Saturday, 2 August 2014

St Luke 8:22-56

St Luke 8:22-56: 

22 Factum est autem in una dierum: et ipse ascendit in naviculam, et discipuli ejus, et ait ad illos: Transfretemus trans stagnum. Et ascenderunt. 23 Et navigantibus illis, obdormivit, et descendit procella venti in stagnum, et complebantur, et periclitabantur. 24 Accedentes autem suscitaverunt eum, dicentes: Præceptor, perimus. At ille surgens, increpavit ventum, et tempestatem aquæ, et cessavit: et facta est tranquillitas. 25 Dixit autem illis: Ubi est fides vestra? Qui timentes, mirati sunt ad invicem, dicentes: Quis putas hic est, quia et ventis, et mari imperat, et obediunt ei?26 Et navigaverunt ad regionem Gerasenorum, quæ est contra Galilæam. 27 Et cum egressus esset ad terram, occurrit illi vir quidam, qui habebat dæmonium jam temporibus multis, et vestimento non induebatur, neque in domo manebat, sed in monumentis. 28 Is, ut vidit Jesum, procidit ante illum: et exclamans voce magna, dixit: Quid mihi et tibi est, Jesu Fili Dei Altissimi? obsecro te, ne me torqueas. 29 Præcipiebat enim spiritui immundo ut exiret ab homine. Multis enim temporibus arripiebat illum, et vinciebatur catenis, et compedibus custoditus. Et ruptis vinculis agebatur a dæmonio in deserta. 30 Interrogavit autem illum Jesus, dicens: Quod tibi nomen est? At ille dixit: Legio: quia intraverant dæmonia multa in eum. 31 Et rogabant illum ne imperaret illis ut in abyssum irent. 32 Erat autem ibi grex porcorum multorum pascentium in monte: et rogabant eum, ut permitteret eis in illos ingredi. Et permisit illis. 33 Exierunt ergo dæmonia ab homine, et intraverunt in porcos: et impetu abiit grex per præceps in stagnum, et suffocatus est. 34 Quod ut viderunt factum qui pascebant, fugerunt, et nuntiaverunt in civitatem et in villas. 35 Exierunt autem videre quod factum est, et venerunt ad Jesum, et invenerunt hominem sedentem, a quo dæmonia exierant, vestitum ac sana mente, ad pedes ejus, et timuerunt. 36 Nuntiaverunt autem illis et qui viderant, quomodo sanus factus esset a legione: 37 et rogaverunt illum omnis multitudo regionis Gerasenorum ut discederet ab ipsis: quia magno timore tenebantur. Ipse autem ascendens navim, reversus est. 38 Et rogabat illum vir, a quo dæmonia exierant, ut cum eo esset. Dimisit autem eum Jesus, dicens: 39 Redi in domum tuam, et narra quanta tibi fecit Deus. Et abiit per universam civitatem, prædicans quanta illi fecisset Jesus.40 Factum est autem cum rediisset Jesus, excepit illum turba: erunt enim omnes exspectantes eum. 41 Et ecce venit vir, cui nomen Jairus, et ipse princeps synagogæ erat: et cecidit ad pedes Jesu, rogans eum ut intraret in domum ejus, 42 quia unica filia erat ei fere annorum duodecim, et hæc moriebatur. Et contigit, dum iret, a turba comprimebatur. 43 Et mulier quædam erat in fluxu sanguinis ab annis duodecim, quæ in medicos erogaverat omnem substantiam suam, nec ab ullo potuit curari: 44 accessit retro, et tetigit fimbriam vestimenti ejus: et confestim stetit fluxus sanguinis ejus. 45 Et ait Jesus: Quis est, qui me tetigit? Negantibus autem omnibus, dixit Petrus, et qui cum illo erant: Præceptor, turbæ te comprimunt, et affligunt, et dicis: Quis me tetigit? 46 Et dicit Jesus: Tetigit me aliquis: nam ego novi virtutem de me exiisse. 47 Videns autem mulier, quia non latuit, tremens venit, et procidit ante pedes ejus: et ob quam causam tetigerit eum, indicavit coram omni populo: et quemadmodum confestim sanata sit. 48 At ipse dixit ei: Filia, fides tua salvam te fecit: vade in pace.49 Adhuc illo loquente, venit quidam ad principem synagogæ, dicens ei: Quia mortua est filia tua, noli vexare illum. 50 Jesus autem, audito hoc verbo, respondit patri puellæ: Noli timere, crede tantum, et salva erit. 51 Et cum venisset domum, non permisit intrare secum quemquam, nisi Petrum, et Jacobum, et Joannem, et patrem, et matrem puellæ. 52 Flebant autem omnes, et plangebant illam. At ille dixit: Nolite flere: non est mortua puella, sed dormit. 53 Et deridebant eum, scientes quod mortua esset. 54 Ipse autem tenens manum ejus clamavit, dicens: Puella, surge. 55 Et reversus est spiritus ejus, et surrexit continuo. Et jussit illi dari manducare. 56 Et stupuerunt parentes ejus, quibus præcepit ne alicui dicerent quod factum erat.

[22] And it came to pass on a certain day that he went into a little ship with his disciples, and he said to them: Let us go over to the other side of the lake. And they launched forth. [23] And when they were sailing, he slept; and there came down a storm of wind upon the lake, and they were filled, and were in danger. [24] And they came and awaked him, saying: Master, we perish. But he arising, rebuked the wind and the rage of the water; and it ceased, and there was a calm. [25] And he said to them: Where is your faith? Who being afraid, wondered, saying one to another: Who is this, (think you), that he commandeth both the winds and the sea, and they obey him?[26] And they sailed to the country of the Gerasens, which is over against Galilee. [27] And when he was come forth to the land, there met him a certain man who had a devil now a very long time, and he wore no clothes, neither did he abide in a house, but in the sepulchres. [28] And when he saw Jesus, he fell down before him; and crying out with a loud voice, he said: What have I to do with thee, Jesus, Son of the most high God? I beseech thee, do not torment me. [29] For he commanded the unclean spirit to go out of the man. For many times it seized him, and he was bound with chains, and kept in fetters; and breaking the bonds, he was driven by the devil into the deserts. [30] And Jesus asked him, saying: What is thy name? But he said: Legion; because many devils were entered into him.[31] And they besought him that he would not command them to go into the abyss. [32] And there was there a herd of many swine feeding on the mountain; and they besought him that he would suffer them to enter into them. And he suffered them. [33] The devils therefore went out of the man, and entered into the swine; and the herd ran violently down a steep place into the lake, and were stifled. [34] Which when they that fed them saw done, they fled away, and told it in the city and in the villages. [35] And they went out to see what was done; and they came to Jesus, and found the man, out of whom the devils were departed, sitting at his feet, clothed, and in his right mind; and they were afraid.[36] And they also that had seen, told them how he had been healed from the legion. [37] And all the multitude of the country of the Gerasens besought him to depart from them; for they were taken with great fear. And he, going up into the ship, returned back again. [38] Now the man, out of whom the devils were departed, besought him that he might be with him. But Jesus sent him away, saying: [39] Return to thy house, and tell how great things God hath done to thee. And he went through the whole city, publishing how great things Jesus had done to him. [40] And it came to pass, that when Jesus was returned, the multitude received him: for they were all waiting for him.[41] And behold there came a man whose name was Jairus, and he was a ruler of the synagogue: and he fell down at the feet of Jesus, beseeching him that he would come into his house: [42] For he had an only daughter, almost twelve years old, and she was dying. And it happened as he went, that he was thronged by the multitudes. [43] And there was a certain woman having an issue of blood twelve years, who had bestowed all her substance on physicians, and could not be healed by any. [44] She came behind him, and touched the hem of his garment; and immediately the issue of her blood stopped. [45] And Jesus said: Who is it that touched me? And all denying, Peter and they that were with him said: Master, the multitudes throng and press thee, and dost thou say, Who touched me?[46] And Jesus said: Somebody hath touched me; for I know that virtue is gone out from me. [47] And the woman seeing that she was not hid, came trembling, and fell down before his feet, and declared before all the people for what cause she had touched him, and how she was immediately healed. [48] But he said to her: Daughter, thy faith hath made thee whole; go thy way in peace. [49] As he was yet speaking, there cometh one to the ruler of the synagogue, saying to him: Thy daughter is dead, trouble him not. [50] And Jesus hearing this word, answered the father of the maid: Fear not; believe only, and she shall be safe.
[51] And when he was come to the house, he suffered not any man to go in with him, but Peter and James and John, and the father and mother of the maiden. [52] And all wept and mourned for her. But he said: Weep not; the maid is not dead, but sleepeth. [53] And they laughed him to scorn, knowing that she was dead. [54] But he taking her by the hand, cried out, saying: Maid, arise. [55] And her spirit returned, and she arose immediately. And he bid them give her to eat.[56] And her parents were astonished, whom he charged to tell no man what was done.

Commentary (de Lapide)

Ver. 27.—And when he went forth to land, there met him out of the city a certain man, which had devils long time, and ware no clothes, neither abode in any house, but in the tombs.

“A man.” S. Matt. says there were two. But as this one was the fiercer, and possessed by a legion, S. Luke and S. Mark mention him alone.

But in the tombs. 1. The Jews, as I have before said, had their burial places without their cities. Their tombs were large and lofty chambers as it were, so as to afford burial to many, and to be easy of access to the friends and relatives of the departed. This is clear from what we read of the sepulture of Christ, of Abraham, Sarah, and others.

This demoniac then was driven by the devils which possessed him to dwell among the tombs. For these reasons:

1. In order to excite him to greater ferocity, and that he might be the cause of greater fear to the passers-by.

Probably he was like what the French fable to be a “loup-garou,” i.e. a man who after the manner of a wolf sallies forth by night and preys upon men and animals, while by day he hides himself in tombs and by hollows of the rocks. “So that no man might pass by that way” (S. Matt. viii. 28), because passers-by were attacked and wounded by him. The evil spirits were mostly wont to attack those of a melancholy disposition of mind, as the more easily driven into the madness of despair.

2. Because unclean spirits love to dwell in unclean places. Hence witches hold their sabbaths underneath the gallows.

3. Because the devils rejoice at the death of men, and triumph over the souls of them who are condemned to hell.

4.  S. Chrysostom, Euthymius, and Theophylact add that he dwelt amongst the tombs, to persuade men that the souls of the dead are changed into devils, who abide in the sepulchres wherein their bodies are buried. Hence demoniacs from time to time have cried out, I am the soul of Peter, or of Paul, or of John.
Ver. 28.—When he saw Jesus, he cried out, and fell down before Him. S. Mark (chap. v. 6), adds, “And when he saw Jesus afar off, he ran and worshipped him,” i.e. bent the knee before Him. Because he felt the power of Christ’s presence, and was therefore compelled to draw nigh and worship Him, for fear lest, if he acknowledged not the Lord, he might receive greater punishment; and again, Christ caused him to act thus in order that an opportunity might be afforded for his cure.

Son of God most high. It would seem that the devil, who in the temptation had not recognised Christ, now after so many miracles acknowledged Him to be the Messiah, the Son of God; yet, blinded by pride and hatred, he hesitated to believe that the Son of God had stooped to take upon Him our flesh, and thought it impossible that by His death upon the Cross the whole human race could be redeemed, because, as Aquinas remarks, in many ways God had hindered him from recognising, the truth. See S. Mark iv. 12.

Torment me not. Do not cast me out and bind me for ever in bell. See S. Matt. viii. 31.

Ver. 29.—For He had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. From this and similar passages it is clear that the devils are permitted by God to dwell on earth and tempt mankind. Hence it is the custom of the Church to bury the bodies of the faithful in consecrated ground in order that they may rest therein free from the assaults of evil spirits, and may profit by the prayers of the living.
Ver. 30.—And Jesus asked him, i.e. one of the devils, saying, What is thy name? For Christ willed that the evil spirit should declare his name, that from it the number of the devils, and thence the mightiness of the power which expelled them, might be known.

And he said, Legion. A legion was composed of 6000 men, and S. Ambrose thinks that this was the exact number of the devils; others, following the Scripture, take the word generally as meaning “many,” “because many devils were entered into him.”

S. Gregory of Nyssa adds, “The devils, imitating the angelic host call themselves Legion; nay more, they would liken themselves to God Himself, who is called the Lord God of Sabaoth, i.e. the Lord of Hosts. For Satan is the counterfeit and mockery of God.”

Learn then how great must be the number and the malignity of the devils, that so many should possess one man. So we read in the life of S. Dominic, that very many devils were cast out of a man by his prayers and entreaties.

Therefore, since we are surrounded on all sides by so many spiritual foes, we must give ourselves continually to watching and prayer, in order to obtain the victory over them, as Antony, who was wont to say that all temptations could be overcome by the Cross of Christ, by calling on Him, and by praying in the spirit.

Wherefore if any one determines to serve God perfectly, 1et him be well assured that he has arrayed against him, not one legion of devils only, but many, even Satan himself, and all the dwellers in hell. Hence the Apostle (Eph. vi. 12), “We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”

Following the example of Christ, S. Hilarion is said to have healed a demoniac possessed by Legion. It is said that after he prayed to the Lord that He would release the afflicted man from his misery, there were heard various voices proceeding from the mouth of the demoniac, and as it were the clamour of much people. And straightway the demoniac was healed, and presented himself not long after with his wife and children at the monastery, bearing gifts in gratitude for his cure.

Ver. 31.—And they besought Him that He would not command them to go out into the deep. For although the devils, whilst they go to and fro on earth, are consumed by the fires of hell, yet it is some gratification, to them that they are not shut up in prison, but are permitted to tempt men to sin, and make them sharers in their condemnation. For they hate God and envy men, because men are heirs of that kingdom from which they by pride fell. Emmanuel Sa very appropriately remarks, “God has appointed a punishment suited to each sin. Hell for the lusts of the flesh; gnashing of teeth for ribald laughter; thirst for self-indulgence and gluttony; the worm for an evilly disposed heart; darkness for ignorance and self deceit; the deep for pride, and therefore for the devil and his angels.”

Ver. 32.—And there was there an herd of many swine (about two thousand, S. Mark v. ii) feeding on the mountain (nigh unto the mountain, S. Mark, ibid.). But for what purpose were these swine, inasmuch as they were forbidden to the Jews by the law of Moses? Gadara, although a city of Judæa or rather of Galilee, had, according to Josephus, been assigned by Cæsar for a dwelling-place to the Syrians and Gentiles; who were not prohibited from keeping swine. And again, the Jews might have been feeding the swine, not for their own eating, but for other purposes: to sell them to the Gentiles for the use of the Roman soldiery, or in order to provide lard for the greasing of their chariot wheels.

And they besought Him that He would suffer them to enter into them. The devils made this request:

1. In order that, inasmuch as they were unable to injure men directly, they might injure them indirectly through their property or possessions.

2. That, as actually came to pass, they might stir up the ill-will of the inhabitants against Christ.

3. Because unclean spirits delight in unclean things. Hence the devil is said to be worshipped by the witches in form of a he-goat. But from this entreaty S. Antony, according to S. Athanasius, infers the powerlessness of the devils. “For how,” he says, “can they who are feign to seek permission to enter into the herd of swine, have any real power over man, made in the image of God. Great, my brethren, are our means of defence against the hosts of Satan: an honest and pure life, and unfeigned faith towards God. Believe me, Satan fears the prayers and fasting, the meekness and self-denial, the humility and contempt of vainglory, the compassion and self-command, and above all the heart purified by the love of Christ, of those who are living godly lives. For the old serpent, the worst enemy of man, knows that he lies under the feet of the righteous according to the word of the Lord which saith, ‘Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy.’” S. Luke x. l9.

And He suffered them. Christ granted the request of the devils: 1. To show that He had power over the evil spirits, and that they without His leave could do no evil to swine, much less to men. Hence, as we have seen, S. Antony says that they are not to be feared. 2. To demonstrate the number, strength and malevolence of the devils, and to make manifest by their expulsion the greatness of His power and glory. S. Chrysostom, Theophylact, and Euthymius. 3. To refute the error of the Sadducces, who say that there is “neither angel nor spirit,” Acts xxiii. 8. Hilary. Rupert adds, That the Gadarenes were Jews, who kept swine contrary to the laws, and that the destruction of the herd was a punishment for their disobedience; but this interpretation I have shown to be wrong.

Mystically. Christ did this to show men, who, after the manner of swine wallow in fleshly lusts and pleasures, that they in like manner are rushing into the abyss of hell, and also to teach us that we must account the loss of our earthly possessions as of small account compared with the destruction of the soul. For He permitted the devils to enter into the herd of swine in order to free the demoniac from their power; and to show how impure were the minds of the Gadarenes, and therefore how fitted they were to be possessed by devils; and yet further to intimate that those who live after the manner of swine fall an easy prey to the power of Satan...

Friday, 1 August 2014

St Luke 8:1-21

St Luke chapter 8:

1 Et factum est deinceps, et ipse iter faciebat per civitates, et castella prædicans, et evangelizans regnum Dei: et duodecim cum illo, 2 et mulieres aliquæ, quæ erant curatæ a spiritibus malignis et infirmatibus: Maria, quæ vocatur Magdalene, de qua septem dæmonia exierant, 3 et Joanna uxor Chusæ procuratoris Herodis, et Susanna, et aliæ multæ, quæ ministrabant ei de facultatibus suis. 4 Cum autem turba plurima convenirent, et de civitatibus properarent ad eum, dixit per similitudinem: 5 Exiit qui seminat, seminare semen suum. Et dum seminat, aliud cecidit secus viam, et conculcatum est, et volucres cæli comederunt illud. 6 Et aliud cecidit supra petram: et natum aruit, quia non habebat humorem. 7 Et aliud cecidit inter spinas, et simul exortæ spinæ suffocaverunt illud. 8 Et aliud cecidit in terram bonam: et ortum fecit fructum centuplum. Hæc dicens clamabat: Qui habet aures audiendi, audiat.9 Interrogabant autem eum discipuli ejus, quæ esset hæc parabola. 10 Quibus ipse dixit: Vobis datum est nosse mysterium regni Dei, ceteris autem in parabolis: ut videntes non videant, et audientes non intelligant. 11 Est autem hæc parabola: Semen est verbum Dei. 12 Qui autem secus viam, hi sunt qui audiunt: deinde venit diabolus, et tollit verbum de corde eorum, ne credentes salvi fiant. 13 Nam qui supra petram, qui cum audierint, cum gaudio suscipiunt verbum: et hi radices non habent: qui ad tempus credunt, et in tempore tentationis recedunt. 14 Quod autem in spinas cecidit: hi sunt qui audierunt, et a sollicitudinibus, et divitiis, et voluptatibus vitæ euntes, suffocantur, et non referunt fructum. 15 Quod autem in bonam terram: hi sunt qui in corde bono et optimo audientes verbum retinent, et fructum afferunt in patientia.16 Nemo autem lucernam accendens, operit eam vase, aut subtus lectum ponit: sed supra candelabrum ponit, ut intrantes videant lumen. 17 Non est enim occultum, quod non manifestetur: nec absconditum, quod non cognoscatur, et in palam veniat. 18 Videte ergo quomodo audiatis? Qui enim habet, dabitur illi: et quicumque non habet, etiam quod putat se habere, auferetur ab illo.19 Venerunt autem ad illum mater et fratres ejus, et non poterant adire eum præ turba. 20 Et nuntiatum est illi: Mater tua et fratres tui stant foris, volentes te videre. 21 Qui respondens, dixit ad eos: Mater mea et fratres mei hi sunt, qui verbum Dei audiunt et faciunt.

And it came to pass afterwards, that he travelled through the cities and towns, preaching and evangelizing the kingdom of God; and the twelve with him: [2] And certain women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities; Mary who is called Magdalen, out of whom seven devils were gone forth, [3] And Joanna the wife of Chusa, Herod' s steward, and Susanna, and many others who ministered unto him of their substance. [4] And when a very great multitude was gathered together, and hastened out of the cities unto him, he spoke by a similitude. [5] The sower went out to sow his seed. And as he sowed, some fell by the way side, and it was trodden down, and the fowls of the air devoured it.[6] And other some fell upon a rock: and as soon as it was sprung up, it withered away, because it had no moisture. [7] And other some fell among thorns, and the thorns growing up with it, choked it. [8] And other some fell upon good ground; and being sprung up, yielded fruit a hundredfold. Saying these things, he cried out: He that hath ears to hear, let him hear. [9] And his disciples asked him what this parable might be. [10] To whom he said: To you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God; but to the rest in parables, that seeing they may not see, and hearing may not understand.[11] Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. [12] And they by the way side are they that hear; then the devil cometh, and taketh the word out of their heart, lest believing they should be saved. [13] Now they upon the rock, are they who when they hear, receive the word with joy: and these have no roots; for they believe for a while, and in time of temptation, they fall away. [14] And that which fell among thorns, are they who have heard, and going their way, are choked with the cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and yield no fruit. [15] But that on the good ground, are they who in a good and perfect heart, hearing the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit in patience.[16] Now no man lighting a candle covereth it with a vessel, or putteth it under a bed; but setteth it upon a candlestick, that they who come in may see the light. [17] For there is not any thing secret that shall not be made manifest, nor hidden, that shall not be known and come abroad. [18] Take heed therefore how you hear. For whosoever hath, to him shall be given: and whosoever hath not, that also which he thinketh he hath, shall be taken away from him. [19] And his mother and brethren came unto him; and they could not come at him for the crowd. [20] And it was told him: Thy mother and thy brethren stand without, desiring to see thee.[21] Who answering, said to them: My mother and my brethren are they who hear the word of God, and do it.

Commentary

You can find the readings set for verses 4-15 (from St Gregory the Great), the Gospel for Sexagesima Sunday here.

De Lapide:

Ver. 1.—And the twelve (apostles) were with Him, i.e. they accompanied Jesus as He went through the cities and villages preaching.

Ver. 2.—And certain women, which had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities, Mary called Magdalene, out of whom went seven devils. These women followed Christ (1.) out of gratitude, because He had healed their diseases, and cast out the devils which possessed them. (2.) For safety, lest if they were away from their physician, their former ills might again overtake them. (3.) From pious motives, that from His companionship and preaching they might advance in holiness.
Mary. In Hebrew, Mary signifies a “bitter sea” of repentance. Bede.

Called Magdalene. As we have before explained, from the castle or fort near Bethsaida and Capernaum.  S. Augustine infers that she was a married woman (Hom. 33), and therefore calls her not a harlot but an adulteress. But according to S. Jerome, the author of the commentary on S. Mark calls her a widow, which is much the same thing; so also Jansenius, Luke and others. That she was an inhabitant of Judæa, and like Lazarus and Martha lived at Bethany, is clear from S. John xii. 1. Adricomius, in his description of the Holy Land, tells us that the Magdalene’s home was situated on the shore of the sea of Galilee, and towards the north-east looks out on an extensive plain, and that it was called Magdala from the battlements and towers, wherewith it was fortified. Hence Jerome asserts that she was rightly called Magdalene, that is to say, “turreted” because of her zeal and love. Josephus makes mention of this castle, and tells us that Agrippa fruitlessly sent an expedition against it.

In the Hebrew then Magdalene signifies (1.) turreted, or tower-bearing, from the root מגרל migdol, a tower; for she was tall of stature, and of a yet loftier mind. “Thy neck is like the tower of David,” Cant.iv. 4. (2.)Or “magnificent” (Origen), or “magnified,” according to Pagninus, because, says Origen, she followed Jesus, ministered unto Him, and beheld the mystery of His Passion. For the root צרל gadal, means, “to be great and magnificent,” and the Magdalene was greatly exalted by Christ. (3.) 

Pagninus says that Magdalene means, “remarkable for the standard,” “bearing, or raising the standard,” from the root רצל deghol, which, when the letters ghimel and daleth are transposed, signifies a standard. For the Magdalene raised the standard of penitence and love, and of the contemplative life. Like as we read, “His banner over me was love,” Cant. ii. 4. (4). Or otherwise, as the same writer remarks, the name means, “brought up, nourished,” i.e. led by the teaching of Christ to a holy and a virtuous life. For the Hebrew ברל gadal means the same thing as to nourish and bring up.

Out of whom went seven devils, i.e. seven capital sins, pride, avarice, gluttony, luxury, anger, envy, and careless living. Bede, Theophylact and S. Gregory. For in a literal sense we are to understand that she had been possessed by devils or evil spirits, as I have before said, and that they had gone out of her, or (S. Mark xvi. 9) been cast out. So teach S. Ambrose, Euthymius, Jansenius, and others.

We may conclude, therefore, that the Magdalene, because of her wickedness and sins, had been possessed by seven devils, and that with other demoniacs she had been made whole by Christ; that on her repentance she had obtained pardon and forgiveness, and, no longer under the power of Satan, but filled with the spirit of God, she devoted her whole after life to the service of Christ. John of Rochester and others.

Seven devils, either seven in actual number, or “seven” in the sense of many, or all; for, as I have often pointed out, “seven” is the sign of multitude or totality.

Ver. 3.—And Joanna, the wife of Chuza, Herod’s steward (manager or treasurer, according to the Arabic version) and Susanna and many others which ministered unto Him of their substance. For they were rich, and grateful to their deliverer, and therefore sought to further His preaching, and to spread the faith.

So SS. Plautilla, Priscilla, and many other rich and noble matrons ministered unto SS. Peter, Paul, Clement, and other Roman Pontiffs, and other orders of the clergy.

And Susanna, an illustrious woman who, healed by Christ, had become His disciple. Her name in the Hebrew signifies “a lily.” On, account of the sweet radiance of a heavenly life (Interlinear Gloss), and the golden fervour of her inward affection. Bede.

Ver. 15.—Which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it. The Council of Basle observes that for the right hearing of the word of God there is required,
1. A place fitted to receive it, i.e. an honest and good heart.
2. A proper disposition, to “keep” the word when heard; and
3. That best return, fruit brought forth with patience.

A heart is honest and good, says Lyranus, because of the faith which illumines it, and good (optimum) in a higher sense because of grace working in it; or, as others hold, it is “bonum” because disciplined and exercised in virtue, and “optimum” because of inward peace and consolation. Again, it is “bonum” because purified from sin, and “optimum” because conformed to the will of God (Albertus Magnus); or “bonum” in discerning the truth, and “optimum” in its desire of that which is right (Bonaventura); or, according to S. Augustine on Ps. vii., “bonum” on account of the love it bears its neighbour and itself, “optimum” on account of its exceeding love for God.

Hence we may take the Greek, καλη̃ καί α̉γαθη̃, to mean the same as the Vulgate “bono et optimo,” for the copula καί, or “et,” signifies gradation and increase. They, therefore, who keep the word of God in an honest and good heart bring forth fruit in proportion: good fruit if the heart is good, better if the heart is better, and the best fruit if the heart is perfect, i.e. thirty fold, sixty fold, or one hundred fold.  S. Matt. xiii. 8. And it does not follow of necessity, as Toletus holds, that these words apply to different persons, for the heart of a believer may grow in grace, until at last it is “optimum,” perfect in sight of God.

With patience, ὲν ύπομονη̃, i.e. in the endurance of labour, disappointment, and sorrow in the plowing, seeding, and harrowing of the soul, and in the long expectation of harvest.

Thursday, 31 July 2014

St Luke 7:36-50

St Luke 7:

36 Rogabat autem illum quidam de pharisæis ut manducaret cum illo. Et ingressus domum pharisæi discubuit. 37 Et ecce mulier, quæ erat in civitate peccatrix, ut cognovit quod accubuisset in domo pharisæi, attulit alabastrum unguenti: 38 et stans retro secus pedes ejus, lacrimis cœpit rigare pedes ejus, et capillis capitis sui tergebat, et osculabatur pedes ejus, et unguento ungebat. 39 Videns autem pharisæus, qui vocaverat eum, ait intra se dicens: Hic si esset propheta, sciret utique quæ et qualis est mulier, quæ tangit eum: quia peccatrix est. 40 Et respondens Jesus, dixit ad illum: Simon, habeo tibi aliquid dicere. At ille ait: Magister, dic. 41 Duo debitores erant cuidam fœneratori: unus debebat denarios quingentos, et alius quinquaginta. 42 Non habentibus illis unde redderent, donavit utrisque. Quis ergo eum plus diligit? 43 Respondens Simon dixit: Æstimo quia is cui plus donavit. At ille dixit ei: Recte judicasti. 44 Et conversus ad mulierem, dixit Simoni: Vides hanc mulierem? Intravi in domum tuam, aquam pedibus meis non dedisti: hæc autem lacrimis rigavit pedes meos, et capillis suis tersit. 45 Osculum mihi non dedisti: hæc autem ex quo intravit, non cessavit osculari pedes meos. 46 Oleo caput meum non unxisti: hæc autem unguento unxit pedes meos. 47 Propter quod dico tibi: remittuntur ei peccata multa, quoniam dilexit multum. Cui autem minus dimittitur, minus diligit. 48 Dixit autem ad illam: Remittuntur tibi peccata. 49 Et cœperunt qui simul accumbebant, dicere intra se: Quis est hic qui etiam peccata dimittit? 50 Dixit autem ad mulierem: Fides tua te salvam fecit: vade in pace.

[36] And one of the Pharisees desired him to eat with him. And he went into the house of the Pharisee, and sat down to meat. [37] And behold a woman that was in the city, a sinner, when she knew that he sat at meat in the Pharisee' s house, brought an alabaster box of ointment; [38] And standing behind at his feet, she began to wash his feet, with tears, and wiped them with the hairs of her head, and kissed his feet, and anointed them with the ointment. [39] And the Pharisee, who had invited him, seeing it, spoke within himself, saying: This man, if he were a prophet, would know surely who and what manner of woman this is that toucheth him, that she is a sinner. [40] And Jesus answering, said to him: Simon, I have somewhat to say to thee. But he said: Master, say it. [41] A certain creditor had two debtors, the one who owed five hundred pence, and the other fifty. [42] And whereas they had not wherewith to pay, he forgave them both. Which therefore of the two loveth him most? [43] Simon answering, said: I suppose that he to whom he forgave most. And he said to him: Thou hast judged rightly. [44] And turning to the woman, he said unto Simon: Dost thou see this woman? I entered into thy house, thou gavest me no water for my feet; but she with tears hath washed my feet, and with her hairs hath wiped them. [45] Thou gavest me no kiss; but she, since she came in, hath not ceased to kiss my feet. [46] My head with oil thou didst not anoint; but she with ointment hath anointed my feet. [47] Wherefore I say to thee: Many sins are forgiven her, because she hath loved much. But to whom less is forgiven, he loveth less. [48] And he said to her: Thy sins are forgiven thee. [49] And they that sat at meat with him began to say within themselves: Who is this that forgiveth sins also? [50] And he said to the woman: Thy faith hath made thee safe, go in peace.

Commentary (de Lapide)

Ver. 37.—And behold a woman in the city. Behold, a wonderful thing, and a wonderful example of penitence. A woman called Mary Magdalene. S. Luke viii. 2. It is questioned whether this is the same woman who is mentioned by the two other Evangelists.  S. Chrysostom thinks there were two; Origen, Theophylact, and Euthymius, three who thus anointed our Lord, and that each Evangelist wrote of a different person. S. Matt. xxvi. 7;  S. John xii. 3.

But I hold that it was one and the same woman—Mary Magdalene, the sister of Martha and of Lazarus, who anointed our Lord, as we read in the Gospels, on two but not three occasions; and this is clear,—

1. Because this is the general interpretation of the Church, who in her Offices accepts what is here written by S. Luke as referring to the Magdalene alone.

2. Because S. John (xi. 2) writes, “It was that Mary which anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick,” thus plainly alluding to this passage of S. Luke, and signifying that only one woman anointed the Lord. For if there had been more than one, the words just quoted would have insufficiently described her. But the meaning is, “when I say Mary, I mean the penitent who anointed the feet of the Lord, as recounted by S. Luke, whom all know to be Mary Magdalene.”

3. Because the Mary mentioned by S. John (xii. 2, 3) is clearly the same Mary Magdalene, the sister of Martha and of Lazarus, who anointed Christ here, as described by S. Luke, and again at Bethany, six days before the passover. For S. Matthew (xxvi. 6) and S. John (xii. i) both refer to the same event, as is evident if the two accounts are compared together. Therefore it was Mary Magdalene who anointed Christ, not three times, as Origen would have us believe, but twice only, once as is recorded by S. Luke, and again six days before His death.

4 The same thing is testified to by Church history and tradition, and also by the inscription on the tomb of the Magdalene, which Maximus, one of the seventy disciples, is said to have built.

5. And this is also the opinion of S. Augustine, S. Cyprian, and many other interpreters of scripture.
But it may be objected that this Magdalene followed Jesus from Galilee (S. Matt. xxvii. 55), and was a Galilean, and cannot have been the same as Mary the sister of Martha, who lived at Bethany, and was therefore of Judæa. I answer that she was of Judæa by descent, but seems to have lived in Galilee, it may be in the castle called Magdala, either because she had married the lord of that place, or because it had been allotted her as her share of the family property. Hence she was called Magdalene from the name of the place, Magdala. So Jansenius and others.

In the city. Some think in Jerusalem. But Jerusalem was in Judæa, and these things seem to have been done in Galilee where Christ was preaching. Hence it is very probable that the city was Nain, the scene of Christ’s miracle, as Toletus and others conjecture; but some think that it was the town of Magdala in which she lived, an idea which Adricomius on the word Magdalum supports.

A sinner. Some recent writers, to honour the Magdalene, think that she was not unchaste, but only conceited and vain, and for this reason called a sinner. But in proportion as they thus honour the Magdalene, they detract from the grace of God and that penitence which enabled her to live a holy life. For by the word sinner we generally understand one who not only sins, but leads others also to sin. The word sinner therefore here signifies a harlot, i.e. one who has many lovers although she may not make a public market of her charms, and this interpretation is accepted by S. Augustine, S. Jerome, Isidore of Pelusium,  S. Ambrose, Gregory, Bede, and S. Chrysostom, who holds (Hom. 62 ad Pop.) that to her refer the words of our Lord, “Verily, I say unto you, that the publicans and harlots go into the kingdom of God before you.” S. Matt. xxii. 31. Hence the Church hymn:—

 So she, who hath so many sins committed,
Now from the very jaws of hell returns;
E’en to the threshold of a Life eternal,
After her fitful life of guilt and shame.

She, from a seething caldron of offences,
A fair and perfumed vase is now become;
From an uncomely vessel of dishonour
Translated to a vessel full of grace.

Doubtlessly Christ permitted her to be entangled in all the filth of a wanton life, that He might show the power of His grace in winning her back to purity again, for the worse the disease the greater the skill of the physician in curing it. Nor does this detract from the honour due to the Magdalene, for the greater her sins, the more admirable her penitence, and the stronger her resolution to forsake them.

God willed that she should be an example of penitence, that none should despair of pardon because or the heinousness of their offences, but trust to the infinite compassion of God, mindful of the saying of S. Paul, “This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief. Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on Him to life everlasting.” 1 Tim. i. 15, 16.

“Truly,” says S. Gregory, “a life anxious to atone for faults committed is oftentimes more pleasing to God than that innocence which rests in a torpid security.”

Great, indeed, is the gift of innocence by which we are preserved from sin, but greater is the grace of penitence and remission of sin, and this grace is the greater in proportion to the greatness of the sin, for thus forgiveness is granted to the more unworthy, and so the grade becomes to him the greater, as S. Thomas teaches. Hence sinners who truly repent excel their brethren in humility, and in austerity and holiness of life, and often perform acts of heroism which those who have sinned less deeply are unable to do. As may be seen in the case of many saints, and especially in that of one who from a robber became the very mirror of monks. For the baseness of his former life, the baseness of his sin, the punishment due to his offences, and the pardoning love of God, are to the penitent so many incentives to a better and a holier life.

So the pearl is the emblem of penitence. For as the sun by its rays was said to convert the substance of the oyster into a precious jewel, so Christ by his transforming grace changed the woman that was a sinner into a pearl—a penitent saint.

When she knew that Jesus sat at meat in the Pharisee’s house. It was not fitting that the Magdalene, whose sinful life was known to all, should anoint Christ in her own house, but rather in the house of another, so that there might be no suspicion of evil. Hence she was not ashamed to act as she did in the house of the Pharisee; for, as S. Gregory says (Hom. 33), Being filled with shame within, she did not think there was any cause for the show of shame without. And S. Augustine (Hom. 58 de Temp.) writes, The sinner who washed the feet of the Lord with her tears, and dried them with the hairs of her head, when she knew that the heavenly physician had come, entered the house an uninvited guest; and thus she, who had been shameless in sin, became yet more bold in seeking salvation, and so deserved to hear that her sins were forgiven. And again (Hom. 23), Thou hast seen how a woman of notoriously evil repute entered, uninvited, the house where her Physician sat at meat, and although little fitted for a feast, was fitted for the blessing which she thus boldly (piâ impudentiâ) sought to obtain. For she knew how great was her need, and that He to whom she had come, could grant her relief. For Christ accepted the invitation of the Pharisee, in order to provide those who sat at meat with the spiritual feast of the repentant Magdalene. Hence S. Chrysostom (Serm. 93):Christ sat at the feast, not to drink cups of wine flavoured with honey and perfumed with flowers, but the bitter tears of repentance; because God longs for the tears of the sinner. For, as S. Bernard says, the tears of penitence are the wine of angels, and yield them unbounded delight. And again (Serm. 30 in Cant.),Tears are an earnest of repentance, and a return to the blessing and favour of God, and therefore of sweet savour to His angels...

Note here:—1. The reverence and modesty of the Magdalene, which is the grace of youth and of penitence. She drew nigh to Christ, not in front of Him, for she considered that she was, on account of her past misdeeds, unworthy of His holy presence, but at His feet. Therefore, S. Bernard accounts reverence or modesty (Serm. 86, in Cant.)to be the foundation of all virtues. “How great,” he says, “is the grace and the beauty which a modest blush lends to the cheek!”

2. S. Mary Magdalene, as S. Chrysostom (Hom. 11, on S. Matt.)observes, was the first who came to Jesus for pardon and forgiveness. Those before her had sought restoration to bodily health alone. Therefore, wounded like a deer, she, wounded by the dart of Christ’s love, runs to Him for succour. Christ had showed her her wretchedness; hence, overcome with sorrow and remorse, she could not bear for one moment longer the burden of her sins, but at once sought of Him pardon and release. Therefore, without waiting until Christ had left the Pharisee’s house, she burst in uninvited to the feast. So foul and loathsome is even one mortal sin alone. As S. Anselm asserts (De Similit. cap. cxc.), “If of necessity I had to choose between sin and the torments of hell, I had rather plunge headlong into hell, than give sin the mastery over me;” and he adds, “I had rather enter hell pure from the stain of sin, than reign in heaven a prey to its pollutions.”

3. The act of S. Mary Magdalene seems as if prompted by the words of the Baptist, “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world,” S. John i. 29; or by the invitation of Christ, “Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest,” S. Matt. xi. 28. Moreover, she was persuaded that He, who had delivered her from the possession of the seven devils (S. Luke viii. 2), would deliver her also from the bondage of sin. Therefore, in deepest contrition she draws nigh to Christ, acknowledging Him to he a prophet sent from God with power to forgive sins, and in full hope that He would pardon the guilt which she had contracted; for, S. Gregory says, Christ drew her to Himself by inward grace, and received her outwardly with pity and compassion.

And began to wash His feet with her tears. Observe how abundant were the tears of the penitent, inasmuch as they were able to wash and cleanse the dust-stained feet of the Lord. See S. Matt. x. 10. On their power and efficacy, S. Chrysostom has written (Serm. de Pœnitentia),and S. Ambrose, “Christ washed not His own feet, in order that we might wash them with our tears. Blessed tears, not only because they are able to wash away our guilt, but because they besprinkle the firstfruits of the heavenly Word, and incline His steps towards us.”

Blessed tears, for they not only obtain pardon for the sinner, but strength and refreshment for the just. For truly is it written “My tears have been my meat day and night,” Ps. xlii. 3. And S. Gregory (Hom. 33): “As I ponder over the penitence of the Magdalene, I long to keep silent and weep. For what heart so hard, as not to be softened by the tears of this penitent sinner, who considered what she had done, and was careless of what she would do—who entered unbidden to the feast, and wept amongst those who were feasting. Learn then how great must have been the compunction and sorrow which impelled her on such an occasion to weep.”

And did wipe them with the hairs of her head. Other means were at hand, but in her deep penitence, the Magdalen would dedicate to the service of Christ the very hair which once she took such pride in adorning. Hence S. Cyprian (De Ablutione),She used her hair for a napkin, her eyes for a pitcher, and her tears for water. Her contrition showed itself by her tears; her faith washed the feet of the Lord, her love anointed them. She made her head to be a foot-stool, and wiped the sacred feet with her unloosened hair. Without reserve, she gave herself to Christ, and He, regarding the intention rather than the act, anointed the anointer, cleansed her who was cleansing, and wiped away her sins.

S. Euthymius assigns the cause, “He makes instruments of sin, instruments of righteousness.” And more particularly S. Gregory (Hom. 33),“That which she had given up to the service of sin, now she offers for the glory of God. Her eyes, which had lusted after earthly things, she wears away with the tears of repentance. Her hair, which once added to the comeliness of her face, she now used to dry up her tears. With her mouth, which was wont to speak proudly, she now kisses the ground on which the feet of the Lord trod. All her sinful indulgences she sacrifices for the love of Christ, and making her former vices give place to virtues, wherewith she offended therewith she now serves God.”

Hear also S. Chrysostom (Hom. 6, on S. Matt.): “So the woman which was a sinner, inflamed with the fires of love, and purged by her flood of tears from the stains and defilement of sin, exceeded even the virtue of virgins. For in the warmth of her penitence she exulted in her longings for Christ; washing His feet with her tears, wiping them with the hairs of her head, and anointing them with ointment of price. Thus she acted outwardly, but how much more fervent were the thoughts of her heart, which were known only to God.”

And kissed his feet. She who once delighted in the kisses of unchaste desire, now chastely kisses the feet of Christ, and seeks thereby the pardon and forgiveness of her sins. For a kiss is a sign of forgiveness, as well as of kindness and of love. S. Ambrose.

Mystically. The two feet of Christ, says S. Peter Damian, are mercy and judgment. To kiss one without the other is productive of rash security, or of an evil despair. Publicly, at a public feast, in presence of all the guests, the Magdalene performed her act of penitence, that her openly avowed repentance might atone for the public scandal of her former life...

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

St Luke 7:17-35

Chapter 7 brings us back to St John the Baptist:

17 Et exiit hic sermo in universam Judæam de eo, et in omnem circa regionem.18 Et nuntiaverunt Joanni discipuli ejus de omnibus his. 19 Et convocavit duos de discipulis suis Joannes, et misit ad Jesum, dicens: Tu es qui venturus es, an alium exspectamus? 20 Cum autem venissent ad eum viri, dixerunt: Joannes Baptista misit nos ad te dicens: Tu es qui venturus es, an alium exspectamus? 21 (In ipsa autem hora multos curavit a languoribus, et plagis, et spiritibus malis, et cæcis multis donavit visum.) 22 Et respondens, dixit illis: Euntes renuntiate Joanni quæ audistis et vidistis: quia cæci vident, claudi ambulant, leprosi mundantur, surdi audiunt, mortui resurgunt, pauperes evangelizantur: 23 et beatus est quicumque non fuerit scandalizatus in me. 24 Et cum discessissent nuntii Joannis, cœpit de Joanne dicere ad turbas: Quid existis in desertum videre? arundinem vento agitatam? 25 Sed quid existis videre? hominem mollibus vestibus indutum? Ecce qui in veste pretiosa sunt et deliciis, in domibus regum sunt. 26 Sed quid existis videre? prophetam? Utique dico vobis, et plus quam prophetam: 27 hic est, de quo scriptum est: Ecce mitto angelum meum ante faciem tuam, qui præparabit viam tuam ante te. 28 Dico enim vobis: major inter natos mulierum propheta Joanne Baptista nemo est: qui autem minor est in regno Dei, major est illo. 29 Et omnis populus audiens et publicani, justificaverunt Deum, baptizati baptismo Joannis. 30 Pharisæi autem et legisperiti consilium Dei spreverunt in semetipsos, non baptizati ab eo. 31 Ait autem Dominus: Cui ergo similes dicam homines generationis hujus? et cui similes sunt? 32 Similes sunt pueris sedentibus in foro, et loquentibus ad invicem, et dicentibus: Cantavimus vobis tibiis, et non saltastis: lamentavimus, et non plorastis. 33 Venit enim Joannes Baptista, neque manducans panem, neque bibens vinum, et dicitis: Dæmonium habet. 34 Venit Filius hominis manducans, et bibens, et dicitis: Ecce homo devorator, et bibens vinum, amicus publicanorum et peccatorum. 35 Et justificata est sapientia ab omnibus filiis suis.

[17] And this rumour of him went forth throughout all Judea, and throughout all the country round about. [18] And John' s disciples told him of all these things. [19] And John called to him two of his disciples, and sent them to Jesus, saying: Art thou he that art to come; or look we for another? [20] And when the men were come unto him, they said: John the Baptist hath sent us to thee, saying: Art thou he that art to come; or look we for another? [21] (And in that same hour, he cured many of their diseases, and hurts, and evil spirits: and to many that were blind he gave sight.) [22] And answering, he said to them: Go and relate to John what you have heard and seen: the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are made clean, the deaf hear, the dead rise again, to the poor the gospel is preached: [23] And blessed is he whosoever shall not be scandalized in me. [24] And when the messengers of John were departed, he began to speak to the multitudes concerning John. What went ye out into the desert to see? a reed shaken with the wind? [25] But what went you out to see? a man clothed in soft garments? Behold they that are in costly apparel and live delicately, are in the houses of kings.[26] But what went you out to see? a prophet? Yea, I say to you, and more than a prophet. [27] This is he of whom it is written: Behold I send my angel before thy face, who shall prepare thy way before thee. [28] For I say to you: Amongst those that are born of women, there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist. But he that is the lesser in the kingdom of God, is greater than he. [29] And all the people hearing, and the publicans, justified God, being baptized with John' s baptism. [30] But the Pharisees and the lawyers despised the counsel of God against themselves, being not baptized by him.[31] And the Lord said: Whereunto then shall I liken the men of this generation? and to what are they like? [32] They are like to children sitting in the marketplace, and speaking one to another, and saying: We have piped to you, and you have not danced: we have mourned, and you have not wept. [33] For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine; and you say: He hath a devil. [34] The Son of man is come eating and drinking: and you say: Behold a man that is a glutton and a drinker of wine, a friend of publicans and sinners. [35] And wisdom is justified by all her children.

Commentary 

de Lapide:

Ver. 29.—And the publicans justified God. Confessed the goodness of God in sending the Baptist, and in offering them salvation through his baptism and preaching. See verse 35; 1 Tim. iii. 16; and S. Matt. xi. l9.

There is a question whether this verse and the one following, give the words of the Evangelist or of our Lord Himself. But as the opening words of the 31st verse, “and the Lord said,” are absent from the best MSS., we may conclude, with Maldonatus, that these two verses are a part of the continuous discourse of Christ.

Ver. 30.—But the Pharisees and lawyers rejected the counsel of God against themselves, either within themselves, i.e. in their hearts, because they did not dare openly contravene His words, or as against themselves, i.e. for their own condemnation. Bede.

Catena Aurea:

...CYRIL; Or he asks the question by economy. For as the forerunner he knew the mystery of Christ's passion, but that his disciples might be convinced how great was the excellence of the Savior, he sent the more understanding of them, instructing them to inquire and learn from the very words of the Savior, whether it was He who was expected; as it is added, But when the men were come to him, they said, John the Baptist has sent us to you, saying, Are you He, &c.

But He knowing as God with what intention John had sent them, and the cause of their coming, was at the time performing many miracles, as it follows, And in the same hour he healed many of their infirmities, &c. He said not positively to them I am he, but rather leads them to the certainty of the fact, in order that receiving their faith in Him, with their reason agreeing thereto, they might return to him who sent them.

Hence He made not answer to the words, but to the intention of him who sent them; as it follows, And Jesus answering said, to them, Go your way, and tell John what things you have seen and, heard: as if He said, Go and tell John the things which you have heard indeed through the Prophets, but have seen accomplished by Me. For He was then performing those things which the Prophets prophesied He would do; that is of which it is added, For the blind see, the lame walk.

AMBROSE; An ample testimony surely that the Prophets acknowledged the Lord. For of the Lord Himself it was prophesied, that the Lord gives food to the hungry, raises up them that are bowed down, looses the prisoners, opens the eyes of the blind, and that he who does these things shall reign for ever. Such then are not the tokens of human, but divine power. But these are found seldom or not at all before the Gospel. Tobias alone received sight, and this was the cure of an Angel, not of a man. Elias raised the dead, but he prayed and wept, and then commended. Elisha caused the cleansing of a leper: yet then the cause was not so much in the authority of the command as in the figure of the mystery.

THEOPHYL. These are also the words of Elias, saying, The Lord himself shall come and save us. Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. Then shall the lame man leap as an hart.

THEOPHYL; And what is not less than these, the poor have the Gospel preached to them, that is, the poor are enlightened by the Spirit, or hidden treasures, that there might be no difference between the rich and the poor. These things prove the faith of the Master, when all who can be saved by Him are equal...

AMBROSE; But we have before said, that mystically John was the type of the Law, which was the forerunner of Christ. John then sends his disciples to Christ, that they might obtain the filling up of their knowledge, for Christ is the fulfilling of the Law. And perhaps those disciples are the two nations, of whom the one of the Jews believed, the other of the Gentiles believed because they heard. They wished then to see, because blessed are the eyes that see. But when they shall have come to the Gospel, and found that the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, then shall they say, "We have seen with out eyes," for we seem to ourselves to see Him whom we read of. Or perhaps through the instrumentality of a certain part of our Body we all seem to have traced out the course of our Lord's passion; for faith comes through the few to the many. The Law then announces that Christ will come, the writings of the Gospel prove that He has come...

AMBROSE; God is justified by baptism, wherein men justify themselves confessing their sins. For he that sins and confesses his sin to God justifies God, submitting himself to Him who overcomes, and hoping for grace from Him; God therefore is justified by baptism, in which there is confession and pardon of sin. EUSEB. Because also they believed, they justified God, for He appeared just to them in all that He did. But the disobedient conduct of the Pharisees in not receiving John, accorded not with the words of the prophet, That you might be justified when you speak. Hence it follows, But the P
AUG. Or, when he says, wisdom is justified of all her children, he show that the children of wisdom understand that righteousness consists neither in abstaining from nor eating food, but in patiently enduring want. For not the use of such things, but the coveting after them, must be blamed; only let a man adapt himself to the kind of food of those with whom he lives.

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

St Luke 7:1-16

Chapter 7 of St Luke opens with two raisings from the dead:

1 Cum autem implesset omnia verba sua in aures plebis, intravit Capharnaum. 2 Centurionis autem cujusdam servus male habens, erat moriturus: qui illi erat pretiosus. 3 Et cum audisset de Jesu, misit ad eum seniores Judæorum, rogans eum ut veniret et salvaret servum ejus. 4 At illi cum venissent ad Jesum, rogabant eum sollicite, dicentes ei: Quia dignus est ut hoc illi præstes: 5 diligit enim gentem nostram, et synagogam ipse ædificavit nobis. 6 Jesus autem ibat cum illis. Et cum jam non longe esset a domo, misit ad eum centurio amicos, dicens: Domine, noli vexari: non enim sum dignus ut sub tectum meum intres: 7 propter quod et meipsum non sum dignum arbitratus ut venirem ad te: sed dic verbo, et sanabitur puer meus. 8 Nam et ego homo sum sub potestate constitutus, habens sub me milites: et dico huic, Vade, et vadit: et alii, Veni, et venit: et servo meo, Fac hoc, et facit. 9 Quo audito Jesus miratus est: et conversus sequentibus se turbis, dixit: Amen dico vobis, nec in Israël tantam fidem inveni. 10 Et reversi, qui missi fuerant, domum, invenerunt servum, qui languerat, sanum.11 Et factum est: deinceps ibat in civitatem quæ vocatur Naim: et ibant cum eo discipuli ejus et turba copiosa. 12 Cum autem appropinquaret portæ civitatis, ecce defunctus efferebatur filius unicus matris suæ: et hæc vidua erat: et turba civitatis multa cum illa. 13 Quam cum vidisset Dominus, misericordia motus super eam, dixit illi: Noli flere. 14 Et accessit, et tetigit loculum. (Hi autem qui portabant, steterunt.) Et ait: Adolescens, tibi dico, surge. 15 Et resedit qui erat mortuus, et cœpit loqui. Et dedit illum matri suæ. 16 Accepit autem omnes timor: et magnificabant Deum, dicentes: Quia propheta magnus surrexit in nobis: et quia Deus visitavit plebem suam. 

And when he had finished all his words in the hearing of the people, he entered into Capharnaum. [2] And the servant of a certain centurion, who was dear to him, being sick, was ready to die. [3] And when he had heard of Jesus, he sent unto him the ancients of the Jews, desiring him to come and heal his servant. [4] And when they came to Jesus, they besought him earnestly, saying to him: He is worthy that thou shouldest do this for him. [5] For he loveth our nation; and he hath built us a synagogue. [6] And Jesus went with them. And when he was now not far from the house, the centurion sent his friends to him, saying: Lord, trouble not thyself; for I am not worthy that thou shouldest enter under my roof. [7] For which cause neither did I think myself worthy to come to thee; but say the word, and my servant shall be healed. [8] For I also am a man subject to authority, having under me soldiers: and I say to one, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doth it. [9] Which Jesus hearing, marvelled: and turning about to the multitude that followed him, he said: Amen I say to you, I have not found so great faith, not even in Israel. [10] And they who were sent, being returned to the house, found the servant whole who had been sick. [11] And it came to pass afterwards, that he went into a city that is called Naim; and there went with him his disciples, and a great multitude. [12] And when he came nigh to the gate of the city, behold a dead man was carried out, the only son of his mother; and she was a widow: and a great multitude of the city was with her. [13] Whom when the Lord had seen, being moved with mercy towards her, he said to her: Weep not. [14] And he came near and touched the bier. And they that carried it, stood still. And he said: Young man, I say to thee, arise. [15] And he that was dead, sat up, and began to speak. And he gave him to his mother. [16] And there came a fear on them all: and they glorified God, saying: A great prophet is risen up among us: and, God hath visited his people. 

Commentary (de Lapide)

...“There was a dead man carried” without the city. Because, for sanitary and other reasons, the Jews had their burial places without the walls.

So the sepulchre of Joseph of Arimathæa, in which the body of Christ lay, was without Jerusalem. So also the valley of Jehoshaphat, the scene of the judgment to come and the general resurrection, is the common burial-place of the inhabitants of Jerusalem, with the exception of the kings, for whom David had provided a sepulchre in Zion. 1 Kings ii. 10. For similar reasons the Romans, who were forbidden by the twelve tables to bury their dead within the city, used the Campus Martius as a place of sepulture, until Theodoric revoked the law; and there is abundant evidence to show that the Christians also, in the time of the persecution, used the crypts which they had excavated without the city for purposes of interment, but afterward, when peace was given to the Christians, they consecrated burial places within the walls near the temples in which they were wont to worship:

1. That the remembrance of death might be continually presented to the faithful as an incentive to a holy life. Like as the Spartans were commanded by Lycurgus to bury their dead within the city, in order to teach their young men that death was to be honoured and, not to be feared.

2. That by their consecration they might be secure against the wiles of the devils, who are wont to dwell in the tombs and possess the bodies of those departed. S. Luke viii. 27.

3. And also that the faithful when on their way to worship might be led to pray that those who lay buried around might be released from purgatory, and counted worthy of a glorious resurrection at the last day, and also that they might be partakers in the holy sacrifices offered in the temples and might benefit by the merits and by the prayers of those Saints who either lie buried, or are in some way especially commemorated therein. Thus Constantine the Great wished to be buried in the porch of the Church of the Holy Apostles at Constantinople, and Theodosius in the Church of S. Peter at Rome. And so, as most of the churches at Rome show the Christians built altars over the tombs of the martyrs, for reasons which I have given in my comments on the text, “I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain.” Rev. vi. 9.

The only son, μονογενὴς, i.e. the only child of his mother, and therefore the sole object of her love. For he was to her her hope and her future, the support of her declining years, and the light of her eyes. Hence the mother’s grief was of the bitterest kind, like to that which the prophets tell of: “They shall mourn for him as one mourneth for his only son,” Zech. xii. 10. And again, “0 daughter of my people, gird thee with sackcloth and wallow thyself in ashes: make thee mourning as for an only son, most bitter lamentation.” Jer. vi. 26...

...Allegorically. The widow is the Church who mourns her sons—those who have fallen into mortal sin and forfeited the grace of God—as dead, and seeks by her tears for their restoration; and in answer to her prayers, Christ—1. Causes the bearers to stand still, checks those evil passions which gain the mastery over the young, and breaks their power. 2. Touches the bier, i.e. the wood of the Cross, and by it raises the dead to life. For by virtue of Christ sinners are moved to repentance, and restored to favour with God. Hence, 3. The dead man sits up and begins to speak, begins to lead a new life and give praise unto God, so that those who are witnesses of this marvellous change are filled with admiration and are led to give glory unto God. So S. Ambrose and others.

Of this we have a living example in S. Monica, for she mourned unceasingly for her son, who was dead in trespasses and sins, but recalled by her prayers to such holiness of life that he afterwards became a chief doctor of the Church. S. Augustine, Confessions.

Again, more particularly, the widow is the Church, the son the people of the Gentiles enclosed in the bier of concupiscence, and borne along to hell as to a sepulchre. By touch of the bier, i.e. by the wood of the Cross, Christ gave life to the world

Figuratively. By the example of the widow we see how a priest or director should act when any of his spiritual children have fallen into mortal sin and are being borne to the grave of everlasting misery. He should follow the bier with weeping and much lamentation, for thus he will receive comfort from the Lord who—(1.) Touching the bier will cause the bearers to stand still, i.e. cause evil lusts and passions to cease; (2.) will recall the dead to life; and (3.) will raise him up to the performance of good works, so as to confess his sins and tell of the loving kindness of God.

Thus at last he is restored to the Church, his mother, whose past sorrow will be eclipsed by her present joy, and thus also many will be led to extol the goodness of God.

Again, the widow represents the soul, her son the understanding, inactive and dead. When such a soul laments her spiritual death, especially if others also join in her mourning, Christ will grant an awakening. The bier is a conscience in a state of false security. The bearers, the evil enticements and flatteries of companions which stand still, i.e. are restrained at the touch of Christ. Bede. Or, as Theophylact interprets it, the widow is the soul which has lost its husband, i.e. the word of life; the son is the understanding; the body, the coffin or bier.

To sum up. We read that Christ on three occasions recalled the dead to life.

1. The daughter of the ruler of the synagogue in the house, i.e. one who sins in thought and intention.
2. The son of the widow at the gate, i.e. one who sins openly, and imparts his guilt to others.
3. Lazarus in the tomb, the habitual sinner who lies as it were buried in sin without hope of recovery or release.

The first, Christ raised to life by secret prayer apart from others; the second by a word; the third by crying with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth. Hence different degrees of sin have different remedies, but to rescue the habitual sinner from the death of sin there needs no less than the voice of Christ speaking loudly to the sinner’s heart.

Monday, 28 July 2014

St Luke 6:39-49

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

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.

[39] And he spoke also to them a similitude: Can the blind lead the blind? do they not both fall into the ditch? [40] The disciple is not above his master: but every one shall be perfect, if he be as his master. [41] And why seest thou the mote in thy brother' s eye: but the beam that is in thy own eye thou considerest not? [42] Or how canst thou say to thy brother: Brother, let me pull the mote out of thy eye, when thou thyself seest not the beam in thy own eye? Hypocrite, cast first the beam out of thy own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to take out the mote from thy brother' s eye. [43] For there is no good tree that bringeth forth evil fruit; nor an evil tree that bringeth forth good fruit. [44] For every tree is known by its fruit. For men do not gather figs from thorns; nor from a bramble bush do they gather the grape. [45] A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth that which is evil. For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. [46] And why call you me, Lord, Lord; and do not the things which I say? [47] Every one that cometh to me, and heareth my words, and doth them, I will shew you to whom he is like. [48] He is like to a man building a house, who digged deep, and laid the foundation upon a rock. And when a flood came, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and it could not shake it; for it was founded on a rock. [49] But he that heareth, and doth not, is like to a man building his house upon the earth without a foundation: against which the stream beat vehemently, and immediately it fell, and the ruin of that house was great.

Commentary 

Catena Aurea:

CYRIL; The Lord added to what had gone before a very necessary parable, as it is said, And he spoke a parable to them, for His disciples were the future teachers of the world, and it therefore became them to know the way of a virtuous life, having their minds illuminated as it were by a divine brightness, that they should not be blind leaders of the blind. And then he adds, Can the blind lead the blind? But if any should chance to attain to an equal degree of virtue with their teachers, let them stand in the measure of their teachers, and follow their footsteps. 

Hence it follows, The disciple is not above his master. Hence also Paul says, Be you also followers of me, as I am of Christ. Since Christ therefore judged not, why judge you? for He came not to judge the world, but to show mercy. 

THEOPHYL. Or else, If you judge another, and in the very same way sin yourself, are not you like to the blind leading the blind? For how can you lead him to good when you also yourself commit sin? For the disciple is not above his master. If therefore you sin, who think yourself a master and guide, where will he be who is taught and led by you? For he will be the perfect disciple who is as his master. 

THEOPHYL; Or the sense of this sentence depends upon the former, in which we are enjoined to give alms, and forgive injuries. If, says He, anger has blinded you against the violent, and avarice against the grasping, how can you with your corrupt heart cure his corruption? If even your Master Christ, who as God might revenge His injuries, chose rather by patience to render His persecutors more merciful, it is surely binding on His disciples, who are but men, to follow the same rule of perfection. 

AUG. Or, He has added the words, Can the blind, lead the blind, in order that they , might not expect to receive from the Levites that measure of which He says, They shall give into your bosom, because they gave tithes to them. And these He calls blind, because they received not the Gospel, that the people might the rather now begin to hope for that reward through the disciples of the Lord, whom wishing to point out as His imitators, He added, The disciple is not above his master.

THEOPHYL. But the Lord introduces another parable taken from the same figure, as follows, but why see you the mote (that is, the slight fault) which is in your brother's eye, but the beam which is in your own eye (that is, your great sin) you regard not? 

THEOPHYL; Now this has reference to the previous parable, in which He forewarned them that the blind cannot be led by the blind, that is, the sinner corrected by the sinner. Hence it is said, Or, how can you say to your brother, Brother let me cast out the mote that is in your eye, if you see not the beam that is in your own eye? 

CYRIL; As if He said, How can he who is guilty of grievous sins, (which He calls the beam,) condemn him who has sinned only slightly, or even in some cases not at all? For this the mote signifies. 

THEOPHYL. But these words are applicable to all, and especially to teachers, who while they punish the least sins of those who are put under them, leave their own unpunished. Wherefore the Lord calls them hypocrites, because to this end judge they the sins of others, that they themselves might seem just. Hence it follows, You hypocrite, first cast the beam out of your own eye, &c. 

CYRIL; That is to say, first show yourself clean from great sins, and then afterwards shall you give counsel to your neighbor, who is guilty only of slight sins. 

BASIL; In truth, self knowledge seems the most important of all. For not only the eye, looking at outward things, fails to exercise its sight upon itself, but our understanding also, though very quick in apprehending the sin of another, is slow to perceive its own defects.

THEOPHYL; Our Lord continues the words which He had begun against the hypocrites, saying, For a good tree brings not forth corrupt fruit; i.e. as if He says, If you would have a true and unfeigned righteousness, what you set forth in words make up also in works, for the hypocrite though he pretends to be good is not good, who does evil works; and the innocent though he be blamed, is not therefore evil, who does good works. 

TITUS BOS. But take not these words to thyself as an encouragement to idleness, for the tree is moved conformably to its nature but you have the exercise of free will; and every barren tree has been ordained for some good, but you were created to the good work of virtue. 

ISIDORE PELEUS; He does not then exclude repentance, but a continuance in evil, which as long as it is evil cannot bring forth good fruit, but being converted to virtue, will yield abundance. But what nature is to the tree, our affections are to us. If then a corrupt tree cannot bring forth good fruit, how shall a corrupt heart?

CHRYS. But although the fruit is caused by the tree, yet, it brings to us the knowledge of the tree, because the distinctive nature of the tree is made evident by the fruit, as it follows, For every tree is know by its fruit. 

CYRIL; Each man's life also will be a criterion of his character. For not by extrinsic ornaments and pretended humility is the beauty of true happiness discovered, but by those things which a man does; of which he gives an illustration, adding, For of thorns men do not gather figs.

AMBROSE; On the thorns of this world the fig cannot be found, which as being better in its second fruit, is well fitted to be a similitude of the resurrection. Either because, as you read, The fig trees have put forth their green figs, that is, the unripe and worthless fruit came first in the Synagogue. Or because our life is imperfect in the flesh, perfect in the resurrection, and therefore we ought to cast far from us worldly cares, which eat into the mind and scorch up the soul, that by diligent culture we may obtain the perfect fruits. This therefore has reference to the world and the resurrection, the next to the soul and the body, as it follows, Nor of a bramble bush gather they grapes. Either because no one living in sin obtains fruit to his soul, which like the grape nearest the ground is rotten, on the higher branches becomes ripe. Or because no one can escape the condemnations of the flesh, but he whom Christ has redeemed, Who as a grape hung on the tree...

THEOPHYL; Lest any one should vainly flatter himself with the words, Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks, as if words only and not rather works were required of a Christian, our Lord adds the following, But why call you me Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say? As if He said, Why do you boast of sending forth the leaves of a right confession, and show forth no fruit of good works... 

CYRIL; But the advantage which arises from the keeping of the commandments, or the loss from disobedience, he shows as follows; Whosoever comes to me, and hears my sayings, he is like to a man who built his house upon a rock, &c. 

THEOPHYL; The rock is Christ. He digs deep; by the precepts of humility He plucks out all earthly things from the hearts of the faithful, lest they should serve God from regard to their temporal good. 

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Seventh Sunday after Pentecost

This Sunday's Gospel is from St Matthew 7:

15 Attendite a falsis prophetis, qui veniunt ad vos in vestimentis ovium, intrinsecus autem sunt lupi rapaces: 16 a fructibus eorum cognoscetis eos. Numquid colligunt de spinis uvas, aut de tribulis ficus? 17 Sic omnis arbor bona fructus bonos facit: mala autem arbor malos fructus facit. 18 Non potest arbor bona malos fructus facere: neque arbor mala bonos fructus facere. 19 Omnis arbor, quæ non facit fructum bonum, excidetur, et in ignem mittetur. 20 Igitur ex fructibus eorum cognoscetis eos. 21 Non omnis qui dicit mihi, Domine, Domine, intrabit in regnum cælorum: sed qui facit voluntatem Patris mei, qui in cælis est, ipse intrabit in regnum cælorum.

[15] Beware of false prophets, who come to you in the clothing of sheep, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.[16] By their fruits you shall know them. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? [17] Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit, and the evil tree bringeth forth evil fruit. [18] A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can an evil tree bring forth good fruit. [19] Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit, shall be cut down, and shall be cast into the fire. [20] Wherefore by their fruits you shall know them. [21] Not every one that saith to me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven: but he that doth the will of my Father who is in heaven, he shall enter into the kingdom of heaven.

Matins readings (from St Hilary)

Reading 9: The Lord here warneth us that we must rate the worth of soft words and seeming meekness, by the fruits which they that manifest such things bring forth in their works, and that we should look, in order to see what a man is, not at his professions, but at his deeds. For there are many in whom sheep's clothing is but a mask to hide wolfish ravening. But "Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so, every good tree bringeth forth good fruit, but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit." Thus, the Lord teacheth us, is it with men also evil men bring not forth good fruits, and hereby are we to know them. 

Reading 10: Lip-service alone winneth not the kingdom of heaven, nor is every one that saith unto Christ, "Lord, Lord," an heir thereof.What use is there in calling the Lord, Lord? Would He not be Lord all the same, whether or not we called Him so What holiness is there in this ascription of a name, when the true way to enter into the kingdom of heaven is to do the will of our Father, Who is in heaven? 

Reading 11: "Many will say to Me in that day Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy Name?” Already here doth the Lord rebuke the deceit of the false prophets, and the feigning of the hypocrites, who take glory to themselves because of the power of their words, their prophesying in teaching, their casting out of devils, and such-like mighty works. Because of all these things they promised unto themselves that they shall enter into the kingdom of heaven as though in their words and works any good thing were their own, and not all the mighty working of that God upon Whom they call, since reading bringeth knowledge of doctrine, and the Name of Christ driveth out devils. 

Reading 12: That which is needed on our part to win that blessed eternity, that of our own which we must give, is to will to do right, to turn away from all evil, to obey with our whole heart the commandments laid on us from heaven, and so to become the friends of God. It should be ours rather to do God's will, than to boast of God's power. And we must put off from us and thrust away such as are by their wicked works already estranged from His friendship.