Saturday, 26 July 2014

St Luke 6:27-38

St Luke's account of the sermon on the mount continues:

27 Sed vobis dico, qui auditis: diligite inimicos vestros, benefacite his qui oderunt vos. 28 Benedicite maledicentibus vobis, et orate pro calumniantibus vos. 29 Et qui te percutit in maxillam, præbe et alteram. Et ab eo qui aufert tibi vestimentum, etiam tunicam noli prohibere. 30 Omni autem petenti te, tribue: et qui aufert quæ tua sunt, ne repetas. 31 Et prout vultis ut faciant vobis homines, et vos facite illis similiter. 32 Et si diligitis eos qui vos diligunt, quæ vobis est gratia? nam et peccatores diligentes se diligunt. 33 Et si benefeceritis his qui vobis benefaciunt, quæ vobis est gratia? siquidem et peccatores hoc faciunt. 34 Et si mutuum dederitis his a quibus speratis recipere, quæ gratia est vobis? nam et peccatores peccatoribus fœnerantur, ut recipiant æqualia. 35 Verumtamen diligite inimicos vestros: benefacite, et mutuum date, nihil inde sperantes: et erit merces vestra multa, et eritis filii Altissimi, quia ipse benignus est super ingratos et malos.36 Estote ergo misericordes sicut et Pater vester misericors est. 37 Nolite judicare, et non judicabimini: nolite condemnare, et non condemnabimini. Dimitte, et dimittemini. 38 Date, et dabitur vobis: mensuram bonam, et confertam, et coagitatam, et supereffluentem dabunt in sinum vestrum. Eadem quippe mensura, qua mensi fueritis, remetietur vobis.39 Dicebat autem illis et similitudinem: Numquid potest cæcus cæcum ducere? nonne ambo in foveam cadunt?40 Non est discipulus super magistrum: perfectus autem omnis erit, si sit sicut magister ejus.41 Quid autem vides festucam in oculo fratris tui, trabem autem, quæ in oculo tuo est, non consideras? 42 aut quomodo potes dicere fratri tuo: Frater, sine ejiciam festucam de oculo tuo: ipse in oculo tuo trabem non videns? Hypocrita, ejice primum trabem de oculo tuo: et tunc perspicies ut educas festucam de oculo fratris tui.43 Non est enim arbor bona, quæ facit fructus malos: neque arbor mala, faciens fructum bonum. 44 Unaquæque enim arbor de fructu suo cognoscitur. Neque enim de spinis colligunt ficus: neque de rubo vindemiant uvam. 45 Bonus homo de bono thesauro cordis sui profert bonum: et malus homo de malo thesauro profert malum. Ex abundantia enim cordis os loquitur.46 Quid autem vocatis me Domine, Domine: et non facitis quæ dico? 47 Omnis qui venit ad me, et audit sermones meos, et facit eos, ostendam vobis cui similis sit: 48 similis est homini ædificanti domum, qui fodit in altum, et posuit fundamentum super petram: inundatione autem facta, illisum est flumen domui illi, et non potuit eam movere: fundata enim erat super petram. 49 Qui autem audit, et non facit, similis est homini ædificanti domum suam super terram sine fundamento: in quam illisus est fluvius, et continuo cecidit: et facta est ruina domus illius magna.

[27] But I say to you that hear: Love your enemies, do good to them that hate you. [28] Bless them that curse you, and pray for them that calumniate you. [29] And to him that striketh thee on the one cheek, offer also the other. And him that taketh away from thee thy cloak, forbid not to take thy coat also. [30] Give to every one that asketh thee, and of him that taketh away thy goods, ask them not again.[31] And as you would that men should do to you, do you also to them in like manner. [32] And if you love them that love you, what thanks are to you? for sinners also love those that love them. [33] And if you do good to them who do good to you, what thanks are to you? for sinners also do this. [34] And if you lend to them of whom you hope to receive, what thanks are to you? for sinners also lend to sinners, for to receive as much. [35] But love ye your enemies: do good, and lend, hoping for nothing thereby: and your reward shall be great, and you shall be the sons of the Highest; for he is kind to the unthankful, and to the evil.[36] Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful. [37] Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. Forgive, and you shall be forgiven. [38] Give, and it shall be given to you: good measure and pressed down and shaken together and running over shall they give into your bosom. For with the same measure that you shall mete withal, it shall be measured to you again. 

Commentary 

de Lapide:

Ver. 27.—But I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies. Christ, after solemnly warning those who live for pleasure alone, now addresses His own disciples. “I have denounced woe against the wicked, but to you who hear my words, and seek the salvation of your souls, I give as a first and chief commandment that you should love your enemies.” See S. Matt. v. 44.

Ver. 30.—Give to every man that asketh of thee. Not only if lie is in want of the necessaries of life, but if he needs counsel, advice, or aid of any kind, for thus ye will be showing mercy and pity both to the souls and bodies of your fellow men. See S. Matt. v. 42.  S. Luke here adds the words “to every man,” which S. Matt. omits, from which we are to understand that we are to give as far us we honestly and rightly can to every one that asketh, but not to one that asketh for anything or everything. For a man may ask us to give him money for a wrongful purpose, or even to commit actual sin. Hence we are only bound to give that which, as far as we know, will neither be hurtful to ourselves or to him that receiveth the gift: and in case we refuse to give, we must justify our refusal, so that he who asks may not go discontented away.

To every one therefore that asketh of thee, give not always that which he asks, but oftentimes that which is better—a denial if the request is one which we can show that it would be wrong to comply with. S. Augustine.

And of him that taketh away thy goods, ask them not again, neither by power of law or in any other way, as S. Augustine explains. Which is a command, in the case of one who, under pressure of want, has despoiled thee, but is otherwise a counsel. So we read, “Ye exact all your labours,” Isa. lviii. 3.
And again in the parable, the unmerciful servant, because he had no pity, was delivered to the tormentors until he should pay all the debt which had been forgiven him. S. Matt. xviii. So Spiridion, and many hermits of old, gave up to the owners the sheep which they had stolen.


Catena Aurea:

AMBROSE; The Lord added, that we must not readily judge others, lest when conscious of guilt yourself, you should be compelled to pass sentence upon another. 

CHRYS. Judge not your superior, that is, you a disciple must not judge your master; nor a sinner the innocent. You must not blame them, but advise and correct with love; neither must we pass judgment in doubtful and indifferent matters, which bear no resemblance to sin, or which are not serious or forbidden. 

CYRIL; He here expresses that worst inclination of our thoughts or hearts, which is the first beginning and origin of a proud disdain. For although it becomes men to look into themselves and walk after God, this they do not, but look into the things of others, and while they forget their own passions, behold the infirmities of some, and make them a subject of reproach. 

CHRYS. You will not easily find any one, whether a father of a family or an inhabitant of the cloister, free from this error. But these are the wiles of the tempter. For he who severely sifts the fault of others, will never obtain acquittal for his own. Hence it follows And you shall not be judged. For as the merciful and meek man dispels the rage of sinners, so the harsh and cruel adds to his own crimes. 

GREG. NYSS. Be not then rash to judge harshly of your servants, lest you suffer the like. For passing judgment calls down a heavier condemnation; as it follows, Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. For he does not forbid judgment with pardon. 

THEOPHYL; Now in a short sentence he concisely sums up all that he had enjoined with respect to our conduct towards our enemies, saying, Forgive, and you shall be forgiven, wherein he bids us forgive injuries, and show kindness, and our sins shall be forgiven us, and we shall receive eternal life. 

CYRIL; But that we shall receive more abundant recompense from God, who gives bountifully to those who love him, he explains as follows, Good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall they give into your bosom. 

THEOPHYL. As if he says, As when you wish to measure meal without sparing, you press it down, shake it together, and let it pour over abundantly; so the Lord will give a large and overflowing measure into your bosom. 

AUG. But he says, shall they give, because through the merits of those to whom they have given even a cup of cold water in the name of a disciple, shall they be thought worthy to receive a heavenly reward. It follows, For with the same measure that you mete withal it shall be measured to you again. 

BASIL; For according to the same measure with which each one of you metes, that is, in doing good works or sinning, will he receive reward or punishment. 

THEOPHYL. But some one will put the subtle question, "If the return is made over abundantly, how is it the same measure?" to which we answer, that He said not, "In just as great a measure shall it be measured to you again, but in the same measure." "For he who has shown mercy, shall have mercy shown to him, and this is measuring again with the same measure; but our Lord spoke of the measure running over, because to such a one He will show mercy a thousand times. So also in judging; for he that judges and afterwards is judged receives the same measure. But as far as he was judged the more severely that he judged one like to himself, was the measure running over. 

CYRIL; But the Apostle explains this when he says, He who sows sparingly, (that is, scantily, and with a niggardly hand,) shall also reap sparingly, (that is, not abundantly,) and he who sows blessings, shall reap also blessings, that is, bountifully. But if a man has not, and performs not, he is not guilty. For a man is accepted in that which he has, not in that which he has not.

Thursday, 24 July 2014

St Luke 6:1-26

St Luke 6 on the true nature of the law:

1 Factum est autem in sabbato secundo, primo, cum transiret per sata, vellebant discipuli ejus spicas, et manducabant confricantes manibus. 2 Quidam autem pharisæorum, dicebant illis: Quid facitis quod non licet in sabbatis? 3 Et respondens Jesus ad eos, dixit: Nec hoc legistis quod fecit David, cum esurisset ipse, et qui cum illo erant? 4 quomodo intravit in domum Dei, et panes propositionis sumpsit, et manducavit, et dedit his qui cum ipso erant: quos non licet manducare nisi tantum sacerdotibus? 5 Et dicebat illis: Quia dominus est Filius hominis etiam sabbati. 6 Factum est autem in alio sabbato, ut intraret in synagogam, et doceret. Et erat ibi homo, et manus ejus dextra erat arida. 7 Observabant autem scribæ et pharisæi si in sabbato curaret, ut invenirent unde accusarent eum. 8 Ipse vero sciebat cogitationes eorum: et ait homini qui habebat manum aridam: Surge, et sta in medium. Et surgens stetit. 9 Ait autem ad illos Jesus: Interrogo vos si licet sabbatis benefacere, an male: animam salvam facere, an perdere? 10 Et circumspectis omnibus dixit homini: Extende manum tuam. Et extendit: et restituta est manus ejus. 11 Ipsi autem repleti sunt insipientia, et colloquebantur ad invicem, quidnam facerent Jesu.12 Factum est autem in illis diebus, exiit in montem orare, et erat pernoctans in oratione Dei. 13 Et cum dies factus esset, vocavit discipulos suos: et elegit duodecim ex ipsis (quos et apostolos nominavit): 14 Simonem, quem cognominavit Petrum, et Andream fratrem ejus, Jacobum, et Joannem, Philippum, et Bartholomæum, 15 Matthæum, et Thomam, Jacobum Alphæi, et Simonem, qui vocatur Zelotes, 16 et Judam Jacobi, et Judam Iscariotem, qui fuit proditor. 17 Et descendens cum illis, stetit in loco campestri, et turba discipulorum ejus, et multitudo copiosa plebis ab omni Judæa, et Jerusalem, et maritima, et Tyri, et Sidonis, 18 qui venerant ut audirent eum, et sanarentur a languoribus suis. Et qui vexabantur a spiritibus immundis, curabantur. 19 Et omnis turba quærebat eum tangere: quia virtus de illo exibat, et sanabat omnes.20 Et ipse elevatis oculis in discipulis suis, dicebat: Beati pauperes, quia vestrum est regnum Dei. 21 Beati qui nunc esuritis, quia saturabimini. Beati qui nunc fletis, quia ridebitis. 22 Beati eritis cum vos oderint homines, et cum separaverint vos, et exprobraverint, et ejicerint nomen vestrum tamquam malum propter Filium hominis. 23 Gaudete in illa die, et exsultate: ecce enim merces vestra multa est in cælo: secundum hæc enim faciebant prophetis patres eorum. 24 Verumtamen væ vobis divitibus, quia habetis consolationem vestram. 25 Væ vobis, qui saturati estis: quia esurietis. Væ vobis, qui ridetis nunc: quia lugebitis et flebitis. 26 Væ cum benedixerint vobis homines: secundum hæc enim faciebant pseudoprophetis patres eorum.

And it came to pass on the second first sabbath, that as he went through the corn fields, his disciples plucked the ears, and did eat, rubbing them in their hands. [2] And some of the Pharisees said to them: Why do you that which is not lawful on the sabbath days? [3] And Jesus answering them, said: Have you not read so much as this, what David did, when himself was hungry, and they that were with him: [4] How he went into the house of God, and took and ate the bread of proposition, and gave to them that were with him, which is not lawful to eat but only for the priests? [5] And he said to them: The Son of man is Lord also of the sabbath.[6] And it came to pass also on another sabbath, that he entered into the synagogue, and taught. And there was a man, whose right hand was withered. [7] And the scribes and Pharisees watched if he would heal on the sabbath; that they might find an accusation against him. [8] But he knew their thoughts; and said to the man who had the withered hand: Arise, and stand forth in the midst. And rising he stood forth. [9] Then Jesus said to them: I ask you, if it be lawful on the sabbath days to do good, or to do evil; to save life, or to destroy? [10] And looking round about on them all, he said to the man: Stretch forth thy hand. And he stretched it forth: and his hand was restored. [11] And they were filled with madness; and they talked one with another, what they might do to Jesus. [12] And it came to pass in those days, that he went out into a mountain to pray, and he passed the whole night in the prayer of God. [13] And when day was come, he called unto him his disciples; and he chose twelve of them (whom also he named apostles). [14] Simon, whom he surnamed Peter, and Andrew his brother, James and John, Philip and Bartholomew, [15] Matthew and Thomas, James the son of Alpheus, and Simon who is called Zelotes, [16] And Jude, the brother of James, and Judas Iscariot, who was the traitor. [17] And coming down with them, he stood in a plain place, and the company of his disciples, and a very great multitude of people from all Judea and Jerusalem, and the sea coast both of Tyre and Sidon, [18] Who were come to hear him, and to be healed of their diseases. And they that were troubled with unclean spirits, were cured. [19] And all the multitude sought to touch him, for virtue went out from him, and healed all. [20] And he, lifting up his eyes on his disciples, said: Blessed are ye poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.[21] Blessed are ye that hunger now: for you shall be filled. Blessed are ye that weep now: for you shall laugh. [22] Blessed shall you be when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man' s sake. [23] Be glad in that day and rejoice; for behold, your reward is great in heaven. For according to these things did their fathers to the prophets. [24] But woe to you that are rich: for you have your consolation. [25] Woe to you that are filled: for you shall hunger. Woe to you that now laugh: for you shall mourn and weep.[26] Woe to you when men shall bless you: for according to these things did their fathers to the false prophets.

Commentary (de Lapide)

1....Figuratively, saysS. Ambrose, we may understand this Sabbath to mean the Gospel, which is second to the law in point of time, but first in dignity and importance.

He further adds, commenting on Ps. xlvii., the words “second Sabbath after the first” mean the Jewish Sabbath, for after the resurrection the Lord’s day took its place. From that time therefore it became second in dignity, yet at the same time it was rightly called first, because of its sanctity and the priority of its institution.

Figuratively, Christ taught and worked His chief miracles on the Sabbath not only to prefigure the spiritual Sabbath, when the mind, no longer taken up with evil lusts and passions, will be free to serve God alone, but because of the gathering together of the people, as they assemble now on the Lord’s-day.

There was also another reason, viz., to teach the Jews the true observance of the Sabbath, and that they might no longer be offended at the wonderful works which Christ wrought on that day, as were the Scribes, who accused Him of transgressing the law, and gave Him up to that death by means of which God effected the redemption of mankind. Bede...

Ver. 12.—He went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God—communing with God in prayer, asking the Father that He might choose for the ministry men fitted to be apostles, and would obtain for them an abundance of spiritual grace to enable them to fulfil the duties of their office; and also that He might teach us to pray in like manner.

So the Church at Ember-tide enjoins her children to fast and to pray that fitting persons may be chosen for the work of the ministry, and that those admitted to any holy function may be filled with grace and heavenly benediction; for as with the priest so with the people. When a chief pastor is zealous and God-fearing, he is a blessing and a strength to his diocese, but if he be an evil liver or slothful, he becomes a stumbling-block and offence to believers. In like manner, also, a good priest makes a good parish, but an evil one is for a destruction to his people.

Figuratively, Christ teaches us to pray in the night season that we may be the better able in silence and solitude to collect our thoughts and lift our hearts unto God; that we may be preserved from terror by night and from the pestilence that walketh in darkness, and also that by our prayers during the night we may obtain spiritual graces for the profit of our fellow-men during the ensuing day.

Hence Christ prayed by night and taught in the daytime. So did S. Paul, Acts xvi 25; and many other saints; 1 Tim. v. 5.

For the same reason David so often commends prayer during the night time:
“Ye that by night stand in the house of the Lord. Lift up your hands in the sanctuary,” Ps. cxxxiv. 1, 2. 
“At midnight I will rise to give thanks unto Thee,” Ps. cxix. 62.
“In the night I commune with mine own heart,” Ps. lxxvii. 6.
“My tears have been my meat day and night,” Ps. xlii. 3.
See also Commentary on Deut. vi. 7.

Ver. 20.—Blessed are ye poor . . . in spirit (See S. Matt. V. 3), for poorness of spirit is a rich and precious virtue. Therefore S. Ambrose rightly concludes that poverty, privations, and sorrow, which the world counts evil, not only are no hindrances, but on the contrary have been declared by Him who could neither deceive nor be deceived, to be of great assistance towards the attainment of a holy and a happy life.

The same writer goes on to give the reason why S. Luke has reduced the number of the beatitudes to four. He was content that they should include the four cardinal virtues. Justice, which, coveting not the possessions of others, rejoices in holy poverty; temperance, which had rather suffer want than be full; prudence, which chooses to sorrow here, in hope of the joy which shall be revealed; and Fortitude, which for sake of Christ and His Gospel, endures persecution and so triumphs over every enemy. Hence we read that the poor, the temperate, those who hunger and thirst after righteousness (S. Matthew), the just, those who weep, the prudent who despise earthly things and seek heavenly, those hated of their fellowmen, not because of any misdeeds but for the Gospel’s sake, who, steadfast in the faith, seek for future happiness by pleasing God rather than men—that these are indeed blessed.
Ver. 24.—But woe unto you that are rich, for ye have received your consolation. To the four beatitudes Christ, by antithesis, opposes as many states of misery and unhappiness.

The poor are blessed for all eternity, but the rich receive in this world their consolation; the hungry shall be satisfied with good things, but those that are full now shall be sent empty away. They who weep here shall hereafter rejoice, but for those who laugh now there is reserved a future of mourning; and those that are spoken well of by their fellow men, are laying up for themselves an eternity of woe.
For Ου̉̀αὶ, Latin væ, as S. Gregory points out (Hom. ix. on Ezekiel), oftentimes in Scripture denotes the wrath of God and everlasting punishment. Hence this word is here used by Christ partly as a lament over the future and eternal misery of the worldly, (S. Chrysostom, Hom. 44 ad pop.); partly as a prophecy of it (Titus); partly as threatening and decreeing such punishment against them (Tertullian, bk. iv. against Marcian).

You that are rich. As by poor we understand those poor in spirit who love poverty because thereby they are the better able to please God, so we may take the word rich to mean those who, greedy of gain, heap up riches by any means in their power, and look upon wealth as their sole happiness and the one object of their life. Hence mortal sin, robbery, extortion, unfair dealing, and other such like sins. Therefore the denunciation of Christ. But those who are rich by inheritance and honest labour, as long as they are not corrupted by their riches, but use them for the glory of God and the good of their fellow men, in reality are poor, as were the patriarchs, David, and many other of the saints of old.

For it is not the amount he possesses, but the use a man makes of his riches which is accounted sin. So “they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil.” See 1 Tim. vi. 9.
Ye have received your consolation. Ye set your heart on your riches, use them for your own evil gratification, and put them in the place of your God. Therefore ye are allowed the enjoyment of them in this life, but in the life which is to come ye will, as Christ has here declared, come short of everlasting happiness, for those who have in this world received their consolation will lose their eternal reward.
Hence S. Hieronymus (Epist. xxxiv.), when endeavouring to persuade Julian, a rich nobleman, to give up the world and devote himself to a holy and religious life, uses this powerful argument. “It is difficult, it not impossible,” he says, “to enjoy happiness in both worlds—to give ourselves up to our evil lusts and passions here, but to become spiritually minded after death—to pass from one state of happiness to the other—to acquire glory both in this world and in the next, . . . and to be distinguished equally in heaven and on earth. Hence Abraham returned none other answer to the rich man than this, ‘Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things, but now be is comforted and thou art tormented.’” See chapter xvi. 25.

So also Christ is said to have offered S. Catherine of Siena two crowns, one set with jewels, the other begirt with thorns, bidding her choose which she would wear in this life, which in the life to come. She chose the thorny crown, and, regardless of the anguish, pressed it firmly on her head...

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

St Luke 5:17-39

The second half of St Luke 5, which includes the calling of St Matthew (Levi):

17 Et factum est in una dierum, et ipse sedebat docens. Et erant pharisæi sedentes, et legis doctores, qui venerant ex omni castello Galilææ, et Judææ, et Jerusalem: et virtus Domini erat ad sanandum eos. 18 Et ecce viri portantes in lecto hominem, qui erat paralyticus: et quærebant eum inferre, et ponere ante eum. 19 Et non invenientes qua parte illum inferrent præ turba, ascenderunt supra tectum, et per tegulas summiserunt eum cum lecto in medium ante Jesum. 20 Quorum fidem ut vidit, dixit: Homo, remittuntur tibi peccata tua. 21 Et cœperunt cogitare scribæ et pharisæi, dicentes: Quis est hic, qui loquitur blasphemias? quis potest dimittere peccata, nisi solus Deus? 22 Ut cognovit autem Jesus cogitationes eorum, respondens, dixit ad illos: Quid cogitatis in cordibus vestris? 23 Quid est facilius dicere: Dimittuntur tibi peccata: an dicere: Surge, et ambula? 24 Ut autem sciatis quia Filius hominis habet potestatem in terra dimittendi peccata, (ait paralytico) tibi dico, surge, tolle lectum tuum, et vade in domum tuam. 25 Et confestim consurgens coram illis, tulit lectum in quo jacebat: et abiit in domum suam, magnificans Deum. 26 Et stupor apprehendit omnes, et magnificabant Deum. Et repleti sunt timore, dicentes: Quia vidimus mirabilia hodie.27 Et post hæc exiit, et vidit publicanum nomine Levi, sedentem ad telonium, et ait illi: Sequere me. 28 Et relictis omnibus, surgens secutus est eum. 29 Et fecit ei convivium magnum Levi in domo sua: et erat turba multa publicanorum, et aliorum qui cum illis erant discumbentes. 30 Et murmurabant pharisæi et scribæ eorum, dicentes ad discipulos ejus: Quare cum publicanis et peccatoribus manducatis et bibitis? 31 Et respondens Jesus, dixit ad illos: Non egent qui sani sunt medico, sed qui male habent. 32 Non veni vocare justos, sed peccatores ad pœnitentiam.33 At illi dixerunt ad eum: Quare discipuli Joannis jejunant frequenter, et obsecrationes faciunt, similiter et pharisæorum: tui autem edunt et bibunt? 34 Quibus ipse ait: Numquid potestis filios sponsi, dum cum illis est sponsus, facere jejunare? 35 Venient autem dies, cum ablatus fuerit ab illis sponsus: tunc jejunabunt in illis diebus. 36 Dicebat autem et similitudinem ad illos: Quia nemo commissuram a novo vestimento immittit in vestimentum vetus: alioquin et novum rumpit, et veteri non convenit commissura a novo. 37 Et nemo mittit vinum novum in utres veteres: alioquin rumpet vinum novum utres, et ipsum effundetur, et utres peribunt: 38 sed vinum novum in utres novos mittendum est, et utraque conservantur. 39 Et nemo bibens vetus, statim vult novum: dicit enim: Vetus melius est.

[17] And it came to pass on a certain day, as he sat teaching, that there were also Pharisees and doctors of the law sitting by, that were come out of every town of Galilee, and Judea and Jerusalem: and the power of the Lord was to heal them. [18] And behold, men brought in a bed a man, who had the palsy: and they sought means to bring him in, and to lay him before him. [19] And when they could not find by what way they might bring him in, because of the multitude, they went up upon the roof, and let him down through the tiles with his bed into the midst before Jesus. [20] Whose faith when he saw, he said: Man, thy sins are forgiven thee. [21] And the scribes and Pharisees began to think, saying: Who is this who speaketh blasphemies? Who can forgive sins, but God alone? [22] And when Jesus knew their thoughts, answering, he said to them: What is it you think in your hearts? [23] Which is easier to say, Thy sins are forgiven thee; or to say, Arise and walk? [24] 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,) I say to thee, Arise, take up thy bed, and go into thy house. [25] And immediately rising up before them, he took up the bed on which he lay; and he went away to his own house, glorifying God. [26] And all were astonished; and they glorified God. And they were filled with fear, saying: We have seen wonderful things today. [27] And after these things he went forth, and saw a publican named Levi, sitting at the receipt of custom, and he said to him: Follow me. [28] And leaving all things, he rose up and followed him. [29] And Levi made him a great feast in his own house; and there was a great company of publicans, and of others, that were at table with them. [30] But the Pharisees and scribes murmured, saying to his disciples: Why do you eat and drink with publicans and sinners? [31] And Jesus answering, said to them: They that are whole, need not the physician: but they that are sick. [32] I came not to call the just, but sinners to penance. [33] And they said to him: Why do the disciples of John fast often, and make prayers, and the disciples of the Pharisees in like manner; but thine eat and drink? [34] To whom he said: Can you make the children of the bridegroom fast, whilst the bridegroom is with them? [35] But the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken away from them, then shall they fast in those days. [36] And he spoke also a similitude to them: That no man putteth a piece from a new garment upon an old garment; otherwise he both rendeth the new, and the piece taken from the new agreeth not with the old. [37] And no man putteth new wine into old bottles: otherwise the new wine will break the bottles, and it will be spilled, and the bottles will be lost. [38] But new wine must be put into new bottles; and both are preserved. [39] And no man drinking old, hath presently a mind to new: for he saith, The old is better.

Commentary

de Lapide:
Ver. 32.—I came not to call the righteous but sinners to repentance i.e., to call them by means of repentance to grace and future glory. Hence as S. Ambrose acutely remarks, “If grace flows from repentance, he who thinks little of repentance forfeits grace.”

Catena Aurea:

CYRIL; The Scribes and Pharisees who had become spectators of Christ's miracles, heard Him also teaching. Hence it is said, And it came to pass on a certain day, as he was teaching, that there were Pharisees sitting by, &c. And the power of the Lord was present to heal them. Not as though He borrowed the power of another, but as God and the Lord He healed by His own inherent power. Now men often become worthy of spiritual gifts, but generally depart from the rule which the giver of the gifts knew. It was not so with Christ, for the divine power went on abounding in giving remedies. But because it was necessary where so great a number of Scribes and Pharisees had come together, that something should be done to attest His power before those men who slighted Him, He performed the miracle on the man with the palsy, who since medical art seemed to fail, was carried by his kinsfolk to a higher and heavenly Physician. 

As it follows, And behold men brought in a man that was stricken . . . 

CHRYS. But they are to be admired who brought in the paralytic, since on finding that they could not enter in at the door, they attempted a new and untried way. As it follows, And when they could not find by what way they might bring him in, they went upon the housetop, &c. But unroofing the house they let down the couch, and place the paralytic in the midst, as it follows, And they let him down through the tilings. Some one may say, that the place was let down, from which they lowered the couch of the palsied man through the tilings. 

THEOPHYL; The Lord about to cure the man of his palsy, first loosens the chains of his sins, that He may show him, that on account of the bonds of his sins, he is punished with the loosening of his joints, and that unless the former are set free, he cannot be healed to the recovery of his limbs. Hence it follows, And when he saw their faith, &c. 

AMBROSE; Mighty is the Lord who pardons one man for the good deed of another, and while he approves of the one, forgives the other his sins. Why, O man, with you does not your fellowman prevail, when with God a servant has both the liberty to intercede in your behalf, and the power of obtaining what he asks? If you despair of the pardon of heavy sins, bring the prayers of others, bring the Church to pray for you, and at sight of this the Lord may pardon what man denies to you.

CHRYS. But there was combined in this the faith also of the sufferer himself. For he would not have submitted to be let down, had he not believed.

AUG. But our Lord's saying, Man, your sins are forgiven, conveys the meaning that the man had his sins forgiven him, because in that he was man, he could not say, "I have not sinned," but at the same time also, that He who forgave sins might be known to be God. 

CHRYS. Now if we suffer bodily, we are enough concerned to get rid of the hurtful thing; but when there has harm happened to the soul, we delay, and so are neither cured of our bodily ailments. Let us then remove the fountain of evil, and the waters of sickness will cease to flow. But from fear of the multitude, the Pharisees durst not openly expose their designs, but only meditated them in their hearts. Hence it follows, And they began to reason, saying, Who is this which speaks blasphemies?

CYRIL; By this they hasten the sentence of death, for it was commanded in the law, that whoever blasphemed God should be punished with death. 

AMBROSE; From His very works therefore the Son of God receives testimony. For it is both more powerful evidence when men confess unwillingly, and a more fatal error when they who deny are left to the consequence of their own assertions. Hence it follows, Who can forgive sins, but God only? Great is the madness of an unbelieving people, who though they have confessed that it is of God alone to forgive sins, believe not God when He forgives sins. 

THEOPHYL; For they say true, that no one can forgive sins but God, who yet forgives through those to whom He gives the power of forgiving. And therefore Christ is proved to be truly God, for He is able to forgive sins as God. 

AMBROSE; The Lord wishing to save sinners shows Himself to be God, by His knowledge of the secret thoughts; as it follows, But that you may know. 

CYRIL; As if to say, O Pharisees' since you say, Who can forgive sins, but God alone? I answer you, Who can search the secrets of the heart, but God alone, Who says by His prophet, I am the Lord. that searchs the hearts, and tries the reins. 

CHRYS. If then you disbelieve the first, (i. e. the forgiveness of sins,) behold, I add another, seeing that I lay open your inmost thoughts. Again, another that I make whole the body of the palsied man. Hence He adds, Whether is it easier? It is very plain that it is easier to restore the body to health. For as the soul is far nobler than the body, so is the forgiveness of sins more excellent than the healing of the body. But since you believe not the former, because it is hid; I will add that which is inferior, yet more open, in order that thereby that which is secret may be made manifest. And indeed in addressing the sick man, He said not, I forgive you your sins, expressing His own power, but, Your sins are forgiven you. 

But they compelled Him to declare more plainly His own power to them, when He said, But that you may know. 

THEOPHYL. Observe that on earth He forgives sins. For while we are on earth we can blot out our sins. But after that we are taken away from the earth, we shall not be able to confess, for the gate is shut. 

CHRYS. He show the pardon of sins by the healing of the body. Hence it follows, He says to the sick of the palsy, I say to you, Rise. But He manifests the healing of the body by the carrying of the bed, that so that which took place might be accounted no shadow. Hence it follows, Take up your bed. As if He said, "I was willing through your suffering to cure those who think that they are in health, while their souls are sick, but since they are unwilling, go and correct your household." 

AMBROSE; Nor is there any delay, health is present; there is but one moment both of words, and healing. Hence it follows, And immediately he rose. From this fact it is evident, that the Son of man has power on earth to forgive sins; He said this both for Himself and us. For He as God made man, as the Lord of the law, forgives sins, we also have been chosen to receive from Him the same marvelous grace. For it was said to the disciples, Whose sins your remit, they are remitted to them. But how does He not Himself forgive sins, Who has given to others the power of doing so? But the kings and princes of the earth when they acquit homicides, release them from their present punishment, but cannot expiate their crimes....

AMBROSE; They behold him rising up, still disbelieving, and marvel at his departing; as it follows, And they were all amazed. 

CHRYS. The Jews creep on by degrees, glorifying God, yet thinking Him not God, for His flesh stood in their way. But still it was no slight thing to consider Him the chief of mortal men, and to have proceeded from God. 

AMBROSE; But they had rather fear the miracles of divine working, than believe them. As it follows, And they were filled with fear. But if they had believed they had not surely feared, but loved; for perfect love casts out fear But this was no careless or trifling cure of the paralytic, since our Lord is said to have prayed first, not for the petition's sake, but for an example. 

AUG. With respect to the sick of the palsy, we may understand that the soul relaxed in its limbs i.e. its operations, seeks Christ, i.e. the meaning of God's word, but is hindered by the crowds, that is to say, unless it discovers the secrets of the thoughts, i.e. the dark parts of the Scriptures, and thereby arrives at the knowledge of Christ 

THEOPHYL; And the house where Jesus was is well described as covered with tiles, since beneath the beggarly covering of letters is found the spiritual power of grace. 

AMBROSE; Now let every sick person have those that will pray for his salvation, by whom the loosened joints of our life and halting steps may be renewed by the remedy of the heavenly word. Let there be then certain monitors of the soul, to raise the mind of man, though grown dull through the weakness of the external body, to higher things, by the aid of which being able again easily to raise and humble itself, it may be placed before Jesus worthy to be presented in the Lord's sight. For the Lord beholds the humble. 

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

St Luke 5:1-16

St Luke 5:

Factum est autem, cum turbæ irruerunt in eum ut audirent verbum Dei, et ipse stabat secus stagnum Genesareth. 2 Et vidit duas naves stantes secus stagnum: piscatores autem descenderant, et lavabant retia. 3 Ascendens autem in unam navim, quæ erat Simonis, rogavit eum a terra reducere pusillum. Et sedens docebat de navicula turbas. 4 Ut cessavit autem loqui, dixit ad Simonem: Duc in altum, et laxate retia vestra in capturam. 5 Et respondens Simon, dixit illi: Præceptor, per totam noctem laborantes nihil cepimus: in verbo autem tuo laxabo rete. 6 Et cum hoc fecissent, concluserunt piscium multitudinem copiosam: rumpebatur autem rete eorum. 7 Et annuerunt sociis, qui erant in alia navi, ut venirent, et adjuvarent eos. Et venerunt, et impleverunt ambas naviculas, ita ut pene mergerentur. 8 Quod cum videret Simon Petrus, procidit ad genua Jesu, dicens: Exi a me, quia homo peccator sum, Domine. 9 Stupor enim circumdederat eum, et omnes qui cum illo erant, in captura piscium, quam ceperant: 10 similiter autem Jacobum et Joannem, filios Zebedæi, qui erant socii Simonis. Et ait ad Simonem Jesus: Noli timere: ex hoc jam homines eris capiens. 11 Et subductis ad terram navibus, relictis omnibus, secuti sunt eum.12 Et factum est, cum esset in una civitatum, et ecce vir plenus lepra, et videns Jesum, et procidens in faciem, rogavit eum, dicens: Domine, si vis, potes me mundare. 13 Et extendens manum, tetigit eum dicens: Volo: mundare. Et confestim lepra discessit ab illo. 14 Et ipse præcepit illi ut nemini diceret: sed, Vade, ostende te sacerdoti, et offer pro emundatione tua, sicut præcepit Moyses, in testimonium illis. 15 Perambulabat autem magis sermo de illo: et conveniebant turbæ multæ ut audirent, et curarentur ab infirmitatibus suis. 16 Ipse autem secedebat in desertum, et orabat.

And it came to pass, that when the multitudes pressed upon him to hear the word of God, he stood by the lake of Genesareth,[2] And saw two ships standing by the lake: but the fishermen were gone out of them, and were washing their nets. [3] And going into one of the ships that was Simon' s, he desired him to draw back a little from the land. And sitting he taught the multitudes out of the ship. [4] Now when he had ceased to speak, he said to Simon: Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught. [5] And Simon answering said to him: Master, we have labored all the night, and have taken nothing: but at thy word I will let down the net. [6] And when they had done this, they enclosed a very great multitude of fishes, and their net broke. [7] And they beckoned to their partners that were in the other ship, that they should come and help them. And they came, and filled both the ships, so that they were almost sinking. [8] Which when Simon Peter saw, he fell down at Jesus' knees, saying: Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord. [9] For he was wholly astonished, and all that were with him, at the draught of the fishes which they had taken. [10] And so were also James and John the sons of Zebedee, who were Simon' s partners. And Jesus saith to Simon: Fear not: from henceforth thou shalt catch men. [11] And having brought their ships to land, leaving all things, they followed him. [12] And it came to pass, when he was in a certain city, behold a man full of leprosy, who seeing Jesus, and falling on his face, besought him, saying: Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean. [13] And stretching forth his hand, he touched him, saying: I will. Be thou cleansed. And immediately the leprosy departed from him. [14] And he charged him that he should tell no man, but, Go, shew thyself to the priest, and offer for thy cleansing according as Moses commanded, for a testimony to them. [15] But the fame of him went abroad the more, and great multitudes came together to hear, and to be healed by him of their infirmities. [16] And he retired into the desert, and prayed.

Commentary (de Lapide)

Ver. 6.—They inclosed a great multitude of fishes—for Peter had said, “At Thy word I will let down the net.” “Behold here the fruit and reward of obedience. Jesus did this—1. In order that by providing them with food, He might prepare them for their vocation and ministry. I have chosen you to be My disciples, make not excuse that ye must work for your livelihood as fishermen. Behold this miraculous draft of fishes, and believe that I am able to provide you with all things necessary for life more easily and more abundantly than ye are able to provide them yourselves. 2. To teach from this miracle, that they were soon to become successful fishers of men.

Ver. 7.—And they beckoned unto their partners—because from joy and wondering astonishment they were unable to speak.

Ver. 10.—Fear not (be not lost in astonishment, from henceforth you are to be fishermen in a higher sense of the word), from henceforth thou shalt catch men. ζωγζω̃ν from ζωγζέω, which means—
First, to hunt or catch some living thing, hence the Arabic translates it, from henceforth thou shalt be a fisherman, for thou shalt fish for and take men. Thou, Peter, shalt catch men, not by wounding and disabling them, as wild animals are taken; but as fish which are unhurt by the net, so thou shalt catch men not by violence or force, but through the power and operation of the spirit.

Secondly (if we derive the word from ζω̃ν and ε̉γζομαι or ε̉γείζω, to quicken, or recall to life. Hence S. Ambrose (Hexam., lib. v. cap. vi.) “Thou shalt be a life-giver to men;” and the Syriac, “Thou shalt be a fisher of men, to recall them to life.” Fishermen, indeed, catch fish to provide themselves with food, but thou, 0 Peter, art to become a fisher of men, not to destroy them, but to give them life by raising them from the death of sin unto the life of righteousness, for like as fish taken from the water die, so men caught by thee become dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God, and, in a sense, as fish are assimilated by those who feed on them, so do those who are inclosed in the Gospel net, become in very truth members of Christ. Figuratively, the ship of Peter is the Church, the head of which is Peter and his successors. The Pope is therefore the chief fisherman to whom the words of Christ apply, “Thou shalt catch men.” It is the duty, therefore, of the Roman Pontiff directly and by means of others to convert the heathen, as the early occupants of the see of Rome converted the Roman people and sent apostolic men to preach the word of life to heathen lands.

Thus S. Gregory sent Augustine to convert the English people.

S. Ambrose observes, that some men, e.g., the martyrs, like fish, are taken by the hook; others, i.e., the body of the faithful, by the net, and adds, “Nets are the means whereby the Apostles catch men, for nets do not destroy but preserve what they take, and bring to the surface that which is floating below.”
Nets are called in Latin “retia,” because they are retentive “retinentia,” of that which they have taken.—Gloss.

Monday, 21 July 2014

St Luke 4: 22-44

The second of Chapter 4 of St Luke takes in the reaction to Jesus' claim to be the Messiah, including the first attempt to murder him for claiming to be God, and early miracles:

22 Et omnes testimonium illi dabant: et mirabantur in verbis gratiæ, quæ procedebant de ore ipsius, et dicebant: Nonne hic est filius Joseph? 23 Et ait illis: Utique dicetis mihi hanc similitudinem: Medice cura teipsum: quanta audivimus facta in Capharnaum, fac et hic in patria tua. 24 Ait autem: Amen dico vobis, quia nemo propheta acceptus est in patria sua. 25 In veritate dico vobis, multæ viduæ erant in diebus Eliæ in Israël, quando clausum est cælum annis tribus et mensibus sex, cum facta esset fames magna in omni terra: 26 et ad nullam illarum missus est Elias, nisi in Sarepta Sidoniæ, ad mulierem viduam. 27 Et multi leprosi erant in Israël sub Eliseo propheta: et nemo eorum mundatus est nisi Naaman Syrus. 28 Et repleti sunt omnes in synagoga ira, hæc audientes. 29 Et surrexerunt, et ejecerunt illum extra civitatem: et duxerunt illum usque ad supercilium montis, super quem civitas illorum erat ædificata, ut præcipitarent eum. 30 Ipse autem transiens per medium illorum, ibat.31 Et descendit in Capharnaum civitatem Galilææ, ibique docebat illos sabbatis. 32 Et stupebant in doctrina ejus, quia in potestate erat sermo ipsius. 33 Et in synagoga erat homo habens dæmonium immundum, et exclamavit voce magna, 34 dicens: Sine, quid nobis et tibi, Jesu Nazarene? venisti perdere nos? scio te quis sis, Sanctus Dei. 35 Et increpavit illum Jesus, dicens: Obmutesce, et exi ab eo. Et cum projecisset illum dæmonium in medium, exiit ab illo, nihilque illum nocuit. 36 Et factus est pavor in omnibus, et colloquebantur ad invicem, dicentes: Quod est hoc verbum, quia in potestate et virtute imperat immundis spiritibus, et exeunt? 37 Et divulgabatur fama de illo in omnem locum regionis.8 Surgens autem Jesus de synagoga, introivit in domum Simonis. Socrus autem Simonis tenebatur magnis febribus: et rogaverunt illum pro ea. 39 Et stans super illam imperavit febri: et dimisit illam. Et continuo surgens, ministrabat illis. 40 Cum autem sol occidisset, omnes qui habebant infirmos variis languoribus, ducebant illos ad eum. At ille singulis manus imponens, curabat eos. 41 Exibant autem dæmonia a multis clamantia, et dicentia: Quia tu es Filius Dei: et increpans non sinebat ea loqui: quia sciebant ipsum esse Christum. 42 Facta autem die egressus ibat in desertum locum, et turbæ requirebant eum, et venerunt usque ad ipsum: et detinebant illum ne discederet ab eis. 43 Quibus ille ait: Quia et aliis civitatibus oportet me evangelizare regnum Dei: quia ideo missus sum. 44 Et erat prædicans in synagogis Galilææ.

[22] And all gave testimony to him: and they wondered at the words of grace that proceeded from his mouth, and they said: Is not this the son of Joseph? [23] And he said to them: Doubtless you will say to me this similitude: Physician, heal thyself: as great things as we have heard done in Capharnaum, do also here in thy own country. [24] And he said: Amen I say to you, that no prophet is accepted in his own country. [25] In truth I say to you, there were many widows in the days of Elias in Israel, when heaven was shut up three years and six months, when there was a great famine throughout all the earth.
[26] And to none of them was Elias sent, but to Sarepta of Sidon, to a widow woman. [27] And there were many lepers in Israel in the time of Eliseus the prophet: and none of them was cleansed but Naaman the Syrian. [28] And all they in the synagogue, hearing these things, were filled with anger. [29] And they rose up and thrust him out of the city; and they brought him to the brow of the hill, whereon their city was built, that they might cast him down headlong. [30] But he passing through the midst of them, went his way.[31] And he went down into Capharnaum, a city of Galilee, and there he taught them on the sabbath days. [32] And they were astonished at his doctrine: for his speech was with power. [33] And in the synagogue there was a man who had an unclean devil, and he cried out with a loud voice, [34] Saying: Let us alone, what have we to do with thee, Jesus of Nazareth? art thou come to destroy us? I know thee who thou art, the holy one of God. [35] And Jesus rebuked him, saying: Hold thy peace, and go out of him. And when the devil had thrown him into the midst, he went out of him, and hurt him not at all.[36] And there came fear upon all, and they talked among themselves, saying: What word is this, for with authority and power he commandeth the unclean spirits, and they go out? [37] And the fame of him was published into every place of the country. [38] And Jesus rising up out of the synagogue, went into Simon' s house. And Simon' s wife' s mother was taken with a great fever, and they besought him for her. [39] And standing over her, he commanded the fever, and it left her. And immediately rising, she ministered to them. [40] And when the sun was down, all they that had any sick with divers diseases, brought them to him. But he laying his hands on every one of them, healed them.
[41] And devils went out from many, crying out and saying: Thou art the Son of God. And rebuking them he suffered them not to speak, for they knew that he was Christ. [42] And when it was day, going out he went into a desert place, and the multitudes sought him, and came unto him: and they stayed him that he should not depart from them. [43] To whom he said: To other cities also I must preach the kingdom of God: for therefore am I sent. [44] And he was preaching in the synagogues of Galilee.

Commentary (de Lapide)

Ver. 22.—And all bare Him witness, and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of His mouth. And they said, Is not this Joseph’s son? “Words of grace,” he calls them (1) gracious, beautiful, suave, and pleasant; (2) full of grace and the Holy Spirit; (3) efficacious to move and persuade; (4) full of wisdom and eloquence, so as to convince those that heard them. For Christ spoke with a tongue that was more than human. “He was teaching them as one having power, and not as the Scribes,” Matt. vii. 29.

Bore Him testimony—that He spoke well, not that He was the Messiah. Hence they call Him “the son of Joseph;” and, a little after, when they were rebuked by Him, they despised Him and wished to cast Him down headlong. So, nowadays, many people praise a preacher so long as he says to them what is pleasing and elegant, but when he attacks their vices they abuse and persecute him. Such is the way of the fickle multitude, who love themselves and their own desires. However, Bede takes this as meaning that they bore witness that He was the Messiah of whom Isaiah had prophesied these things; and he adds:—“How great their blindness, when, only on account of their knowledge of His origin, and because they had seen Him nourished, and that He had developed, through the stages of life among themselves, they set Him at nought whom, by his words and works, they knew to be Christ.”

Ver. 23.—And He said unto them. ye will surely say unto Me this proverb (in the Greek παζαβολὴν—parable, proverb, or adage, in common use), Physician, heal thyself—thatis, cure Thine own people and Thine own country, which should be as dear to Thee as Thyself; cure Thy fellow Nazarenes as Thou hast cured or art said to have cured the Capernaites. Thus it was that Christ presently explains it, He, by His Divine Spirit, seeing the hidden thoughts of the Nazarenes, and that they were wishing in their hearts for that which He now said. Anticipating their secret thought, He meets and answers it. “It was common among the Jews,” says Titus, “to taunt physicians who had caught any disease with this impudent and ironical saying, Physician, heal thyself.” For the common sense of mankind holds, and reason favours the opinion, that he who cannot cure himself, or neglects to do so, cannot cure others or should not attempt it. In point of fact, however, experience not seldom shows that the physician who cures others is unable to effect his own cure, but hands himself over to other physicians to be treated, because appetite often blinds the reason, and diseases obscure one’s scientific knowledge. Hence we judge better and more safely about the diseases of others than about our own. Self-love often perverts our judgment, so that Solomon warns us with the words, “Lean not unto thine own understanding,” Prov. iii. 5.

Tropologically, S. Anthony thus expounded the saying “Physician, heal thyself;” He that will cure the faults of others let him first cure his own. For they that will help others before they cure themselves shall relapse into their own faults. Indeed experience teaches us that they who remedy any fault in themselves easily cure it in others.

Whatsoever we have heard done in Capernaum, do also here in Thy country. Hence it is, plain that these events took place in Nazareth after Jesus had preached and worked many miracles in the city of Capernaum, as has been said at v. 16, and S. Augustine (De Consensu, bk. ii. cap. 42) observes. The Gloss interprets, “We do not believe what a vague rumour has published, seeing that among us, on whom favours of the kind would have been more fittingly conferred, Thou hast done no such work.” Here in Nazareth, Thy fatherland which conceived Thee, nourished Thee, and brought Thee unto manhood, Thou hast brethren, sisters, kinsfolk, and neighbours, some rich, others poor, some sick, others suffering in other respects. Why then dost Thou not miraculously succour these Thine own people, to whom Thou art bound by blood, by love of home, and by natural affection?

Ver. 24.—And He said, Verily I say unto you, No prophet is accepted in his own country. Ye, 0 Nazarenes, despise Me as your fellow-townsman, and the son of a carpenter; wherefore you are unworthy that I should confer benefits upon you., Therefore (says the Interlinear), I work not among you, not because I hate my own country, but because you are incredulous.  S. Cyril adds that a citizen, being always near to his fellow-citizens, is deprived of the reverence which is his due at the hands of those who know him.

Thirdly, S. Chrysostom says, “Christ had abstained from miracles among the Nazarenes that He might not provoke them to envy.” For, as S. Ambrose says, God is a despiser of the envious; and the Gloss remarks that it is almost natural for fellow-citizens to envy one another; nor do they take account of merit, but call to mind a man’s frail childhood.

Chrysologus (Serm. 48, at the end,) remarks, “To be powerful is, among one’s own people, a biting and a burning; to be eminent among one’s fellow-citizens and neighbours burns up one’s neighbours’ glory; and if neighbours owe honour to a neighbour they count it slavery.” There is an amusing apologue of a parrot, which touches this subject. A parrot, brought from the East to the West, where birds of this kind are not common, wondered that he was held in greater esteem and honour than he had been accustomed to in his own country. He occupied an ivory cage plaited with silver wire, and fed on the daintiest viands, such as did not fall to the share of the others, which were only western birds, but inferior to himself neither in beauty nor in the power of imitating the human voice. Then says a turtle-dove, shut up in the same cage with him, “There is nothing wonderful in this, for no one receives in his own country the honour which is his due.”

Tropologically, Christ here teaches the faithful, particularly men devoted to the Apostolic calling, that they ought to curb or to divert themselves of all excessive affection for their own country and kinsfolk, that they may be useful to all men—

 “The fishes’ native country is the boundless sea;
 Let the wide earth the brave man’s country be.” 

S. Gregory Nazianzen (Orat. xviii.) says very well, “For great and noble men there is one country—that Jerusalem which is perceived by the mind, not those countries which we see here, now inhabited by one race of men, now by another.” And again (Orat. xxv.) “These earthly fatherlands, these differences of race, are the scenes, the illusions, of this our short fleeting life. For whatsoever country each one has previously got possession of, whether by injustice or by misfortune, that is called his country, while we are all alike strangers and sojourners, however much we may play upon the meaning of words.” Such was S. Basil, of whom S. Gregory of Nyssa, in his life, writes, “Basil the Great was free from the fear of exile, because he held that the only fatherland of men was Paradise, and regarded all the earth as nature’s common place of exile.”

Vers. 25 and 26.—But I tell you of a truth, many widows were in Israel in the days of Elias, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, when great famine was throughout all the land; But unto none of them was Elias sent, save unto Sarepta, a city of Sidon, unto a woman that was a widow. Three years and six months—This does not appear in the Old Testatment, but Jesus, as God, knew it, and revealed it to S. James, Ep. v. x7, for as to what is said in 1 Kings xviii. 1, “The word of the Lord came to Elias, in the third year, saying, Go and show thyself to Ahab that I may give rain upon the face of the earth.” This third year is not to be taken from the beginning of the drought, but as from the sojourn of Elias in Sarepta.

In all the land—Israel and the neighbouring region, such as Sidon, and Sarepta, where this widow was.
The sense is that, as Elias, in the time of the famine, procured food for no Israelite, but only for the widow of Sarepta, a Sidonian, a Gentile, and a foreigner, because, valuing the prophet very highly, and believing him that God would provide for her hunger according to his word, she gave him the little oil and meal which she had, postponing her own and her children’s wants to his; so Christ, in like manner, puts the Capernaites before the Nazarenes, His own fellow-citizens, because the former hear Him as a Teacher sent from Heaven, honour Him and pay Him respect, but the latter despise Him as a carpenter, and their own fellow-townsman; and so He imparts to the former the spiritual bread of heavenly doctrine and miracles, but leaves the latter in their spiritual want. For Elias was the type and precursor of Christ, and the widow of Sarepta the type and first-fruits of the Gentiles whom Christ preferred before the Jews, His fellow-countrymen. Bede says that “Sidon” in Hebrew signifies “useless hunting;” “Sarepta,” “conflagration” or “neediness”—namely, of bread; that is, the Gentile world given up to the pursuit of worldly things, and suffering from the conflagration of their carnal passions and the want of spiritual bread. Elias is the prophetic, word, which, being received, feeds the hearts of them that believe.

Ver. 27.—And many lepers were in Israel in the time of Eliseus the prophet; and none of them was cleansed saving Naaman the Syrian, a foreigner and a Gentile. As Elisha, following his master Elias, did not prophecy to the Jews, his own people, but to foreigners, and did not therefore heal the lepers that were in Judæa, but Naaman the Gentile, by reason of his faith and their incredulity; so I preach and work miracles among these Capernaite strangers, on account of their faith, reverence, and good-will towards Me, but I leave you Nazarenes alone for your infidelity, your irreverence, and your contempt of Me. For Elisha, like Elias, was a type and forerunner of Christ; and Naaman the Gentile, a type of the Gentiles to whom Christ, leaving the Jews, would, by the apostles, transfer His faith, His church, and His grace. So Bede, Titus, Theophylact, Euthymius, Jansenius, Toletus, and others.

Ver. 28.—And all they in the synagogue, when they heard these things, were filled with wrath—because they knew that they were touched by these two examples of the widow and Naaman, as being incredulous, and that a slur was cast upon them as being unworthy of the miracles of Jesus; and again because they were indignant that Jesus, their fellow-townsman and equal, should compare Himself with, and place Himself before, Elias and Elisha, nay, make Himself out the Messiah, from the prophecy of Isaiah; and, lastly, because Christ hinted that He would transfer His gifts from the Jews to the Gentiles. So S. Thomas, Toletus, Francis Lucas, and others.

Ver. 29.—And rose up and thrust him out of the city, and led him unto the brow of the hill, whereon their city was built, that they might cast him down headlong—“led him”—dragged Him, as it seemed to them, by violence, but, in reality, Christ of His own accord allowed Himself to be led and dragged.
That they might cast him down headlong—from the top of the hill to the bottom, and so kill Him, as one who had defamed his own native place, and inflicted injury and insult upon it; and therefore they brought Him forth outside of the city, as being unworthy of it, that they might cast Him from the top of the mountain, dash Him down upon the rocks, and break His whole body to pieces. This was a grievous piece of violence on the part of the Nazarenes against Christ, their fellow-citizen, and thus, as Euthymius observes, they confirmed in act, what He had spoken in words, namely, that a prophet is not held in honour in his own country, but dishonoured, nay, slain; and that therefore the Nazarenes were unworthy of the preaching and miracles of Christ.

S. Bonaventure, Toletus, and others add, that they took Christ out of the city to the top of the hill that they might slay Him as a blasphemer, because He had made Himself the Messiah. For though, by the law, the blasphemer was to be stoned, still they wished to cast Christ headlong upon the rocks and stones, because this is the same as if they had stoned Him. Whether the stones are cast at the man, or the man hurled headlong upon the stones, is all one; indeed, the latter is more cruel and terrible. So it was that they cast S. Stephen out of Jerusalem as a blasphemer, and stoned him; and S. James, the first Bishop of Jerusalem, was hurled down from a pinnacle of the Temple as a blasphemer, because He taught that Christ was the Messiah.

S. Ambrose points out that these men were worse than the devil, who did but set Christ upon a pinnacle of the Temple, and say to Him, “Cast thyself down,” while these did their best to hurl Him down by force. “The heritage of the disciples,” he says, “is worse than that of the master - he tempts the Lord by word, they attempt His life by their act—he says, ‘Cast thyself down,’ they do Him violence in order to cast Him down.”

Ver. 30.—But He passing through the midst of them went His way. Maldonatus thinks that Christ here made Himself invisible, S. Ambrose and Bede that He changed their wills, so that they consented to let Him go. Others hold the better opinion that Christ turned away their imagination or their eyes, or suspended their consciousness and held their hands and feet, so that, like men bereft of their senses, though they saw Him they could not or dared not lay hold of Him. Wherefore Christ here manifested His Godhead. S. Ambrose says, “Behold! the minds of these furious men, being suddenly changed, or stupefied, He goes down through the midst of them.” And he adds the reason, “For when He wills He is taken; when He wills He slips away; when He wills He is slain; because His hour had not yet come,” John vii. 30. For as yet he must preach, and at last be crucified at Jerusalem by the Father’s decree, but not cast down headlong in Nazareth. So Bede, S. Chrysostom, Euthymius, and others. Brocardus, in his “Description of the Holy Land,” gives the tradition that Christ glided away from out of the hands of the Jews, and suddenly appeared on the opposite side of the mountain, and that therefore the place is called “the Leap of the Lord.”  N. de Lyra adds that the rock on which Christ stood yielded, and received like wax the impress of His feet, just as, when ascending into heaven from Mount Olivet, He left the marks of His feet there. This is what Adrichomius says, in his “Description of the Holy Land,” on the word “the Leap of the Lord:” “The tradition is that Christ fled to a high mountain, which is called from that circumstance ‘the Leap of the Lord,’ and that, at the touch of His garment, the rock flowed, and being melted and loosened like wax, made a kind of hollow for the Lord’s body to be received in and protected, a hollow of a capacity equal to the quantity of the Lord’s body. And in this, even at the present day, the lineaments and folds of the garment on the Lord’s back, and the marks of His feet are preserved, marked out as though by the hand of a sculptor.” This, however, lacks confirmation.

On verse 32 see what I have said on Matthew xiii. 5, viii. 14; on verse 33 see Mark i. 23.

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Sixth Sunday after Pentecost

This Sunday's Gospel is St Mark 8:1-9:

In diebus illis iterum cum turba multa esset, nec haberent quod manducarent, convocatis discipulis, ait illis: 2 Misereor super turbam: quia ecce jam triduo sustinent me, nec habent quod manducent: 3 et si dimisero eos jejunos in domum suam, deficient in via: quidam enim ex eis de longe venerunt. 4 Et responderunt ei discipuli sui: Unde illos quis poterit saturare panibus in solitudine? 5 Et interrogavit eos: Quot panes habetis? Qui dixerunt: Septem. 6 Et præcepit turbæ discumbere super terram. Et accipiens septem panes, gratias agens fregit, et dabat discipulis suis ut apponerent, et apposuerunt turbæ. 7 Et habebant pisciculos paucos: et ipsos benedixit, et jussit apponi. 8 Et manducaverunt, et saturati sunt, et sustulerunt quod superaverat de fragmentis, septem sportas. 9 Erant autem qui manducaverunt, quasi quatuor millia: et dimisit eos.

In those days again, when there was a great multitude, and had nothing to eat; calling his disciples together, he saith to them: [2] I have compassion on the multitude, for behold they have now been with me three days, and have nothing to eat. [3] And if I shall send them away fasting to their home, they will faint in the way; for some of them came from afar off. [4] And his disciples answered him: From whence can any one fill them here with bread in the wilderness? [5] And he asked them: How many loaves have ye? Who said: Seven.[6] And taking the seven loaves, giving thanks, he broke, and gave to his disciples for to set before them; and they set them before the people. [7] And they had a few little fishes; and he blessed them, and commanded them to be set before them. [8] And they did eat and were filled; and they took up that which was left of the fragments, seven baskets. [9] And they that had eaten were about four thousand; and he sent them away.

Matins readings (from St Ambrose):

Reading 9: After that woman, who is a type of the Church, was healed of the issue of blood; the Lord had sent His disciples to preach the kingdom of God. His heavenly tenderness gave food. But consider who they were unto whom He gave it. He gave it not to such as dwell at ease, not to men in cities, not to such as sit in places of worldly splendour, but to men seeking Christ in a desert place. 

Reading 10: Such as are not given to niceness are they whom Christ receiveth, and unto whom the Word of God speaketh, not of earthly things, but of the kingdom of God. And if any bear in them the running sores of fleshly passion, He healeth them. And then it came to pass that, as He had healed them that had need of healing, He fed their hunger with ghostly meat. 

Reading 11: Thus it is that no man taketh Christ's meat, unless he be first healed, and they, that are bidden to the supper, are first cured by the invitation. The lame receive the power to walk, that they may be able to come; the blind cannot see the door of the house of the Lord, unless light be given them.

Reading 12: Everywhere is preserved the order of the Sacraments. The sinful soul is first healed by the remission of sins, and afterward is filled at the Table of the Lord albeit this multitude now present is of such as do not yet feed on those strong meats, nor pasture their starving spirits upon the Body and Blood of Christ, as do they of a manlier faith. To use the words of Paul, I have fed you with milk and not with meat, for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able. The five loaves are, as it were, your milk; the stronger meat will be the Body of Christ; the more generous cup, the Blood of the Lord.