Saturday, 10 May 2014

Gospel and readings for the Third Sunday after Easter

This Sunday's Gospel is St John 16:16-22:

16 Modicum, et jam non videbitis me; et iterum modicum, et videbitis me: quia vado ad Patrem. 17 Dixerunt ergo ex discipulis ejus ad invicem: Quid est hoc quod dicit nobis: Modicum, et non videbitis me; et iterum modicum, et videbitis me, et quia vado ad Patrem? 18 Dicebant ergo: Quid est hoc quod dicit: Modicum? nescimus quid loquitur. 19 Cognovit autem Jesus, quia volebant eum interrogare, et dixit eis: De hoc quæritis inter vos quia dixi: Modicum, et non videbitis me; et iterum modicum, et videbitis me. 20 Amen, amen dico vobis: quia plorabitis, et flebitis vos, mundus autem gaudebit; vos autem contristabimini, sed tristitia vestra vertetur in gaudium. 21 Mulier cum parit, tristitiam habet, quia venit hora ejus; cum autem pepererit puerum, jam non meminit pressuræ propter gaudium, quia natus est homo in mundum. 22 Et vos igitur nunc quidem tristitiam habetis, iterum autem videbo vos, et gaudebit cor vestrum: et gaudium vestrum nemo tollet a vobis. 

16] A little while, and now you shall not see me; and again a little while, and you shall see me: because I go to the Father. [17] Then some of the disciples said one to another: What is this that he saith to us: A little while, and you shall not see me; and again a little while, and you shall see me, and, because I go to the Father? [18] They said therefore: What is this that he saith, A little while? we know not what he speaketh. [19] And Jesus knew that they had a mind to ask him; and he said to them: Of this do you inquire among yourselves, because I said: A little while, and you shall not see me; and again a little while, and you shall see me? [20] Amen, amen I say to you, that you shall lament and weep, but the world shall rejoice; and you shall be made sorrowful, but your sorrow shall be turned into joy. [21] A woman, when she is in labour, hath sorrow, because her hour is come; but when she hath brought forth the child, she remembereth no more the anguish, for joy that a man is born into the world. [22] So also you now indeed have sorrow; but I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice; and your joy no man shall take from you.

The Matins Readings

The Third Nocturn readings on the Gospel in the traditional form of the Benedictine Office are from St Augustine.

Reading 9:This little while is the whole duration of this present world. In the same sense this same Evangelist saith in his Epistle ii. 18, It is the last time. The words, because I go to the Father, refer to the first clause of the text, namely, A little while and ye shall not see Me, and not to the latter clause, that is, and again a little while, and ye shall see Me. By His going to the Father He was about to bring it to pass that they should see Him no more.

Reading 10: And thus it was that He said, not that He was about to die, and that after His death they should not see Him until He rose again, but that He was going to the Father, which He did when, after that He was risen again and had manifested Himself to them for forty days, He ascended up into heaven. But now, to them which were looking on Him in the Body, He saith, A little while, and ye shall not see Me, a little while, and they who now saw Him clad in a dying nature, should see Him so no more, because He was about to go to the Father.

Reading 11: But He saith : And again a little while, and ye shall see Me, and these words are a promise to the Universal Church, just as are those others : Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world Matth. xxviii. 20. Our Lord delayeth not His promised coming. Again a little while, and we shall see Him. We shall see Him. And, 0, when we shall see Him, then we shall beg, we shall ask no more; for no desire will be unsatisfied, and no riddle unsolved.This little while seemeth a very long while to us now, while as it is still going on, but when it is over we shall feel indeed how truly it is but a little while. 

Reading 12: Therefore, may our rejoicing never be like the rejoicing of that world whereof it is said: The world shall rejoice. A woman when she is in travail hath sorrow, and yet, while hitherto our gladness is still coming to the birth through throes of sorrow, let us not be altogether sorrowful, but, as the Apostle hath it Rom. xii. 12: Rejoicing in hope : patient in tribulation. A woman, when she is in travail hath sorrow, because her hour is come : but as soon as she is delivered of the child, she remembereth no more the anguish, for joy that a man is born into the world. And so will it be with us. And with that let me end my discourse. The next passage is one of extreme difficulty; nor is it possible to treat it briefly, if, (with the will of God,) it is to be treated satisfactorily.

St Mark 3:1-12

St Mark 3:1-12 deals with the healing of a man with a withered hand, and the reaction of the Pharisees and 'Herodians':

Et introivit iterum in synagogam: et erat ibi homo habens manum aridam. 2 Et observabant eum, si sabbatis curaret, ut accusarent illum. 3 Et ait homini habenti manum aridam: Surge in medium. 4 Et dicit eis: Licet sabbatis benefacere, an male? animam salvam facere, an perdere? At illi tacebant. 5 Et circumspiciens eos cum ira, contristatus super cæcitate cordis eorum, dicit homini: Extende manum tuam. Et extendit, et restituta est manus illi.6 Exeuntes autem pharisæi, statim cum Herodianis consilium faciebant adversus eum quomodo eum perderent. 7 Jesus autem cum discipulis suis secessit ad mare: et multa turba a Galilæa et Judæa secuta est eum, 8 et ab Jerosolymis, et ab Idumæa, et trans Jordanem: et qui circa Tyrum et Sidonem multitudo magna, audientes quæ faciebat, venerunt ad eum. 9 Et dicit discipulis suis ut navicula sibi deserviret propter turbam, ne comprimerent eum: 10 multos enim sanabat, ita ut irruerent in eum ut illum tangerent, quotquot habebant plagas. 11 Et spiritus immundi, cum illum videbant, procidebant ei: et clamabant, dicentes: 12 Tu es Filius Dei. Et vehementer comminabatur eis ne manifestarent illum.

1] And he entered again into the synagogue, and there was a man there who had a withered hand. [2] And they watched him whether he would heal on the sabbath days; that they might accuse him. [3] And he said to the man who had the withered hand: Stand up in the midst. [4] And he saith to them: Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath days, or to do evil? to save life, or to destroy? But they held their peace. [5] And looking round about on them with anger, being grieved for the blindness of their hearts, he saith to the man: Stretch forth thy hand. And he stretched it forth: and his hand was restored unto him.
[6] And the Pharisees going out, immediately made a consultation with the Herodians against him, how they might destroy him. [7] But Jesus retired with his disciples to the sea; and a great multitude followed him from Galilee and Judea, [8] And from Jerusalem, and from Idumea, and from beyond the Jordan. And they about Tyre and Sidon, a great multitude, hearing the things which he did, came to him. [9] And he spoke to his disciples that a small ship should wait on him because of the multitude, lest they should throng him. [10] For he healed many, so that they pressed upon him for to touch him, as many as had evils.[11] And the unclean spirits, when they saw him, fell down before him: and they cried, saying: [12] Thou art the Son of God. And he strictly charged them that they should not make him known.


Ver. 4. And He saith to them, Is it lawful to do good on the Sabbath-days, or to do evil? to save life, or to destroy? But they held their peace. The translator reads άπολέσαι, that is, to destroy. We now read α̉ποκτει̃ναι, i.e, to kill. But to destroy is better. For the Gospel is speaking of a maimed person, who had a withered hand, not of one who was dead. With reference to healing this maimed person, the Scribes had proposed a doubt or scruple, Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath-days? Christ resolved this doubt by means of another question, not dubious, but plain, Is it lawful to do well on the Sabbath, or to do evil; to save a soul, or to destroy it? (Vulg.). A soul, i.e., a man, says S. Augustine. The meaning is, if any one should not succour or do a kindness to one who is sick or heavily afflicted, like this maimed man, on the Sabbath, when he is able to do it, as I, Christ, am able, he does him an injury; for he refuses him the help which is due to him by the law of love. In a similar sense S. Augustine says, “If thou hast not fed the hungry, thou hast killed him,” because thou hast allowed him to die of hunger. In like manner, if thou hast not delivered him who was about to be killed by a robber, when thou mightest have done so, thou hast slain him; for his death will be reckoned to thee by God for guilt and punishment, in exactly the same manner as if thou hadst killed him thyself. Christ, therefore, signifies that not to do good on the Sabbath to a sick person, when thou art able, is to do him evil. But it is never lawful to do evil. Therefore it is always lawful to do good to such persons, even on the Sabbath. For the Sabbath is devoted to God and good works. And thus it is a more grievous sin to do evil on the Sabbath than upon other days. For by this means the sanctity of the Sabbath is violated, even as by doing good upon it it is the better kept and hallowed.

Ver. 5. And looking round upon them with anger. Being angry at their unbelief, says the Interlinear, showing by His countenance that He was wroth with the blind, and obstinate, and perverse minds of the Scribes, in that they ascribed Christ’s miracles of goodness, which He wrought upon the Sabbath, to a breach of the law enjoining the observance of that day. From hence it is plain that there was in Christ real anger, sorrow, and the rest of the passions and affections, as they exist in other men, only subject to reason. Wherefore anger was in Him a whetstone of virtue. “Anger,” says Franc. Lucas, “is in us a passion; in Christ it was, as it were, an action. It arises spontaneously in us; by Christ it was stirred up in Himself. When it has arisen in us, it disturbs the other faculties of the body and mind, nor can it be repressed at our own pleasure; but when stirred up in Christ, it acts as He wills it to act, it disturbs nothing,—in fine, it ceases when He wills it to cease.”

This is what S. Leo (Epist. 11) says, “The bodily senses were vigorous in Christ without the law of sin; and the reality of His affections was governed by His soul and deity.”

Lactantius says (lib. de Ira Dei ex Posidon.), “Anger is the lust of punishing him by whom you think yourself to have been injured.” Wherefore anger in other men springs from self-love; but in Christ it sprang from love of God, because He loved God perfectly. Hence He was infinitely grieved and angry at offences against God by reason of sin, and committed by sinners, wishing to compensate for those offences by punishing or correcting sinners and unbelievers. Wherefore Christ’s anger was zeal, or seasoned with zeal, even as in the angels and the blessed it is not anger but zeal. (See S. Thomas, 3 p. q. art 9.)

Being grieved at the blindness, Syriac, hardness or callousness, of their hearts. Grieved, Gr. συλλυπούμενος, i.e., condoling with and commiserating them, because, being blinded and hardened by envy and hatred, they would not acknowledge Him to be the Messiah, but spake evil of His kindness to the sick upon the Sabbath-days. It is meant, therefore, that the anger of Jesus did not proceed from the desire of vengeance, but was mingled with pity; and that Jesus was angry with sin, but sorry for sinners, insomuch as He loved them, and strove to save them. Lastly, all such anger is mingled with sorrow; for he that is angry grieves for the evil at which he is angry. Thus the sorrow for the evil causes and sharpens anger, that it may strive to remove the evil at which it is grieved.

Friday, 9 May 2014

St Mark 2:18-28

St Mark 2:18-28 deals with the lifestyle of the disciples, and the proper use of the Sabbath:

18 Et erant discipuli Joannis et pharisæi jejunantes: et veniunt, et dicunt illi: Quare discipuli Joannis et pharisæorum jejunant, tui autem discipuli non jejunant? 19 Et ait illis Jesus: Numquid possunt filii nuptiarum, quamdiu sponsus cum illis est, jejunare? Quanto tempore habent secum sponsum, non possunt jejunare. 20 Venient autem dies cum auferetur ab eis sponsus: et tunc jejunabunt in illis diebus. 21 Nemo assumentum panni rudis assuit vestimento veteri: alioquin aufert supplementum novum a veteri, et major scissura fit. 22 Et nemo mittit vinum novum in utres veteres: alioquin dirumpet vinum utres, et vinum effundetur, et utres peribunt: sed vinum novum in utres novos mitti debet.23 Et factum est iterum Dominus sabbatis ambularet per sata, et discipuli ejus cœperunt progredi, et vellere spicas. 24 Pharisæi autem dicebant ei: Ecce, quid faciunt sabbatis quod non licet? 25 Et ait illis: Numquam legistis quid fecerit David, quando necessitatem habuit, et esuriit ipse, et qui cum eo erant? 26 quomodo introivit in domum Dei sub Abiathar principe sacerdotum, et panes propositionis manducavit, quos non licebat manducare, nisi sacerdotibus, et dedit eis qui cum eo erant? 27 Et dicebat eis: Sabbatum propter hominem factum est, et non homo propter sabbatum. 28 Itaque Dominus est Filius hominis, etiam sabbati.

[18] And the disciples of John and the Pharisees used to fast; and they come and say to him: Why do the disciples of John and of the Pharisees fast; but thy disciples do not fast? [19] And Jesus saith to them: Can the children of the marriage fast, as long as the bridegroom is with them? As long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast. [20] But the days will come when the bridegroom shall be taken away from them; and then they shall fast in those days.[21] No man seweth a piece of raw cloth to an old garment: otherwise the new piecing taketh away from the old, and there is made a greater rent. [22] And no man putteth new wine into old bottles: otherwise the wine will burst the bottles, and both the wine will be spilled, and the bottles will be lost. But new wine must be put into new bottles. [23] And it came to pass again, as the Lord walked through the corn fields on the sabbath, that his disciples began to go forward, and to pluck the ears of corn. [24] And the Pharisees said to him: Behold, why do they on the sabbath day that which is not lawful? [25] And he said to them: Have you never read what David did when he had need, and was hungry himself, and they that were with him?[26] How he went into the house of God, under Abiathar the high priest, and did eat the loaves of proposition, which was not lawful to eat but for the priests, and gave to them who were with him? [27] And he said to them: The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath. [28] Therefore the Son of man is Lord of the sabbath also.

Commentary by Cornelius de Lapide:

The Sabbath was made (Syr. created) for man, &c. That is, the Sabbath was instituted for the benefit of man, that man, by the rest of the Sabbath, should refresh and restore his body, fatigued by the continuous labour of six days of the week; and that he should apply his mind to the things which concern his eternal salvation, such as hearing and meditating upon the law of God. The force of the argument is this: Since the Sabbath was instituted for the sake of man, and not man for the sake of the Sabbath, therefore, if the Sabbatical rest be hurtful to man, it must be abandoned, and the labour undertaken that man may be benefited. Therefore rightly do I permit My disciples to engage in the moderate labour of plucking the ears of corn on the Sabbath, to satisfy their hunger. For it is better that the rest of the Sabbath should be broken than that men should perish.

Therefore the Son of Man, &c. Some understand the therefore in this place as properly inferential from what has gone before, thus: Since the Sabbath was made for man, and the Son of Man, that is, Christ, is Lord of all men, and of all things which pertain to man’s health, therefore He is Lord also of the Sabbath, so as to be able to dispense from it. But it is better and simpler to take the therefore not as inferential, but as complementary for lastly, in short. Wherefore the Arabic so translates, and makes the passage of the following effect: “Lastly, the Son of Man, that is, I, Christ, because I am the Messias and God, am Lord of the Sabbath, I who instituted it at the beginning for man’s benefit, and therefore am able for the benefit of man to order, to relax, or to abolish it. This is the fresh and final reason by which Christ proves to the Scribes that it was lawful to pluck the ears of corn on the Sabbath to satisfy hunger.”

Mystically: Says Theophylact, Christ healing on the Sabbath signifies that those who have rest in their passions are able to heal sinners agitated by their passions, and lead them to virtue. More fully Bede. The disciples, he says, are teachers. The corn means those planted in the faith, whom the teachers visit, and hungering for their salvation, pluck away from earthly things. And by their hands, i.e., by their examples, they bring them away from the lust of the flesh, as it were out of husks. They eat them, that is, they incorporate them as members into the Church. And they do it upon the Sabbath, because this is for the hope of future rest. 

Thursday, 8 May 2014

St Mark 2: 1-17

The second chapter of St Mark's Gospel opens with the story of the healing a man with palsy, and continues with the calling of St Matthew (Levi):

1 Et iterum intravit Capharnaum post dies, 2 et auditum est quod in domo esset, et convenerunt multi, ita ut non caperet neque ad januam, et loquebatur eis verbum. 3 Et venerunt ad eum ferentes paralyticum, qui a quatuor portabatur. 4 Et cum non possent offerre eum illi præ turba, nudaverunt tectum ubi erat: et patefacientes submiserunt grabatum in quo paralyticus jacebat. 5 Cum autem vidisset Jesus fidem illorum, ait paralytico: Fili, dimittuntur tibi peccata tua. 6 Erant autem illic quidam de scribis sedentes, et cogitantes in cordibus suis: 7 Quid hic sic loquitur? blasphemat. Quis potest dimittere peccata, nisi solus Deus? 8 Quo statim cognito Jesus spiritu suo, quia sic cogitarent intra se, dicit illis: Quid ista cogitatis in cordibus vestris? 9 Quid est facilius dicere paralytico: Dimittuntur tibi peccata: an dicere: Surge, tolle grabatum tuum, et ambula?  10 Ut autem sciatis quia Filius hominis habet potestatem in terra dimittendi peccata (ait paralytico), 11 tibi dico: Surge, tolle grabatum tuum, et vade in domum tuam. 12 Et statim surrexit ille: et, sublato grabato, abiit coram omnibus, ita ut mirarentur omnes, et honorificent Deum, dicentes: Quia numquam sic vidimus.13 Et egressus est rursus ad mare, omnisque turba veniebat ad eum, et docebat eos. 14 Et cum præteriret, vidit Levi Alphæi sedentem ad telonium, et ait illi: Sequere me. Et surgens secutus est eum. 15 Et factum est, cum accumberet in domo illius, multi publicani et peccatores simul discumbebant cum Jesu et discipulis ejus: erant enim multi, qui et sequebantur eum. 16 Et scribæ et pharisæi videntes quia manducaret cum publicanis et peccatoribus, dicebant discipulis ejus: Quare cum publicanis et peccatoribus manducat et bibit Magister vester? 17 Hoc audito Jesus ait illis: Non necesse habent sani medico, sed qui male habent: non enim veni vocare justos, sed peccatores.

[1] And again he entered into Capharnaum after some days. [2] And it was heard that he was in the house, and many came together, so that there was no room; no, not even at the door; and he spoke to them the word. [3] And they came to him, bringing one sick of the palsy, who was carried by four. [4] And when they could not offer him unto him for the multitude, they uncovered the roof where he was; and opening it, they let down the bed wherein the man sick of the palsy lay. [5] And when Jesus had seen their faith, he saith to the sick of the palsy: Son, thy sins are forgiven thee.[6] And there were some of the scribes sitting there, and thinking in their hearts: [7] Why doth this man speak thus? he blasphemeth. Who can forgive sins, but God only? [8] Which Jesus presently knowing in his spirit, that they so thought within themselves, saith to them: Why think you these things in your hearts? [9] Which is easier, to say to the sick of the palsy: Thy sins are forgiven thee; or to say: Arise, take up thy bed, and walk? [10] But that you may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (he saith to the sick of the palsy,)[11] I say to thee: Arise, take up thy bed, and go into thy house. [12] And immediately he arose; and taking up his bed, went his way in the sight of all; so that all wondered and glorified God, saying: We never saw the like. [13] And he went forth again to the sea side; and all the multitude came to him, and he taught them. [14] And when he was passing by, he saw Levi the son of Alpheus sitting at the receipt of custom; and he saith to him: Follow me. And rising up, he followed him. [15] And it came to pass, that as he sat at meat in his house, many publicans and sinners sat down together with Jesus and his disciples. For they were many, who also followed him.[16] And the scribes and the Pharisees, seeing that he ate with publicans and sinners, said to his disciples: Why doth your master eat and drink with publicans and sinners? [17] Jesus hearing this, saith to them: They that are well have no need of a physician, but they that are sick. For I came not to call the just, but sinners.

Commentary by De Lapide

On the healing of the man with palsy and the forgiveness of his sins:

Ver. 5. Son, thy sins are forgiven thee. Hear Bede, “When He is about to heal, He first forgives the man his sins, to show that he was suffering for his faults.” For men are afflicted with bodily ills, either for the increase of merit, as Job and the martyrs; or for the preservation of humility, as Paul; or for the correction of sin, as the sister of Moses, and this paralytic; or for the glory of God, as the man who was born blind; or for a beginning of damnation, as Herod.

Bede adds that this paralytic was carried by four bearers, to signify that a man in the faith of his soul is lifted up by four virtues to deserve soundness, namely, by prudence, fortitude, justice, and temperance.

On St Matthew:

Ver. 14. He saw Levi (the son) of Alphæus, i.e., He saw Matthew, who by another name is called Levi before he was called by Christ, for after his vocation he is always called Matthew. 0f Alphæus, i.e., the son, as the Syriac expresses it. This Alphæus is a different person from the Alphæus who was the husband of Mary of Cleopas, who was the father of James the Less and Jude (Matt. x. 3). Luke and Mark call Matthew Levi, out of regard for his good name, because this name of Levi was known but to few. But he calls himself Matthew, to humiliate himself, and to profess openly that he was a sinner and a publican.

And rising up, &c., i.e., leaving everything. Wherefore Bede saith, “He left his own possessions who was wont to seize those of others. He left also the accounts of his taxes imperfect, and not cast up, because the Lord had so inflamed him that he straightway followed Him who called him.”

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Mark 1:32-45

The final section of Chapter 1 of St Mark's Gospel:

32 Vespere autem facto cum occidisset sol, afferebant ad eum omnes male habentes, et dæmonia habentes: 33 et erat omnis civitas congregata ad januam. 34 Et curavit multos, qui vexabantur variis languoribus, et dæmonia multa ejiciebat, et non sinebat ea loqui, quoniam sciebant eum. 35 Et diluculo valde surgens, egressus abiit in desertum locum, ibique orabat. 36 Et prosecutus est eum Simon, et qui cum illo erant. 37 Et cum invenissent eum, dixerunt ei: Quia omnes quærunt te. 38 Et ait illis: Eamus in proximos vicos, et civitates, ut et ibi prædicem: ad hoc enim veni. 39 Et erat prædicans in synagogis eorum, et in omni Galilæa, et dæmonia ejiciens.40 Et venit ad eum leprosus deprecans eum: et genu flexo dixit ei: Si vis, potes me mundare. 41 Jesus autem misertus ejus, extendit manum suam: et tangens eum, ait illi: Volo: mundare. 42 Et cum dixisset, statim discessit ab eo lepra, et mundatus est. 43 Et comminatus est ei, statimque ejecit illum, 44 et dicit ei: Vide nemini dixeris: sed vade, ostende te principi sacerdotum, et offer pro emundatione tua, quæ præcepit Moyses in testimonium illis. 45 At ille egressus cœpit prædicare, et diffamare sermonem, ita ut jam non posset manifeste introire in civitatem, sed foris in desertis locis esset, et conveniebant ad eum undique.

[32] And when it was evening, after sunset, they brought to him all that were ill and that were possessed with devils. [33] And all the city was gathered together at the door. [34] And he healed many that were troubled with divers diseases; and he cast out many devils, and he suffered them not to speak, because they knew him. [35] And rising very early, going out, he went into a desert place: and there he prayed.[36] And Simon, and they that were with him, followed after him. [37] And when they had found him, they said to him: All seek for thee. [38] And he saith to them: Let us go into the neighbouring towns and cities, that I may preach there also; for to this purpose am I come. [39] And he was preaching in their synagogues, and in all Galilee, and casting out devils. [40] And there came a leper to him, beseeching him, and kneeling down said to him: If thou wilt, thou canst make me clean.[41] And Jesus having compassion on him, stretched forth his hand; and touching him, saith to him: I will. Be thou made clean. [42] And when he had spoken, immediately the leprosy departed from him, and he was made clean. [43] And he strictly charged him, and forthwith sent him away. [44] And he saith to him: See thou tell no one; but go, shew thyself to the high priest, and offer for thy cleansing the things that Moses commanded, for a testimony to them. [45] But he being gone out, began to publish and to blaze abroad the word: so that he could not openly go into the city, but was without in desert places: and they flocked to him from all sides.

Commentary of Cornelius de Lapide

Praying in the early morning:

He went into a desert place, that He might pray thus more quietly and attentively. Wherefore it follows, and there prayed, both that after so many miracles He might avoid the praise and applause of men, and to teach us to do the same. Learn here from Christ to give the early morning to prayer, and to rise up with the dawn, so as to have leisure for meditation, and to give the first-fruits of the day to God. For the dawn of day is a friend of the Muses, but a greater friend of God and the angels.

The Leper:

Show thyself to the high priest (Vulg.). Gr. to the priest. For not only the High Priest, but any priest might judge concerning leprosy, whether it was healed or no, as is plain from Lev. xiii. 2. It is probable, however, that because the case of leprosy was so grave and difficult, the decision concerning it was, by the interpretation and decree of the pontiffs, reserved for a Chief Priest, as is here said, that is, for one of the twenty-four heads of the priests, who each in turn presided for a week over the rest of the priests, and the sacrifices, and the other offices and rites of the Temple, according to the institution of David, as appears from 1 Chron. xxiv. 3, &c.

Ver. 45. But he, being gone out, began to publish and to blaze abroad the word, i.e., the fact of the miracle of his leprosy having been healed by Christ. For he thought that this was for the glory of God and Christ, although Christ, out of humility and modesty, had enjoined silence; but he himself did not consider this command binding upon him.

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

St Mark 1:14-31

St Mark 1:14-31 takes us to the start of Jesus' public ministry, and the calling of the disciples:

14 Postquam autem traditus est Joannes, venit Jesus in Galilæam, prædicans Evangelium regni Dei, 15 et dicens: Quoniam impletum est tempus, et appropinquavit regnum Dei: pœnitemini, et credite Evangelio. 16 Et præteriens secus mare Galilææ, vidit Simonem, et Andream fratrem ejus, mittentes retia in mare (erant enim piscatores), 17 et dixit eis Jesus: Venite post me, et faciam vos fieri piscatores hominum. 18 Et protinus relictis retibus, secuti sunt eum. 19 Et progressus inde pusillum, vidit Jacobum Zebedæi, et Joannem fratrem ejus, et ipsos componentes retia in navi: 20 et statim vocavit illos. Et relicto patre suo Zebedæo in navi cum mercenariis, secuti sunt eum. 21 Et ingrediuntur Capharnaum: et statim sabbatis ingressus in synagogam, docebat eos.22 Et stupebant super doctrina ejus: erat enim docens eos quasi potestatem habens, et non sicut scribæ. 23 Et erat in synagoga eorum homo in spiritu immundo: et exclamavit, 24 dicens: Quid nobis et tibi, Jesu Nazarene? venisti perdere nos? scio qui sis, Sanctus Dei. 25 Et comminatus est ei Jesus, dicens: Obmutesce, et exi de homine. 26 Et discerpens eum spiritus immundus, et exclamans voce magna, exiit ab eo. 27 Et mirati sunt omnes, ita ut conquirerent inter se dicentes: Quidnam est hoc? quænam doctrina hæc nova? quia in potestate etiam spiritibus immundis imperat, et obediunt ei. 28 Et processit rumor ejus statim in omnem regionem Galilææ.29 Et protinus egredientes de synagoga, venerunt in domum Simonis et Andreæ, cum Jacobo et Joanne. 30 Decumbebat autem socrus Simonis febricitans: et statim dicunt ei de illa. 31 Et accedens elevavit eam, apprehensa manu ejus: et continuo dimisit eam febris, et ministrabat eis.

And after that John was delivered up, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, [15] And saying: The time is accomplished, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent, and believe the gospel. [16] And passing by the sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew his brother, casting nets into the sea (for they were fishermen). [17] And Jesus said to them: Come after me, and I will make you to become fishers of men. [18] And immediately leaving their nets, they followed him. [19] And going on from thence a little farther, he saw James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, who also were mending their nets in the ship: [20] And forthwith he called them. And leaving their father Zebedee in the ship with his hired men, they followed him. [21] And they entered into Capharnaum, and forthwith upon the sabbath days going into the synagogue, he taught them. [22] And they were astonished at his doctrine. For he was teaching them as one having power, and not as the scribes. [23] And there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit; and he cried out, [24] Saying: What have we to do with thee, Jesus of Nazareth? art thou come to destroy us? I know who thou art, the Holy One of God. [25] And Jesus threatened him, saying: Speak no more, and go out of the man.
[26] And the unclean spirit tearing him, and crying out with a loud voice, went out of him. [27] And they were all amazed, insomuch that they questioned among themselves, saying: What thing is this? what is this new doctrine? for with power he commandeth even the unclean spirits, and they obey him. [28] And the fame of him was spread forthwith into all the country of Galilee. [29] And immediately going out of the synagogue they came into the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. [30] And Simon' s wife' s mother lay in a fit of a fever: and forthwith they tell him of her.[31] And coming to her, he lifted her up, taking her by the hand; and immediately the fever left her, and she ministered unto them.


De Lapide first explains the subject of Our Lord's preaching:

Ver. 15. And saying, Because (Gr. ότι) the time, &c. The time, that is, of the advent of Messiah, and the kingdom of heaven. That, indeed, what had been shut for so many thousands of years, Christ by His preaching, His death, and His grace, might open and unclose.

Repent ye: do penance, that ye may detest the sins ye have committed, and determine to change your lives for the better. Beautifully says the Scholiast in S. Jerome, “The sweetness of the apple makes up for the bitterness of the root, the hope of gain makes pleasant the perils of the sea, the expectation of health mitigates the nauseousness of medicine. He who desires the kernel breaks the nut; so he who desires the joy of a holy conscience swallows down the bitterness of penance.”

On the calling of the disciples:

Ver. 19. James the son of Zebedee and John. Again beautifully says the Scholiast, “By this chariot of the four fishermen we are carried up to heaven, as Elias was. On these four corner-stones the Church was first built. By four virtues we are changed into the image of God, being obedient by prudence, acting manfully by justice, trampling on the serpent by temperance, and gaining the grace of God by fortitude.” Theophylact says, “Peter, that is, action, is first called, afterwards John, that is, contemplation.”

On the reasons for the inclusion of the story of the possessed man:

Ver. 23. And there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit, i.e., a man having an unclean spirit, that is to say, possessed by a devil. The Greek has, in an unclean spirit, and it is a Hebraism. For the Hebrew uses ב, beth, i.e., in, when one noun governs another in the genitive.

And he cried out, i.e., the spirit, by the mouth of the man possessed, “as though he were suffering torment,” says the Scholiast in S. Chrysostom, “as though in pain, as though not able to bear his strokes.” “For,” as Bede says, “the presence of the Saviour is the torment of the devils.” Christ desired that by this public testimony of the demon concerning Him, in the synagogue of Capernaum (for it is plain from ver. 21 that these things occurred there), the Jews who were gathered there might acknowledge Him to be Messias...

Saying, Speak no more: Arab. shut thy mouth. Wherefore? I answer, First, Because it was not fitting that Christ should be commanded by the devil.

Second, That He might not appear to be a friend of the devil, and to hold intercourse with him. For afterwards it was objected to Christ that He cast out devils by the aid of Beelzebub. By acting as He did, Christ has taught us to shun all dealings with the devil; for he is the sworn enemy of God, and is wholly bent upon injuring and destroying us, even when he promises or brings us any corporal aid. Wherefore, as the Scholiast in Chrysostom saith, “Be silent; let thy silence be My praise. Let not thy voice, but thy torments praise Me. I am not pleased that thou shouldst praise Me, but that thou shouldst go forth.”

Third, To show that we should resist flattery, that it may not stir up any desire of vainglory in our breast.

Fourth, Euthymius says, “He has taught us never to believe the demons, even when they say what is true. For since they love falsehood, and are most hostile to us, they never speak the truth except to deceive. They make use of the truth as it were a kind of bait.” For, liars that they are, they conceal their lies by a colouring of truth. They say certain things that are true at the first, and afterwards interweave with them what is false, that those who have believed the first may believe also the last. For this cause Paul drove out the spirit of Python, who praised him, Acts xvi. 18.

Fifth, Because the demon in an unseasonable manner, and too speedily, disclosed that Christ was Messiah. For this might have injured Him, and turned the people away from Him. For so mighty a secret should be disclosed gradually, and the people be persuaded of its truth by many miracles; for otherwise they would not at first receive it and believe it. This was why (viii. 30) Christ forbids the Apostles also to say that He was Christ. So Maldonatus and others...

Monday, 5 May 2014

St Mark 1:1-13

You can listen to St Mark 1:1-13 read aloud in Latin here  and in Greek here.  The Latin here is from the New Advent site, which also has the Greek:

Initium Evangelii Jesu Christi, Filii Dei. 2 Sicut scriptum est in Isaia propheta: Ecce ego mitto angelum meum ante faciem tuam, qui præparabit viam tuam ante te. 3  Vox clamantis in deserto: Parate viam Domini, rectas facite semitas ejus. 4 Fuit Joannes in deserto baptizans, et prædicans baptismum pœnitentiæ in remissionem peccatorum. 5 Et egrediebatur ad eum omnis Judææ regio, et Jerosolymitæ universi, et baptizabantur ab illo in Jordanis flumine, confitentes peccata sua. 6 Et erat Joannes vestitus pilis cameli, et zona pellicea circa lumbos ejus, et locustas et mel silvestre edebat. 7 Et prædicabat dicens: Venit fortior post me, cujus non sum dignus procumbens solvere corrigiam calceamentorum ejus. 8 Ego baptizavi vos aqua, ille vero baptizabit vos Spiritu Sancto.9 Et factum est: in diebus illis venit Jesus a Nazareth Galilææ: et baptizatus est a Joanne in Jordane. 10 Et statim ascendens de aqua, vidit cælos apertos, et Spiritum tamquam columbam descendentem, et manentem in ipso. 11 Et vox facta est de cælis: Tu es Filius meus dilectus, in te complacui. 12 Et statim Spiritus expulit eum in desertum. 13 Et erat in deserto quadraginta diebus, et quadraginta noctibus: et tentabatur a Satana: eratque cum bestiis, et angeli ministrabant illi.

From the Douay-Rheims:

The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. [2] As it is written in Isaias the prophet: Behold I send my angel before thy face, who shall prepare the way before thee. [3] A voice of one crying in the desert: Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight his paths. [4] John was in the desert baptizing, and preaching the baptism of penance, unto remission of sins. [5] And there went out to him all the country of Judea, and all they of Jerusalem, and were baptized by him in the river of Jordan, confessing their sins.[6] And John was clothed with camel' s hair, and a leathern girdle about his loins; and he ate locusts and wild honey. [7] And he preached, saying: There cometh after me one mightier than I, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to stoop down and loose. [8] I have baptized you with water; but he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost. [9] And it came to pass, in those days, Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and was baptized by John in the Jordan. [10] And forthwith coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens opened, and the Spirit as a dove descending, and remaining on him.[11] And there came a voice from heaven: Thou art my beloved Son; in thee I am well pleased. [12] And immediately the Spirit drove him out into the desert. [13] And he was in the desert forty days and forty nights, and was tempted by Satan; and he was with beasts, and the angels ministered to him.

Commentary by Cornelius de Lapide

De Lapide first compares the opening of St Mark's Gospel to that of the other evangelists:

The beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, as it is written in Isaias, &c....The meaning, therefore, is, “The Gospel preaching of Christ had such a beginning as Isaiah and Malachi foretold, that is to say, the preaching of John the Baptist and his testimony concerning Christ.” For John began to preach the kingdom of heaven, that it would be opened by Christ’s preaching and death. Wherefore he urged them to repentance, that they might be capable of receiving the grace of Christ, saying, Repent ye, &c. For Moses and the ancient Law preached and promised a land flowing with milk and honey, if the Jews would obey God’s commandments. But Christ and the Evangelical Law preach and promise the kingdom of heaven, if men will repent of their sins, and obey the commands of Christ. John’s preaching of repentance, therefore, was the preparation for, and the beginning of, Christ’s preaching the Gospel.

Observe, Matthew and John commence their Gospels from Christ Himself—John from the divine, Matthew from the human generation of Christ. Mark and Luke begin with John the Baptist—Luke from his nativity, Mark from his preaching.

On the mission of St John, and the baptism of Our Lord:

For the angel sent by God to prepare the way of Christ was none other than John himself, crying, and preaching repentance, by which the hearts of men must be prepared for the preaching and grace of Christ...John was in the desert baptizing, and preaching the baptism of penance unto remission of sins. That this remission was to be received from Christ and His baptism, which was the perfection and consummation of John’s baptism. For Christ. as it were the King of Heaven, preached that the kingdom must be received by His grace, of which the first part is remission of sins, which is given by the baptism of Christ, inasmuch as it is furnished and, as it were, animated by the Spirit and grace of Christ, according to those words of John (in Matt. iii. 11), “I indeed baptize you in water unto penance, but He that shall come after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear; He shall baptize you in the Holy Ghost and fire.”

The temptation in the desert:

And immediately the Spirit drove (Gr. ε̉κβάλλει, i.e., sends out, expels) Him out into the desert. The Spirit, i.e., the Holy Spirit, who a little while before had glided down upon Him in His baptism in the form of a dove. Drove, that is, impelled Christ with great power of spirit and ardour, that He should, of His own accord, go into the desert, and there, as in a palæstra, match Himself in single combat with the devil...And He was with beasts (Gr. θηζίων, wild beasts). This is an intimation of the excessive solitude of the place, as well as of Christ’s innocency. Although He was in such a desert place, with lions, wolves, leopards, serpents, yet He did not fear them, nor was He injured by them. Just as Adam, so long as he was innocent, lived with such creatures without harm in Paradise. For they all looked up to him, and reverenced him as their lord.

And the angels ministered to Him. Not before His temptation and victory, as Bede supposes. For if so, Jesus would have been recognised by the devil as the Son of God; nor would the devil have dared to approach Him. But it was after the temptation and the victory, as is plain from Matt. iv. 11. And for this reason, that Jesus might show in His own person that consolation and comfort and the ministry of angels has been prepared by God for those who overcome temptations.

Sunday, 4 May 2014

The Gospel of St Mark

I'm planning to resume providing prompts for lectio divina this week, with a look at the Gospel of St Mark.

St Mark is actually my favourite of the Gospels, since it seems to provide the perspective of St Peter, and gives a strong picture of what it was like to be a disciple.  It also has the virtue of being the shortest of the Gospels, making it easier to memorize!


There are, unfortunately few major patristic commentaries on St Mark available online, and so I thought this might be a good opportunity to dip into the highly thought of seventeenth century commentary of Cornelius de Lapide as the primary aid for reading this Gospel.

Useful resources

For further reference, I've listed below some useful resources on St Mark available online.


New Advent (Septuagint, Vulgate, Knox translation)

Introductions and commentaries

de Lapide
Catena Aurea

Divine Lamp