Commentaries for Upcoming Sunday Masses, Year A

ORDINARY TIME
Before Lent

Jan 29 Commentaries for the Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time.
Feb 5 Commentaries for the Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time.
Feb 12 Commentaries for the Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time.
Feb 19 Commentaries for the Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time.
Feb 26 Commentaries for the Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time.

LENTEN SEASON

March 1 Ash Wednesday.
Mar 5. First Sunday of Lent.
Mar. 12. Second Sunday of Lent.
Mar. 19. Third Sunday of Lent.
Mar. 26. Fourth Sunday of Lent.
April 2. Fifth Sunday of Lent.
April 9. Palm Sunday.

April 9–16. COMMENTARIES FOR HOLY WEEKPalm Sunday Through Easter.

EASTER SEASON

April 16. Easter Sunday.
April 23. Divine Mercy Sunday. (Second Sunday of Easter).
April 30.  Third Sunday of Easter.
May 7. Fourth Sunday of Easter.
May 14. Fifth Sunday of Easter.
May 21. Sixth Sunday of Easter.
!!! MAY 25. Solemnity of the Ascension. Note: In some places this Feast is transferred to the following Sunday and the Ascension readings are used in place of the Sunday readings.
May 28. Seventh Sunday of Easter. See note to previous link.

June 4. PENTECOST:

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Commentaries for the Vigil of Pentecost

READINGS: Note: in the extended form of the vigil all the readings and responsorials are read, as in the Easter Vigil.

Vigil Mass Readings from the NABRE. Used in the USA.

COMMENTARIES ON THE FIRST READING: Please be aware that for the Vigil Mass there are 4 possible OT reading to choose from.

First Old Testament Reading: Genesis 11:1-9.

First Responsorial: Psalm 33:10-11, 12-13, 14-15.

Second Old Testament Reading: Exodus 19:3-8a, 16-20b. An alternate responsorial can be used with this reading (see “Alt” below).

Second Responsorial: Daniel 3:52, 53, 54, 55, 56.

Alt. Second Responsorial: Psalm 19:8, 9, 10, 11.

Third Old Testament Reading: Ezekiel 37:1-14.

Third Responsorial: Psalm 107:2-3, 4-5, 6-7, 8-9.

Fourth Old Testament Reading: Joel 3:1-5.

COMMENTARIES ON THE RESPONSORIAL: Psalm 104:1-2, 24, 25, 27-28, 29, 30.

COMMENTARIES ON THE SECOND READING: Romans 8:22-27.

COMMENTARIES ON THE GOSPEL: John 7:37-39.

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St Augustine’s Tractates on John 7:32-39

The Following post contains St Augustine’s Tractates 31 and 32 on the Gospel of John, covering chapter 7, verses 25-39. Augustine’s treatment of today’s reading (verses 32-39) begins at paragraph number 8 of Tractate 31 and continues through the end of Tractate 32.

TRACTATE 31 ON JOHN 7:25-36

1. You remember, beloved, in the former discourses,-for it was both read in the Gospel and also discussed by us according to our ability,-how that the Lord Jesus went up to the feast-day, as it were in secret, not because He feared lest He should be laid hold of,-He who had the power not to be laid hold of,-but to signify that even in that very feast which was celebrated by the Jews He Himself was hidden, and that the mystery of the feast was His own. In the passage read to-day then, that which was supposed to be timidity appeared as power; for He spoke openly on the feast-day, so that the crowds marvelled, and said that which we have heard when the passage was read: “Is not this he whom they sought to kill? And, lo, he speaketh openly, and they say nothing. Do the rulers know indeed that this is the Christ?” They who knew with what fierceness He was sought after, wondered by what power He was kept from being taken. Then, not fully understanding His power, they fancied it was the knowledge of the rulers, that these rulers knew Him to be the very Christ, and that for this reason they spared Him whom they had with so much eagerness sought out to be put to death.

2. Then those same persons who had said, “Did the rulers know that this is the Christ?” proposed a question among themselves, by which it appeared to them that He was not the Christ; for they said in addition, “But we know this man whence he is: but when Christ cometh, no man knoweth whence he is.” As to how this opinion among the Jews arose, that “when Christ comes, no man knoweth whence He is” (for it did not arise without reason), if we consider the Scriptures, we find, brethren, that the Holy Scriptures have declared of Christ that “He shall be called a Nazarene.”1 Therefore they foretold whence He is. Again, if we seek the place of His nativity, as that whence He is by birth, neither was this hidden from the Jews, because of the Scriptures which had foretold these things. For when the Magi, on the appearing of a star, sought Him out to worship Him, they came to Herod and told him what they sought and what they meant: and he, having called together those who had knowledge of the law, inquired of them where Christ should be born:they told him, “In Bethlehem of Judah,” andalso brought forward the prophetic testimony.2 If, therefore, the prophets had foretold both the place where the origin of His flesh was, and the place where His mother would bring Him forth, whence did spring that opinion among the Jews which we have just heard, but from this, that the Scriptures had proclaimed beforehand, and had foretold both? In respect of His being man, the Scriptures foretold whence He should be; in respect of His being God, this was hidden from the ungodly, and it required godly men to discover it. Moreover, they said this, “When Christ comes, no man knoweth whence He is,” because that which was spoken by Isaiah produced this opinion in them, viz. “And His generation, who shall tell?”3 In short, the Lord Himself made answer to both, that they both did, and also did not know whence He was; that He might testify to the holy prophecy which before was predicted of Him, both as to the humanity of infirmity and also as to the divinity of majesty.

3. Hear, therefore, the word of the Lord, brethren; see how He confirmed to them both what they said, “We know this man whence he is,” and also what they said, “When Christ cometh, no man knoweth whence He is. Then cried Christ in the temple, saying, Ye both know me, and ye know whence I am: and I am not come of myself, but He that sent me is true, whom ye know not.” That is to say, ye both know me, and ye know me not; ye both know whence I am, and ye know not whence I am. Ye know whence I am: Jesus of Nazareth, whose parents also ye knew. For in this case, the birth of the Virgin alone was hidden, to whom, however, her husband was witness; for the same was able faithfully to declare this, who was also able as a husband to be jealous. Therefore, this birth of the Virgin excepted, they knew all that in Jesus pertains to man: His face was known, His country was known, His family was known; where He was born was to be known by inquiry. Rightly then did He say, “Ye both know me, and ye know whence I am,” according to the flesh and form of man which He bore; but according to His divinity, “And I am not come of myself, but He that sent me is true, whom ye know not;” but yet that ye may know Him, believe on Him whom He has sent, and ye will know Him. For, “No man has seen God at any time, except the only-begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He hath declared Him:”4 and, “None knoweth the Father but the Son, and he to whom the Son wills to reveal Him.”5

4. Lastly, when He had said, “But He that sent me is true, whom ye know not,” in order to show them whence they might know that which they did not know, He subjoined, “I know Him.” Therefore seek from me to know Him. But why is it that I know Him? “Because I am from Him, and He sent me.” Gloriously has He shown both. “I am from Him,” said He; because the Son is from the Father, and whatever the Son is, He is of Him whose Son He is. Hence we say that the Lord Jesus is God of God: we do not say that the Father is God of God, but simply God: and we say that the Lord Jesus is Light of Light; we do not say that the Father is Light of Light, but simply Light. Accordingly, to this belongs that which He said “I am from Him.” But as to my being seen of you in the flesh, “He sent me.” When thou hearest “He sent me,” do not understand a difference of nature to be meant, but the authority of Him that begets.

5. “Then they sought to take Him: but no man laid hands on Him, because His hour was not yet come;” that is, because He was not willing. For what is this. “His hour was not yet come”? The Lord was not born under fate. This is not to be believed concerning thee, much less concerning Him by whom thou wast made. If thy hour is His good will, what is His hour but His good will? He meant not therefore an hour in which He should be forced to die, but that in which He would deign to be put to death. But He was awaiting the time in which He should die, for He awaited also the time in which He should be born. The apostle, speaking of this time, says, “But when the fullness of time came, God sent His Son.”6 For this cause many say, Why did not Christ come before? To whom we must make answer, Because the fullness of time had not yet come, while He by whom the times were made sets their bounds; for He knew when He ought to come. In the first place, it was necessary that He should be foretold through a long series of times and years; for it was not something insignificant that was to come: He who was to be ever held, had to be for a long time foretold. The greater the judge that was coming, the longer the train of heralds that preceded him. In short, when the fullness of time came, He also came who was to deliver us from time. For being delivered from time, we shall come to that eternity where there is no time: there it is not said, When shall the hour come, for the day is everlasting, a day which is neither preceded by a yesterday, nor cut off by a morrow. But in this world days roll on, some are passing away, others come; none abides; and the moments in which we are speaking drive out one another in turn, nor stands the first syllable for the second to sound. Since we began to speak we are somewhat older, and without doubt I am just now older than I was in the morning; thus, nothing stands, nothing remains fixed in time. Therefore ought we to love Him by whom the times were made, that we may be delivered from time and be fixed in eternity, where there is no more changeableness of times. Great, therefore, is the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, in that for our sakes He was made in time, by whom the times were made; that He was made among all things, by whom all things were made; that He became what He made. For He was made what He had made; for He was made man who had made man, lest what He had made should perish. According to this dispensation, the hour of His birth had now come, and He was born; but not yet had come the hour of His suffering, therefore not yet had He suffered.

6. In short, that ye may know that the words refer, not to the necessity of His dying, but to His power,-I speak this for the sake of some who, when they hear “His hour was not yet come,” are determined on believing in fate, and their hearts become infatuated;-that ye may know, then, that it was His power of dying, recollect the passion, look at Him crucified. While hanging on the tree, He said, “I thirst.” They, having heard this, offered to Him on the cross vinegar by a sponge on a reed. He received it, and said, “It is finished;” and, bowing His head, gave up the ghost. You see His power of dying, that He waited for this-until all things should be fulfilled that had been foretold concerning Him-to take place before His death. For the prophet had said, “They gave me gall for my meat; and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.”7 He waited for all these things to be fulfilled: after they were completed, He said, “It is finished;” and He departed by power, because He came not by necessity. Hence some wondered more at this His power to die than at His ability to work miracles. For they came to the cross to take the bodies down from the tree, for the Sabbath was drawing near, and the thieves were found still living. The punishment of the cross was so much the harder because it tortured men so long, and all that were crucified were killed by a lingering death. But the thieves, that they might not remain on the tree, were forced to die by having their legs broken, that they might be taken down thence. The Lord, however, was found to be already dead,8 and the men marvelled; and they who despised Him when living, so wondered at Him when dead, that some of them said, “Truly this was the Son of God.”9 Whence also that, brethren, where He says to those that seek Him, “I am He;” and they, going backward, all fell to the ground?10 Consequently there was in Him supreme power. Nor was He forced to die at an hour; but He waited the hour on which His will might fittingly be done, not that on which necessity might be fulfilled against His will.

7. “But many of the people believed on Him.” The Lord made whole the humble and the poor. The rulers were mad, and therefore they not only did not acknowledge the Physician, but even were eager to slay Him. There was a certain crowd of people which quickly saw its own sickness, and without delay recognized His remedy. See what that very crowd, moved by His miracles, said: “When Christ cometh will He do more signs than these?” Surely, unless there will be two Christs, this is the Christ. Consequently, in saying these things, they believed on Him.

8. But those rulers, having heard the assurance of the multitude, and that murmuring noise of the people in which Christ was being glorified, “sent officers to take Him.” To take whom? Him not yet willing to be taken. Because then they could not take Him while He would not, they were sent to hear Him. teaching. Teaching what? “Then said Jesus, Yet a little while I am with you.”What ye wish to do now ye will do, but not just now; because I am not just now willing. Why am I now as yet unwilling? Because “yet a little while I am with you; and then I go unto Him that sent me.” I must complete my dispensation, and in this manner come to my suffering.

9. “Ye shall seek me, and shall not find me: and where I am, thither ye cannot come.” Here He has already foretold His resurrection; for they would not acknowledge Him when present, and afterwards they sought Him when they saw the multitude already believing on Him For great signs were wrought, even when the Lord was risen again and ascended into heaven. Then mighty deeds were done by His disciples, but He wrought by them as He wrought by Himself: since, indeed, He had said to them, “Without me ye can do nothing.”11 When that lame man who sat at the gate rose up at Peter’s voice, and walked on his feet, so that men marvelled, Peter spoke to them to this effect, that it was not by his own power that he did this, but in the virtue of Him whom they slew.12 Many pricked in the heart said, “What shall we do?” For they saw themselves bound by an immense crime of impiety, since they slew Him whom they ought to have revered and worshipped; and this crime they thought inexpiable. A great wickedness indeed it was, the thought of which might make them despair; yet it did not behove them to despair, for whom the Lord, as He hung on the cross, deigned to pray. For He had said, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.13 He saw some who were His own among many who were aliens; for these He sought pardon, from whom at the time He was still receiving injury. He regarded not that He was being put to death by them, but only that He was dying for them. It was a great thing that was forgiven them, it was a great thing that was done by them and for them, so that no man should despair of the forgiveness of his sin when they who slew Christ obtained pardon. Christ died for us, but surely He was not put to death by us? But those men indeed saw Christ dying by their own villany; and yet they believed on Christ pardoning their villanies. Until they drank the blood they had shed, they despaired of their own salvation. Therefore said He this: “Ye shall seek me, and shall not find me: and where I am, ye cannot come;” because they were to seek Him after the resurrection, being pricked in their heart with remorse. Nor did He say “where I will be,” but “where I am.” For Christ was always in that place whither He was about to return; for He came in such manner that He did not depart from that place. Hence He says in another place, “No man has ascended into heaven, but He who came down from heaven, the Son of man who is in heaven.”14 He said not, who was in heaven. He spoke on the earth, and declared that He was at the same time in heaven. He came in such wise that He departed not thence; and He so returned as not to abandon us. What do ye marvel at? This is God’s doing. For man, as regards his body, is in a place, and departs from a place; and when he comes to another place, he will not be in that place whence he came: but God fills all things, and is all everywhere; He is not held in places according to space. Nevertheless the Lord Christ was, as regards His visible flesh, on the earth: as regards His invisible majesty, He was in heaven and on earth; and therefore He says, “Where I am, thither ye cannot come.” Nor did He say, “Ye shall not be able.” but “ye are not able to come;” for at that time they were such as were not able. And that ye may know that this was not said to cause despair, He said something of the same kind also to His disciples: “Whither I go ye cannot come.”15 Yet while praying in their behalf, He said, “Father, I will that where I am they also may be with me.”16 And, finally, this He expounded to Peter, and says to him, “Whither I go thou canst not follow me now, but thou shalt follow me hereafter.”17

10. “Then said the Jews,” not to Him, but “to themselves, Whither will this man go, that we shall not find him? will he go unto the dispersion among the Gentiles, and teach the Gentiles?” For they knew not what they said; but, it being His will, they prophesied. The Lord was indeed about to go to the Gentiles, not by His bodily presence, but still with His feet. What were His feet? Those which Saul desired to trample upon by persecution, when the Head cried out to him, “Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?”18 What is this saying that He said, “Ye shall seek me, and shall not find me: and where I am, thither ye cannot come?” Wherefore the Lord said this they knew not, and yet they did predict something that was to be without knowing it. For this is what the Lord said that they knew not the place, if place however it must be called, which is the bosom of the Father, from which Christ never departed; nor were they competent to conceive where Christ was, whence Christ never withdrew, whither He was to return, where He was all the while dwelling. How was it possible for the human heart to conceive this, least of all to explain it with the tongue? This, then, they in no wise understood; and yet by occasion of this they foretold our salvation, that the Lord would go to the dispersion of the Gentiles, and would fulfill that which they read but did not understand. “A people whom I have not known served me, and by the hearing of the ear obeyed me,”19 They before whose eyes He was, heard Him not; those heard Him in whose ears He was sounded.

11. For of that Church of the Gentiles which was to come, the woman that had the issue of blood was a type: she touched and was not seen; she was not known and yet was healed. It was in reality a figure what the Lord asked: “Who touched me?” As if not knowing, He healed her as unknown: so has He done also to the Gentiles. We did not get to know Him in the flesh, yet we have been made worthy to eat His flesh, and to be members in His flesh. In what way? Because He sent to us. Whom? His heralds, His disciples, His servants, His redeemed whom He created, but whom He redeemed, His brethren also. I have said but little of all that they are: His own members, Himself; for He sent to us His own members, and He made us His members. Nevertheless, Christ has not been among us with the bodily form which the Jews saw and despised; because this also was said concerning Him, even as the apostle says: “Now I say that Christ was a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers.20 He owed it to have come to those by whose fathers and to whose fathers He was promised. For this reason He says also Himself: “I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”21 But what says the apostle in the following words? “And that the Gentiles might glorify God for His mercy.” What, moreover, saith the Lord Himself? “Other sheep I have which are not of this fold.22 He who had said, “I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel,” how has He other sheep to which He was not sent, except that He intimated that He was not sent to show His bodily presence but to the Jews only, who saw and killed Him? And yet many of them, both before and afterwards, believed. The first harvest was winnowed from the cross, that there might be a seed whence another harvest might spring up. But at this present time, when roused by the fame of the gospel, and by its goodly odor, His faithful ones among all nations believe, He shall be the expectation of the Gentiles, when He shall come who has already come; when He shall be seen by all, He who was then not seen by some, by some was seen; when He shall come to judge who came to be judged; when He shall come to distinguish who came not to be distinguished. For Christ was not discerned by the ungodly, but was condemned with the ungodly; for it was said concerning Him, “He was accounted among the wicked.”23 The robber escaped, Christ was condemned. He who was loaded with criminal accusations received pardon; He who has released from their crimes all who confess Him, was condemned. Nevertheless even the cross itself, if thou considerest it well, was a judgment-seat; for the Judge being set up in the middle, one thief who believed was delivered, the other who reviled was condemned.24 Already He signified what He is to do with the quick and the dead: some He will set on His right hand and others on His left. That thief was like those that shall be on the left hand, the other like those that shall be on the right. He was undergoing judgment, and He threatened judgment.

TRACTATE 32 ON JOHN 7:37-39

1. Among the dissensions and doubtings of the Jews concerning the Lord Jesus Christ, among other things which He said, by which some were confounded, others taught: “On the last day of that feast” (for it was then that these things were done) which is called the feast of tabernacles; that is, the building of tents, of which feast you remember, my beloved, that we have already discoursed, the Lord Jesus Christ calls, not by speaking in any way soever, but by crying aloud, that whoso thirsts may come to Him. If we thirst, let us come; and not by our feet, but by our affections; let us come, not by removing from our place, but by loving. Although, according to the inner man, he that loves does also move from a place. But it is one thing to move with the body, another thing to move with the heart: he migrates with the body who changes his place by a motion of the body; he migrates with the heart who changes his affection by a motion of the heart. If thou lovest one thing, and didst love another thing before, thou art not now where thou wast.

2. Accordingly, the Lord cries aloud to us: for, “He stood and cried out, if any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the Scripture saith., out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.” We are not obliged to delay to inquire what this meant, since the evangelist has explained it. For why the Lord said, “If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink;” and, “He that believeth on me, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water;” the evangelist has subsequently explained, saying: “But this spake He of the Spirit which they that believe on Him should receive. For the Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.” There is therefore an inner thirst and an inner belly, because there is an inner man. And that inner man is indeed invisible, but the outer man is visible; but yet better is the inner than the outer. And this which is not seen is the more loved; for it is certain that the inner man is loved more than the outer. How is this certain? Let every man prove it in himself. For although they who live ill may surrender their minds to the body, yet they do wish to live, and to live is the property of the mind only; and they who rule, manifest themselves more than those things that are ruled. Now it is minds that rule, bodies are ruled. Every man rejoices in pleasure, and receives pleasure by the body: but separate the mind from it, and nothing remains in the body to rejoice; and if there is joy of the body, it is the mind that rejoices. If it has joy of its dwelling, ought it not to have joy of itself? And if the mind has whereof it may have delight outside itself, does it remain without delights within? It is quite certain that a man loves his soul more than his body. But further, a man loves the soul even in another man more than the body. What is it that is loved in a friend, where the love is the purer and more sincere? What in the friend is loved-the mind, or the body? If fidelity is loved, the mind is loved; if benevolence is loved, the mind is the seat of benevolence: if this is what thou lovest in another, that he too loves thee, it is the mind thou lovest, because it is not the flesh, but the mind that loves. For therefore thou lovest, because he loves thee: ask why he loves thee, and then see what it is thou lovest. Consequently, it is more loved, and yet is not seen.

3. I would say something further, by which it may more clearly appear to you, beloved, how much the mind is loved, and how it is preferred to the body. Those wanton lovers even, who delight in beauty of bodies, and are charmed by shapeliness of limbs, love the more when they are loved. For when a man loves, and finds that he is regarded with hatred, he feels more anger than liking. Why does he feel anger rather than liking? Because the love that he bestows is not given him in return. If, therefore, even the lovers of bodies desire to be loved in return, and this delights them more when they are loved, what shall we say of the lovers of minds? And if the lovers of minds are great, what shall we say of the lovers of God who makes minds beautiful? For as the mind gives grace to the body, so it is God that gives grace to the mind. For it is only the mind that causes that in the body by which it is loved; when the mind has left it, it is a corpse at which thou hast a horror; and how much soever thou mayest have loved its beautiful limbs, thou makest haste to bury it. Hence, the ornament of the body is the mind; the ornament of the mind is God.

4. The Lord, therefore, cries aloud to us to come and drink, if we thirst within; and He says that when we have drunk, rivers of living water shall flow from our belly. The belly of the inner man is the conscience of the heart. Having drunk that water then, the conscience being purged begins to live; and drinking in, it will have a fountain, will be itself a fountain. What is the fountain, and what the river that flows from the belly of the inner man? Benevolence, whereby a man will consult the interest of his neighbor. For if he imagines that what he drinks ought to be only for his own satisfying, there is no flowing of living water from his belly; but if he is quick to consult for the good of his neighbor, then he becomes not dry, because there is a flowing. We will now see what it is that they drink who believe in the Lord; because we surely are Christians, and if we believe, we drink. And it is every man’s duty to know in himself whether or not he drinks, and whether he lives by what he drinks; for the fountain does not forsake us if we forsake not the fountain.

5. The evangelist explained, as I have said, whereof the Lord had cried out, to what kind of drink He had invited, what He had procured for them that drink, saying, “But this spake He of the Spirit, which they that believe on Him should receive: for the Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.” What spirit does He speak of, if not the Holy Spirit? For every man has in himself a spirit of his own, of which I spoke when I was commending to you the consideration of the mind. For every man’s mind is his own spirit: of which the Apostle Paul says, “For what man knoweth the things of a man, but the spirit of the man which is in himself?” And then he added, “So also the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.”1 None knows the things that are ours but our own spirit. I indeed do not know what are thy thoughts, nor dost thou know what are mine; for those things which we think within are our own, peculiar to ourselves; and his own spirit is the witness of every man’s thoughts. “So also the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.” We with our spirit, God with His: so, however, that God with His Spirit knows also what goes on within us; but we are not able, without His own Spirit, to know what takes place in God. God, however, knows in us even what we know not in ourselves. For Peter did not know his own weakness, when he heard from the Lord that he would deny Him thrice: the sick man was ignorant of his own condition; the Physician knew him to be sick. There are then certain things which God knows in us, while we ourselves know them not. So far, however, as belongs to men, no man knows a man as he does himself: another does not know what is going on within him, but his own spirit knows it. But on receiving the Spirit of God, we learn also what takes place in God: not the whole, for we have not received the whole. We know many things from the pledge; for we have received a pledge, and the fullness of this pledge shall be given hereafter. Meanwhile, let the pledge console us in our pilgrimage here; because he who has condescended to bind himself to us by a pledge, is prepared to give us much. If such is the token, what must that be of which it is the token?

6. But what is meant by this which he says, “For the Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified?” He is understood to say this in a sense that is evident. For the meaning is not that the Spirit of God, which was with God, was not in being; but was not yet in them who had believed on Jesus. For thus the Lord jesus disposed not to give them the Spirit of which we speak, until after His resurrection; and this not without a cause. And perhaps if we inquire, He will favor us to find; and if we knock, He will open for us to enter. Piety knocks, not the hand though the hand also knocks, if it cease not from works of mercy. What then is the cause why the Lord Jesus Christ determined not to give the Holy Spirit until He should be glorified? which thing before we speak of as we may be able, we must first inquire, lest that should trouble any one, in what manner the Spirit was not yet in holy men, whilst we read in the Gospel concerning the Lord Himself newly born, that Simeon by the Holy Spirit recognized Him; that Anna the widow, a prophetess, also recognized Him;2 that John, who baptized Him, recognized Him;3 that Zacharias, being filled with the Holy Ghost, said many things; that Mary herself received the Holy Ghost to conceive the Lord.4 We have therefore many preceding evidences of the Holy Spirit before the Lord was glorified by the resurrection of His flesh. Nor was it another spirit that the prophets also had, who proclaimed beforehand the coming of Christ. But still, there was to be a certain manner of this giving, which had not at all appeared before. For nowhere do we read before this, that men being gathered together had, by receiving the Holy Ghost, spoken in the tongues of all nations. But after His resurrection, when He first appeared to His disciples, He said to them: “Receive ye the Holy Ghost.” Of this giving then it is said, “The Spirit was not given, because Jesus was not yet glorified. And He breathed upon their faces,”5 He who with His breath enlivened them first man, and raised him up from the clay, by which breath He gave a soul to the limbs; signifying that He was the same who breathed upon their faces, that they might rise out of the mire and renounce their miry works. Then, after His resurrection, which the evangelist calls His glorifying, did the Lord first give the Holy Ghost to His disciples. Then having tarried with them forty days, as the book of the Acts of the Apostles shows, while they were seeing Him and companying with Him, He ascended into heaven in their sight. There at the end of ten days, on the flay of Pentecost, He sent the Holy Ghost from above. Which having received, they, who had been gathered together in one place, as I have said, being filled withal, spoke in the tongues of all nations.

7. How then, brethren, because he that is baptized in Christ, and believes on Him, does not speak now in the tongues of all nations, are we not to believe that he has received the Holy Ghost? God forbid that our heart should be tempted by this faithlessness. Certain we are that every man receives: but only as much as the vessel of faith that he shall bring to the fountain can contain, so much does He fill of it. Since, therefore, the Holy Ghost is even now received by men, some one may say, Why is it that no man speaks in the tongues of all nations? Because the Church itself now speaks in the tongues of all nations. Before, the Church was in one nation, where it spoke in the tongues of all. By speaking then in the tongues of all, it signified what was to come to pass; that by growing among the nations, it would speak in the tongues of all. Whoso is not in this Church, does not now receive the Holy Ghost. For, being cut off and divided from the unity of the members, which unity speaks in the tongues of all, let him declare for himself; he has it not. For if he has it, let him give the sign which was given then. What do we mean by saying, Let him give the sign which was then given? Let him speak in all tongues. He answers me: How then, dost thou speak in all tongues? Clearly I do; for every tongue is mine, namely, of the body of which I am a member. The Church, spread among the nations, speaks in all tongues; the Church is the body of Christ, in this body thou art a member: therefore, since thou art a member of that body which speaks with all tongues, believe that thou too speakest with all tongues. For the unity of the members is of one mind by charity; and that unity speaks as one man then spoke.

8. Consequently, we too receive the Holy Ghost if we love the Church, if we are joined together by charity, if we rejoice in the Catholic name and faith. Let us believe, brethren; as much as every man loves the Church of Christ, so much has he the Holy Ghost. For the Spirit is given, as the apostle saith, “to manifestation.” To what manifestation? Just as the same apostle saith, “For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom, to another the word of knowledge after the same Spirit, to another faith in the same Spirit, to another the gift of healing in one Spirit, to another the working of miracles in the same Spirit.”6 For there are many gifts given to manifestation, but thou, it may be, hast nothing of all those I have said. If thou lovest, it is not nothing that thou hast: if thou lovest unity, whoever has aught in that unity has it also for thee. Take away envy, and what I have is thine too. The envious temper puts men apart, soundness of mind unites them. In the body, the eye alone sees; but is it for itself alone that the eye sees? It sees both for the hand and the foot, and for all the other members. If a blow be coming against the foot, the eye does not turn away from it, so as not to take precaution. Again, in the body, the hand alone works, but is it for itself alone the hand works? For the eye also it works: for if a coming blow comes, not against the hand, but only against the face, does the hand say, I will not move, because it is not coming to me? So the foot by walking serves all the members: all the other members are silent, and the tongue speaks for all. We have therefore the Holy Spirit if we love the Church; but we love the Church if we stand firm in its union and charity. For the apostle himself, after he had said that diverse gifts were bestowed on diverse men, just as the offices of the several members, saith, “Yet I show you a still more pre-eminent way;” and begins to speak of charity. This he put before tongues of men and angels, before miracles of faith, before knowledge and prophecy, before even that great work of mercy by which a man distributes to the poor all that he possesses; and, lastly, put it before even the martyrdom of the body: before all these so great things he put charity. Have it, and thou shalt have all: for without it, whatever thou canst have will profit nothing. But that thou mayest know that the charity of which we are speaking refers to the Holy Spirit (for the question now in hand in the Gospel is concerning the Holy Spirit), hear the apostle when he says, “The charity of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit which is given to us.”7

9. Why then was it the will of the Lord, seeing that the Spirit’s benefits in us are the greatest, because by Him the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts, to give us that Spirit after His resurrection? Why did He signify by this? In order that in our resurrection our love may be inflamed, and may part from the love of the world to run wholly towards God. For here we are born and die: let us not love this world; let us migrate hence by love; by love let us dwell above, by that love by which we love God. In this sojourn of our life let us meditate on nothing else, but that here we shall not always be, and that by good living we shall prepare a place for ourselves there, whence we shall never migrate. For our Lord Jesus Christ, after that He is risen again, “now dieth no more;” “death,” as the apostle says, “shall no more have dominion over Him.”8 Behold what we must love. If we live, if we believe on Him who is risen again, He will give us, not that which men love here who love not God, or love the more the less they love Him, but love this the less the more theylove Him; but let us see what He has promised us. Not earthly and temporal riches, not honors and power in this world; for you see all these things given to wicked men, that they may not be highly prized by the good. Not, in short, bodily health itself, though it is He that gives that also, but that, as you see, He gives even to the beasts. Not long life; for what, indeed, is long that will some day have an end? It is not length of days that He has promised to His believers, as if that were a great thing, or decrepit old age, which all wish for before it comes, and all murmur at when it does come. Not beauty of person, which either bodily disease or that same old age which is desired drives away. One wishes to be beautiful, and also to live to be old: these two desires cannot agree together; if thou shalt be old, thou wilt not be beautiful; when old age comes, beauty will flee away; the vigor of beauty and the groaning of old age cannot dwell together in one body. All these things, then, are not what He promised us when He said, “He that believeth in me, let him come and drink, and out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.” He has promised us eternal life, where we shall have no fear, where we shall not be troubled, whence we shall have no migration, where we shall not die; where there is neither bewailing a predecessor deceased, nor a hoping for a successor. Accordingly, because such is what He has promised to us that love Him, and glow with the charity of the Holy Spirit, therefore He would not give us that same Spirit until He should be glorified, so that He might show in His body the life which we have not now, but which we hope for in the resurrection. (source).

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Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on John 7:37-39

Ver 37. In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come to me, and drink.38. He that believes in me, as the Scripture has said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.39. (But this spoke he of the Spirit, which they that believe in him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.)

CHRYS. The feast being over, and the people about to return home, our Lord gives them provisions for the way: On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come to Me, and drink.

AUG. The feast was then going on, which is called scenopegia, i.e. building of tents.

CHRYS. Which lasted seven days. The first and last days were the most important; In the last day, that great day of the feast, says the Evangelist. Those between were given chiefly to amusements. He did not then make the offer on the first day, or the second, or the third, lest amidst the excitements that were going on, people should let it slip from their minds, He cried out, on account of the great multitude of people present.

THEOPHYL. To make Himself audible, inspire confidence in others, and show an absence of all fear in Himself.

CHRYS. If any thirsts: as if to say, I use no compulsion or violence: I but if any have the desire strong enough, let him come.

AUG. For there is an inner thirst, because there is an inner man: and the inner man of a certainty loves more than the outer. So then if we thirst, let us go not on our feet, but on our affections, not by change of place, but by love.

CHRYS. He is speaking of spiritual drink, as His next words show: He that believes in Me, as the Scripture truth said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. But where here does the Scripture say this? No where. What then? We should read, He that believes in Me, as said the Scripture, putting the stop here; and then, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water: the meaning being, that that was a right kind of belief, which was formed on the evidence of Scripture, not of miracles. Search the Scriptures, he had said before. JEROME. Or this testimony is taken from the Proverbs, where it is said, Let your fountains be dispersed abroad, and rivers of waters in the streets.

AUG. The belly of the inner man, is the heart’s conscience. Let him drink from that water, and his conscience is quickened and purified; he drinks in the whole fountain, nay, becomes the very fountain itself. But what is that fountain, and what is that river, which flows from the belly of the inner man? The love of his neighbor. If any one, who drinks of the water, thinks that it is meant to satisfy himself alone, out of his belly there does not flow living water. But if he does good to his neighbor, the stream is not dried up, but flows.

GREG. When sacred preaching flows from the soul of the faithful, rivers of living water, as it were, run down from the bellies of believers. For what are the entrails of the belly but the inner part of the mind; i.e. a right intention, a holy desire, humility towards God, mercy toward man.

CHRYS. He says, rivers, not river, to show the copious and overflowing power of grace: and living water, i.e. always moving; for when the grace of the Spirit has entered into and settled in the mind, it flows freer than any fountain, and neither fails, nor empties, nor stagnates. The wisdom of Stephen, the tongue of Peter, the strength of Paul, are evidences of this. Nothing hindered them; but, like impetuous torrents, they went on, carrying every thing along with them.

AUG. What kind of drink it was, to which our Lord invited them, the Evangelist next explains; But this He spoke of the Spirit, which they that believe on Him should receive. Whom does the Spirit mean, but the Holy Spirit; For every man has within him his own spirit.

ALCUIN. He promised the Holy Spirit to the Apostles before the Ascension; He gave it to them in fiery tongues, after the Ascension. The Evangelist’s words, Which they that believe in Him should receive, refer to this.

AUG. The Spirit of God was, i.e. was with God, before now; but was not yet given to those who believed on Jesus; for our Lord had determined not to give them the Spirit, till He was risen again: The Holy Ghost was not yet given, because that Jesus was not yet glorified.

CHRYS. The Apostles indeed cast out devils by the Spirit before, but only by the power which they had from Christ. For when He sent them, it is not said, He gave them the Holy Spirit, but, He gave to them power. With respect to the Prophets however, all agree that the Holy Spirit was given to them but this grace had been withdrawn from the world.

AUG. Yet we read of John the Baptist, He shall be filled with the Holy Ghost even from his mother’s womb. And Zacharias was filled with the Holy Ghost, and prophesied. Mary was filled with the Holy Ghost, and prophesied of our Lord. And so were Simeon and Anna, that they might acknowledge the greatness of the infant Christ. We are to understand then that the giving of the Holy Spirit was to be certain, after Christ’s exaltation, in a way in which it never was before. It was to have a peculiarity at His coming, which it had not before. For we no where read of men under the influence of the Holy Spirit, speaking with tongues which they had never known, as then took place, when it was necessary to evidence His coming by sensible miracles.

AUG. If the Holy Spirit then is received now, why is there no one who speaks the tongues of all nations? Because now the Church herself speaks the tongues of all nations. Whoso is not in her, neither does he now receive the Holy Spirit. But if only you love unity, whoever has any thing in her, has it for you. Put away envy, and that which I have is yours. Envy separates, love unites: have it, and you have all things: whereas without it nothing that you can have, will profit you. The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit which its given to us. But why did our Lord give the Holy Spirit after His resurrection? That the flame of love might mount upwards to our own resurrection: separating us from the world, and devoting us wholly to God. He who said, He that believes in Me, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water, has promised life eternal, free from all fear, and change, and death. Such then being the gifts which He promised to those in whom the Holy Spirit kindled the flame of love, He would not give that Spirit till He was glorified: in order that in His own person He might show us that life, which we hope to attain to in the resurrection.

AUG. If this then is the cause why the Holy Spirit was not yet given; viz. because Jesus was not yet glorified; doubtless, the glorification of Jesus when it took place, was the cause immediately of its being given. The Cataphryges, however, said that they first received the promised Paraclete, and thus strayed from the Catholic faith. The Manichaeans too apply all the promises made respecting the Holy Spirit to Manichaeus, as if there were no Holy Spirit given before.

CHRYS. Or thus; By the glory of Christ, He means the cross. For, whereas we were enemies, and gifts are not made to enemies, but to friends, it was necessary that the victim should be first offered up, and the enmity of the flesh removed; that, being made friends of God, we might be capable of receiving the gift.

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Father’s Nolan and Brown’s Commentary on John 7:37-39

Joh 7:37  And on the last, and great day of the festivity, Jesus stood and cried, saying: If any man thirst, let him come to me and drink.
Joh 7:38  He that believeth in me, as the scripture saith: Out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.

On the last day, the great day of the feast, that is, the eighth day, Jesus cried aloud to the people assembled at the temple. His words mean: If anyone thirst spiritually, let him come to Me by faith, and grace shall be abundantly poured into his soul. The words: Out of his belly, &c., are nowhere to be found in the Old Testament; but, as signifying the abundance of grace in the new dispensation, they convey the sense of many passages of the Old Testament. See Is 41:18, 44:3; Ezek 34:25; Joel 2:28.

Joh 7:39  Now this he said of the Spirit which they should receive who believed in him: for as yet the Spirit was not given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.

The Evangelist gives an authentic interpretation of our Lord s words: For as yet the Spirit was not given. These words explain why our Lord spoke of the abundant outpouring of the Spirit as still to come, for the Holy Ghost was not yet given, inasmuch as Christ was not yet glorified (Jn 16:7). When it is said that the Holy Ghost was not yet given, the meaning is, that He was not yet given so abundantly, so manifestly, or so universally, as He has been since the first Pentecost. It is not meant that the Holy Ghost had not been given to the just of the Old Testament. They, as well as we, had the grace of the Holy Ghost in their souls; moreover, according to the common teaching of the fathers and theologians, they, like the just now, had the Holy Ghost united to their souls, not merely by His grace, but also by a substantial union. This union is not, however, peculiar to the Holy Ghost, but is common to the Three Divine Persons, by reason of their unity of nature, and is only by appropriation attributed to the Holy Ghost. See Franz., De Trin., last Disp.; Corl., pp. 198, 199.

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Father Callan’s Commentary on Romans 8:22-27

This post contains a brief summary of Romans 8:14-30 followed by the notes on 8:22-27.

THE CHILDREN OF GOD ARE HEIRS OF FUTURE GLORY

A Summary of Romans 8:14-30~In this section the Apostle considers the qualities of Christians, who are the adopted sons of God. If we are sons of God, we are heirs with Christ, and therefore heirs of future glory (Rom 8:14-18). The certainty of this future glory is proved: (a) from the desire of irrational creatures (Rom 8:19-22); (b) from the desire of the faithful (Rom 8:23-25); (c) from the desire of the Holy Ghost dwelling in us (Rom 8:26, 27); (d) from the designs of God Himself (Rom 8:28-30).

22. For we know that every creature groaneth, and travaileth in pain, even till now.

We know, i.e., we Christians know from revelation (Gen3:17) that the condition of nature is far from what it ought to be, and that it will have a better state hereafter (2 Peter 3:13; Rev 21:1).

Groaneth, and travaileth, as a woman in the pangs of childbirth, who feels the pain of her present state, but looks forward to another one of joy when the child is born (John 16:21). Nature feels its state of bondage even till now, i.e., at the present moment, as it has felt it all along since the Fall; but the figure of parturition here used does not mean that, as in the case of a woman in childbirth, nature is soon to be delivered from its sufferings. Its emancipation will follow only upon the glorification of man.

23. And not only it, but ourselves also, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption of the sons of God, the redemption of our body.

The Apostle now passes to the second argument in favor of the certainty of our future glory. Not only it, i.e., not only irrational nature yearns for deliverance from the present state of corruption, but ourselves also, i.e., all Christians, have the same longing. It is not correct to say, as some of the ancients did, that ourselves refers only to the Apostles.

The first fruits of the Spirit, i.e., the first gifts of the Holy Ghost, such as faith, sanctifying grace, hope, etc., but which are not the fulness of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit that shall be ours in the state of glory. Lagrange and others understand “the first fruits of the Spirit” to mean the Holy Ghost dwelling in us with His grace, who is an earnest and a pledge of the gift of glory hereafter (2 Cor 5:5).

The adoption, i.e., the complete and perfect adoption which will consist in the glorification of both soul and body; now we enjoy only that imperfect adoption which follows upon justification. The last and final fruit of our consummate adoption will be the resurrection and glorification of our body. The body needs redemption, because it became the seat of sin and death (Rom 7:24; 8:11), because it is through the body that we are connected with the physical universe, and because our happiness would not be complete without the redemption of our whole being, body as well as soul.

Of the sons of God (Vulg., filiorum Dei) is not in the Greek.

24. For we are saved by hope. But hope that is seen, is not hope. For what a man seeth, why doth he hope for?

St. Paul shows here that our adoption and salvation are now complete only in hope, and not in reality. Hence τη ελπιδι is a modal dative, which shows the manner in which our redemption is now complete, namely, in hope. Being justified we have already the beginning of our salvation and perfect adoption, the full possession and realization of which waits upon the glorification of both our body and our soul.

As a matter of fact, according to the doctrine of St, Paul, we are saved by faith; we firmly believe that God will save us, and hope vividly anticipates the fulfillment of God’s promises and the realization of all we believe.

But hope that is seen, etc. The meaning is that hope regards an absent object, and not one “that is seen,” that is present. That which is present and is seen, is no longer hoped for.

For what a man seeth, etc. Better, “Who hopeth for what he seeth” (ο γαρ βλεπει τις ελπιζε, as it is in the Vatican MS.).

25. But if we hope for that which we see not, we wait for it with patience.

But if we hope, etc., i.e., it is of the essence of hope to regard not that which is present, but that which we see not; and for this we wait with patient endurance (δι υπομονης), steadily resisting all adverse influences. Patient and firm expectancy is the peculiar quality of Christian hope.

26. Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmity. For we know not what we should pray for as we ought; but the Spirit himself asketh for us with unspeakable groanings.

The third proof of the certainty of our future glory comes from the Holy Ghost who dwells in the faithful soul. As the creature, and as we ourselves yearn for our complete redemption, so likewise does the Holy Spirit, who dwells in our hearts. And this Holy Spirit also helpeth (συναντιλαμβανεται, i.e., lends a helping hand and cooperates with us) the infirmity of our prayers.

For we know not, etc. Although we know in a general way from the Our Father (Matt 6:9) what form our prayers should take, still often we do not know how to ask in particular cases. At these times the Spirit himself comes to our aid and asketh for us, i.e., moves us to ask as we ought (Matt 10:20), putting on our lips unspeakable groanings, i.e., words unintelligible to man, but understood by God. There is question here of an extraordinary kind of prayer in which the soul is absorbed in God, and does not understand what it says or what it does. The state is somewhat comparable to that of the gift of tongues possessed at times by the early Christians who could pray in strange languages without being able to interpret their prayers (1 Cor 14:2-39); but there is not a complete parity between the state here mentioned and that of those early Christians. The gift of tongues has disappeared now, but the inspiration or direction of the Spirit concerning which St. Paul wrote to the Romans is always present to the faithful soul, teaching it how to pray (Matt 10:20).

27. And he that searcheth the hearts, knoweth what the Spirit desireth; because he asketh for the saints according to God.

While the utterance which the Spirit frames for us and puts on our lips may be altogether inexplicable to us and unintelligible to others, nevertheless God, whose science penetrates all the secrets of our hearts (1 Sam 8:39; Ps 7:10), knoweth the desires (το φρονημα) which the Spirit utters through us, i.e., God knows the end to which the petitions of the Spirit tend and the purpose which they serve.

Because (οτι, in the sense of quod, that). God knows not only the desire of the Spirit, but He knows also that what the Spirit asks is always conformable to the divine will (κατα θεον), and tends, therefore, to the fulfillment of the divine decrees and to the consequent salvation of the faithful soul (Cornely).

For the saints (υπερ αγιων) , i.e., on behalf of those who are dear to God, namely, the faithful.

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Bernardin de Piconio on Romans 8:18-27

18. For I reckon that the sufferings of this time are not to be compared with the future glory, which shall be revealed in us.
19. For the expectation of creation looks for the revelation of the sons of God.
20. For the creation was subjected to vanity not willingly, but on account of him who has made it subject in hope.
21. Because the creation itself also shall be set free from the servitude of corruption, into the freedom of the glory of the sons of God
.

The consideration just mentioned, of sharing the sufferings of Christ, need not alarm any who would share his glory. All the sufferings of this life are not worthy of comparison for a moment, are a feather in the balance, compared with the immensity of the inheritance of glory, which shall be revealed to us at the last day. Even the irrational, and the inanimate creation longs in expectation for the revelation of the sons of God. This creation is subject to death and decay, corruption and change, not for its own sake, but on account of man, whose needs it subserves; but this is not for ever. At the resurrection it shall be delivered from this condition of perpetual change, corruption, and renewal, and have its part, according to its measure and degree, in the freedom of the glory of the sons of God.

18. Revealed in us. The Greek text has to us. Revealed from heaven, in our sight. But the worthless glory of this world is wholly external, a lightning flash, a breath of fame. The glory of God will be inherent in us, in soul and body, coexistent and superexistent. In us, but not from us, or of us, but of God.

19. By a personification the Apostle figures the inferior creation as longing earnestly for the day of the revelation of the sons of God. The Greek word αποκαραδοκια (apokaradokia)  signifies the attitude of a listener in earnest expectation. This statement must be considered in some degree poetical and figurative, at least as regards the inanimate creation.

It is not now always apparent who are the sons of God. Many appear so, who are not so in reality; others are so, but are not known to be. That day shall be the revelation of the sons of God.

Why should the Christian fear that for which all creation ardently longs?

21. The creature itself also shall be set free. Change, generation, corruption, the movements of the heavenly bodies, will all cease. The elements will be endowed with new qualities and powers. There will be new heavens, a new earth. As the nurse of a young king participate in the regal splendour at the coronation; or as slaves are magnificently arrayed for their master’s glory.
Saint Chrysostom.

22. For we know that all creation groans and labours as in travail until now.
23. And not only these things, but we ourselves also, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, we also groan within ourselves, looking out for the adoption of the sons of God, the redemption of our body
.

22. Heaven and earth, all the elements and all the creatures, from the beginning of the world till now, groan and cry, as if in the pains of labour, earnestly longing for the reign of their Creator, and the redemption into freedom of the sons of God, for whose service they were made. And yet we, those very sons of God, love our own slavery, fear the coming of our liberator, tremble at his approach, recoil in terror from the thought of that
kingdom, for the coming of which we daily pray.

Be not lowered below the level of the inferior creation. Do not acquiesce in, and be satisfied with things present:but longing for the kingdom of God, groan for the delay of our departure from this world. Saint Chrysostom.

23. Not the lower creation only, but we also, the Apostles, the first believers, who have received first and most abundantly the gifts of the Holy Spirit, faith, hope, charity, all Christian graces and supernatural gifts, and the miraculous powers then frequent in the early church, yet weighed down by the body of this death, groan within ourselves, panting for the full completion of our adoption, when, by the immortality of the body, we shall be set free from mortality, concupiscence, and all the ills and miseries of life. Not satisfied with what we have received, but rather allured to the desire of a more perfect promise. The gifts given us in this life are first fruits, the beginnings of complete redemption, urging the Saints of God to look forward to the full harvest.

24. For we are saved by hope. But hope which is seen, is not hope: for what one sees, why does he hope?
25. But if we hope for what we see not, we wait for it in patience.
26. Likewise also the Spirit helps our infirmity: for we know not what to pray for as we ought: but the Spirit himself prays for us with unutterable groanings.
27. But he who searches hearts, knows what the Spirit wants: because he prays for the Saints according to God
.

24. We are saved by hope, not yet in effect and reality. The completion of our salvation is yet subject to hope. That which we possess is no longer a hope. The wicked pass their lives in good things, in the enjoyment of pleasure; but they groan when they come to die. The faithful groan in this life, and rejoice to leave it. I was glad in what was said tome, we will go into the house of the Lord.

26. Our weakness and infirmity are so great that we know not what to pray for, or how to pray so as to be heard. But the Spirit who dwells within us, and cares for each of us, prays for us and in us with an earnestness and intensity which no language can describe. God, who searches the heart, knows, though we know not, what the Spirit within us so earnestly longs for, and so earnestly
demands. And this prayer is always in accordance with his will, for the Spirit demands what is required for the salvation of the Saints and their advancement to glory.

Helps our infirmity. Aids us and raises us, with the strength of his Almighty hand, when we are about to sink or fail. The Spirit prays not alone, but in us, with us, for us, through us, urging and exciting us to pray.

We are so miserable, as to be in want of all things; so weak, that we cannot ask for what we want; so ignorant that we know not what to ask for. The charity of the Holy Spirit in our hearts opens our eyes to see our misery, teaches us to recognise and long for, strengthens us to ask and implore, the grace we require to make us what we ought to be, and that with fervour and earnestness which the most experienced cannot understand, much less
describe.

27. He prays for the Saints. Only for the Saints? No doubt the Holy Spirit also urges sinners to prayer, in whom as yet he does not dwell, and in such a way that their prayer is effectual, and obtains what is necessary for their salvation, if it be pious and persevering.

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St Robert Bellarmine’s Commentary on Psalm 107

All are invited to give thanks to God for his perpetual providence over men

1 GIVE glory to the Lord, for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.
2 Let them say so that have been redeemed by the Lord, whom he hath redeemed from the hand of the enemy: and gathered out of the countries.
3 From the rising and from the setting of the sun, from the north and from the sea.

This is the preface of the Psalm, in which David exhorts all who have experienced the mercies of the Lord to declare his praise, and especially to give glory to the Lord himself; because he is truly good and merciful, and his mercy never fails. He specially invites the faithful, redeemed by the blood of his only begotten from the bondage of a most powerful enemy, the prince of darkness, who held them in bonds at his own discretion, whom he afterwards collected and gathered together to be one people, one Church, one kingdom, children of his delight, not from Egypt or Babylon, as formerly were the Jews, but “from the rising and the setting of the sun, from the north and from the sea;” that is, from the four quarters of the world, as we read in Jn. 10. “And other sheep I have that are not of the fold; them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice, and there shall be one fold and one shepherd;” and in chap. 11, “For Jesus should die for the nation, and not only for the nation but to gather together into one the children of God that were dispersed.” Though all the faithful, whether Jew or gentile, are specially invited, still the invitation applies in general to all men who may have been at any time, or in any place whatever, delivered by the Lord from any manner of trouble; for redemption is frequently used in the Scripture for any manner of delivery or salvation, without any price having been paid for it. It also applies to those who may have been delivered from the hand—that is, from the power of any enemy; and, finally, to those who may have been delivered from any exile or dispersion in any extremity of the world, and brought back to their country and reunited to their people. The whole world is included in the verse, “from the rising and from the setting of the sun, from the north and from the sea;” in other words, from east to west, from north to south.

4 They wandered in a wilderness, in a place without water: they found not the way of a city for their habitation.
5 They were hungry and thirsty: their soul fainted in them.
6 And they cried to the Lord in their tribulation: and he delivered them out of their distresses.
7 And he led them into the right way, that they might go to a city of habitation.
8 Let the mercies of the Lord give glory to him: and his wonderful works to the children of men.
9 For he hath satisfied the empty soul, and hath filled the hungry soul with good things.

This is the first part of the Psalm, containing an explanation of the first affliction. There are four afflictions of the body common to all, and there are also four spiritual afflictions. The corporeal afflictions are hunger and thirst, caused by the infecundity of the earth, or by want of rain; that is to say, from some natural cause extrinsic to the sufferers; secondly, captivity, caused by the violence of others, that is, from some voluntary, extrinsic source; thirdly, disease or sickness, which arises from some intrinsic source, from bad constitution; and fourthly, the danger of shipwreck, caused by an external, natural cause, as also by an internal and voluntary cause, namely, man’s curiosity, which, not content with the solidity of the earth, must needs make trial of the liquid deep. There are also four spiritual afflictions, called by theologians natural wounds, wounds left in us through original sin; they are ignorance, concupiscence, bad temper, and malice; to which are opposed prudence, temperance, patience, and justice, which are called the four cardinal virtues. In this first division of the Psalm, then, the prophet sings of God’s mercy in delivering us from the first of these afflictions, including both corporal and spiritual; and though he appears to allude barely to the hunger and thirst the Jews suffered in the desert, still, the principles laid down by him are universal, and are applicable to all; and thus, he says, “They wandered in a wilderness, in a place without water.” Many, in quest of their country, have wandered through a pathless country, and one without water, as occurred to the Jews for forty years. “They found not the way of a city for their habitation,” after straying for a long time, and in all directions, they found no way leading to a city where they may safely rest and dwell. “They were hungry and thirsty, their soul fainted in them.” In their wanderings they met with neither meat nor drink, and they in consequence, all but gave up the ghost. “And they cried to the Lord in their tribulation;” when all human aid failed them they appealed to God, “and he delivered them out of their distresses.” He was not found wanting when they appealed to him, but with that mercy that characterizes him, he delivered them. And he led them into the right way, that they might go to a city of habitation;” the mode he chose for delivering them was to show them the shortest possible way to the city where he dwelt himself. “Let the mercies of the Lord give glory to him.” It is, therefore, only right and just that such benefits conferred on man by God in his mercy, should be praised and acknowledged by all, as true favors from God; “and his wonderful works to the children of men;” the wonderful things he did for the liberation of mankind should also be duly praised and acknowledged. “For he hath satisfied the empty soul.” Because he provided the most extraordinary food, prepared by the hands of the Angels, for a lot of hungry people in the desert, nigh exhausted for want of food. This, as we have already said, is most applicable to the food provided for the Jews; but there can be no doubt but the prophet meant, by this example, to teach all those who have been rescued from ignorance and from the misery of thirst and hunger, that they owe their deliverance to God, and that they should, therefore, thank his mercy. And there can be no doubt but the prophet had specially before his mind that ignorance of the way of salvation, under which so many labor, and who stray about, as it were in a desert, hungering and thirsting for the knowledge of truth, the source of wisdom and of prudence. We naturally look for happiness. There is no one that does not look for it, and, therefore, for the way that leads to it; however, many, preoccupied by the thoughts and the desires of passing good, look for happiness where it is not to be found; nay, even look upon that to be happiness which is anything but happiness; and when they know not in what it consists, naturally know not the way that leads to it. Thus, in their strayings and wanderings, they never find, though they are always hungering and thirsting for the city of their true habitation; because the longings of an immortal soul, capable of appreciating supreme happiness, can never be content with the things of this world, miserable and transitory as they are; while those whom God “hath redeemed from the hand of the enemy,” and “gathered out of the countries,” beginning to feel their own blindness, through the great gift of God’s mercy, “they cry to the Lord,” and are heard by him; they are “led into the right way, that leads to the city;” they know that the kingdom of God is their ultimate end, and that justice is the means of acquiring it; “hungering and thirsting,” then, for justice, they run to the fountain of grace, and, refreshed from that fountain, they arrive at the heavenly city, where they are filled and satisfied with all manner of good things, so that they never hunger or thirst again for all eternity.

10 Such as sat in darkness and in the shadow of death: bound in want and in iron.
11 Because they had exasperated the words of God: and provoked the counsel of the most High:
12 And their heart was humbled with labours: they were weakened, and there was none to help them.
13 Then they cried to the Lord in their affliction: and he delivered them out of their distresses.
14 And he brought them out of darkness, and the shadow of death; and broke their bonds in sunder.
15 Let the mercies of the Lord give glory to him, and his wonderful works to the children of men.

This is the second part of the Psalm, in which he reviews the deliverance from the second affliction, corporal as well as spiritual. The second corporal affliction consists in captivity, through which poor creatures are shut up in dark prisons, bound with chains, and loaded with manacles. He seems to allude to the captivity of the Jews, under various persecutors, in the time of the judges, or perhaps under Pharao; for David does not seem to have taken much trouble in relating matters chronologically; the more so as what he states here is applicable to all captives, to all in chains and fetters, who may at any time have been liberated through the mercy of the Lord. “Such as sat in darkness and in the shadow of death, bound in want and in iron;” that is to say, I have known others who were taken by the enemy and were shut up in loathsome prisons and dense darkness, and were loaded with chains and reduced to beggary, “because they had exasperated the words of God, and provoked the counsel of the Most High.” These were justly afflicted and punished in that manner, because they disregarded God’s precepts and despised his advice. “Exasperating God’s words” means provoking him to anger when he speaks or commands, which is done by those who do not keep his commandments. They, too, may be said to “exasperate God’s words” who provoke his very commandments to anger; for, as the commandments of God crown those that observe them, so they punish those that transgress them; and in this manner they who transgress the commandments provoke them against themselves. There is a certain amount of figurative language in the whole; for “God’s words” mean God, in his discourse or his commands; and the word “exasperating” means God’s punishment being as grievous as if he were capable of being exasperated. A similar figure of speech appears in the following sentence: “and provoked the counsel of the Most High;” for the “counsel of the Most High” must be understood as applying to God in his goodness, with the best intentions, irritated by those who opposed them; or “provoked” may be rendered as condemning or despising, for those who do either provoke, that is, excite to anger. “And their heart was humbled with labor;” their pride was brought down by captivity, chains, and fetters. They are just the things to do it. “They were weakened, and there was none to help them.” They were not able to resist their enemies; and thus, having no one to help them, were led off in captivity. “Then they cried to the Lord” etc.; then they began to implore the divine assistance, to free them as well from their dark prisons as from their chains and fetters; and, to show the extent of their obligations to him, he adds, “he broke gates of brass and burst iron bars,” to show how firmly secured they bad been, and what power is required to liberate them; and thus, on the whole, they are proved to have been delivered from a most severe and wretched captivity. Now, the second spiritual affliction consists in the concupiscence of this world—such as its goods, its wealth, its pleasure, which, like so many chains and fetters, so tie a man down that, though he is fully aware of true happiness existing in God alone, and that, while he remains here below, he must mortify his members, still he remains a captive, without being able to stir, if the grace of God will not set him free. The beginning of his freedom must have its source in his own humility. He must feel that he is a captive, that he has no strength in him, that his heart has been humbled in his labors, and, satisfied of there being no one able to help him but the one heavenly Father, he must, with a contrite and humble heart, with much interior sorrow, exclaim, Lord, I suffer violence; look on me, and have mercy on me. “Unhappy man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” The mercy of the Father will most surely be at hand to bring the captive from his prison, to burst his fetters, so that, on gaining his liberty, he can with joy exclaim, “Lord, thou hast broken my bonds, I will sacrifice to thee the sacrifice of praise.”

16 Because he hath broken gates of brass, and burst iron bars.
17 He took them out of the way of their iniquity: for they were brought low for their injustices.
18 Their soul abhorred all manner of meat: and they drew nigh even to the gates of death.
19 And they cried to the Lord in their affliction: and he delivered them out of their distresses.
20 He sent his word, and healed them: and delivered them from their destructions.
21 Let the mercies of the Lord give glory to him: and his wonderful works to the children of men.
22 And let them sacrifice the sacrifice of praise: and declare his works with joy.

The third part of the Psalm, treating of the third corporeal affliction, which is a most severe disease and languor, such as that of the children of Israel, when God afflicted them with a great plague, through the fiery serpents, so that numbers of them were constantly dying; but no sooner did they cry out to God than they were delivered; and, in like manner, no matter how anyone, or to what extent they may be struck down by sickness or disease, if they will seriously, from the bottom of their heart, in firm faith, and with the other requisites, invoke the Almighty, they will most assuredly be delivered. To enter into particulars, especially as regards expressions not explained before. “He took them out of the way of their iniquity; for they were brought low for their injustices.” We must, of necessity, supply something here; for instance, God saw some of them lying prostrate, “and took them,” that is, raised them up, “out of the way of their iniquity,” in which they were miserably plunged; “for they were brought low for their injustices,” even to the very earth; “their soul abhorred all manner of meat; and they drew nigh even to the gates of death.” The disease must have been very severe when they refused the food necessary to support life, so that death must have, in consequence, been actually at their doors. “He sent his word, and healed them.” And he explains how, by the will or by the command of God alone, without the brazen serpent, or any other created thing; not that things created, such as drugs and medicines, are of no use, but that they have their virtue and efficacy from God, and without his cooperation they are of no value; but God, of himself, without their intervention or application, by his sole word and command, can heal and cure all manner of diseases; in which sense we are to understand that passage in Wisdom, “For it was neither herb nor mollifying plaster that healed them, but thy word, O Lord, which healeth all things;” and, in a few verses before, speaking of those who had been bitten by the fiery serpents, and were cured by looking on the brazen one, he says, “For he that turned to it was not healed by that which he saw, but by the Savior of all.” David speaks figuratively when he says, “He sent his word, and healed them;” as if his word were a messenger or an ambassador on the occasion; unless, perhaps, he alludes to the mission of the Word incarnate, through whom many were healed of their corporeal diseases, and without whom nobody could be healed of their spiritual diseases. “For there is no other name under heaven given to men whereby we must be saved.” The third spiritual affliction consists in the infirmity or weakness and frailty of human nature, corrupted by sin. There are many who understand thoroughly what they ought to do, and are anxious to do it; but they either have no strength, or have not sufficient strength to do it, until they get it from on high. They are also, not infrequently, so affected by a sort of languor or listlessness, that their soul loathes all manner of food; not that they are led into any error, or seduced by any evil concupiscence, but they take no delight in God’s word, they know not what it is to feel any heavenly aspirations, and they run the risk of suffering from hunger, not for want of wherewith to satisfy themselves, but from sheer fastidiousness; and such temptations are neither trifling nor uncommon. They have great need of “crying to the Lord,” to rectify their bad taste, and bring them to have a desire for the milk of divine consolation; and when they shall have begun to relish the things that are from above, and to taste how sweet is the Lord, let them not take the merit of it to themselves; but “Let the mercies of the Lord give glory to him; let them sacrifice the sacrifice of praise, and declare his works with joy;” for it clearly is the work of God, and not of man, to make man, accustomed to nothing but the things of this earth, and to what he sees, to have an ardent desire for and feel a sweet relish in the things of the other world, that are hidden from him.

23 They that go down to the sea in ships, doing business in the great waters:
24 These have seen the works of the Lord, and his wonders in the deep.
25 He said the word, and there arose a storm of wind: and the waves thereof were lifted up.
26 They mount up to the heavens, and they go down to the depths: their soul pined away with evils.
27 They were troubled, and reeled like a drunken man; and all their wisdom was swallowed up.
28 And they cried to the Lord in their affliction: and he brought them out of their distresses.
29 And he turned the storm into a breeze: and its waves were still.
30 And they rejoiced because they were still: and he brought them to the haven which they wished for.
31 Let the mercies of the Lord give glory to him, and his wonderful works to the children of men.
32 And let them exalt him in the church of the people: and praise him in the chair of the ancients.

This is the fourth part of the Psalm, in which God is praised for his care of those that are in danger at sea. No example of such danger, previous to David’s time, occurs in the Scriptures, but subsequent to David, we have that of Jonas, of the Apostles, and of St. Paul. “They that go down to the sea in ships.” They who cross the deep, and are engaged either in rowing, reefing, or setting the sails, know from experience many wonderful works of God, that many know nothing whatever of, or if they do, have it only from hearsay; for instance, the fury of the storm, the raging and roaring of the waves, the immense extent and depth of the sea, the constant and imminent danger that surrounds them, and the fear that will so lay hold on them betimes, as to make the hearts of the bravest quail. “He said the word and there arose a storm of wind;” God spoke, and the storm, in obedience to its Creator, at once arose, sprung up, and, in consequence, “the waves were lifted up;” so that they seemed almost to touch the skies; and, ultimately, to expose the lowest depths of the sea; “their soul pined away with evils;” fear so laid hold on them, that they became incapable of any manner of exertion; nay more, “They were troubled and reeled like a drunken man and all their wisdom was swallowed up;” a most natural description of the state of those in danger from shipwreck; they lose all presence of mind, can adopt no fixed counsel, and, consequently, cannot act upon any; “and all their wisdom,” in steering and righting a ship, if ever they had any, seems to have entirely taken leave of them. “And they cried to the Lord in their affliction.” This verse, occurring now for the fourth time, has been already explained, and the other verses do not seem to need any.—Now, the fourth spiritual affliction is that malice of the will, which principally consists in pride, that is the queen of vice. And, in fact, when the blasts of pride begin to play upon the sea of the human heart then the billows of its desires are raised up even to the very heavens. We are all acquainted with the language of the prince of the sons of pride, “I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God, I will ascend above the height of the clouds, I will be like the Most High.” It was by him the giants of old were inspired to set about building the tower of Babel, that was to have reached the sky. The descendants of those people are they who seek to add kingdoms to kingdoms, and empires to empires; and to whose ambition there is no bounds; whereas, if they would enter into themselves and carefully consider the fearful storms of reflection, suspicion, fear, desires, presumption and despair, that continually harass them, and must, finally, overwhelm them, they would undoubtedly have cried to God, who would in his pity and mercy have delivered them from such a mass of evils; for he would have infused the spirit of his Son into their hearts, to teach them meekness and humility, that the raging billows of their desires, being thus composed, they may find rest for their souls, and be brought into the harbor of his good will; into that harbor of peace and tranquillity that is naturally coveted by all mankind. And this being the greatest favor of God’s mercy, they would naturally chant, “Let the mercies of the Lord give glory to him, and his wonderful works to the children of men.”

33 He hath turned rivers into a wilderness: and the sources of waters into dry ground:
34 A fruitful land into barrenness, for the wickedness of them that dwell therein.

This is the second part of the Psalm. After having sung of the mercy of God in warding off the four afflictions, he now praises him for the omnipotence and providence through which he sometimes changes the nature of things, proving himself thereby to be their Maker and Ruler. He first says that God sometimes “turned rivers into a wilderness, and the sources of waters into dry ground,” that is, that when it pleased him, he dried up entire rivers, and caused the places inundated by them to become perfectly dry; “a fruitful land into barrenness,” which is intelligible enough, “for the wickedness of them that dwell therein,” as a punishment for the wickedness of its inhabitants; an example of which we have in Genesis, where we read, “And Lot lifting up his eyes saw all the country about the Jordan, which was watered throughout, before the Lord destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, as the paradise of the Lord,” and yet this beautiful and fertile country, a paradise in itself, was dried up by sulphur and fire from heaven, and condemned to everlasting sterility.

35 He hath turned a wilderness into pools of waters, and a dry land into water springs.
36 And hath placed there the hungry; and they made a city for their habitation.
37 Anti they sowed fields, and planted vineyards: and they yielded fruit of birth.
38 And he blessed them, and they were multiplied exceedingly: and their cattle he suffered not to decrease.

On the other hand, God, when he chose, “turned a wilderness into pools of waters;” caused rivers to flow in desert lands, where they were unknown, and made streams of pure water to run where they never ran before. That made the land habitable; men began to build there, to till the land, and to reap its fruits; and thus man and beast began to multiply thereon. It is not easy to determine what land the prophet alludes to; for, though God brought water from the rock for his people, they did not tarry nor settle there, nor build houses there; and when he brought them into the land of promise, there were rivers, cities, houses, and fields all ready for them. I am, therefore, of opinion that the prophet refers to some early colonization subsequent to the deluge; for, as well as he turned the fertile plains of Sodom and Gomorrah into a wilderness, so he also caused rivers to run, and cities to spring up in places that were previously waste and desolate. Isaias seems to have this passage in view when he says, “I will turn the desert into pools of waters and the impassable land into streams of waters;” and St. Jerome says that he therein alludes to the condition of the gentiles, who were at one time desert and uncultivated, without faith, without the law, without the prophets or the priesthood; but were afterwards to be highly nourished, through Christ, with the gifts of the Holy Ghost; and, therefore, St. Augustine very properly applies this passage to the synagogue, as contrasted with the Church. The synagogue, that one timed abounded in the waters of the word of God, and like a fertile soil, produced its prophets and priests, had its altars, sacrifices, miracles, and visions, now desert and barren, is turned into dry ground, with not one of those things; while, on the other hand, the Church of the gentiles, from having been dry and barren, is turned into pools of water, is become most fertile, replete with the choicest fruit, and has come to be the people of the Lord, the Church of the living God, a holy nation, a royal priesthood, where alone is to be found the true sacrifice, true priests, true miracles, true holiness, true wisdom, and, finally, all the gifts of the Holy Ghost.

39 Then they were brought to be few: and they were afflicted through the trouble of evils and sorrow.
40 Contempt was poured forth upon their princes: and he caused them to wander where there was no passing, and out of the way.
41 And he helped the poor out of poverty: and made him families like a flock of sheep.
42 The just shall see, and shall rejoice, and all iniquity shall stop her mouth.
43 Who is wise, and will keep these things; and will understand the mercies of the Lord?

The prophet now teaches us that there is nothing on earth stable or permanent, for they who have been at one time blessed by God, and multiplied through his blessing, in a little time after have been, by reason of their sins, cut away and reduced to nothing; and they who abound in all the good things of this world have, for the same reason, been driven to the direst extremities; and such has proved to be the case, not only with ordinary mortals, but even with princes whose sins have caused God to bring them to be condemned, by his having deprived them of wisdom and prudence, and thus, in consequence, making many and grievous mistakes in all their affairs. However, at the same time, men of honor and virtue were to be found, raised up by God from poverty, and fed and nourished by him as his own sheep. Hence, ultimately, divine providence caused the just to rejoice, and the wicked to be confounded. What has been said, in general, regarding God’s providence towards mankind, applies also to his special providence in regard of the Church, which grew up in a short time; and soon after was lessened, harassed, and afflicted by heresy and schisms; “her princes,” that is, her bishops and priests, were held in contempt, for numbers of them fell back from the path of their predecessors, who had set such an example of holiness and piety to the people over whom they had been placed. However, the Church was not abandoned to such an extent altogether as not to leave a considerable number of princes, and bishops, and priests, and holy laics, whom God enriched with spiritual favors, and whom, as being his own sheep, he led to the choicest pastures, and made them increase and multiply. To come now to the text. “Then they were brought to be few,” after increasing to such an extent, their numbers began to be reduced “and they were afflicted with the troubles of evil and sorrow;” after having had such a flow of prosperity they began to feel sad reverses. “Contempt was poured forth upon their princes.” One of the greatest misfortunes that could befall any people is to have their rulers, whether secular or ecclesiastical, objects of contempt. “And he caused them to wander where there was no passing, and out of the way.” The reason why they were despised was, because the princes aforesaid, having been deserted by the light of grace, in consequence of their own sins, as well as those of their people, did not walk in the right way; that is to say they led a bad and immoral life, scandalized the people by their bad example, and made bad laws in favor of the wicked, and against the just. Observe, that when God is said to procure those things, he does not do it directly: he does it indirectly, by withdrawing the light of his grace. “And he helped the poor out of poverty.” As well as he suffered the proud and haughty princes to fall, and rendered them objects of contempt, so, on the contrary, he raised up the poor and the humble, “and made him families like a flock of sheep;” multiplied his posterity, blessed and protected them as a shepherd would his own sheep. “The just shall see and shall rejoice: and all iniquity shall stop her mouth.” The consequence of this providence of God will be, that the just will rejoice and express their joy in praising and glorifying God; and “all iniquity,” all the malicious and the wicked will be struck dumb, and will not presume to offer the slightest opposition. This we sometimes see in partial instances; but it will be fully developed and made apparent only on the day of general judgment.

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St Robert Bellarmine’s Commentary on Psalm 19

Ps 19:2 The heavens shew forth the glory of God, and the firmament declareth the work of his hands.

Being about to institute a comparison between the law of God and his heavens, and thence to extol his law, he sets out by saying, that such are the grandeur of the heavens, that they at once proclaim the grandeur of their Maker. The heavens show forth the glory of God;” that is to say, the heavens preeminently, beyond all the other works of God, by their grandeur and beauty make his glory known to us; “and the firmament declareth the work of his hands.” The same repeated, for heavens and firmament signify the same thing, namely, the whole celestial display, consisting of son, moon, stars, etc., for we read in Genesis, that “God called the firmament heaven,” and in it placed the sun, moon, and stars. The word “heaven,” and “heavens,” are used indiscriminately in the Psalms, and governed by verbs in the plural, as well as the singular number, as are all nouns of multitude. The firmament, comprising all the heavenly bodies, announces and declares to men the work of the hands of God; that is his principal and most beautiful work, from which we may form some idea of his greatness and his glory.

Ps 19:3 Day to day uttereth speech, and night to night sheweth knowledge.

What a beautiful announcement is that of God’s glory by the heavens. For three reasons. First because they announce it incessantly. Second, because they do it in the language of all nations. Third, because they announce it to the whole world. How do they do it incessantly? This verse shows us how, for the heavens announce his glory day and night by the beauty of the sun in the day, and that of the stars by night; but as the days and nights pass away, and are succeeded by others, the Psalmist most beautifully and poetically imagines one day having performed his course, and spent it in announcing the glory of God, and then hands over the duty to the following day to do likewise; and so with the night, having done her part, gives in charge to the following night to do the same; and thus, “Day to day uttereth speech:” when its course has run, it warns the following to be ready, “And night to night indicates knowledge.” When the night too has finished her task of praising God, she warns the following to be ready for the duty; and thus, without intermission, without interruption, day and night fall in, and lead the choir in chanting the praises of their Creator.

Ps 19:4 There are no speeches nor languages, where their voices are not heard.

He now proves that the preaching of the heavens is delivered in all languages, that is to say, can be understood by all nations, as if the heavens spoke in the language of every one of them: because all nations, when they behold the beauty and the excellence of the heavens, cannot but understand the excellence and the superiority of him who made them.

Ps 19:5 Their sound hath gone forth into all the earth: and their words unto the ends of the world.

The third source of praise of the eloquence of the heavens is, that they announce God’s glory, not only without intermission, and in all languages, but they do it, furthermore, all over the world. By sound is not meant noise, but the announcement of that glory that arises from beholding the beauty of the heavenly bodies. “Into all the earth,” and “Into the ends of the world,” mean the same, and is only a repetition of frequent use in the Psalms. St. Paul quotes this passage in proof of the preaching of Christ having reached all nations; from which we are to understand, that the apostles are allegorically meant here by the heavens. And in truth, the holy apostles and other holy preachers of the word, may deservedly be so compared to the heavens. For, by contemplation they are raised above the earth, ample through their charity, splendid through their wisdom, always serene through their peace of mind, through their intelligence quickly moved by obedience, thundering in their reproofs, flashing by their miracles, profuse in their gifts to others; and, in the spirit of true liberality, seeking nothing from them; free from the slightest speck, as regards sanctity of life; and, finally, the resting place of the supreme king, by reason of their perfect sanctity. “For the soul of the just is the seat of wisdom.”

19:6 He hath set his tabernacle in the sun: and he as a bridegroom coming out of his bridechamber, Hath rejoiced as a giant to run the way:

Though the whole heavens declare the glory of God, the most splendid object in them, the sun, does so especially. The sun, then, being the most excellent object in the entire world, there God “Set his tabernacle.” He calls it a tabernacle, not a house, because he dwells there only for a while, during this short time of our peregrination, when we see him “Through a glass,” the glass of creatures, of which the sun is the principal. But when we shall come to our country, we shall see God, not “In his tabernacle in the sun,” but in his own home, the home of eternity. The prophet proves that God “Set his tabernacle in the sun,” by three arguments: the first, derived from its beauty, the second, from its strength, the third, from its beneficence. “And he as a bridegroom coming out of his bride chamber.” Here is the argument from his beauty. He rises, beautiful, bright, ornamented as a bridegroom in his wedding garments; and what can be grander, more beautiful, or more striking than the rising sun?

Ps 19:7 His going out is from the end of heaven, And his circuit even to the end thereof: and there is no one that can hide himself from his heat.

A second argument front the sun’s power and strength, which performs an immeasurable journey daily at such speed, without the smallest fatigue. “He rejoiced as a giant,” or as a stout, robust person, full of alacrity, (for such is the force of the Hebrew,) such as is peculiar to those who enter on anything with pleasure. “His going out is from the end of heaven, and his circuit even to the end thereof.” By the end of heaven is meant the east, for there he rises, and never stops till he comes there again; and thus, “His circuit is even to the end thereof: and there is no one that can hide himself from his heat.” The last argument, taken from the service rendered unto all created things by the sun. For the sun, by his enlivening heat, so fosters and nourishes all things, that he may be called the common parent of all things, on land and in the sea. Hence, the sun so assiduously and carefully traverses the entire globe, visits all creation, “That nothing can hide itself;” that is, lose a share of his wonderful favors.

Ps 19:8 The law of the Lord is unspotted, converting souls: the testimony of the Lord is faithful, giving wisdom to little ones.

The comparison is now applied. Beautiful are the heavens, more beautiful is the sun, but far and away more beautiful is the law of the Lord. Bright are the heavens, more bright is the sun, but much more bright is the law of the Lord. Useful are the heavens to man, more useful is the sun, but more useful than any is the law of the Lord. He then enumerates six encomiums of the divine law. First, “The law of the Lord is unspotted, converting souls.” Most beautiful is the law of the Lord, without spot, without stain tolerating nothing sinful, as the laws of man do; and thus, when properly studied and considered, brings the soul to love it, and consequently to love God, its author. The second encomium is in the words, “The testimony of the Lord is faithful, giving wisdom to little ones.” By “testimony” we are to understand the same law, because, in the Scriptures, and especially in the Psalms, God’s law is not only called the law, the precept, the commandment, and the like, which other writers also apply to it; but is further styled the testimony, the justice, the justification, the judgment, as any one can see, especially in Psalm 118. It is called the “testimony,” because it bears testimony to men, what the will of God is, what he requires of us, what punishments he has in store for the wicked, what rewards for the just. He says then, “The testimony of the Lord is faithful;” that is, God’s law, that will most assuredly reward the good and punish the wicked. “Giving wisdom to little ones;” that means, giving to the poor in understanding the light of prudence to direct them in doing good, and avoiding evil. By “little ones” he means those who do not abound in the wisdom of the world; and by “wisdom” he means that spiritual prudence that helps us to reform our habits, and mould them to the shape of the law of God.

Ps 19:9 The justices of the Lord are right, rejoicing hearts: the commandment of the Lord is lightsome, enlightening the eyes.

The third encomium on the divine law is, that once we begin to love it, of which the first encomium treats, and to observe it, as treated of in the second, it diffuses a most extraordinary joy in the person, for nothing can be pleasanter than a good conscience. “The justices of the Lord;” that is, his law, his commandments, being most just, and making the observer of them just, “are right” and gladful; that is, “rejoicing the hearts;” for upright hearts harmonize with “right” precepts; and they, therefore, are glad, and rejoice when an occasion offers for the observance of the commandments. The fourth encomium is, “The commandment of the Lord is lightsome, enlightening the eyes.” The law of the Lord, through the bright light of divine wisdom, illuminates our intellectual vision, because it makes us understand God’s will, and what is really good and really bad. God’s law illuminates also in a preparatory manner, for wisdom will not approach the malevolent soul; and nothing proves such an obstacle to our knowing God, which is the essence of wisdom, as impurity of heart. “Blessed are the clean of heart, for they shall see God.”

Ps 19:10 The fear of the Lord is holy, enduring for ever and ever: the judgments of the Lord are true, justified in themselves.

The fifth encomium is, that the law of the Lord causes the above named goods to be not only temporal but eternal; for the fear of the Lord, that makes one tremble at the idea of offending God, “endures forever and ever:” as to its reward, the rewards to be had from the observance of the law do not terminate with death, but hold forever, as he says in Psalm 9, “The patience of the poor shall not perish forever.” Both Greek and Hebrew imply, that the fear spoken of here is not that of a slave, but that of a child, without any admixture of servility; that of which Psalm 111 speaks, “Blessed is the man that feareth the Lord; he shall delight exceedingly in his commandments.” For he who works from servile fear does not observe the commandments freely, but unwillingly; but he who is influenced by filial fear “Delights exceedingly in his commandments;” that is, is most anxious and desirous to observe them. The last encomium is, that the law of the Lord, being true and just in itself, needs no justification from any other quarter. “The judgments of the Lord are true, justified in themselves.” “The judgments of the Lord”—meaning his commandments, because through them God judges man, and they are the standard and the rule whereby to distinguish virtue from vice, and good works from bad—“are justified in themselves;” they require no one to prove they are just, the pure fact of their being God’s commands being quite sufficient for it. Along with that, the ten commandments, that are mainly alluded to here being nothing more than the principles of the natural law, so abound in justice, that they hold in all times, places, and circumstances, so as to admit of no dispensation; whereas other laws are obliged to yield betimes to circumstances.

Ps 19:11 More to be desired than gold and many precious stones: and sweeter than honey and the honeycomb.

The conclusion from the foregoing. Since God’s law is so good, so much preferable to all the riches and delicacies of this world, for they are “More to be desired than gold and many precious stones: and sweeter than honey and the honey comb;” that is, not only sweeter than honey itself, but sweeter than it is in its purest state, when it is overflowing the honeycomb. The word honey comb is introduced to correspond with the words, “many precious stones,” in the first part of the verse. How far removed is this truth from the ideas of the carnal! What a number of such people to be found who, for a small lucre, or a trifling gratification, are ready to despise God’s commandments! And yet, nothing can be more true than that the observance of God’s law is of more service, and confers greater happiness than any amount of wealth or worldly pleasure.

Ps 19:12 For thy servant keepeth them, and in keeping them there is a great reward.

He proves by an example, or rather by his own experience, the truth of what he asserted. For, says he, your servant knows it by his own experience, having received innumerable favors from you, so long as he observed your commandments.

Ps 19:13 Who can understand sins? from my secret ones cleanse me, O Lord:

Having stated that he observed the commandments of God, he now corrects himself, and excepts sins of ignorance, which can hardly be guarded against, such as arise from human frailty.

Ps 19:14 And from those of others spare thy servant. If they shall have no dominion over me, then shall I be without spot: and I shall be cleansed form the greatest sin.

The meaning of “From those of others spare thy servant,” is not to ask of God to forgive us the sins of others, in which sense this passage is commonly quoted but we ask God to protect us from the company of the wicked. For men of good will, such as David was, should especially guard against being ignorant of their own offenses, and especially against being seduced by the wicked; and the meaning of the prayer is, from those of others, that is, from men of other habits, “Spare thy servant;” that is, by sparing him, keep those ill disposed people from the friendship of thy servant. He next assigns a reason for his fear of keeping up any familiarity with the wicked, for if those bad men “shall have no dominion over me,” that is to say, by their familiarity get no hold of and master me, and thus bring me to act with them, “then shall I be without spot,” and “cleansed from the greatest sin;” namely, mortal sin; for every mortal sin may be called “the greatest crime,” because it turns us away from our good and great God; and directly leads us to the fearful punishment of hell.

Ps 19:15 And the words of my mouth shall be such as may please: and the meditation of my heart always in thy sight. O Lord, my helper and my Redeemer.

Then shall I not only “be without spot,” but even the words of my mouth will be agreeable; and the hymns I chant to your praise, both with heart and voice, will be always pleasing to thee, coming as they will from a clear heart and simple mouth. May my canticles find favor with thee, through your own grace, and not through my merits; for, if I am “without spot,” “cleansed from the greatest sin,” and if my words are “such as may please,” the whole is thy gift, thy work, thy action, thou who art “my helper, my Redeemer:” my helper in prosperity, my Redeemer in adversity.

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Father Callan’s Commentary on Romans 9:1-5

Note: This post opens with a brief introduction to Romans 9:1-11:36, followed by a summary and notes on 9:1-5.

INTRODUCTION TO ROMANS 9:1-11:36

With this chapter begins the third section of the Dogmatic Part of this Epistle. In the preceding chapter the Apostle exposed his conception of the Christian life—the life of faith, animated by the Holy Ghost and destined for unfading glory in heaven. The Gospel is the power of God to everyone that believes, to the Jew first, and then to the Greek (Rom 1:16). But how is it, then, it may rightly be asked, that the great majority of the Jews have failed to embrace the Gospel and enter the Church of Christ? This is the problem which engages the Apostle’s attention in the present and in the two following chapters. The Jews were, indeed, the chosen people of God who gave the Redeemer to the world (Rom 9:1-5), and although they have, notwithstanding, been in the main excluded from a part in the Messiah’s redemption, still the divine promises have not failed in their regard (Rom 9:6-29); their rejection is due to their own culpableness, blindness and disobedience (Rom 9:30-x. 21); and even in this the mercy of God has been manifest, for a remnant has been saved already; the Gentiles have profited by Israel’s loss, and all the Jews will find mercy at the end (Rom 11:1-32). These profound reflections are a reason for praising the wisdom and knowledge of God’s inscrutable providence (Rom 11:33-36).

THE APOSTLE’S PROFOUND SORROW OVER THE STATE OF THE JEWS

A Summary of Romans 9:1-5~Following upon the exposition of a new system of justification by faith, the glorious life and outcome of which inspired the hymn of triumph that closed the preceding chapter, comes now an expression of sorrow the most profound. St. Paul explains to his Roman readers why his own people have been rejected by God, in spite of all their privileges, and incidentally why he himself turned from them to the Gentile world, in spite of his natural ardent love for them.

Tom 9:1. I speak the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost: 

I speak the truthI lie not. These are strong ways, one positive and the other negative, of assuring his readers of the truth of what he is about to say. The Apostle avows that he is acting in union with Christ, conformably to his own conscience, of which the Holy Ghost is the interior principle. Cf. 1 Tim 2:7; 2 Cor 11:31; 2Cor 7:14; 2 Cor 12:6; Gal 1:20.

The before “truth” is not in the Greek.

Rom 9:2. That I have great sadness, and continual sorrow in my heart.

The fact of Israel’s having cut herself off from the Messianic blessings was a continual source of sorrow to St. Paul. Some of the Jews (Acts 21:21) considered the Apostle to be an enemy of their nation, but here he shows the truth and sincerity of his feelings toward them. Sadness expresses mental pain; sorrow is grief in general. 

Rom 9:3. For I wished myself to be an anathema from Christ, for my brethren, who are my kinsmen according to the flesh. 

I wished, etc. Better, I could wish (ηυχομην, optarem), if it were possible. The Apostle knew this was not a serious hypothesis, and was expressing himself in the language of sentiment rather than according to cold reasoning (Lagrange); he was giving expression to an impracticable wish. 

Anathema from Christ, i.e., to be separated from Christ so as to be deprived of Christianity and of the Messianic benefits. “Anathema” literally means a thing set up to be destroyed; it comes from two Greek words signifying to place apart. To the Jews it meant a person or thing cursed, and therefore fit for destruction (Lev 27:28-29; Deut 7:26; Josh 6:17). With St. Paul it meant cursed of God (Gal 1:89; 1 Cor 12:3; 1 Cor 16:22). According to Cornely, therefore, St. Paul meant to say that, for the sake of his brethren, the Jews, he was willing to be externally separated from Christ forever, and to be condemned to eternal torments, without ceasing, however, to be united to Christ through grace. But as there seems to be nothing in the context to suggest this distinction, and as there is not question of future time, but of the present (ειναι = “to be”), we think it better to accept for this passage the explanation of Lagrange given above. 

Optabam of the Vulgate would better be optarem. 

Rom 9:4. Who are Israelites, to whom belongeth the adoption as of children, and the glory, and the testament, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises:

Here the Apostle enumerates the principal prerogatives of the Jews.

Israelites—a title of honor, comprehending all the privileges of the Jews, and given to them because they were descendants of Jacob, to whom God gave the name Israel (Gen 22:29).

The adoption, etc., by which the Israelites had been selected from among all others, to be the people of God (Exodus 4:22; Exodus 19:5; Deut 14:1),—which adoption, however, being only political, was merely a figure of, and therefore far inferior to that which the Christian enjoys through the grace of Christ.

The glory, i.e., the Shechinah, or sensible manifestation of the presence of God in the Tabernacle and in the Temple (Exodus 40:34; 1 Kings 8:10; Ezek 10:11; 2 Macc 1:18, etc.).

The testament. In Greek the plural is used, “the testaments,” i.e., the covenants ( αι διαθηκαι) that were made with Abraham ( Gen 15:18; Gen 17:2, etc.), with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (Exodus 2:24), and with Moses and the whole people (Exodus 24:7 ff.).

The giving of the law, i.e., the Mosaic Law, which regulated the service; i.e., the worship of the true God in antiquity (cf. 2 Macc 6:23).

The promises made to Abraham, and especially those concerning the Messiah, which were contained in the numerous prophecies relative to the Redeemer (cf. Rom 4:13; Gal 3:16).

In the Vulgate testamentum should be plural, testamenta.

Rom 9:5. Whose are the fathers, and of whom is Christ, according to the flesh, who is over all things, God blessed for ever. Amen.

The dignity of the Jews because of their origin is now shown. Their ancestors were the fathers, i.e., the Patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob—men beloved of God above all others (Exodus 3:6; Deut 4:37; Acts 7:32).

Of whom is Christ. The greatest of all the dignities of the Jews consisted in the fact that Christ was to come from them, that they were to give the Messiah to the world.

According to the flesh, i.e., as regards the flesh (το κατα σαρκα, quantum attinet ad carnem), namely, according to His human nature.

Who is . . . God, i.e., this Christ, who was of Jewish origin according to His human nature, was also God, the Creator and Ruler over all things, and had, therefore, a divine nature, and hence is blessed for ever.
St. Thomas observes that in this verse four heresies are destroyed: (a) that of the Manicheans, who said that Christ had not a true, but only an apparent body; against which the Apostle here says that Christ was descended from the Jews according to the flesh; (b) that of Valentine who taught that the body of Jesus was not from the common mass of the human race, but had come from heaven; whereas St. Paul here says that according to the flesh Christ was from the Jews; (c) that of Nestorius who held that the son of man was one person, the son of God another person in Christ; against which the Apostle asserts that the same person who was from the Jews according to the flesh was God, the Ruler of all things; (d) that of Arius, who said that Christ was less than the Father and created out of nothing; against which the Apostle insists that Christ was God over all things and that He is blessed forever: only God could be blessed forever.

Certain Rationalists (Julicher, Lipsius, Lochmann, etc.), in order to weaken this clear testimony of the Apostle regarding the Divinity of Christ, have said that a period should be placed after secundum carnem or after omnia, and that the remainder of the verse should be considered as a doxology in praise of God. This opinion, however, cannot be sustained,—(a) because it is opposed to the traditional reading, found in the vast majority of MSS. and in almost all versions; and (b) because it is opposed to the authority of the oldest Fathers, who made use of this very text to prove the Divinity of Christ. Cf. Cornely, h. 1.; Lagrange, h. 1. ; Revue Bib., 1903, pp. 550-57O.

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Father Callan’s Commentary on Romans 8:31-39

Text in red are my additions. 

THE LOVE OF GOD FOR US
A Summary of Romans 8:31-39.

The certainty of the Christians’ future glory being proved, St. Paul now terminates the second section of the Dogmatic Part of this Epistle with a hymn of praise and triumph, moved by the evidence of the love of God and of Christ which the reasons for our hope have inspired. He shows that the faithful have nothing to fear, and that nothing can separate them from the charity of Christ.

Rom 8:31. What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who is against us?

What shall we, etc., i.e., what conclusions are we Christians to draw from the arguments we have just finished considering?

To these things (προς ταυτα), i.e., about the arguments we have just given.

If God be for us,—as He evidently is from the preceding verses—who is there that we should fear? Surely no one, is the implied response.

Rom 8:32. He that spared not even his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how hath he not also, with him, given us all things?

The Apostle here gives a most undeniable proof that God is for us, and that He has provided us with all things necessary to conquer our enemies.

He that ( ος γε), i.e., the God, indeed, that spared not, etc. If God has given us so immense a benefit as His only Son to suffer and to die for us, what other lesser good can He refuse us? The words του ιδιου υιου (“his own son”) show the difference between God’s own natural Son and His sons by adoption. This is the only instance in the New Testament where γε (“that”) is used with the relative.

The donavit of the Vulgate should be donabit, in conformity with the Greek.

Rom 8:33. Who shall accuse against the elect of God? God that justifieth.
Rom 8:34. Who is he that shall condemn? Christ Jesus that died, yea that is risen also again; who is at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.

In these verses St. Paul shows the absurdity of the Christians thinking or feeling that anyone can be against them (verse 31).

Who shall accuse against the elect of God, i.e., against the Christians? Certainly no one, because it is God that has justified them, absolving them of all guilt. In the face of God’s acquittal, the condemnation of the world counts for nothing.

Who shall condemn them? Certainly not Christ, the Judge of the living and the dead (Rom 2:16; 2 Cor 5:10); for it is Christ that has died for our sins and risen again for our justification (Rom 4:25), and that now sits at the right hand of God (1 Cor 15:24) to make intercession for us (1 John 2:1). Therefore no one shall be able to oppose us Christians. The context shows that the Apostle is speaking not alone of the future judgment, but of the general condition of the Christians, present and future. It is disputed whether the clauses, God that justifieth and Christ Jesus that died, etc., should be read as affirmations (Cornely, Kuhl, etc.), or as interrogations (St. Aug., Toussaint, Weiss, etc.). The sense is the same in either case, and the responses in reality are certainly negative.

Rom 8:35. Who then shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation? or distress? or famine? or nakedness? or danger? or persecution? or the sword?

The Apostle now shows that, after so many blessings, nothing in the world ought to be able to separate Christians from the love of Christ, i.e., the love of Christ for them.

Then (Vulg., ergo), is not represented in the Greek.

Love of Christ, for us, according to modern interpreters. The Apostle is insisting on the certainty of our future glory because of the gifts we have received from God, not because of our faithfulness to Christ; this latter of course is presupposed. “Love of Christ” here is doubtless the same reading as “love of God” in verse 39, which shows that St. Paul identified Christ and God.

Rom 8:36. (As it is written: For thy sake we are put to death all the day long. We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.)

The tribulations unto death of the just had already been described by the Psalmist in Ps 44:22 (44:23 in some translations), where there was question of persecutions which the people of Israel sustained from their enemies (very probably under Antiochus Epiphanes, when some of the Israelites were put to death) for the sake of God. The Apostle applies these words to the Christians to show what they must bear for Christ, thereby again identifying God and Christ.

For thy sake, i.e., for the cause and religion of the true God.

All the day long, i.e., continually.

There should be no parentheses around this verse.

Rom 8:37. But in all these things we overcome, because of him that hath loved us.

In all our tribulations, distresses, etc., we come out victorious because of the help we receive from God, because of the love of Christ for us. As in verse 35, so here it is Christ’s love for us that is in question. The reading: δια τον αγαπησαντα is supported by only three MSS.; the best MSS. have: δια του αγαπησαντος.

The Vulgate propter eum should be per eum.

Rom 8:38. For I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor might,
Rom 8:39. Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

The Apostle here tells us that, on account of the love which God has for us in Christ, nothing, even the most terrible, or the most alluring things in creation can suffice to separate us from God. St. Paul is stressing the potency of God’s love for us, which nothing can shake or impair, except, of course, our own will.

Death, the most terrible physical evil.

Life, the most desirable good of the present natural state. 

Angels, i.e., spirits sent as messengers.

Principalities, spirits of a superior order.

Powers (Vulg., virtutes), i.e., forces of nature. This term “powers” is wanting in the best MSS., and is likely a repetition of fortitude (fortitudo) of the Vulgate. No powers, conditions or influences of the present or future time, no creature, material, human or angelic, can separate the Christian from God—from the love which God has for us and which He has shown us through Christ. St. Paul is here emphasizing God’s love for us, which, of itself, is able to do so much for our souls; he is taking it for granted that we shall not choose, by our own free will, to defeat the effect of God’s love for us.

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