerome: Those who deny the resurrection of the flesh ridicule the sense of the Church on this place, as if we affirmed that every hair that has ever been cut off by the razor rises again, when the Saviour says, “Every hair of your head” – not is saved, but – “is numbered.” Where there is number, knowledge of that number is implied, but not preservation of the same hairs.

Aug., City of God, book xxii, ch. 19: Though we may fairly enquire concerning our hair, whether all that has ever been shorn from us will return; for who would not dread such disfigurement. When it is once understood that nothing of our body shall be lost, so as that the form and perfectness of all the parts should be preserved, we at the same time understand that all that would have disfigured our body is to be united or taken up by the whole mass, not affixed to particular parts so as to destroy the frame of the limbs; just as a vessel made of clay, and again reduced to clay, is once more reformed into a vessel, it needs not that that portion of clay which had formed the handle should again form it, or that which had composed the bottom, should again go to the bottom, so long as the whole was remoulded into the whole, the whole clay into the whole vessel, no part being lost.

Wherefore if the hair so often shorn away would be a deformity if restored to the place it had been taken from, it will not be restored to that place, but all the materials of the old body will be revived in the new, whatever place they may occupy so as to preserve the mutual fitness of parts. Though what is said in Luke, “Not a hair of your head shall fall to the ground,” [Luk_21:18] may be taken of the number, not the length of the hairs, as here also it is said, “The hairs of your head are all numbered.”

Hilary: For it is an unworthy task to number things that are to perish. Therefore that we should know that nothing of us should perish, we are told that our very hairs are numbered. No accident then that can befal our bodies is to be feared.

Thus He adds, “Fear not, ye are better than many sparrows.”

Jerome: This expresses still more clearly the sense as it was above explained, that they should not fear those who can kill the body, for if the least animal falls not without God’s knowledge, how much less a man who is dignified with the Apostolic rank?

Hilary: Or this, “ye are better than many sparrows,” teaches that the elect faithful are better than the multitude of the unbelieving, for the one fall to earth, the other fly to heaven.

Remig.: Figuratively; Christ is the head, the Apostles the hairs, who are well said to be numbered, because the names of the saints are written in heaven.

Ver 32. “Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven.33. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.”

Chrys.: The Lord having banished that fear which haunted the minds of His disciples, adds further comfort in what follows, not only casting out fear, but by hope of greater rewards encouraging them to a free proclamation of the truth, saying, “Every man who shall confess me before men, I also will confess him before my Father which is in heaven.” And it is not properly “shall confess me,” but as it is in the Greek, “shall confess in me,” shewing that it is not by your own strength but by grace from above, that you confess Him whom you do confess.

Hilary: This He says in conclusion, because it behoves them after being confirmed by such teaching, to have a confident freedom in confessing God.

Remig.: Here is to be understood that confession of which the Apostle speaks, “With the heart men believe unto justification, with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” [Rom_10:10] That none therefore might suppose that he could be saved without confession of the mouth, He says not only, “He that shall confess me,” but adds, “before me;” and again, “He that shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.”

Hilary: This teaches us, that in what measure we have borne witness to Him upon earth, in the same shall we have Him to bear witness to us in heaven before the face of God the Father.

Chrys.: Here observe that the punishment is manifold more than the evil done, and the reward more than the good done. As much as to say, your deed was more abundant in confessing or denying Me here; so shall My deed to you be more abundant in confessing or denying you there. Wherefore if you have done any good thing, and have not received retribution, be not troubled, for a manifold reward awaits you in the time to come. And if you have done any evil, and have not paid the punishment thereof, do not think that you have escaped, for punishment will overtake you, unless you are changed and become better.

Raban.: It should be known that not even Pagans can deny the existence of God, but the infidels may deny that the Son as well as the Father is God. The Son confesses men before the Father, because by the Son we have access to the Father, and because the Son saith, “Come, ye blessed of my Father.” [Mat_25:34]

Remig.: And thus He will deny the man that hath denied Him, in that he shall not have access to the Father through Him, and shall be banished from seeing either the Son of the Father in their divine nature.

Chrys.: He not only requires faith which is of the mind, but confession which is by the mouth, that He may exalt us higher, and raise us to a more open utterance, and a larger measure of love. For this is spoken not to the Apostles only, but to all; He gives strength not to them only, but to their disciples. And he that observes this precept will not only teach with free utterance, but will easily convince all; for the observance of this command drew many to the Apostles.

Raban.: Or, He confesses Jesus who by that faith that worketh by love, obediently fulfils His commands; he denies Him who is disobedient.

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Patristic/Medieval Commentary on Psalm 27

Posted by Dim Bulb on May 19, 2017

Title. A Psalm of David. In the LXX.: A Psalm of David before he was anointed.1

ARGUMENT

Arg. Thomas. That Christ is the illumination, protection, and safety of His servants that put their trust in Him. To those who for the first time enter into the Lord’s house. Concerning the love of the Law. The voice of them that are baptized. To them that first enter into the faith of the Lord. To be read with the lection of Isaiah the Prophet, “Behold, they that love Thee shall eat good things.” The voice of the Prophet crying to God.

Ven. Bede. David was thrice anointed: once at Bethlehem, in the house of his father, by Samuel; secondly, in Hebron, by the Tribe of Judah, after the death of Saul; thirdly, in the same place, by all Israel, after that the son of Saul was slain. But since we read not that he composed any Psalm before his first unction, it follows that the second is that to which this title refers; before which, while he was yet an exile because of the snares of Saul, he is recorded to have written a Psalm. Note, that before he was anointed is not found in the Hebrew.

Since frequently before he ascended the throne David was troubled by his bitter enemies, the Prophet speaks (with reference to these his escapes) through the whole Psalm. In the opening he declareth himself to fear the Lord, and to tremble at none else: he testifieth that, in the adversities of the world, one refuge remains to him,—that, though he be tempest-tossed by corporeal dangers, he dwelleth in the house of the Lord by the unchangeable devotion of his soul: The Lord is my Light and my Salvation. Next, delivered from manifold destruction in divers manners, he returneth thanks; and in the spirit of prophecy promiseth to himself the reward of future beatitude, Hear my voice, O Lord.

Syriac Psalter. David, on account of the sickness which had fallen on him.

S. Athanasius. A Psalm of boasting in the Lord.

(It is manifest, on careful consideration, that this Psalm consists, properly speaking, of two: the first, a hymn of triumph, ends at the seventh verse; the other, a penitential ode, is clearly in a different metre, as well as on a different subject.)

1 The Lord is my light, and my salvation; whom then shall I fear: the Lord is the strength of my life; of whom then shall I be afraid?

The anointings of David were three:* in Bethlehem, in Hebron over Judah, and again in Hebron over all Israel. So were those of Christ: in His Mother’s womb, in His Baptism, and after His Resurrection, when all power was given unto Him in heaven and in earth. Cardinal Hugo1 sees the same triple unction in us: (1) in free grace, in our first vocation; (2) in sanctifying grace, after which we have to fight,* as David with his enemies, and our Lord with the devil in the wilderness; (3) in heaven, for a blessed immortality.

My Light. (L.) And as Baptism is illumination, and so spoken of both in Scripture and the Primitive Church, my Light is well put before all other titles of the Lord. Then comes the salvation in all those battles to which we are, as it were, girded in Baptism. Notice the paronomasia between או̇רִי my light, and אִירָא shall I be afraid? And, as in the first clause, at the word light, we have the Sacrament of Baptism, so in the second, at the phrase, the Strength of my life, we have that of Confirmation.

Or,* again, you may take it as S. Albertus does: The Lord is my Light against the curse of ignorance, (A.) and my Salvation against the impotence of infirmity. Well says S. Augustine: “The Emperor is protected by his guards, and is safe; mortal is shielded by mortal, and feels secure; the Immortal defends a mortal, and do you dare to tremble?” The Lord is my Light.* And how so? Pseudo-Dionysius explains it well. First, as being the Source of all physical light and brightness; secondly, because all spiritual light and illumination, whether in angels or men, comes from Him, Who is the Father of lights. Thirdly, (Cd.) because He is the Comforter of them that are in mists and darkness; as it is written, “Unto the godly there ariseth up light in the darkness; He is merciful, loving, and righteous.”* Fourthly, because He is the Source, the one only Fountain of that Light of Glory, (G.) which forms the Beatific Vision. Or again: The Lord is my Light and my Salvation. The Law was a light, showing what must be done, and what must be avoided; but in no sense a salvation, for it gave no power to do that which it enjoined, or to keep from that which it forbade. “The Law made nothing perfect; but the coming in of a better hope did.”* And we may boldly put the verse into our Lord’s own mouth; for, speaking according to His Manhood, (D. C.) it was from God that He increased, as S. Luke testifies, in wisdom; of God, that He was enlightened and upheld in the darkness and struggles of His thirty-three years’ life on earth. And now, O Lord Jesu, Thou art our Light! If Thou be our guard, who can harm us? If Thou be our illumination, what can darken us? So lead us on through the dim twilight of this world by the light of Thy grace, that hereafter we may attain, in heaven, to the unclouded light of Thy glory!

2 When the wicked, even mine enemies, and my foes, came upon me to eat up my flesh: they stumbled and fell.

In the first and most natural sense, our Lord would tell us of that night, when His enemies, as soon as He had said, “I am He,”* went backward and fell to the ground. Gerhohus not inelegantly refers to the speech of S. Laurence on the gridiron, when it was indeed as though his enemies would eat up his flesh: “Assatus sum; jam versa, et manduca.” They stumbled: (G.) or, as it is in the Vulgate, they became weak:* and so we are reminded of that long war between the House of Saul and the House of David, which must be carried on during the whole course of every individual Christian life; and, in a still higher sense, between the Church of the Living God and the legions of Satan, until the consummation of all things. But we must see a far deeper mystery in the verse. “When the wicked.”—thus speaks the Immaculate Lamb, Whose Flesh is meat indeed, and Whose Blood is drink indeed—“came to eat up My Flesh at the altar, came unworthily, came profanely, they stumbled and fell: this was the key-stone of their iniquities, this put the finishing stroke to their punishment.” The story is well known of the younger infidel, during the epoch of Voltaire, inquiring of his more hardened and older friend, how to get rid of the prickings of conscience by which he was even still sometimes annoyed. “Take the Sacrament,” replied the hoary sinner. The advice was followed, and God’s Spirit strove no more with that man: he stumbled and fell.* Others understand my flesh of the fleshly failings and infirmities of every true servant of God; and the complaint to be of the joy and eagerness with which the Lord’s enemies hunt them out: just as Job speaks, “If the men of my tabernacle said not, Oh that we had of his flesh! we cannot be satisfied.”* (D. C.) Or we may take they stumbled and fell in a good sense. “Whoever shall fall on that stone, shall be broken.”* While they came, as Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter, they fell to the earth at the voice of the Lord Himself; while they came, as another Saul, to destroy David at Naioth in Ramah,* the Spirit descends upon them, and they lie down and prophesy.

3 Though an host of men were laid against me, yet shall not my heart be afraid: and though there rose up war against me, yet will I put my trust in him.

So the Jewish King fulfils the commandment of the Jewish Lawgiver. (L.) “When thou goest out to battle against thine enemies,* and seest horses and chariots, and a people more than thou, be not afraid of them; for the Lord thy God is with thee.”* These are the words that, together with the first verse of this same Psalm, have been in the mouths of many a martyr:* and S. Cyprian, in that heart-thrilling exhortation, adduces them nobly. They say that, when S. Antony, after one of those strange physical assaults of the Enemy by which the Divine love permitted him to be exercised, remained victor, but through very exhaustion prostrate on the ground, he chanted lustily,* Though there rose up war against me, yet will I put my trust in Him. “He,” says S. Augustine, “will give victory to the contester Who inspired boldness for the contest.* Let us not fear then the multitude of the enemy, nor the shining armour, nor that mighty and terrible Goliath. One David shall prostrate him with one stone; one youth shall put to flight the whole army of the aliens.” And the confidence of the King and of the Apostle was the same; for what is this verse but, in other words, that saying of S. Paul? “I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers,”*—and the rest of that catalogue so trying to faith,—“shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” But let us rather put the words into our dear Lord’s mouth,* in the same night in which He was betrayed, or rather offered Himself for the life of the world, and when the band of men and officers, under the command of Judas, were already drawing nigh to take Him. An host of men indeed: Jews and Romans,—Pharisees, puffed up in their boasted holiness; soldiers, the very outcasts of humanity: the fickle multitude that, at the beginning of that same week, proclaimed Him King of the Jews, and now are about to say, “Not this man, but Barabbas!” Then there rose up war, (G.) such as never had been since the foundation of the world, such as never can be till the consummation of all things,—a war, the prize whereof was the whole human race,—a contest, where, on the arms of the Cross, as on scales, hung the eternal joy or misery of all generations. Yet shall not my heart be afraid. Yea, and though it were for an hour,—“If it be possible, let this cup pass;” that hour went by, and then it was “the day of His joy, and the day of the gladness of His heart:”* it was “the Baptism that He had to be baptized with, and how was He straitened till it was accomplished!”*—it was the season when He was reigning “in Mount Sion and in Jerusalem, and before His ancients gloriously!”* In this will I be confident. They dispute to what the word1 this refers; but let us take it in its fullest and most glorious sense; for never was there, never can there be, such a this as Calvary. A this, for Him That endured it; in this mortal agony, in this putting forth of all the powers of all infernal spirits, in this accomplishment of all prophecies, in this fulfilment of all types, in this the ark of a shipwrecked world,* in this the True and Eternal Tree of Life, in this will I, the God of confidence, be confident Myself. And clinging to this, O Lord Jesus, crucified to this together with Thee, grasping this as the anchor of our souls, dying if it must be so at the foot of this, this “the place where valiant men are,”* this the dying bed of the martyrs, the strength of the confessors, in this will I be confident!

4 One thing have I desired of the Lord, which I will require: even that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the fair beauty of the Lord, and to visit his temple.

However we may apply the words in a lower sense, (L.) their own real meaning can rest satisfied with nothing short of that “house not made with hands,* eternal in the heavens;” (A.) and of this the principal among the Latin Fathers understand the petition. This is indeed the one thing needful; this is indeed the joy to be required, ay, and to be taken by violence. Have I desired: by prayer. I will require, not by prayer only, but by self-denial, fasting, almsgiving, everything which may cause God to bow down His ear to my petition. Gerhohus puts the sentence into the mouth of our Lord, (G.) and paraphrases it with even more than his ordinary beauty: “I, in that night in which I was to be betrayed to death, to the end that I might overcome death, desired one thing of the Lord; which I will require, I, the True Unity, by interceding for the unity of them that are Mine even till the consummation of all things. And this was My prayer: ‘Father, I will that they also whom Thou hast given Me, be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory, which Thou hast given Me.’* Thus I then asked that one thing from the Lord, when I was about to die for that people; and not for that people only, but that I might gather together in one the sons of God that were scattered abroad. This one thing I then once asked, namely, in My death; but I will daily require it in the Sacrament which I have commanded My Priests to offer for My holy Church continually. By My own mouth I desired it once; by the lips of My Priests I still require it continually, as long as My death shall be set forth in the Sacrament of the Altar, until I shall come at the end of the world, that I may dwell in the house of the Lord in peace: all war at an end, all My members completely united to their Head, all the stones banded together in the everlasting building, by the grace of Me, Corner and Top stone, Author and Finisher of Faith.”

O how many a soul, now set free from carnal struggles, now liberated from earthly darkness, desired that one thing in the days of her pilgrimage here! in the time of that life which is not life,* that they might stand all the days of their true life in the House of the Lord! “O blessed region of Paradise!” cries one; “O blessed region of delights, to* which I yearn from the valley of ignorance, from the valley of tears, where is wisdom without ignorance, where is memory without oblivion, where is intellect without error, where is reason without obscurity! Blessed are they that dwell in Thy house; they will be alway praising Thee! The kingdom of God is bestowed, promised, manifested, received; bestowed in predestination, promised in vocation, manifested in heaven.”—We may also, if we will, take the verse in a lower sense,—lower only comparatively with the highest,—of the religious, as contrasted with the secular, life. In this signification, over and over again have the great masters of spiritual life preached from it to their followers; in this signification S. Bernard impressed it on his Cistercians, Peter the Venerable on his Cluniacs, S. Francis de Sales on his Sisters of the Visitation. Or,* again, as most of the Greek Fathers,* we may understand it of the visible and material House of God,* the symbol and foretaste of that eternal dwelling. That I may see the fair beauty of the Lord. The Vulgate has it voluptatem;1 (G.) but Gerhohus, following the Italic, reads voluntatem, and shows how fully our Lord’s prayer in this respect was fulfilled. And they may well take occasion, hence to dwell on the two wills of the Lord,—as Perfect God and Perfect Man. Never let it be conceived that Monothelism was an abstract heresy, which has no relation to the inward Christian life. It is everything for us, whether our dear Lord, as man, had to utter this prayer, “that I may see the will of the Lord,”—whether He suffered, and therefore can sympathise with, that bitter struggle against our own wills; or whether, by the so-called Theandric operation, that struggle was in name only, not in reality. Well did S. Sophronius labour and suffer for this, the engrafting in the Catholic Creed that precious doctrine of our Lord’s Sympathy. Let the Scriptural Albert explain the verse to us:* “That I may dwell. Here is what he seeks and requires; that celestial habitation which is the House of God. O Israel, how great is the House of God,* and how large is the place of His possession. And this all the days of my life! As if he said, I will never cease. And in these words we are taught that there should be unity in our prayers; that we should not ask for many things, but for one. ‘When ye pray, use not vain repetitions.’* There must be diuturnity,—have I desired; and continually,—which I will require all the days of my life. ‘Be not thou hindered to pray continually.’* ‘Men ought always to pray, and not to faint.’* It must be spiritual, that I may dwell in the house of the Lord: all the days of our present life, laboriously, in the Church Militant: and after that, for ever and ever, gloriously, in the Church Triumphant. First, of the first: ‘Neither death nor life.… shall separate us.’* Of the second: ‘Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go no more out.’* That I may see the will of the Lord. According to that glorious petition, ‘Thy will be done.’ And to visit the Temple. Christ the Man, the Temple of the Divinity. ‘The Lord God Almighty,* and the Lamb, are the Temple of it.’ ”1 Thus far S. Albert.

5 For in the time of trouble he shall hide me in his tabernacle: yea, in the secret place of his dwelling shall he hide me, and set me up upon a rock of stone.

Or,* as the Vulgate gives it, He hath hid me. That tabernacle, of which Isaiah says, “Come, My people, enter thou into thy chamber, and shut the doors about thee:”* the Rock which is to be the hiding-place for the persecuted and feeble conies: that safe cleft, opened by the spear in the day of Calvary, and since then, and to the end of all things, affording a refuge for all troubled souls until the indignation be overpast. His tabernacle, won for us when with His own Right Hand and with His Holy Arm He gat Himself the victory: but yet “our chamber” also, because belonging to each of us as much as if none other had a right to that hiding-place.

Here let my Lord hang up His conquering lance,*

And bloody armour, with late slaughter warm;

And looking down on His weak militants,

Behold His Saints, amidst their hot alarm,

Hang all their golden hopes upon His arm:

And, in this lower field dispacing wide,

Through windy thoughts that would their sails misguide,

Anchor their fleshly ships fast in His wounded Side!

Venerable Bede,* connecting this with the preceding verse, says very well that, it is as though some one, amazed at the boldness of David’s desire “to visit the Temple,” had asked: Do you, spotted with sin, do you, from the sole of whose foot to the crown of whose head there is no soundness, venture on such a request? Yes: for in the time of trouble He hath already hid me in His tabernacle; in the time of glory, therefore, (D. C.) He may well give me a place in His mansion. In the secret place of His dwelling. “The Lord said, that He would dwell in the thick darkness.”* And, no doubt, here we have a reference to the Incarnation; our only defence in the time of trouble,* our only hiding-place from the just wrath against sin. Upon a Rock. “What is there of good,” cries S. Bernard, “that is not to be found in the Rock? On the Rock I am exalted; on the Rock I am secure; on the Rock I stand firmly. Secure from the enemy; brave, as regards accident: and this because lifted up from the earth; for changeable and perishable is everything earthly.” And no doubt there is a reference in this to that magnificent vision in Exodus: “Behold, there is a place by Me, and thou shalt stand upon a rock;* and it shall come to pass, while My glory passeth by,* that I will put thee in a cleft of the Rock, and will cover thee with My hand while I pass by.”* And thus is God’s glory seen in the Incarnation. They take it, again, of the religious life; those holy men who, in the midst of those tempests of iniquity, those frightful storms of violence and ungodliness, had experienced this strong Tower; where they, in the deep secret place of the Tabernacle, communed with their Lord, leaving their converse with Him as the teaching and the delight of all ages. O happy and holy tabernacles—ἀθάναται κάλυβαι—of Citeaux,* Prémontré, Cluny, Monte Casino, Fontevraud, S. Gall, how, while studying the Psalms which so gloriously echoed among you, how do we still feel the influence, how do we still drink into the learning, how may we still taste of the holiness, of those night-watches, of those fasts, of those vigils, which made your Saints that which they were, and you the nursing mothers of religion in the midst of floods of ungodliness!

6a (6) And now shall he lift up mine head: above mine enemies round about me.

S. Bernard names three ways in which our heads are lifted up:* by disenchaining our hearts from earthly affections; by conferring on us Divine knowledge; by kindling in us the love of heavenly things. But let us rather take our Head in the sense of Him Who is our only and our True Head, Jesus Christ. Now, whatever happens to me, (G.) my Head, shall be exalted; now, whatever sufferings are appointed for me, my Head shall be honoured. “Now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life or by death.”* Lifted up. But how? He was lifted up on the Cross, as well as to the Throne: and in that sense also may we take it,—that when we are suffering from our enemies round about, our Head makes those sufferings His own. If we are crucified, (A.) He shares our cross; “Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou Me?” If Stephen is stoned on earth, Jesus is standing in heaven. He hath exalted my Head is the reading of the Vulgate; and well does S. Augustine remind us that, our Head being already there, we, His members, ought to be with Him now in thought and desire, as hereafter in joyful reality.

Sic nobis cum cœlestibus

Commune manens gaudium,*

Illis, quod se præsentavit,

Nobis, quod se non abstulit.

6b (7) Therefore will I offer in his dwelling an oblation with great gladness: I will sing, and speak praises unto the Lord.

Or as it is in the Vulgate, I have gone round, (G.) and offered the sacrifice of vociferation. And this going round, if fancifully, is at least beautifully applied to the Litanies of the Church; which, beginning from the Blessed Trinity itself, the Source of all being, go round or through the economy of the Christian dispensation, commencing at the Incarnation, continuing through the Life and Passion, culminating in the Resurrection and Ascension of our Lord, and the sending down of the Paraclete; and then again returning to that glorious Trinity whence the office began. And the sacrifice of vociferation gloriously describes the one and completed oblation of the Cross, that most precious Blood, which cried aloud for better things than that of Abel. Or the going round may be the going through the world with the glad tidings of salvation: “So that from Jerusalem,* and round about unto Illyricum, (L.) I have fully preached the Gospel of Christ.”* Ambrosius Ansbertus refers us to the going round Jericho,* the devoted city: and thence gathers that it is when the sins and temptations of our corrupt nature are devoted to God,* then a true sacrifice of peace is offered. Albertus reminds us here, when we go round this lower world, and all its beauty and glory, we shall find it nothing but a book full of the praise of God;* and “marvellous is it,” cries Gregory, “that man is not always praising, since everything amidst which he dwells is continually inviting praise.” Or, finally, we may take it,* with others, of a soldier diligently going his rounds, keeping a diligent look-out on the enemy, and fulfilling the last command, delivered to the multitudes, of the Captain of his salvation: “And what I say unto you, I say unto all, Watch.”* I will sing and speak praises. But how is this? to begin with singing, and to descend to speaking? Yes; for as he that was not rich enough to bring the bullock or the goat, was allowed to offer the pair of turtle doves, or the two young pigeons, so here the meanest, as well as the highest praise, is not rejected from the service of God.

[There is yet another offering, when he whose “life is hid with Christ in God,”* offers the oblation of self-denial and holiness, according to those words of a Saint:

Nec Christi exemplo suavior exit odor

Quam cum homo castorum profert libamina morum,*

Et de virtutum munere sacra litat.]

7 (8) Hearken unto my voice, O Lord, when I cry unto thee: have mercy upon me, and hear me.

My Voice: that Voice which the precious Blood of Calvary utters from the ground. Remark, (G.) he saith not, words; for this is a mute voice, not articulated into phrases, but none the less mighty, yea rather, none the less Almighty, to bring down God’s pardon. The Voice of that Blood, whether on the Cross or in the chalice: “one thing have I desired of the Lord,” the pardon of man. It has been well observed, that this verse contains nine necessaries to prayer. It must be,1 for a worthy matter;* vocal; rational; proper; devout; right; humble; necessary; continuous. S. Gregory well says,* with a turn that can best be given in its original idiom: “Æternam etenim vitam si ore petimus, non tamen ore desideramus, clamantes tacemus. Si vero desideramus deramus ex corde cum etiam ore conticescimus, tacentes clamamus.”

I said, in the introduction to this Psalm, that this eighth verse manifestly began a new composition; the triumphal thanksgiving of the former having been succeeded by penitential deprecation. The two Psalms, however, seem to have been joined into one long before any historical evidence.

8 (9) My heart hath talked of thee, Seek ye my face: thy face, Lord, will I seek.

Or, as it is in the Vulgate, To Thee my heart hath spoken: Thee my face sought out: Thy face, O Lord, will I seek. “This,” says Vieyra,* “is the discreet energy wherewith David repeats to God that which he had already said to Him, To Thee my heart spake. He saith not, ‘To Thee, O Lord, I spoke;’ because to God the heart alone speaks, and with God the heart alone holds converse. And as the heart is the instrument and the tongue which speaks to God; thus, as men understand only that which the tongue says, and comprehend not that which the heart speaks, so God hears only that which the heart speaks, and pays no attention to that which the tongue says. Hence it follows that, if the heart speak not, though the man may say the same thing a hundred and fifty times, yet, so far as God is concerned, he speaks not one word, and is dumb. Voce sonant, corde muti sunt.”

The Hebrew in itself presents considerable difficulty; and hence the very different reading of the Prayer Book and of the Bible version, which, amplifying that of Tremellius and Jerome, gives, When Thou saidst, Seek ye My face. But this is clear: that whatever the Psalmist had done in past times, (L.) that he now stirs himself up to do manifold times more.* Thy face, Lord, will I seek. As Moses did in the Mount, when he partly, but not fully, obtained that which he desired; and as the same Moses, nearly fifteen hundred years after, did on the holy hill of Tabor. “The Lord is good unto them that wait for Him, for the soul that seeketh Him,”* says Jeremiah. “And if good,” asks S. Bernard,* “to them that seek Him, what to them that find Him?” Or, as the Saint says in that most precious rhythm:

“Quam pius te quærentibus!

Sed quid invenientibus?”

S. Gregory complains that,* after his elevation to the Pontifical dignity, he had so much less opportunity for this most sweet search after God than had been possible to him before. Others, again, take the word face in the same sense in which S. Paul speaks of the brightness of the Father’s glory,* and the express image of His Person, namely, of our Lord Jesus Christ. Here,* it has been well said, in seeking for the glory and manifest vision of God, he asks, in fact, for two things: 1, for the end itself, in this verse; 2, for the means requisite to that end, in the next. And he prayed as the mother of his master did: “Now Hannah, she spoke in her heart.”* Notice that there are some who in their prayers speak, (Ay.) not to God, but to man; who seek not God’s face, but man’s: and these are the hypocrites. And then, the bold, fearless declaration, Thy face, Lord, will I seek. It is needful, indeed, that he who makes it should have that perfect confidence in God, of which we before read, “Though an host of men were laid against me, yet shall not my heart be afraid;” for let but once this calm, unflinching resolution be expressed, and their name will be legion who attack us.

9a (10) O hide not thou thy face from me: nor cast thy servant away in displeasure.

Three times is that expression, (L.) the face of God,* repeated; whence they gather the doctrine of the Blessed Trinity. But God’s face may be hid for other causes besides that of displeasure; (G.) whence the second clause of this verse. It may be in pure love; it may be for our own preservation, as was the case with Moses in the rock; it may be only that we may seek more earnestly, and find more gloriously. And this whole verse shows how God worketh in us both to will and to do of His good pleasure. He had said in the verse above, (C.) “Thy face, Lord, will I seek.” But of himself he could never find; therefore the second petition, I seek: O hide not Thou. S. Augustine breaks out into a fervour of rapture in his second exposition: “O hide not Thou Thy face from me. Magnificent! nothing can be more divinely spoken! This is the feeling of those that truly love. Another man would be blessed and immortal in the pleasures of those earthly lusts which he loves, and peradventure for this reason would worship God, and pray, that he may long live here in his delights, and that nothing should fail him, which earthly desire has in possession, neither gold, nor silver, nor any estate that charms his eyes; that his friends, his children, his wife, his dependents, should not die: in these delights would he live for ever. But since he cannot for ever, for he knows that he is mortal, for this haply does he worship God, and for this pray to God, and for this sigh to God, that all these things may last even to old age. And if God should say to him, Lo, I make thee immortal in these things, he would accept it as a great boon, and in the exultation of his joy and congratulation would be unable to contain himself. Not so doth the man act, who hath made one petition of the Lord.”

9b (11) Thou hast been my succour: leave me not, neither forsake me, O God of my salvation.

My succour: and what does that prove save that the petitioner is at work for himself? One may move a stock or a stone, (A.) that do nothing for themselves; one cannot be said to succour, unless the thing succoured try with its own strength. And not less true is the remark of S. Jerome:* He that remembers so gratefully, shall certainly be assisted most hopefully. Leave me not: and so he attributes all his past good actions to God; for, unless the Lord had been with him before, He could not be asked not to forsake him now.* Leave me not, neither forsake me. And thence they draw an argument for the difference between mortal and venial sins. Leave Me not: not even for one moment; not even so that I may commit one folly, may be guilty of the least and most trivial fault.* Neither forsake me. For, if Thou shouldest leave me to myself for any time, there is no depth of guilt into which I may not fall. It is no merit of mine, but simply Thine own watchfulness, which has hitherto preserved me. And remember, says one earnestly, (Ay.) that though none ought to despair while yet in the Way, because till the very end the grace of God stands open, yet none can feel secure, because, till the very end, the devices of Satan will not be concluded. If, on the one hand, He is able to save unto the uttermost; on the other, “he that is dead”—and therefore none but he that is dead—“hath ceased from sin.”1 Or, if we put the verse into our Lord’s mouth, we must understand it: “Be Thou My helper, O Lord, (D. C.) My Father, co-operating with Me in all things: leave Me not in the hand of the wicked, on the Cross: leave Me not to the guardianship of the soldier, in the sepulchre: nor forsake Me, that is, My mystical Body, for which I lived, for which I suffered, for which I died, for which I rose again from the dead: leave Me not, neither forsake Me, O God of My salvation.”

“One of the things,” says Vieyra,* “which I have much noted in David, is the great frequency with which he beseeches God not to leave him; and the many and divers ways in which he repeats and urges this same petition: ‘O go not from me, for trouble is at hand;’* ‘Leave me not, neither forsake me;’ ‘Go not from me, O Lord;’ ‘Cast me not away from Thy Presence;’ ‘Go not far from me, O God;’ ‘O let me not go wrong;’ and five times2 in the same words, ‘Forsake me not.’ If God for a sin of David’s left him once, and afterwards restored His Grace with so much certainty and efficacy, why does he so often, and in such different ways, beseech God not to leave him? Certain it is that the Prophet would not discover so many ways of supplicating, unless God had as many ways of leaving. And why? The reason depends equally on His mercy, and on our misery. God never leaves man, unless man first leaves Him; and because we have so many ways of leaving God, therefore God has so many ways of leaving us. Thus wrote God in an express law: ‘This people will forsake Me.… and I will forsake them;’* and in another place drew a consequence from it: ‘Because ye have forsaken the Lord, He hath also forsaken you.’* So that to leave and to be left is, between God and man, a reciprocal condition. If God were to be the first to leave, never should we be left; but because we are the first to leave, therefore it is that so often, and in so many different ways, we are forsaken by God.”

10 (12) When my father and my mother forsake me: the Lord taketh me up.

Look for a moment at King David, (L.) when he gave his father and his mother to the care of the King of Moab;* and thus, in the midst of his dangers and wanderings, was forsaken by them. And then consider the Son of David, forsaken and rejected by His own relations,—“for neither did His brethren believe in Him,”—and yet taken up by that Father, of Whom He said, “I knew that Thou hearest Me always.” But mystically, (G.) human nature was forsaken by its general father1 and mother at the very beginning: when, forgetful of the misery and destruction they thus entailed on their race, they ate of the forbidden fruit; and God took it up, by the promise given as soon as the sentence was pronounced, that “the seed of the woman shall bruise the serpent’s head.” It is a singular explanation of S. Augustine, (A.) that by the father, the devil, by the mother, corrupt human nature, is signified; both of whom forsake us when we earnestly and with purpose of heart turn to God. Others, again, see in this verse the complaint of our Lord of His rejection by His father, the Jewish nation, and by His mother, the synagogue,—that mother who platted for Him so cruel a diadem in the day of His Passion. And notice: (D. C.) when David complains that his father and mother had forsaken him,—(and compare the text, “Thy father was an Amorite, and thy mother an Hittitc,”*)—in the person of Adam and Eve, it was his Son, as well as his Lord, Who, taking him up, was to repair his loss: “Instead of thy fathers, thou shalt have children.” There is a Hebrew tradition, to which the verse may refer, that God had bound Himself by oath to be the Father and Mother of the orphan, (Cd.) who with all his heart and soul had resort to Him.

11 (13) Teach me thy way, O Lord: and lead me in the right way, because of mine enemies.

And it may still be the Son of David Who, according to the flesh, (G.) speaks. For He knew the malice and bitterness of His enemies: He saw how they “watched Him;” He knew how they would entangle Him in His talk. And what, in so far as He was Man, He in the days of His flesh prayed for Himself, that He still prays for those that, being His, are Himself: “Why persecutest thou Me?” And this verse well connects itself with that which precedes: (L.) for, if the Lord has taken us up as our Father, then it is His to lay down the laws by which we are to be governed and guided. And David had good occasion to offer this prayer: he, of whom, on account of one unhappy deed, it is written, “Thou hast given great occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme.”* Teach me Thy way. And who is the way, save He That said,* (A.) “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life?” Him we have to learn as the Way;* Him we have to strive after, as the end. Teach me: or, as others have rendered it, Enlighten me: in Him and by Him Who is the Light as well as the Way. Or take it as the voice of Christ Himself: Lead Me in the right way, namely, from darkness to light, (Lu.) from the sepulchre to the palace, from the darkness of Joseph’s cave to the ineffable light of heaven. And this because of Mine enemies: for they have set the seal, and appointed the guard, lest “the last error should be worse than the first.”

12 (14) Deliver me not over to the will of mine adversaries: for there are false witnesses risen up against me, and such as speak wrong.

Of David, no need to show how he was persecuted by the false witnesses who chased him from city to city, (L.) from wilderness to wilderness: how Doeg, how the Ziphites, how the men of Keilah rose up against him with their falsehoods: and how, but by God’s perpetual love, this “morning hind” must have been taken in the toils. And so of the Son of David: “There arose certain, and bare false witness against Him, saying, We heard Him say, I will destroy this temple made with hands, and in three days I will build another made without hands.”* Well says Vieyra:* “If we read the Gospel of S. John, we shall find that Christ had of a truth said the aforesaid words. If, then, Christ in reality had said that He would rebuild the temple in three days, and this is the very thing that the witnesses deposed to, how can the Evangelist call them false witnesses?.… They were false, because Christ spake in one sense, and they reported in another; and to report the words of God in a different sense from that in which they were spoken, is to bear false witness against God. Ah, Lord, how many bear false witness against Thee now! how many times do preachers make Thee say that which Thou never saidst! how many times I hear, not Thy words, but the preacher’s imaginations!” The latter part of the verse thus runs in the Vulgate, and it has probably been as often quoted as any clause of the Psalms: “and iniquity hath lied to itself.” It is confessedly one of the most difficult verses in the Psalms; whether one ends the meaning with the conclusion of the clause, or, with Tremellius, carries it on into the next verse, “and they that breathe out violence would have carried me off, unless I had believed to see,”* &c. And iniquity hath lied to itself since the beginning of the world; but never so as when that old Leviathan swallowed the bait of the Lord’s Humanity, and perished by the hook of His Divinity. Let the Eastern Church tell us so in her own glorious language:* διὰ θανάτου τὸ θνητὸν, διὰ ταφῆς τὸ φθαρτὸν, μεταβάλλεις• ἀφθαρτίζεις γὰρ θεοπρεπέστατα, ἀπαθανατίζων τὸ πρόσλημμα• ἡ γὰρ σάρξ σου διαφθορὰν οὐκ εἶδε, Δεσπότα, οὐδὲ ἡ ψυχή σου εἰς ᾅδου ξενοπρεπῶς ἐγκαταλέλειπται. Iniquity lied to itself, (A.) when the Jews were pursuing the Spotless Lamb with their “Crucify Him! crucify Him!” but Satan (now too late discovering his mistake) had stirred up Procla to send the message, “Have thou nothing to do with that Just man.” It has been imagined, but surely without sufficient cause,* that this verse was corrupted by the Jews, in order to obscure the reference to the false witnesses against our Lord.

13 (15) I should utterly have fainted: but that I believe verily to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.

Oh,* happy verse, comfort and support of so many travellers in the vale of Baca! Oh, blessed words, the last that have been pronounced by so many Christian lips before they were hushed by death! Fainted! Yes: who would not? Fainted utterly! Yes, and that a thousand times, but for that very belief, the Land of the Living! O my land! true Land of the Living,* true Land of Life! life, blessedly eternal, eternally blessed; where there is certain security, secure tranquillity, tranquil jucundity, happy eternity, eternal felicity; where perfect love, nevermore fear, everlasting day, agile motion,* one spirit in all! O Land of the Living, though the eye hath not seen thee, yet the heart can long for thee, can groan for thee, can yearn after thee, can aspire to thee. Yes; if for a time we give way to the faintheartedness of Hezekiah, “I said, I shall not see the Lord, even the Lord in the Land of the Living,”* that I believe verily of David comes in to be our comfort and our strength. In the Land of the Living. It is but little we see of Him here, in the land of the dying, (G.) in the land of types and symbols, in the land of figures and enigmas, in the land where “the days of darkness shall be many;”* and “few and evil are the days of the years of”* every “pilgrimage.” (L.) Of this Land of the Living S. Jerome collects and explains many and many a happy passage of Scripture:* the earth that the “meek shall inherit;”* the “delightsome land;”* the “place of broad rivers and of streams;”* the city, whose “foundation is upon the high hills;” the earth that is “visited and blessed by God,” that is “made very plenteous;”* the land “that floweth with the true milk and honey.” Yes: however, in a low and unreal sense, we may apply this verse to our life in this world,—however much, beholding the multitude of life that goes on, and is supported and kept up here, this globe may be called the land of the living,*—yet the united testimony of the Saints calls by that name the kingdom of heaven, and that kingdom only. Hear S. Albert, as always, Scriptural: “The Land of the Dead is Hades; ‘a land of darkness, as darkness itself; and of the shadow of death, without any order, and where the light is as darkness.’* The Land of the Dying is this world; ‘For we must needs die, and are as water spilt on the ground, which cannot be gathered up again.’* The Land of the Living is Paradise; ‘Ye shall come unto a people secure, and to a large land: … a place where there is no want of anything that is in the earth.’ ”* Even the Pythagoreans had their ἀντίχθονα,—their Land of the Living;* and God forbid that a Christian soul should use the word in a lower signification than they did!

O qui sidereas habitas,* Rex maxime, sedes,

Quam tua præ terris invidiosa domus!

Exulat æthereis longe nox horrida terris,

Et nitet excelso lumine clara dies.

Clara dies, æterna dies, septemplice Phœbi

Fulmineum nostro lampada, luce premens!

[Note, too, how the Western Church, by taking the latter clause of this verse as the Antiphon to the Psalm both for Easter Eve and the Office for the Dead, leads us from the thought of Christ’s victory over the grave to ours in Him.

Fear’st thou the death that comes to all,*

And knows no interceder?—

O glorious struggle, thou wilt fall,

The soldier by the Leader!

Christ went with death to grapple first,

And vanquished him before thee:

His darts, then, let him do his worst,

Can win no triumph o’er thee!]

14 (16) O tarry thou the Lord’s leisure: be strong, and he shall comfort thine heart; and put thou thy trust in the Lord.

O blessed words, that have comforted so many a mourner’s heart,—that have braced so many a trembling spirit,—that have gone to the prison or to the place of torture with the Church’s heroes! Yes,* it matters not in what sense we take the words—whether as said by David to himself,* or by David to another, or by God to David. Tarry thou the Lord’s leisure. But how long? The people whom the Lord fed in the wilderness tarried His leisure three days; the inhabitants of Bethulia five days, and their heroine said, “And now who are ye that have tempted God this day? For if He will not help us within these five days, He hath power to defend us when He will: … do not bind the counsels of the Lord our God.”* It is written, indeed,—and blessed be God for that promise,—“Knock, and it shall be opened unto you.” “But he,”* says S. Peter Chrysologus, “who, when he hath once knocked, is angry, because he is not forthwith heard, is not a humble petitioner, but an imperious exactor. However long He may cause thee to wait, do thou patiently tarry the Lord’s leisure. If He suffer thee to be imperilled on the sea until the fourth watch of the night, (L.) He doth it to teach thee trust in Him, and patience in time of adversity.” Be strong: viriliter age it is in the Latin,—a fair translation of the LXX.’s ἀνδρίζου,—but the Hebrew word חֲזַק has no reference to man. And rightly,* they say: some women have so often stirred up men in faith and love. So Deborah,—so the wife of Manoah,—so Judith,—so the holy women who returned from the Tomb while the Apostles doubted, (C.)—so S. Blandina and S. Ponticus in the amphitheatre of Lyons,—so S. Faith and S. Caprais in the fire at Agen. A saying of Gerhohus, though not so intended, will make an admirable proverb for the daily use of a Christian:

“Non putes negatum,

Quod sentis dilatum.”

And the Lord will undoubtedly say to every faithful waiter, (G.) what He said to the multitudes of old, “I have compassion on the multitude, because they have now waited on Me three days:”* the three days that remind of the threefold promise, “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock,* and it shall be opened unto you.” “In this verse,” says S. Albert, “he touches on four difficulties which suffer us not to enter into eternal life. The first, the dilation of God’s answer; against the which he saith, Tarry. The second, the difficulty of doing well; against the which he saith, Be strong. The third, the danger of pusillanimity; against the which he saith, He shall comfort your heart. The fourth, the bitterness of trouble; against the which he addeth, and put your trust in the Lord.”

And therefore:

Glory be to the Father, in Whose house we desire to dwell all the days of our life; and to the Son, the right Way in which we are led: and to the Holy Ghost, in Whose tabernacle we are hid.

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

COLLECTS

O God, Which art the Helper of all,* defend us from the camps and the battles of the enemy; so that we, dwelling in the eternity of Thy House, may merit to behold Thy Face by spiritual contemplation. Through (1.)

Deliver not,* O Lord, Thy Church into the bloody hands of her enemies: grant that, when false witnesses rise up against her, they may be put to confusion as soon as the banner of the Cross is set up in her. Amen. Through Thy mercy (11.)

O God,* our Light and Defence, remove from us the night of sorrow and ignorance; give us the light of truth and knowledge, that all our hope may remain fixed on Thee, and that all the assembly of them that would seek to hurt us may be brought to nought. Grant that we may be set on the rock, that, being made strong in Christ, in Him we may be lifted up in charity, by Whom we are edified in faith. Amen. Through Thy (11.)

[Almighty God, Helper and Strength of our life, defend us from the snares of our enemies, (D. C.) and from all perils of soul and body, that, by the gift of Thy lovingkindness, we, steadfastly persevering in works pleasing to Thee, may be found worthy to behold Thy goodness in the land of the living. Through (1.)]

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St Augustine’s Notes on Psalm 47

Posted by Dim Bulb on April 8, 2017

1. The title of the Psalm goeth thus. “To the end: for the sons of Korah: a Psalm of David himself.” These sons of Korah have the title also of some other Psalms, and indicate a sweet mystery, insinuate a great Sacrament: wherein let us willingly understand ourselves, and let us acknowledge in the title us who hear, and read, and as in a glass set before us behold who we are. The sons of Korah, who are they?Numb. 16:1. [See p. 155, note 8, supra.—C.]

“>6 … Haply the sons of the Bridegroom. For the Bridegroom was crucified in the place of Calvary. Recollect the Gospel,Matt. 27:33.

“>7 where they crucified the Lord, and ye will find Him crucified in the place of Calvary. Furthermore, they who deride His Cross, by devils, as by beasts, are devoured. For this also a certain Scripture signified. When God’s Prophet Elisha was going up, children called after him mocking, “Go up thou bald head, Go up thou bald head:” but he, not so much in cruelty as in mystery, made those children to be devoured by bears out of the wood.2 Kings 2:23, 24.

“>8 If those children had not been devoured, would they have lived even till now? Or could they not, being born mortal, have been taken off by a fever? But so in them had no mystery been shown, whereby posterity might be put in fear. Let none then mock the Cross of Christ. The Jews were possessed by devils, and devoured; for in the place of Calvary, crucifying Christ, and lifting on the Cross, they said as it were with childish sense, not understanding what they said, “Go up, thou bald head.” For what is, “Go up”? “Crucify Him, Crucify Him.”Luke 23:21.

“>9 For childhood is set before us to imitate humility, and childhood is set before us to beware of foolishness. To imitate humility, childhood was set before us by the Lord, when He called children to Him,Matt. 18:2.

“>10 and because they were kept from Him, He said, “Suffer them to come unto Me, for of such is the Kingdom of Heaven.” Matt. 19:14.

“>11 The example of childhood is set before us to beware of foolishness by the Apostle, “Brethren, be not children in understanding:” and again he proposeth it to imitate, “Howbeit in malice be ye children, that in understanding ye may be men.”1 Cor. 14:20.

“>1 “For the sons of Korah” the Psalm is sung; for Christians then is it sung. Let us hear it as sons of the Bridegroom, whom senseless children crucified in the place of Calvary. For they earned to be devoured by beasts; we to be crowned by Angels. For we acknowledge the humility of our Lord, and of it are not ashamed. We are not ashamed of Him called in mystery “the bald” (Calvus), from the place of Calvary. For on the very Cross whereon He was insulted, He permitted not our forehead to be bald; for with His own Cross He marked it. Finally, that ye may know that these things are said to us, see what is said.

2. “O clap your hands, all ye nations” (ver. 1). Were the people of the Jews all the nations? No, but blindness in part is happened to Israel, that senseless children might cry, “Calve,” “Calve;” and so the Lord might be crucified in the place of Calvary, that by His Blood shed He might redeem the Gentiles, and that might be fulfilled which saith the Apostle, “Blindness in part is happened unto Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.”Rom. 11:25.

“>2 Let them insult, then, the vain, and foolish, and senseless, and say, “Calve,” “Calve;” but ye redeemed by His Blood which was shed in the place of Calvary, say, “O clap your hands, all ye nations;” because to you hath come down the Grace of God. “O clap your hands.” What is “O clap”? Rejoice. But wherefore with the hands? Because with good works. Do not rejoice with the mouth while idle with the hands. If ye rejoice, “clap your hands.” The hands of the nations let Him see, who joys hath deigned to give them. What is, the hands of the nations? The acts of them doing good works. “O clap your hands, all ye nations: shout unto God with the voice of triumph.” Both with voice and with hands. If with the voice only it is not well, because the hands are slow; if only with the hands it is not well, because the tongue is mute. Agree together must the hands and tongue. Let this confess, these work. “Shout unto God with the voice of triumph.”

3. “For the Lord Most High is terrible” (ver. 2). The Most High in descending made like one ludicrous, by ascending into Heaven is made terrible. “A great King over all the earth.” Not only over the Jews; for over them also He is King. For of them also the Apostles believed, and of them many thousands of men sold their goods, and laid the price at the Apostles’ feet,Acts 4:34.

“>3 and in them was fulfilled what in the title of the Cross was written, “The King of the Jews.”Matt. 27:37.

“>4 For He is King also of the Jews. But “of the Jews” is little.[Isa. 49:6.—C.]

“>5 “O clap your hands, all ye nations: for God is the King of all the earth.” For it sufficeth not Him to have under Him one nation: therefore such great price gave He out of His side, as to buy the whole world.

4. “He hath subdued the people under us, and the nations under our feet” (ver. 3). Which subdued, and to whom? Who are they that speak? Haply Jews? Surely, if Apostles; surely, if Saints. For under these God hath subdued the people and the nations, that to-day are they honoured among the nations, who by their own citizens earned to be slain: as their Lord was slain by His citizens, and is honoured among the nations; was crucified by His own, is adored by aliens, but those by a price made His own. For therefore bought He us, that aliens from Him we might not be. Thinkest thou then these are the words of Apostles, “He hath subdued the people under us, and the nations under our feet”? I know not. Strange that Apostles should speak so proudly, as to rejoice that the nations were put under their feet, that is, Christians under the feet of Apostles. For they rejoice that we are with them under the feet of Him who died for us. For under Paul’s feet ran they, who would be of Paul, to whom He said, “Was Paul crucified for you?”1 Cor. 1:13.

“>6 What then here, what are we to understand? “He hath subdued the people under us, and the nations under our feet.” All pertaining to Christ’s inheritance are among “all the nations,” and all not pertaining to Christ’s inheritance are among “all the nations:” and ye see so exalted in Christ’s Name is Christ’s Church, that all not yet believing in Christ lie under the feet of Christians. For what numbers now run to the Church; not yet being Christians, they ask aid of the Church;[See (A. N. F. vol. v. p. 563) the noble charities of early Christians.—C.]

“>7 to be succoured by us temporally they are willing, though eternally to reign with us as yet they are unwilling. When all seek aid of the Church, even they who are not yet in the Church, hath He not “subdued the people under us, and the nations under our feet”?

5. “He hath chosen an inheritance for us, the excellencySpeciem.

“>8 of Jacob, whom He loved” (ver. 4). A certain beauty of Jacob He hath chosen for our inheritance. Esau and Jacob were two brothers; in their mother’s womb both struggled, and by this struggle their mother’s bowels were shaken; and while they two were yet therein, the younger was elected and preferred to the elder, and it was said, “Two peoples are in thy womb, and the elder shall serve the younger.”Gen. 25:23.

“>1 Among all nations is the elder, among all nations the younger; but the younger is in good Christians, elect, godly, faithful; the elder in the proud, unworthy, sinful, stubborn, defending rather than confessing their sins: as was also the very people of the Jews, “being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness.”Rom. 10:3.

“>2 But for that it is said, “The elder shall serve the younger;” it is manifest that under the godly are subdued the ungodly, under the humble are subdued the proud. Esau was born first, and Jacob was born last; but he who was last born, was preferred to the first-born, who through gluttony lost his birthright. So thou hast it written,Gen. 25:30–34.

“>3 He longed for the pottage, and his brother said to him, If thou wilt that I give it thee, give me thy birthright. He loved more that which carnally he desired, than that which spiritually by being born first he had earned:Merucrat.

“>4 and he laid aside his birthright, that he might eat lentils. But lentils we find to be the food of the Egyptians, for there it abounds in Egypt. Whence is so magnified the lentil of Alexandria, that it comes even to our country, as if here grew no lentil. Therefore by desiring Egyptian food he lost his birthright. So also the people of the Jews, of whom it is said, “in their hearts they turned back again into Egypt.”Acts 7:39.

“>5 They desired in a manner the lentil, and lost their birthright.

6. “God is gone up with jubilation” (ver. 5). Even He our God, the Lord Christ, is gone up with jubilation; “the Lord with the sound of a trumpet.” “Is gone up:” whither, save where we know? Whither the Jews followed Him not, even with their eyes. For exalted on the Cross they mocked Him, ascending into Heaven they did not see Him. “God hath gone up with jubilation.” What is jubilation, but admiration of joy which cannot be expressed in words? As the disciples in joy admired, seeing Him go into Heaven, whom they had mourned dead; truly for the joy, words sufficed not: remained to jubilate what none could express. There was also the voice of the trumpet, the voice of Angels. For it is said, “Lift up thy voice like a trumpet.” Angels preached the ascension of the Lord: they saw the Disciples, their Lord ascending, tarrying, admiring, confounded, nothing speaking, but in heart jubilant: and now was the sound of the trumpet in the clear voice of the Angels, “Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into Heaven? this is Jesus.”Acts 1:11.

“>6 As if they knew not that it was the same Jesus. Had they not just before seen Him before them? Had they not heard Him speaking with them? Nay, they not only saw the figure of Him present, but handled also His limbs. Of themselves then knew they not, that it was the same Jesus? But they being by very admiration, from joy of jubilation, as it were transported in mind, the Angels said, “that same is Jesus.” As though they said, If ye believe Him, this is that same Jesus, whom crucified, your feet stumbled, whom dead and buried, ye thought your hope lost. Lo, this is the same Jesus. He hath gone up before you, “He shall so come in like manner as ye have seen Him go into Heaven.” His Body is removed indeed from your eyes, but God is not separated from your hearts: see Him going up, believe on Him absent, hope for Him coming; but yet through His secret Mercy, feel Him present. For He who ascended into Heaven that He might be removed from your eyes, promised unto you, saying, “Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.”Matt. 28:20.

“>7 Justly then the Apostle so addressed us, “The Lord is at hand; be careful for nothing.”Phil. 4:5, 6.

“>8 Christ sitteth above the Heavens; the Heavens are far off, He who there sitteth is near.…

7. “Sing praises to our God, sing praises” (ver. 6). Whom as Man mocked they, who from God were alienated. “Sing praises to our God.” For He is not Man only, but God. Man of the seed of David,Rom. 1:3.

“>9 God the Lord of David, of the Jews having flesh. “Whose” (saith the Apostle) “are the fathers, of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came.”Rom. 9:5.

“>10 Of the Jews then is Christ, but according to the flesh. But who is this Christ who is of the Jews according to the flesh? “Who is over all, God blessed for ever.” God before the flesh, God in the flesh, God with the flesh. Nor only God before the flesh, but God before the earth whence flesh was made; nor only God before the earth whereof flesh was made, but even God before the Heaven which was first made; God before the day which was first made; God before Angels; the same Christ is God: for “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”John 1:1.

“>11

8. “For God is the King of all the earth” (ver. 7). What? And before was He not God of all the earth? Is He not God of both heaven and earth, since by Him surely were all things made? Who can say that He is not his God? But not all men acknowledged Him their God; and where He was acknowledged, there only, so to say, He was God. “In Judah is God known.”Ps. 76:1.

“>12 Not yet was it said to the sons of Korah, “O clap your hands, all ye nations.” For that God known in Judah, is King of all the earth: now by all He is acknowledged, for that is fulfilled which Isaiah saith, “He is thy God who hath delivered thee, the God of the whole earth shall He be called.”Isa. 54:5.

“>1 “Sing ye praises with understanding.” He teacheth us and warneth us to sing praises with understanding, not to seek the sound of the ear, but the light of the heart. The Gentiles, whence ye were called that ye might be Christians, adored gods made with hands, and sang praises to them, but not with understanding. If they had sung with understanding, they had not adored stones. When a man sensible sang to a stone insensible, did he sing with understanding? But now, brethren, we see not with our eyes Whom we adore, and yet correctlyCorrecti. ms. Vat. ap. Ben. corde recti, “right in heart.”

“>2 we adore.[The adoration of the Host was unknown to the ancient Church.—C.]

“>3 Much more is God commended to us, that with our eyes we see Him not. If with our eyes we saw Him, haply we might despise. For even Christ seen, the Jews despised; unseen, the Gentiles adored.

9. “God shall reign over all nations” (ver. 8). Who reigned over one nation, “shall reign” (saith He) “over all nations.” When this was said, God reigned over one nation. It was a prophecy, the thing was not yet shown. Thanks be to God, we now see fulfilled what before was prophesied. A written promise God sent unto us before the time, the time fulfilled He hath repaid us. “God shall reign over all nations,” is a promise. “God sitteth upon His Holy Seat.” What then was promised to come, now being fulfilled, is acknowledged and held. “God sitteth upon His Holy Seat.” What is His Holy Seat? Haply saith one, The Heavens, and he understandeth well. For Christ hath gone up,Acts 1:2.

“>4 as we know, with the Body, wherein He was crucified, and sitteth at the right hand of the Father; thence we expect Him to come to judge the quick and the dead.2 Tim. 4:1.

“>5 “God sitteth upon His Holy Seat.” The Heavens are His Holy Seat. Wilt thou also be His Seat? think not that thou canst not be; prepare for Him a place in thy heart. He cometh, and willingly sitteth. The same Christ is surely “the Power of God, and the Wisdom of God:”1 Cor. 1:24.

“>6 and what saith the Scripture of Wisdom Herself? The soul of the righteous is the seat of Wisdom.Wisd. 7:27.

“>7 If then the soul of the righteous is the seat of Wisdom, be thy soul righteous, and thou shalt be a royal seat of Wisdom. And truly, brethren, all men who live well, who act well, converse in godly charity, doth not God sit in them, and Himself command? Thy soul obeyeth God sitting in it, and itself commandeth the members. For thy soul commandeth thy members, that so may move the foot, the hand, the eye, the ear, and itself commandeth the members as its servants, but yet itself serveth its Lord sitting within. It cannot well rule its inferior, unless its superior it have not disdained to serve.

10. “The princes of the peoples are gathered together unto the God of Abraham” (ver. 9). The God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.Exod. 3:6.

“>8 True it is, God said this, and thereupon the Jews prided themselves, and said, “We are Abraham’s children;”John 8:33.

“>9 priding themselves in their father’s name, carrying his flesh, not holding his faith; by seed cleaving to Him, in manners degenerating. But the Lord, what said He to them so priding themselves? “If ye are Abraham’s children, do the works of Abraham.”John 8:39.

“>10 Again … “The princes of the peoples:” the princes of the nations: not the princes of one people, but the princes of all people have “gathered together unto the God of Abraham.” Of these princes was that Centurion too, of whom but now when the Gospel was read ye heard. For he was a Centurion having honour and power among men, he was a prince among the princes of the peoples. Christ coming to him, he sent his friends to meet Him, nay unto Christ truly passing over to him he sent his friends, and asked that He would heal his servant who was dangerously sick. And when the Lord would come, he sent to Him this message: “I am not worthy that Thou shouldest enter under my roof, but say in a word only, and my servant shall be healed.” “For I also am a man set under authority, having under me soldiers.”Luke 7:6, 7.

“>11 See how he kept his rank! first he mentioned that he was under another, and afterwards that another was under him. I am under authority, and I am in authority; both under some I am, and over some I am.… As though he said, If I being set under authority command those who are under me, Thou who art set under no man’s authority, canst not Thou command Thy creature, since all things were made by Thee, and without Thee was nothing made. “Say,” then, said he, “in a word, and my servant shall be healed. For I am not worthy that Thou shouldest enter under my roof.” … Admiring at his faith, Jesus reprobates the Jews’ misbelief. For sound to themselves they seemed, whereas they were dangerously sick, when their Physician not knowing they slew. Therefore when He reprobated, and repudiated their pride what said he? “I say unto you, that many shall come from the east and west,” not belonging to the kindred of Israel: many shall come to whom He said, “O clap your hands, all ye nations;” “and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven.” Abraham begat them not of his own flesh; yet shall they come and sit down with him in the kingdom of heaven, and be his sons. Whereby his sons? Not as born of his flesh, but by following his faith. “But the children of the kingdom,” that is, the Jews, “shall be cast into outer darkness, there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”Matt. 8:12.

“>1 They shall be condemned to outer darkness who are born of the flesh of Abraham, and they shall sit down with him in the kingdom of heaven, who have imitated Abraham’s faith.

11. And what they who belonged to the God of Abraham? “For the mighty gods of the earth are greatly lifted up.” They who were gods, the people of God, the vineyard of God, whereof it is said, “Judge betwixt Me and My vineyard,”Isa. 5:3.

“>2 shall go into outer darkness, shall not sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, are not gathered unto the God of Abraham. Wherefore? “For the mighty gods of the earth;” they who were mighty gods of the earth, presuming upon earth. What earth? Themselves; for every man is earth. For to man was it said, “Dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.”Gen. 3:19.

“>3 But man ought to presume upon God, and thence to hope for help, not from himself. For the earth raineth not upon itself, nor shineth for itself; but as the earth from heaven expecteth rain and light, so man from God ought to expect mercy and truth. They then, “the mighty gods of the earth, were greatly lifted up,” that is, greatly prided themselves: they thought no physician necessary for themselves, and therefore remained in their sickness, and by their sickness were brought down even to death. The natural branches were broken off that the humble wild olive tree might be grafted in.Rom. 11:17.

“>4 Hold we fast then, brethren, humility, charity, godliness: since we are called, on their proving reprobate, even by their example let us fear to pride ourselves.

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