St Luke 21: 5-24

5 Et quibusdam dicentibus de templo quod bonis lapidibus et donis ornatum esset, dixit: 6 Hæc quæ videtis, venient dies in quibus non relinquetur lapis super lapidem, qui non destruatur. 7 Interrogaverunt autem illum, dicentes: Præceptor, quando hæc erunt, et quod signum cum fieri incipient? 8 Qui dixit: Videte ne seducamini: multi enim venient in nomine meo, dicentes quia ego sum: et tempus appropinquavit: nolite ergo ire post eos. 9 Cum autem audieritis prælia et seditiones, nolite terreri: oportet primum hæc fieri, sed nondum statim finis. 10 Tunc dicebat illis: Surget gens contra gentem, et regnum adversus regnum. 11 Et terræmotus magni erunt per loca, et pestilentiæ, et fames, terroresque de cælo, et signa magna erunt. 12 Sed ante hæc omnia injicient vobis manus suas, et persequentur tradentes in synagogas et custodias, trahentes ad reges et præsides propter nomen meum: 13 continget autem vobis in testimonium. 14 Ponite ergo in cordibus vestris non præmeditari quemadmodum respondeatis: 15 ego enim dabo vobis os et sapientiam, cui non poterunt resistere et contradicere omnes adversarii vestri. 16 Trademini autem a parentibus, et fratribus, et cognatis, et amicis, et morte afficient ex vobis: 17 et eritis odio omnibus propter nomen meum: 18 et capillus de capite vestro non peribit. 19 In patientia vestra possidebitis animas vestras.20 Cum autem videritis circumdari ab exercitu Jerusalem, tunc scitote quia appropinquavit desolatio ejus: 21 tunc qui in Judæa sunt, fugiant ad montes, et qui in medio ejus, discedant: et qui in regionibus, non intrent in eam, 22 quia dies ultionis hi sunt, ut impleantur omnia quæ scripta sunt. 23 Væ autem prægnantibus et nutrientibus in illis diebus! erit enim pressura magna super terram, et ira populo huic. 24 Et cadent in ore gladii, et captivi ducentur in omnes gentes, et Jerusalem calcabitur a gentibus, donec impleantur tempora nationum.

[5] And some saying of the temple, that it was adorned with goodly stones and gifts, he said:
[6] These things which you see, the days will come in which there shall not be left a stone upon a stone that shall not be thrown down. [7] And they asked him, saying: Master, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign when they shall begin to come to pass? [8] Who said: Take heed you be not seduced; for many will come in my name, saying, I am he; and the time is at hand: go ye not therefore after them. [9] And when you shall hear of wars and seditions, be not terrified: these things must first come to pass; but the end is not yet presently. [10] Then he said to them: Nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom.[11] And there shall be great earthquakes in divers places, and pestilences, and famines, and terrors from heaven; and there shall be great signs. [12] But before all these things, they will lay their hands upon you, and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and into prisons, dragging you before kings and governors, for my name' s sake. [13] And it shall happen unto you for a testimony. [14] Lay it up therefore into your hearts, not to meditate before how you shall answer: [15] For I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which all your adversaries shall not be able to resist and gainsay.[16] And you shall be betrayed by your parents and brethren, and kinsmen and friends; and some of you they will put to death. [17] And you shall be hated by all men for my name' s sake. [18] But a hair of your head shall not perish. [19] In your patience you shall possess your souls. [20] And when you shall see Jerusalem compassed about with an army; then know that the desolation thereof is at hand.[21] Then let those who are in Judea, flee to the mountains; and those who are in the midst thereof, depart out: and those who are in the countries, not enter into it. [22] For these are the days of vengeance, that all things may be fulfilled, that are written. [23] But woe to them that are with child, and give suck in those days; for there shall be great distress in the land, and wrath upon this people. [24] And they shall fall by the edge of the sword; and shall be led away captives into all nations; and Jerusalem shall be trodden down by the Gentiles; till the times of the nations be fulfilled.

Commentary (De Lapide)

Ver. 18.—But there shall not an hair of your head perish. “Because,” says S. Gregory, “what was said about death was hard, comfort is added at once, from the joy of the resurrection, when it is said, ‘a hair of your head shall not perish.’ For we know that the flesh when wounded, causes pain, but the hair when cut does not. Our Lord therefore said to His martyrs, ‘A hair of your head shall not perish.’” From these words of Christ, we may conclude that we shall rise again with our actual bodies. S. Augustine (De Civitate, chap.19, 2O.) So S. Bonaventure, S. Thomas, the master of the sentences, Soto, and others. Their proof is from Matt. x. 30: “The very hairs of your head are all numbered;” and from this of S. Luke, “Not a hair of your head shall perish.” “Not in length,” says S. Augustine, “but in number.”

2. We may collect this from reason, for our bodies will rise without deformity, with their natural adornments and comeliness; the adornment of the head is the hair, the beard, the nails. If any one has not these he is a deformed.

Ver. 19.—In your patience possess ye your souls. Patience, therefore, is the possession of our souls. Firstly, because patience rules the soul and directs it in peace, and bends and influences it as it pleases. Secondly, because no one can keep the hope of a future life, as S. Augustine says, unless he have patience in the labours of the present one. Thirdly, S. Gregory (Homily xxxv. in Evangel.): “The possession of the soul consists of the virtue of patience, because patience is the root and guardian of all virtues. Through patience, we possess our souls, because, while we learn to govern ourselves, we begin to possess the knowledge that we are (quod sumus, quod adverb). It is patience to endure calmly the evils we suffer from others, and to be affected with no painful feeling against him who inflicts them upon us. For whoever so takes the oppressions of others, as to grieve in silence, but to look out for a time of retribution, does not possess this virtue, but only makes a show of it. Again, Solomon says, Prov. xvi. 32: ‘The patient man is better than the valiant, and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh cities.’ The taking of a city is therefore a less victory, because the conquest is outside ourselves. That which is subdued by patience is greater, because the mind is subdued by itself, and subjects itself to itself when patience subdues it to the humility of endurance.” S. Gregory adds the example of the Abbot Stephen, who returned contumelies with thanks, and thought a gain, loss, and considered his adversaries his helpers. Hence, at his death, angels were seen taking his soul to heaven.

The impatient do not possess their souls, but are possessed by the vices of wrath and vindictiveness, and consequently by Satan. They, only, who have ardent love can gain true patience, as those fervent martyrs—SS. Ignatius, Laurence, Sebastian, Vincent, and others. Trajan the Emperor, consequently, said when he conferred, by his sentence, martyrdom on S. Ignatius, “No people suffer so much for their God as the Christians.” S. Gregory (book v. Moral. chap. 13), “What is it to possess our souls, but to live perfectly in all things, and to govern all the emotions of our minds by the art of virtue? Whoever therefore possesses patience, possesses his soul, because he is thus made strong against all adversities, so that he rules even by subduing himself. By whatever he masters himself, he clearly shows himself unmastered, for when he masters himself in his pleasures, he prepares himself to be unmastered by their opposites.” In his 39th Epistle to Theoclister; “In your patience possess your souls. Consider a moment where patience would be if there were nothing to be endured. I suspect that he would not be an Abel who had no Cain. For if the good were without misfortunes, they could not be perfectly good, for they would have no purgation. Their very society with evil is the purification of the good.” Hence, says Theodore Studita in his 19th Catechetical Lecture, “Endurance is the highest perfection of virtue;” and Lucan (lib. ix.):

—Serpens, sitis, ardor, arenæ 

Dulcia Virtutis, gaudet Patientia duris.

The sandy desert’s burning heat; the pangs 
Of raging thirst; its serpent’s cruel fangs, 
Are Virtue’s sweets; for Patience joys in these,
And welcomes hardships more than softest case.

Lastly, the whole band of virtues flows into patience, so that it appears to be the complex of all virtues. Sencea (Ep. 69. and following): “There is i fortitude of which the brands are patience, endurance, and toleration. There is prudence, without which no undertaking is entered upon, and which persuades us to endure bravely what we cannot escape. There is constancy which cannot be cast down from its pedestal, and the determination of which no force can overthrow. Here is that indivisible society of virtues.” And see the words of S. James. i. 4.

Ver. 34.—And take heed to yourselves, lest “the cares of this life absorb the mind and sink the faculties,” says Euthymius, “and do not allow men to think about their salvation.” “The cares of this life,” says Titus, “debauchery and ebriety, deprive men of their senses, obscure their faith, and cause forgetfulness of all that is useful and necessary. They distract the mind, seize hold of it, and absorb it in the cares of this world.”

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