Commentaries for the Sunday Masses of Year B (Dec 3, 2017-Dec 1, 2018)

ADVENT SEASON

First Sunday of Advent.
Second Sunday of Advent.
Third Sunday of Advent.
Fourth Sunday of Advent.

CHRISTMAS SEASON TO EPIPHANY
Note: Traditionally Epiphany is celebrated on January 6. In the USA it is celebrated on the Sunday following January 6.

Dec. 24. Vigil Mass for the Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord.
Dec. 24-25. Mass During the Night: The Nativity of the Lord (Midnight Mass).
Dec. 25. Mass at Dawn: The Nativity of the Lord.
Dec. 25. Mass During the Day: The Nativity of the Lord.

Sunday Within the Octave of Christmas (Feast of the Holy Family). If a Sunday does not fall between Dec. 26 and Dec 31 then the Feast of the Holy Family is celebrated on Dec. 30.

!!! The Epiphany of the Lord.

ORDINARY TIME, INCLUDING THE BAPTISM OF THE LORD
Note: Scroll down for the seasons that interrupt Ordinary Time.

!!! Baptism of the Lord. Celebrated in 2018 on Monday, Jan. 8.
Second Sunday in Ordinary Time.
Third Sunday in Ordinary Time.
Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time.
Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time.
Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time. In 2018 the Lenten season begins during this week. See LENTEN SEASON below.
Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time. Superseded in 2018 by Pentecost (see under EASTER SEASON).
Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time. Superseded by the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity. See next link.
!!! Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity.
Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time. Superseded in 2018 by the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood. See next link.
!!! Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood (Corpus Christi).
Tenth Sunday in Ordinary Time.
Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time.
Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time. Superseded in 2018 by the Solemnity of the Nativity of John the Baptist. See next link.
!!! Commentaries for the Solemnity of the Nativity of St John the Baptist. (Vigil and Mass of the day).
Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time.
Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time.
Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time.
Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time.
Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time.
Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time.
Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time.
Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time.
Twenty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time.
Twenty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time.
Twenty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time.

LENTEN SEASON

Ash Wednesday.
Thursday After Ash Wednesday.
Friday After Ash Wednesday.
Saturday After Ash Wednesday.
First Sunday of Lent.
Second Sunday of Lent.
Third Sunday of Lent.
Fourth Sunday of Lent.
Fifth Sunday of Lent.
!!! HOLY WEEK. Palm Sunday thru the Saturday Easter Vigil.

EASTER SEASON

Easter Vigil (Holy Saturday).
EASTER SUNDAY.
Divine Mercy Sunday (Second Sunday of Easter).
Third Sunday of Easter.
Fourth Sunday of Easter.
Fifth Sunday of Easter.
Sixth Sunday of Easter.
!!! Feast of the Ascension of the Lord.
Seventh Sunday of Easter.
!!! The Vigil of Pentecost Sunday.
!!! Pentecost Sunday.

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St Augustine’s Notes on Psalm 15

A Psalm OF David Himself

1. Touching this title there is no question. “O Lord who shall sojourn in Thy tabernacle?” (ver. 1). Although tabernacle be sometimes used even for an everlasting habitation: yet when tabernacle is taken in its proper meaning, it is a thing of war. Hence soldiers are called tent-fellows,9 as having their tents together. This sense is assisted by the words, “Who shall sojourn?” For we war with the devil for a time, and then we need a tabernacle wherein we may refresh ourselves. Which specially points out the faith of the temporal Dispensation, which was wrought for us in time through the Incarnation of the Lord. “And who shall rest in Thy holy mountain?” Here perhaps he signifies at once the eternal habitation itself,10 that we should understand by “mountain” the supereminence of the love of Christ in life eternal.11

2. “He who walketh without stain, and worketh righteousness” (ver. 2). Here he has laid down the proposition; in what follows he sets it forth in detail.

3. “Who speaketh the truth in his heart.” For some have truth on their lips, and not in their heart. As if one should deceitfully point out a road, knowing that there were robbers there, and should say, If you go this way, you will be safe from robbers; and it should turn out that in fact there were no robbers found there: he has spoken the truth, but not in his heart. For he supposed it to be otherwise, and spoke the truth in ignorance. Therefore it is not enough to speak the truth, unless it be so also in heart. “Who hath practised no deceit in his tongue” (ver. 3). Deceit is practised with the tongue, when one thing is professed with the mouth, another concealed in the breast. “Nor done evil to his neighbour.” It is well known that by “neighbour,” every man should be understood. “And hath not entertained slander against his neighbour,” that is, hath not readily or rashly given credence to an accuser.

4. “The malicious one hath been brought to nought in his sight”1 (ver. 4). This is perfection, that the malicious one have no force against a man; and that this be “in his sight;” that is, that he know most surely that the malicious is not, save when the mind turns itself away from the eternal and immutable form2 of her own Creator to the form of the creature, which was made out of nothing. “But those that fear the Lord, He glorifieth:” the Lord Himself, that is. Now “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.”3 As then the things above belong to the perfect, so what he is now going to say belongs to beginners.

5. “Who sweareth unto his neighbour, and deceiveth him not.” “Who hath not given his money upon usury, and hath not taken rewards against the innocent” (ver. 5). These are no great things: but he who is not able to do even this, much less able is he to speak the truth in his heart, and to practise no deceit in his tongue, but as the truth is in the heart, so to profess and have it in his mouth, “yea, yea; nay, nay;”4 and to do no evil to his neighbour, that is, to any man; and to entertain no slander against his neighbour: all which are the virtues of the perfect, in whose sight the malicious one hath been brought to nought. Yet he concludes even these lesser things thus, “Whoso doeth these things shall not be moved for ever:” that is, he shall attain unto those greater things, wherein is great and unshaken stability. For even the very tenses are, perhaps not without cause, so varied, as that in the conclusion above the past tense should be used, but in this the future. For there it was said, “The malicious one hath been brought to nought in his sight:” but here, “shall not be moved for ever.”

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Father Boylan’s Introduction to Psalm 85

ISRAEL’S COMFORT IN SORROW

THIS psalm is a liturgical composition dating from the post-Exilic period. It reflects the griefs and hopes of the post-Exilic community in Israel. The decree of their liberation from Babylon had filled the Exiles with joy, but their homecoming had been full of disappointment. Instead of joy and peace, unsettlement and sadness prevailed throughout the land, and men were wondering why the Lord had brought them back from Babylon only to the disillusionment of Juda. We find in the psalm the same spirit which breathes in the beginning of the books of Aggaeus (Haggai) and Zachary (Zechariah). If the Lord had great designs for Israel when He used Cyrus to set the Exiles free, why does He not begin to accomplish them? Has the divine anger which handed over Jerusalem and its people to the Chaldeans (Babylonians) not been appeased by the sufferings of the Exile? Is that anger about to burst forth against His unhappy people once more? Is there no hope that the old greatness of Israel will be restored? Surely the wonders of the past, and, above all, the grace of liberation from captivity will not end in the destruction of Israel!

The poem falls easily into three parts. In the first (Ps 85:2-4) the graces and mercies of the liberation from the Exile are recalled. We can imagine this part of the psalm as sung by a portion of the people gathered together for worship, by a choir, or by the priests.

The second part of the psalm is (Ps 85:5-8). Here another choir implores the Lord to complete the mercies which the Liberation had begun. Surely He will not be again angry with His people as He had been before the Exile. Surely His wrath will not blaze forth unto the destruction of Israel again! It is time for the Lord to show His gracious favour again, that Israel may live and praise Him.

In the third section (Ps 85:9-14) a soloist sings a prophetic message of comfort for Israel. As if listening to the words of Yahweh the prophet sings. His song is an oracle of hope. Help from the Lord is at hand. The words of Yahweh are words of peace—of rest and of security. The Peace and the Glory of the Lord will soon be seen again in Israel. A wonderful picture of the Lord’s benignant rule is drawn in familiar Messianic colours. Justice, Truth, Graciousness, Peace, as Yahweh’s ministering Angels, will rule everywhere in the land. The earth will be fruitful beyond all hope. Wherever the Lord walks abroad in the land Justice goes before Him and Peace follows in His train. The hope that painted a picture like this at a time of deepest political depression could spring only from the unshakeable conviction that God was on the side of Israel.

The structure of this poem should be compared with that of Ps 124—where the prophetic portion is wanting, and also with that of 93 and 79.

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St Augustine’s Notes on Psalm 85

PSALM 85

1. … Its title is, “A Psalm for the end, to the sons of Core.”3 Let us understand no other end than that of which the Apostle speaks: for, “Christ is the end of the law.”4 Therefore when at the head of the title of the Psalm he placed the words, “for the end,” he directed our heart to Christ. If we fix our gaze on Him, we shall not stray: for He is Himself the Truth unto which we are eager to arrive, and He Himself the Way5 by which we run.…

2. The Prophet singeth to Him of the future, and useth words as it were of past time: he speaks of things future as if already done, because with God that which is future has already taken place.… “Lord, Thou hast been favourable unto Thy land” (ver. 1); as if He had already done so. “Thou hast turned away the captivity of Jacob.” His ancient people of Jacob, the people of Israel, born of Abraham’s seed, in the promise to become one day the heir of God. That was indeed a real people, to whom the Old Testament was given; but in the Old Testament the New was figured: that was the figure, this the truth expressed. In that figure, by a kind of foretelling of the future, there was given to that people a certain land of promise, in a region where the people of the Jews abode; where also is the city of Jerusalem, whose name we have all heard of. When this people had received possession of this land, they suffered many troubles from their neighbouring enemies who surrounded them: and when they sinned against their God, they were given into captivity, not for destruction, but for discipline; their Father not condemning, but scourging them. And after being seized on, they were set free, and many times were both made captives, and set free; and they are now in captivity, and that for a great sin, even because they crucified their Lord. What then are we to understand them to mean by the words, “Thou hast turned away the captivity of Jacob”?… This Psalm hath prophesied in song. “Thou hast turned away the captivity of Jacob.” To whom did it speak? To Christ; for it said, “for the end, for the sons of Core:” for He hath turned away the captivity of Jacob. Hear Paul himself confessing: “O wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” He asked who it should be, and straightway it occurred to him, “The grace of God through Jesus Christ our Lord.6 Of this grace of God the Prophet speaketh to our Lord Jesus Christ, “Thou hast turned away the captivity of Jacob.” Attend to the captivity of Jacob, attend, and see that it is this: Thou hast turned away our captivity, not by setting us free from the barbarians, with whom we had not met, but by setting us free from bad works, from our sins, by which Satan held sway over us. For if any one has been set free from his sins, the prince of sinners hath not whence he may hold sway over him.

3. For how did He turn away the captivity of Jacob? See, how that that setting free is spiritual, see how that it is done inwardly. “Thou hast forgiven,” he saith, “the iniquity of Thy people: Thou hast covered all their sins” (ver. 2). Behold how He hath turned away their captivity, in that He hath remitted iniquity: iniquity held them captive; thy iniquity forgiven, thou art freed. Confess therefore that thou art in captivity, that thou mayest be worthy to be freed: for he that knoweth not of his enemy, how can he invoke the liberator? “Thou hast covered all their sins.” What is, “Thou hast covered”? So as not to see them. How didst Thou not see them? So as not to take vengeance on them. Thou wast unwilling to see our sins: and therefore sawest Thou them not, because Thou wouldest not see them: “Thou hast covered all their sins.” “Thou hast appeased all Thy anger: Thou hast turned Thyself from Thy wrathful indignation” (ver. 3).

4. And as these things are said of the future, though the sound of the words is past, it follows: “Turn us, O God of our salvation” (ver. 4). That which he had just related as if it were done, how prayeth he that it may be done, except because he wished to show that he had spoken as if of the past in prophecy? But that it was not yet done which he had said was done he showeth by this, that he prayeth that it may be done: “Turn us, O God of our salvation, and turn away Thine anger from us.” Didst thou not say before: “Thou hast appeased all Thy anger, Thou has turned Thyself from Thy wrathful indignation”? How then now sayest thou, “And turn away Thine anger from us”? The Prophet answereth: These things I speak of as done, because I see them about to be done: but because they are not yet done, I pray that they may come, which I have already seen.

5. “Be not angry with us for ever” (ver. 5). For by the anger of God we are subject to death, and by the anger of God we eat bread on this earth in want, and in the sweat of our face.1 This was Adam’s sentence when he sinned: and that Adam was every one of us, for “in Adam all die;”2 the sentence passed on him hath taken effect after him on us. For we were not yet ourselves, but we were in Adam: therefore whatever happened to Adam himself took effect on us also, so that we should die: for we all were in him.… So far as this the sin of thy father hurts thee not, if thou hast changed thyself, even as it would not hurt thy father if he had changed himself. But that which our stock hath received unto its subjection to death, it hath derived from Adam. What hath it so derived? That frailty of the flesh, this torture of pains, this house of poverty, this chain of death, and snares of temptations; all these things we carry about in this flesh; and this is the anger of God, because it is the vengeance of God. But because it was so to be, that we should be regenerated, and by believing should be made new, and all that mortality was to be removed in our resurrection, and the whole man was to be restored in newness; “For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive;”3 seeing this the Prophet saith, “Be not angry with us for ever, nor stretch out Thy wrath from one generation to another.” The first generation was mortal by Thy wrath: the second generation shall be immortal by Thy mercy.…

6. “O God, Thou shall turn us again, and make us alive” (ver. 6). Not as if we ourselves of our own accord, without Thy mercy, turn unto Thee, and then Thou shall make us alive: but so that not only our being made alive is from Thee, but our very conversion, that we may be made alive. “And Thy people shall rejoice in Thee.” To their own evil they shall rejoice in themselves: to their own good they shall rejoice in Thee. For when they wished to have joy of themselves, they found in themselves woe: but now because God is all our joy, he that will rejoice securely, let him rejoice in Him who cannot perish. For why, my brethren, will ye rejoice in silver? Either thy silver perisheth, or thou: and no one knows which first: yet this is certain, that both shall perish; which first, is uncertain. For neither can man remain here always, nor can silver remain here always: so too gold, so garments, so houses, so money, so broad lands, so, lastly, this light itself. Be not thou willing then to rejoice in these: but rejoice in that light which hath no setting: rejoice in that dawn which no yesterday precedes, which no to-morrow follows. What light is that? “I,” saith He, “am the Light of the world.”4 He who saith unto thee, “I am the Light of the world,” calls thee to Himself. When He calls thee, He converts thee: when He converts thee, He healeth thee: when He hath healed thee, thou shall see thy Converter, unto whom it is said, “Show us Thy mercy, O Lord, and grant us Thy salvation” (ver. 7): Thy salvation, that is, Thy Christ.5 Happy is he unto whom God showeth His mercy. He it is who cannot indulge in pride, unto whom God showeth His mercy. For by showing him His salvation He persuadeth him that whatever good man has, he hath not but from Him who is all our good. And when a man has seen that whatever good he has he hath not from himself, but from his God; he sees that everything which is praised in him is of the mercy of God, not of his own deserving; and seeing this, he is not proud; not being proud, he is not lifted up; not lifting himself up, he falleth not; not falling, he standeth; standing, he clingeth fast; clinging fast, he abideth; abiding, he enjoyeth, and rejoiceth in the Lord his God. He who made him shall be unto him a delight: and his delight no one spoileth, no one interrupteth, no one taketh away.… Therefore, what saith John in his Epistle? “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be.”6 Who would not rejoice, if suddenly while he was wandering abroad, ignorant of his descent, suffering want, and in a state of misery and toil, it were announced, Thou art the son of a senator: thy father enjoys an ample patrimony on your family estate; I bid thee return to thy father: how would he rejoice, if this were said to him by some one whose promise he could trust? One whom we can trust, an Apostle of Christ, hath come and said to us, Ye have a father, ye have a country, ye have an inheritance. Who is that father? “Beloved, we are the sons of God.”1 … Therefore He2 promised us to show Himself unto us. Think, my brethren, what His beauty is. All those beautiful things which ye see, which ye love, He made. If these are beautiful, what is He Himself? If these are great, how great is He? Therefore from these things which we love here, let us the more long for Him: and despising these things, let us love Him: that by that very love we may by faith purify our hearts, and His vision, when it cometh, may find our heart purified. The light which shall be shown unto us ought to find us whole: this is the work of faith now. This is what we have spoken here: “And grant us Thy salvation:” grant us Thy Christ, that we may know Thy Christ, see Thy Christ; not as the Jews saw Him and crucified Him, but as the Angels see Him, and rejoice.

7. “I will hearken” (ver. 8). The Prophet spoke: God spoke within in him, and the world made a noise without. Therefore, retiring for a little from the noise of the world, and turning himself back upon himself, and from himself upon Him whose voice he heard within; sealing up his ears, as it were, against the tumultuous disquietude of this life, and against the soul weighed down by the corruptible body, and against the imagination, that through the earthly tabernacle pressing down,3 thinketh on many things,4 he saith, “I will hearken what the Lord God speaketh in me;” and he heard, what? “For He shall speak peace unto His people.” The voice of Christ, then, the voice of God, is peace: it calleth unto peace. Ho! it saith, whosoever are not yet in peace, love ye peace: for what can ye find better from Me than peace? What is peace? Where there is no war. What is this, where there is no war? Where there is no contradiction, where there is no resistance, nothing to oppose. Consider if we are yet there: consider if there is not now a conflict with the devil, if all the saints and faithful ones wrestle not with the prince of demons. And how do they wrestle with him whom they see not? They wrestle with their own desires, by which he suggests unto them sins: and by not consenting to what he suggests, though they are not conquered, yet they fight. Therefore there is not yet peace where there is fighting.… Whatever we provide for our refreshment, there again we find weariness. Art thou hungry? one asks thee: thou answerest, I am. He places food before thee for thy refreshment; continue thou to use it, for thou hadst need of it; yet in continuing that which thou needest for refreshment, therein findest thou weariness. By long sitting thou wast tired; thou risest and refreshest thyself by walking; continue that relief, and by much walking thou art wearied; again thou wouldest sit down. Find me anything by which thou art refreshed, wherein if thou continue thou dost not again become weary. What peace then is that which men have here, opposed by so many troubles, desires, wants, wearinesses? This is no true, no perfect peace. What will be perfect peace? “This corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.”5 … Persevere in eating much; this itself will kill thee: persevere in fasting much, by this thou wilt die: sit continually, being resolved not to rise up, by this thou wilt die: be always walking so as never to take rest, by this thou wilt die; watch continually, taking no sleep, by this thou wilt die; sleep continually, never watching, thus too thou wilt die. When therefore death shall be swallowed up in victory, these things shall no longer be: there will be full and eternal peace. We shall be in a City, of which, brethren, when I speak I find it hard to leave off, especially when offences wax common. Who would not long for that City whence no friend goeth out, whither no enemy entereth,6 where is no tempter, no seditious person, no one dividing God’s people, no one wearying the Church in the service of the devil; since the prince himself of all such is cast into eternal fire, and with him those who consent unto him, and who have no will to retire from him? There shall be peace made pure in the sons of God, all loving one another, seeing one another full of God, since God shall be all in all.7 We shall have God as our common object of vision, God as our common possession, God as our common peace. For whatever there is which He now giveth unto us, He Himself shall be unto us instead of His gifts; this will be full and perfect peace. This He speaketh unto His people: this it was which he would hearken unto who said, “I will hearken what the Lord God will say unto me: for He shall speak peace unto His people, and to His saints, and unto those who turn their hearts unto Him.” Lo, my brethren, do ye wish that unto you should belong that peace which God uttereth? Turn your heart unto Him: not unto me, or unto that one, or unto any man. For whatever man would turn unto himself the hearts of men, he falleth with them. Which is better, that thou fall with him unto whom thou turnest thyself, or that thou stand with Him with whom thou turnest thyself? Our joy, our peace, our rest, the end of all troubles, is none but God: blessed are “they that turn their hearts unto Him.”

8. “Nevertheless, His salvation is nigh them that fear Him” (ver. 9). There were some even then who feared Him in the Jewish people. Everywhere throughout the earth idols were worshipped: devils were feared, not God: in that nation God was feared. But why was He feared? In the Old Testament He was feared, lest He should give them up to captivity, lest He should take away their land from them, lest He should destroy their vines with hail, lest He should make their wives barren, lest He should take away their children from them. For these carnal promises of God captivated their minds, which as yet were of small growth, and for these things God was feared: but He was near unto them who even for these things feared Him. The Pagan prayed for land to the devil: the Jew prayed for land to God: it was the same thing which they prayed for, but not the same to whom they prayed. The latter, though seeking what the Pagan sought, yet was distinguished from the Pagan; for He sought it of Him who had made all things. And God, who was far1 from the Gentiles, was near2 unto them: yet He had regard even to those who were afar off, and to those who were near, as the Apostle said: “And He came and preached peace to you who were afar off, and to them that were near.”3 Whom did He mean by those near? The Jews, because they4 worshipped one God. Whom by those who were afar off? The Gentiles, because they had left Him by whom they were made and worshipped things which themselves had made. For it is not in space that any one is far from God, but in affections. Thou lovest God, thou art near unto Him. Thou hatest God, thou art far off. Thou art standing in the same place, both while thou art near and far off This it was, my brethren, which the Prophet had regard to: although he saw the mercy of God extending over all, yet he saw something especial and peculiar shown toward the Jews, and he saith, “Nevertheless, I will hearken what the Lord God shall say unto me: for He shall speak peace unto His people;” and His people shall be, not Judaea only, but it shall be gathered together out of all nations: “For He shall speak peace unto His hints, and to those who turn their hearts unto Him,” and to all who shall turn their hearts unto Him from the whole world. “Nevertheless, His salvation shall be nigh them that fear Him, that glory may dwell in our land:” that is, in that land in which the Prophet was born, greater glory shall dwell, because Christ began to be preached from thence. Thence were the Apostles, and thither first they were sent; from thence were the Prophets, there first was the Temple, there sacrifice was made to God, there were the Patriarchs, there He Himself came of the seed of Abraham, there Christ was manifested, there Christ appeared; for from thence was the Virgin Mary who bore Christ. There He walked with His feet, there He worked miracles. Thirdly, He ascribed so great honour to that nation, that when a certain Canaanitish woman interrupted Him, praying for the healing of her daughter, He said unto her, “I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”5 Seeing this, the Prophet saith, “that glory may dwell in our land.”

9. “Mercy and truth have met together” (ver. 10). “Truth in our land,” in a Jewish person, “mercy” in the land of the Gentiles. For where was truth? Where the utterances of God were. Where was mercy? On those who had left their God, and turned themselves unto devils. Did He look down6 also upon them? Yea, as if He said, Call those who are fugitives afar off, who have departed far from Me: call them, let them find Me who seek them, since they themselves would not seek Me. Therefore, “Mercy and truth have met together: righteousness and peace have kissed each other.” Do righteousness, and thou shalt have peace; that righteousness and peace may kiss each other. For if thou love not righteousness, thou shalt not have peace; for those two, righteousness and peace, love one another, and kiss one another: that he who hath done righteousness may find peace kissing righteousness. They two are friends: thou perhaps willest the one, and not the other: for there is no one who wills not peace: but all will not work righteousness. Ask all men, Wiliest thou peace? With one mouth the whole race of man answers thee, I wish, I desire, I will, I love it. Love also righteousness: for these two, righteousness and peace, are friends; they kiss one another: if thou love not the friend of peace, peace itself will not love thee, nor come unto thee. For what great thing is it to desire peace? Every bad man longeth for peace. For peace is a good thing. But do righteousness, for righteousness and peace kiss one another, they quarrel not together.…

10. “Truth hath sprung out of the earth, and righteousness hath looked down from heaven” (ver. 11). “Truth hath sprung out of the earth:” Christ is born of a woman. The Son of God hath come forth of the flesh. What is truth? The Son of God. What is the earth? Flesh. Ask whence Christ was born, and thou seest that “Truth is sprung out of the earth.” But the Truth which sprang out of the earth was before the earth, and by It the heaven and the earth were made: but in order that righteousness might look down from heaven, that is, in order that men might be justified by Divine grace, Truth was born of the Virgin Mary; that He might be able to offer a sacrifice to justify them, the sacrifice of suffering, the sacrifice of the Cross. And how could He offer a sacrifice for our sins, except He died? How could He die, except He received from us that wherein He might die; that is, unless He received from us mortal flesh, Christ could not have died: because the Word of God dieth not, Godhead dieth not, the Virtue and Wisdom of God doth not die. How should He offer a sacrifice, a healing victim, if He died not? How should He die, unless He clothed Himself with flesh? How should He put on flesh, except truth sprang out of the earth?

11. On the same passage we may mention another meaning. “Truth is sprung out of the earth:” confession from man. For thou, O man, wast a sinner. O earth, who when thou hadst sinned didst hear the sentence, “Earth thou art, and unto earth shalt thou return,”1 from thee let truth spring, that righteousness may look down from heaven. How doth truth spring from thee, whilst thou art a sinner, whilst thou art unrighteous? Confess thy sins, and truth shall spring out of thee. For if whilst thou art unrighteous, thou callest thyself just, how can truth spring out of thee? But if being unrighteous thou dost confess thyself to be so, “truth hath sprung out of the earth.” … What “righteousness hath looked down from heaven”? It is that of God, as though He said: Let us spare this man, for he spareth not himself: let us pardon him, for he himself confesseth. He is changed so is to punish his sin: I too will change, so as to set him free.

12. “For the Lord shall give sweetness, and our land shall give her increase” (ver. 12).… He will give unto thee the sweetness of working righteousness, so that righteousness shall begin to delight thee, whom before unrighteousness delighted: so that thou who at first didst delight in drunkenness, shall rejoice in sobriety: and thou who didst at first rejoice in theft, so as to take from another man what thou hadst not, shalt seek to give to him that hath not that which thou hast: and thou who didst take delight in robbing, shalt delight now in giving: thou whom shows delighted, shalt delight in prayer; thou who didst delight in trifling and lascivious songs, shalt now delight in singing hymns to God; in running to church, thou who at first didst run to the theatre. Whence is that sweetness born to thee, except from this, that “God giveth sweetness”? For, behold, ye see what I mean: behold, I have spoken unto you the word of God, I have sown seed in your devout hearts, finding your souls furrowed, as it were, with the plough of confession: with devout attention ye have received the seed; think now upon the word which ye have heard, like those who break up the clouds, lest the fowls should carry away the seed, that what is sown may be able to spring up there: and unless God rain upon it, what profits it that it is sown? This is what is meant by “our land shall give her increase.” May He with His visitations, in leisure, in business, in your house, in your bed, at meal-time, in conversation, in walks, visit your hearts, when we are not by. May the rain of God come and make to sprout what is sown there: and when we are not by, and are resting quietly, or otherwise employed, may God give increase to the seeds which we have sown, that remarking afterwards your improved characters, we too may rejoice for your fruit.

13. “For righteousness shall go before him, and he shall direct his steps in the way” (ver. 13): that righteousness, namely, which consists in confession of sins: for this is truth itself. For thou oughtest to be righteous towards thyself, and to punish thyself: for this is the beginning of man’s righteousness, that thou shouldest punish thyself, who art evil, and God should make thee good. Therefore since this is the beginning of man’s righteousness, this becomes a way for God, that God may come unto thee: there make for Him a way, in confession of sins. Therefore John too, when he was baptizing in the water of repentance, and would have men come to him repenting of their former deeds, spoke thus: “Prepare the way of the Lord, make His paths straight.”2 Thou didst please thyself in thy sins, O man: let that which thou wast displease thee, that thou mayest be able to become what thou wast not. Prepare the way of the Lord: let that righteousness go before, of confession of sins: He will come and visit thee, for now He hath where to place His steps, He hath whereby He may come to thee. Before thou didst confess thy sins, thou hadst shut up the way of God: there was no way by which He might come unto thee. Confess thy past life, and thou openest a way; and Christ shall come unto thee, and “shall place His steps in the way,” that He may guide thee with His own footsteps.

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Father de Piconio’s Commentary on 1 Corinthians 13

A Summary of 1 Corinthians 13~In this chapter, introduced parenthetically in the middle of his argument, the Apostle asserts the infinite superiority of charity to all other gifts of God, on the ground that charity will reign for eternity when all other gifts and graces, even faith and hope, shall have been absorbed and lost in it. Not only the excellence, but the absolute necessity of charity, is here insisted on; and there is an evident reference, throughout the chapter, to certain deficiencies of the Corinthian Christians in this respect. It is hardly necessary to observe that this splendid burst of inspired eloquence is probably the best known portion of the Apostle’s writings, and is sufficient to entitle him to a foremost place among the great writers of all countries and all ages.

1. If I should speak the tongues of men and Angels, and have not charity, I am becomelike sounding brass or a jingling cymbal.

The tongues of men and Angels is no doubt a hyperbolical exaggeration, signifying all languages that ever have been spoken, or ever could be spoken, in earth or heaven. It does not follow from the words of Saint Paul that the holy Angels may not have the power of communicating knowledge to one another without the intervention of language. The cymbal was an instrument consisting of two hollow plates of bronze, or other metal, which, when struck together, produced a ringing sound, and was employed in the festivals of Cybele. It is mentioned by Virgil and by Cicero.

2. And if I have had prophecy, and know all mysteries, and all science: and if I have had all faith, so that I remove mountains: and have not had charity, I am nothing.
3. And if I shall have distributed all my possessions in food to the poor, and if I shall have given up my body to burn: and have not had charity, it profits me nothing.

From language he proceeds to higher gifts, as described in verses 8-10 of the last chapter: 1. prophecy; 2. wisdom, or the knowledge of the hidden mysteries of God; 3. science, enabling me to explain and prove these mysteries by reason and facts of creation, to the intelligence of others; 4. faith, which accomplishes the impossible. These are indeed great and noble gifts; but I am nothing, says St. Augustine. The distribution of all his goods to the poor would be an exercise of the gift called in verse 28 of the last chapter, opitulations, or aids, on a large scale. Such an exhibition of generosity would
be very uncommon, and practically almost impossible, in a person destitute of Christian charity, and any love of God. It is theoretically possible, as proceeding from sympathy and compassion for the physical sufferings of others, and would not be absolutely without merit, as coming from a good impulse. And it would undoubtedly benefit the persons who were fed, in a material sense. But it would be of no spiritual benefit to the giver, in a spiritual sense, if unaccompanied by any desire to benefit their souls, or any love of God. Not even if, to save the lives of others, and for temporal ends, he gave his body to be burned. In the days of the Apostles a foreign philosopher, probably from the East, actually burned himself alive, at the Olympic games, out of vain glory, as is related by Lucian, who was present. God estimates by charity all we do, even martyrdom itself. This much the Apostle says to show the necessity of charity. He now proceeds to describe it.

4. Charity is patient, benignant; charity envies not, does not misbehave, is not inflated.

Charity is patient and long-suffering; gentle, kind, accommodating; envies not the happiness of others; is not noisy, vulgar, self-asserting, petulant, perverse, insolent, sly, malicious; is never self-conceited. Charity is not the parent of other virtues, but the queen; they are not derived from her, but she commands, forms, directs and perfects them.

5. Is not ambitious, seeks not her own, is not irritated, thinks not ill.

Is not ambitions. In the Greek, does not condescend to act indecorously; the Syriac: will not do what is shameful. Men who are ambitious of popular favour will sometimes stoop to flatter the vices of their inferiors, which is probably the reason why the Vulgate here uses the word ambitiosa. Charity seeks the public and general advantage, rather than her own. Is not easily provoked to anger, but takes time for consideration. Is not quick to suspect evil in others, but attributes good motives to them as far as is possible.

6. Rejoices not at iniquity, but rejoices with truth.

Rejoices not at iniquity. Is not pleased at hearing of evil done by others, but rejoices in honesty, integrity, justice.

7. Bears all, trusts all, hopes all, endures all.

Bears all, in the Greek; conceals all the evil it hears, so far as is possible. Believes all the good that can with reason and prudence be believed. Hopes all; never despairs of the conversion and salvation of any.  Endures all, calumny, persecution, death, for the love of God.

8. Charity never fails. Whether prophecies shall be abolished, or languages cease, or knowledge be destroyed.
9. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.
10. But when that shall have come which is perfect, that which is in part shall be abolished.
11. When I was a child I spoke as a child, I was wise as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I abolished what was of the child.
12. Now we see in a mirror, in enigma; but then face to face. Now I know in part; but then I shall know, as I also am known.
13. And now there remain faith, hope, charity, these three; but charity is of these the greater.

Charity fails not; is eternal. Prophecy will come to an end, and be useless, when all things are clearly seen; languages will cease, when all with one voice will cry, Sanctus, sanctns, sanctus ; science, or learning, will be needless, when all truth is at once made manifest to all, for there will be nothing more to learn. The one occupation of eternity will be to love. What we really know, in this life, is almost nothing; what we are permitted to prophesy, is but some fragment of the truth. When the full light comes, this partial illumination will
be no longer needed, as the stars pale when the sun rises. This life, compared with eternity, is childhood, compared with full growth. I spoke, felt, thought, as a child speaks, feels, and thinks. I threw aside the ideas of childhood when I became a man. We see God now, as we see objects in a mirror, that are out of sight, obscurely, partially, incompletely. We know him by enigmas, phrases and thoughts of which we can guess, but never fully understand the meaning. Then we shall see Him, face to face. We know Him, truly so far as faith can enlighten us, and we can in a degree understand, but only partially.
We shall know Him then, as He knows us; not in the same degree, for God knows all, but is Himself incomprehensible by any finite intelligence; but in the same manner, by direct, clear, uninterrupted vision. Faith, hope, charity, are the greatest and noblest of God’s gifts to man, in this mortal life. There will be nothing to believe, when we see all; nothing to hope, when we have all. Faith will be lost in sight, hope in enjoyment; but charity will endure for ever.

Corollary of Piety. Faith and Hope are the glory and the joy of human life. Faith raises the intellect and the affections to nobler objects of contemplation than the things of time. Hope fills in the background of our lives with gold. Without faith in the unseen, man sinks into materialism, and becomes an animal, with a finer nervous system, more potent brain power, and wider knowledge, than his fellow brutes, but with no nobler aims than theirs, and no higher object of existence. Without hope, he sinks under the unendurable burden of the sorrows of his lot in life. His feet stumble upon the dark mountains on his weary way to hopeless captivity; and the annoyances and troubles he would have laughed at, if he encountered them on a joyous pilgrimage to the city of his pride and hope, are magnified into misfortunes bitterer than human nature can endure. Faith is the only repose of his ever restless intellect, hope the only solace of his inconsolable heart. And yet—and there is no more startling proof of the infinite grandeur of the things of eternity compared with the things of time—compared with Charity, which is eternal, Faith and Hope are childish things. Empires and their glory, science, civilization, invention, language, all God’s gifts to man, of nature and above nature, for the purposes of this mortal life, will one day be no more needed, and will pass away; and faith and hope pass with them. We do not believe in what we see; we do not hope for what we have. We shall no longer learn to know God; for we shall see him face to face. We shall no longer voluntarily love him ; for we shall be drowned and consumed in the burning ocean of his charity. We love him here, says Saint Augustine: in heaven it will be his turn to love us. We shall no longer serve him; he will fold his children in an embrace that shall know no end. There remains the full consummation of the final cause of our existence, that for which he made us, to enjoy him for ever. When faith and hope have ceased, with all things that are temporal. Charity will reign for ever, and reign alone; for God is Charity.

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St Robert Bellarmine’s Commentary on Psalm 30

David praiseth God for his deliverance, and his merciful dealings with him

1 I will extol thee, O Lord, for thou hast upheld me: and hast not made my enemies to rejoice over me.

David, now established on his throne, after fortifying the citadel of Sion, and the city having been called after his name, finally, having built a most magnificent palace, and acknowledging God to be the author of so many favors, offers him the tribute of praise, saying, “I will extol thee, O Lord.” Exalted as thou art incapable of being more exalted; yet, to those who are not so fully cognizant of thy greatness, I will, as far as in me lies, by my preaching, “extol thee,” so that all may acknowledge thee to be the supreme Lord of all. “For thou hast upheld me,” raised me from nothing, from the lowest depths, even to the throne of thy kingdom. You have extolled me and I will therefore extol you; attributing my exaltation, not to my own merits, but to your greatness; you have exalted me, and I will humble myself in order to exalt you. “And hast not made my enemies to rejoice over me.” The consequence of such exaltation was, that his enemies, who were most numerous, and were for a long time seeking for his death, got no reason to be glad of his death, which they most eagerly looked for; but, on the contrary, had much source of grief at his exaltation, which with all their might they sought to obstruct.

In a prophetic sense, David speaks in the person of Christ; and of all the elect in general, as well as in particular, who, he foresaw, would be exalted in the kingdom of heaven, himself included. “I will extol thee, O Lord, for thou hast upheld me;” that means, how truly, O Lord, internally and externally will I extol thee, for my exaltation has led me to some idea of your immense sublimity; for, from the lowest earth, from the depth of misery, from mortality itself, thou hast raised me up and upheld me to the glory of resurrection and immortality, and thus to a heavenly and everlasting kingdom. “And hast not made my enemies to rejoice over me;” you have not indulged them in their impious desires of effecting my eternal destruction, a thing ardently sought for by the evil spirits in this and in the other world. The Jews, it is true, rejoiced when they extorted the sentence of death against Christ from Pilate; and the wicked not infrequently rejoice when they can deprive their neighbors of their properties, their riches, or even their lives; but their joy is short lived, followed by interminable punishment, so that it may rather be called the dream of joy than the reality of it.

2 O Lord my God, I have cried to thee, and thou hast healed me.
3 Thou hast brought forth, O Lord, my soul from hell: thou hast saved me from them that go down into the pit.

The prophet brings to his memory how he was angustiated, previous to his getting possession of the kingdom, to show how true was his statement, that “His enemies were not made to rejoice over him.” “O Lord my God, I have cried to thee;” when I was in frequent danger of death, and sick at heart in consequence, you, O my God, have healed me, and so delivered me from impending death, as if you had taken me out of hell itself. “Thou hast saved me from them that go down into the pit;” means the very same, but that it is a little more obscure. The meaning is, You have raised me from the dead, which may with propriety be applied to David, who had suffered such persecution, and was driven to death’s door thereby. In a prophetic sense, it applies literally to Christ. “Thou hast healed me” of the wounds I suffered on the cross. “Brought my soul from hell,” from Limbo, and “saved me” by my resurrection. All the saints can equally exclaim on the last day, “Thou hast healed me,” most completely, in soul and body; “And brought my soul from hell,” for you have not let me into the hell of the damned. “And saved me from them that go down into the pit,” inasmuch as you have given me salvation, and life everlasting. The same idea turns up in Psalm 102, “Who healeth all thy diseases, who redeemeth thy life from destruction.”

4 Sing to the Lord, O ye his saints: and give praise to the memory of his holiness.

Looking at the innumerable temporal blessings David had received from God, and the everlasting blessings his saints had received, he thinks it unbecoming in himself alone to thank God, and therefore invites all who had received similar favors to join him in praise. “Give praise to the memory of his holiness” means, praise his holy memory; just as “in his holy mountain” means the mountain of his holiness, by a Hebraism that uses the genitive for the ablative case; and the meaning is, praise him, praise his holy memory, because his remembrance of you was a holy one, a pious one, a paternal one, bent on rewarding you instead of punishing you. And, in truth, it is owing to God’s great goodness alone, which we should ever gratefully bear in mind, that while we, who always need his help, so often forget him, he, who wants nothing from us, should constantly bear us in mind; which he did in a most singular manner, when he sent his only Son to become our Savior; and, therefore, no wonder David should exclaim, in Psalm 8, “What is man that thou art mindful of him?”

5 For wrath is in his indignation; and life in his good will. In the evening weeping shall have place, and in the morning gladness.

He assigns a reason for having said that the holy recollection of God ought to be praised, because when God punishes us, he does so by reason of the “indignation” one’s sins provoke, that is, through a strict sense of justice; but in other respects, in his will and election it is to us life, not punishment. By anger then, we understand punishment and chastisement, called anger from its proceeding from anger. By indignation, is to be understood, according to St. Basil, the just judgment of God, “In the evening, weeping shall have place, and in the morning, gladness.” He proves that God’s anger towards the elect is only temporary, because to the lamentation produced by castigation and penance, joy will immediately succeed; and praise and thanksgiving is always connected with forgiveness and reconciliation, for between the evening and morning, that is, between day and night, nothing intervenes. Observe the propriety of attributing grief to the night, joy to the day, because, when we fall into sin, the light of divine grace abandons us; when we get to be reconciled, it comes back to us. Again, our passage through this world, in which we are mourning for our sins, groaning and sighing for our true country, heaven, is our night, in which we have no glimpse of God, the sun of justice; but the life to come, which 1 St. Peter, chap. 1, describes as one in which we shall “Rejoice with an unspeakable and glorified joy,” will be our day, because we shall see God face to face. This was fulfilled to the letter in Christ, who in the evening died in pain and suffering, in the morning rose in triumph and joy.

6 And in my abundance I said: I shall never be moved.

The alternations of anger and of life, of weeping and of gladness, alluded to in general by the prophet in the preceding verses, are now explained in detail; the prophet speaking sometimes in his own person, sometimes in that of the elect. First, speaking of himself, he says, that previous to his being put over the kingdom, such was his wealth, and in such peace did he possess it, that he thought his happiness should be everlasting. He would appear to allude to the time when, after having slain Goliath, he was in the highest favor with the king, the king’s son, and the whole mass of the people, to such an extent, that he was elected to be a tribune, and got the king’s daughter in marriage; and of that time he says, “In my abundance I said:” when I was so fortunate, and had such an abundance of everything, “I shall never be moved.” My happiness seems so firmly established that it must be everlasting.

7 O Lord, in thy favour, thou gavest strength to my beauty. Thou turnedst away thy face from me, and I became troubled.

He assigns a reason for his having said, “I shall never be moved;” because you, O my God, givest “strength,” nerve, and power, “to my beauty,” to my happiness; “in thy favor,” because such was your will, wish, and decree. “Thou turned away thy face from me, and I became troubled.” Now come the reverses. In the midst of all the aforesaid happiness, “thou turned away thy face from me;” you allowed me to incur the king’s displeasure, “and I became troubled,” suffered banishment, had to fly, ran several risks of death, and many other misfortunes. All these risks and dangers are more applicable, however, to the elect, in their troubles and peregrinations here below. Any one of the elect can justly say: In my abundance, that is, while God favored me with much grace, and his spiritual favors, I said I will never be moved. So said Peter, one of his principal elect, when he said, “Even though I should die with thee, I will not deny thee.” “O Lord, in thy favor thou gavest strength to my beauty;” that is, my strength was not my own but yours; for the whole beauty of my soul had its rise from the light of your justice and wisdom, and was kept up and maintained by your assistance. “You turned your face away from me.” To punish my presumption, you abandoned me, left me to myself; and, at once, I collapsed, fell, and “became troubled.” As regards Christ, these verses will apply to him, speaking in the person of his Church, his members, or even as speaking in his own person. For, as he said on the cross, “My God, why hast thou forsaken me?” so he could say, “Thou turned thy face away from me,” not because he was an enemy, but because he seemed to desert him in his passion; and then the meaning would be, “And in my abundance I said:” My human nature, having been endowed with the choicest graces, far and away beyond any other mortal, inasmuch as it was hypostatically united to God, the fountain of all grace, said, “I shall never be moved:” nothing can harm, hurt, or disturb me. “O Lord, in thy favor:” that means, to my beauty and my excellence, already superior to that of all men and Angels, you have added strength and power; that is, the indissoluble tie of the hypostatic union, and that “in thy favor,” which no one can resist. “Thou turned away thy face from me.” Notwithstanding that indissoluble tie of the hypostatic union, and without injuring “the strength of my beauty,” you “turned away your face from me:” from defending me, but it was for the salvation of mankind; and you wished the cup of my most bitter passion not to pass from me, that I may free mankind; therefore, “I became troubled:” began to fear, to grow weary, and to be sad, and I exclaimed, “My soul is sorrowful unto death.” We are not to infer from this that Christ had to suffer anything he did not expect, or of which he had no previous knowledge, for nothing could have injured or have harmed him against his own will; but he suffered the persecutions freely, and thus “troubled” himself. And, as Christ said to his Father, “Thou turned away thy face from me,” so he could say to himself, I have turned away the face of my divinity from helping my humanity, and thus willingly and knowingly I have been troubled.

8 To thee, O Lord, will I cry: and I will make supplication to my God.
9 What profit is there in my blood, whilst I go down to corruption? Shall dust confess to thee, or declare thy truth?

These expressions are to be taken in the past, and not in the future tense; a thing not uncommon among the Hebrews. David then, in a historic sense, states that, in the time of his tribulation and danger, he cried out to the Lord, and, among other things, threw out to him, that his death would be of no use to the Lord, for, once dead, he could praise him no more. “To thee, O Lord, will I cry.” When I became troubled, by the aversion of your face from me, I did not despair of your mercy, but “I cried out to thee;” and in terms of deprecation said, “What profit is there in my blood?” That is, what will the spilling of my blood profit you, when my enemies shall have put me to death, and I shall have come to rottenness in the grave? Dust can offer you no tribute of praise. According to a prophetic and higher interpretation it means, that Christ, in his passion, cried out and prayed to the Lord, which was fulfilled at the time he, according to the apostle, Hebrews 5, “With a strong cry and tears, offered up prayers and supplications to him that was able to save him from death.” It was at that time he said, “What profit is there in my blood whilst I go down to corruption?” That is, how will my spilling my blood on the cross conduce to the glory of God or the salvation of mankind, if my body like that of all other mortals, is to rot and perish in the grave? For, as the apostle says, 1 Cor. 15, “If Christ be not risen again your faith is vain;” and Christ himself could not have returned to announce God’s truth to his apostles; nor could poor mortals, who are but dust and ashes, become spiritual, become children of God; to confess to him, and announce his truth to others, that is, the justice and the fidelity of God.

These words may be applied to each of the elect, who, touched with sorrow for having fallen into sin, cried out to God for pardon, that they may be able to confess to him, and announce to other sinners how true he is to his promises.

10 The Lord hath heard, and hath had mercy on me: the Lord became my helper.

This verse clearly shows that the preceding verses should have been understood in the past instead of the future tense. The prophet asserts here, both in his own person, that of Christ, and that of the elect, that his cry was heard by God.

11 Thou hast turned for me my mourning into joy: thou hast cut my sackcloth, and hast compassed me with gladness:

Here is the effect of his having been heard. David, from a wretched exile, becomes a powerful king. Christ rises from the dead, thus gaining a victory over death itself. Every one of the elect, on arriving at their heavenly kingdom from this valley of tears, can most justly exclaim, “Thou hast turned for me my mourning into joy, thou hast cut my sack cloth, and hast compassed me with gladness.” You have changed my garb of mourning into that of joy, and you have not taken it simply off, but “hast cut” it, entirely destroyed it, as a sign that I am not to put it on again. The “sack cloth” means that wretched garb of mortality and misery that has been entirely destroyed, of no longer use to the saints, much less to Christ, who, “Rising from the dead, dies no more.”

12 To the end that my glory may sing to thee, and I may not regret: O Lord my God, I will give praise to thee for ever.

The final end of the glory of Christ and his saints is the praise of God: “Blessed are those who dwell in thy house, forever and ever they will praise thee.” Let my glory, then, not my groans, for fear of death or of sin, sing to thee.

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Commentaries for the Solemnity of the Nativity of St John the Baptist (Vigil and Mass of the Day)

VIGIL MASS FOR THE SOLEMNITY OF THE NATIVITY OF ST JOHN THE BAPTIST

My Notes on Jeremiah 1:4-10. On 4-19.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Jeremiah 1:4-10.

Father Boylan’s Introduction to Psalm 71.

St Augustine’s Notes on Psalm 71.

Patristic/Medieval Commentary on Psalm 71.

Psalm 71 and the Catholic Encyclopedia. Greek, English & Latin text of the Psalm hyperlinked to the C E.

Father MacEvily’s Commentary on 1 Peter 1:8-12.

Navarre Bible Commentary on 1 Peter 1:8-12.

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Luke 1:5-17.

Father MacEvily on Luke 1:5-17. Actually on verses 5-25.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Luke 1:5-17.

MASS DURING THE DAY FOR THE SOLEMNITY OF THE NATIVITY OF ST JOHN THE BAPTIST

COMMENTARIES ON THE FIRST READING: Isaiah 49:1-6.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Isaiah 49:1-6.

Haydock Bible Commentary on Isaiah 49:1-6.

COMMENTARIES ON THE RESPONSORIAL PSALM: Ps. 139.

Father Boylan’s Introduction to Psalm 139.

Pope John Paul II’s Commentary/Meditation on Psalm 139.

St Augustine’s Notes on Psalm 139.

St Albert the Great’s Commentary on Psalm 139.

Psalm 139 and the Catholic Encyclopedia. Greek, English & Latin text of the Psalm hyperlinked to articles from the C E.

COMMENTARIES ON THE SECOND READING: Acts 13:22-26.

Father MacEvily’s Commentary on Acts 13:22-26.

Father Callan’s Commentary on Acts 13:22-26.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Acts 13:22-26.

COMMENTARIES ON THE GOSPEL: Luke 1:57-66, 80.

St Thomas Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Luke 1:57-66, 80.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Luke 1:57-66, 80.

GENERAL RESOURCES: Podcasts, blog posts, online articles, etc.

Preacher Jailed for Speaking Out on Marriage: The Nativity of St John the Baptist. Blog post on the readings by Catholic biblical Scholar Dr. John Bergsma.

John the Baptist: In the Spirit and Power of Elijah.

Pope Benedict XVI’s Angelus Address for the Solemnity of St John the Baptist.

Catholic Encyclopedia on St John the Baptist.

Information on the Birth of St John the Baptist. From Catholic Culture.

St Augustine on the Birth of St John the Baptist. From the Office of Readings.

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St Thomas Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Luke 1:57-66, 80

Ver57. Now Elisabeth’s full time came that she should be delivered; and she brought forth a son.58. And her neighbors and her cousins heard how the Lord had shown great mercy upon her and they rejoiced with her.

AMBROSE; If you carefully observe, you will find that the word signifying fullness is no where used except at the birth of the righteous. Hence it is said, Now Elisabeth’s full time came. For the life of the righteous has fullness, but the days of the wicked are empty.

CHRYS. And for that reason the Lord kept back the delivery of Elisabeth, that her joy might be increased, and her fame the greater. Hence it follows, And her neighbors and cousins heard, &c. For they who had known her barrenness were made the witnesses of the Divine grace, and no one seeing the child departed in silence, but gave praise to God, Who had vouchsafed him beyond their expectation.

AMBROSE; For the bringing forth of saints causes the rejoicing of many; it is a common blessing; for justice is a public virtue, and therefore at the birth of a just man a sign of hi future life is sent beforehand and, the grace of the virtue which is to follow is represented, being foreshadowed by the rejoicing of the neighbors.

Ver 59. And it came to pass, that on the eighth day they came to circumcise the child; and they called him Zacharias, after the name of his father.60. And his mother answered and said, Not so; but he shall be called John.61. And they said to her, There is none of the kindred that is called by this name.62. And they made signs to his father, how he would have him called.63. And he asked for a writing table, and wrote saying, His name is John. And they marveled all.64. And his mouth was opened immediately, and his tongue loosed, and he spoke, and praised God.

CHRYS. The rite of circumcision was first delivered to Abraham as a sign of distinction, that the race of the Patriarch might be preserved in unmixed purity, and so might be able to obtain the promises. But now that the promise of the covenant is fulfilled, the sign attached to it is removed. So then through Christ circumcision ceased, and baptism came in its place; but first it was right that John should be circumcised; as it is said, And it came to pass, that on the eighth day, &c. For the Lord had said, Let the child of eight days be circumcised among you. But this measurement of time I conceive was ordered by Divine mercy for two reasons. First, because in its most tender years the child the more easily bears the cutting of the flesh. Secondly, that from the very operation itself we might be reminded that it was done for a sign; for the young child scarcely distinguishes any of the things that are around him. But after the circumcision, the name was conferred, as it follows, And they called him. But this was done because we must first receive the seal of the Lord, then the name of man. Or, because no man except he first cast aside his fleshly lusts, which circumcision signifies, is worthy to have his name written in the book of life.

AMBROSE; The holy Evangelist has especially remarked, that many thought the child should be called after his father Zacharias, in order that we might understand, not that any name of his kinsfolk was displeasing to his mother, but that the same word had been communicated to her by the Holy Spirit, which had been foretold by the Angel to Zacharias. And in truth, being dumb, Zacharias was unable to mention his son’s name to his wife, but Elisabeth obtained by prophecy what she had not learnt from her husband. Hence it follows, And she answered, &c. Marvel not that the woman pronounced the name which she had never heard, seeing the Holy Spirit who imparted it to the Angel revealed it to her; nor could she be ignorant of the forerunner of the Lord, who had prophesied of Christ.

And it well follows, And they said to her, &c. that you might consider that the name belongs not to the family, but to the Prophet. Zacharias also is questioned, and signs made to him, as it follows,

And they made signs to the father, &c. But since unbelief had so bereft him of utterance and hearing, that he could not use his voice, he spoke by his hand-writing, as it follows,

And he asked for a writing table, and wrote, saying, His name is John; that is, we give no name to him who has received his name from God.

ORIGEN; Zacharias is by interpretation “remembering God,” but John signifies “pointing to.” Now “memory” relates to something absent, “pointing to,” to something present. But John was not about to set forth the memory of God as absent, but with his finger to point him out as present, saying, Behold the Lamb of God.

CHRYS. But the name John is also interpreted the grace of God. Because then by the favor of Divine grace not by nature, Elisabeth conceived this son, they engraved the memory of the benefit on the name of the child.THEOPHYL. And because with the mother the dumb father also agreed as to the name of the child, it follows, And they all marveled. For there was no one of this name among their kinsfolk that any one could say that they had both previously determined upon it.

GREG. NAZ. The birth of John then broke the silence of Zacharias, as it follows, And his mouth was opened. For it were unreasonable when the voice of the Word had come forth, that his father should remain speechless.

AMBROSE; Rightly also, from that moment was his tongue loosed for that which unbelief had bound, faith set free. Let us then also believe, in order that our tongue, which has been bound by the chains of unbelief, may be loosed by the voice of reason. Let us write mysteries by the Spirit if we wish to speak. Let us write the forerunner of Christ, not on tables of stone, but on the fleshly tablets of the heart. For he who names John, prophesies Christ. For he who names John prophesies Christ. For it follows, And he spoke, giving thanks.

THEOPHYL; Now in an allegory, the celebration of John’s birth was the beginning of the grace of the New Covenant. His neighbors and kinsfolk had rather give him the name of his father than that of John. For the Jews, who by the observance of the Law were united to him as it were by ties of kindred, chose rather to follow the righteousness which is the Law, than receive the grace of faith. But the name of John, (i.e. the grace of God,) his mother in word, his father in writing, suffice to announce, for both the Law itself as well as the Psalms and the Prophecies, in the plainest language foretell the grace of Christ; and that ancient priesthood, by the foreshadowing of its ceremonies and sacrifices, bears testimony to the same. And well does Zacharias speak on the eighth day of the birth of his child, for by the resurrection of the Lord, which took place on the eighth day, i.e. the day after the sabbath, the hidden secrets of the legal priesthood were revealed.

Ver 65. And fear came on all that dwelt round about them: and all these sayings were noised abroad throughout all the hill country of Judea.66. And all they that heard them laid them up in their hearts, saying, What manner of child shall this be! And the hand of the Lord was with him.

THEOPHYL. AS at the silence of Zacharias the people marveled, so likewise when he spoke. Hence it is said, And fear came upon all; that from these two circumstances all might believe there was something great in the child that was born. But all these things were ordained, to the end that he who was to bear witness of Christ might also be esteemed trustworthy. Hence it follows, And all they that heard them laid them up in their heart, saying What manner of child, &c.

THEOPHYL; For fore-running signs prepare the way for the forerunner of the truth, and the future prophet is recommended by auspices sent before him; hence it follows, For the hand of the Lord was with him.

GREEK EX. For God worked miracles in John which he did not himself, but the right hand of God in him.

GLOSS. But mystically, at the time of our Lord’s resurrection, by the preaching of the grace of Christ, a wholesome dread shook the hearts not only of the Jews, (who were neighbors, either from the place of their dwelling, or from the knowledge of the law,) but of the foreign nations also. The name of Christ surmounts not only the hilly country of Judea, but all the heights of worldly dominion and wisdom.

Ver  80. And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, and was in the deserts till the day of his showing to Israel.

THEOPHYL; The future preacher of repentance, that he might the more boldly reclaim his hearers from the allurements of the world, passes the first part of his life in the deserts. Hence it is said, And the child grew.

THEOPHYL. i.e. in bodily stature, and waxed strong in spirit, for together with his body at the same time his spiritual gift increased, and the workings of the Spirit were more and more manifested in him.

ORIGEN; Or he increased in spirit, remaining not in the same measure in which he had begun, but the Spirit was ever growing in him. His will ever tending to better things, was making its own advances, and his mind ever contemplating something more divine, while his memory was exercising itself, that it might lay up more and more things in its treasury, and more firmly retain them. But he adds, And he waxed strong. For human nature is weak, as we learn, the flesh is weak. It must therefore be made strong by the Spirit, for the Spirit is ready. Many wax strong in the flesh, but the wrestler of God must be strengthened by the Spirit that he may crush the wisdom of the flesh. He retires therefore to escape the noise of cities, and the thronging of the people. For it follows, And he was in the deserts. Where the air is purer, the sky more clear, and God a closer friend, that as the time had not yet arrived for his baptism and preaching, he might have leisure for praying, and might hold converse with the angels, calling upon God and fearing Him, saying, Behold, here am I.

THEOPHYL. Or, he was in the deserts that he might be brought up beyond the reach of the malice of the multitude, and not be afraid of man. For if he had been in the world, perchance he had been corrupted by the friendship and conversation of the world. And secondly, that he who was to preach Christ might also be esteemed trust-worthy. But he was hid in the desert until it pleased God to show him forth to the people of Israel, as it follows, till the day of his showing forth to Israel.

AMBROSE; And rightly is the time noted during which the prophet was in the womb, in order that the presence of Mary might not be passed over, while they are silent about the time of his childhood, because being strengthened in the womb by the presence of the Mother of the Lord, he knew not the struggles of childhood.

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Father Callan’s Commentary on Acts of Apostles 13:22-26

22. And when he had removed him, he raised them up David to be king: to whom giving testimony, he said: I have found David, the son of Jesse, a man according to my own heart, who shall do all my wills.

According to my own heart, etc. This is a substantial quotation from 1 Sam 13:14. While David was not always faithful in his private life, his public life as king was good and conformable to God’s will.

23. Of this man’s seed God according to his promise, hath raised up to Israel a Saviour, Jesus:

God had promised to Abraham and David that the Messiah, the Saviour, should be bom of their seed. Cf. 2 Sam 7:16; Ps 89:30 ff.

24. John first preaching, before his coming, the baptism of penance to all the people of Israel.

John first preaching, etc. See on Matthew 3:1, 2.

25. And when John was fulfilling his course, he said: I am not he, whom you think me to be: but behold, there cometh one after me, whose shoes of his feet I am not worthy to loose.

See on Acts 1:5.

26. Men, brethren, children of the stock of Abraham, and whosoever among you fear God, to you the word of this salvation is sent.

The word of this salvation; i.e., the announcement of the salvation whose author is Jesus the Saviour, spoken of in verse 23.

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Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on Acts of Apostles 13:22-26

Act 13:22  And when he had removed him, he raised them up David to be king: to whom giving testimony, he said: I have found David, the son of Jesse, a man according to my own heart, who shall do all my wills.

And when he had removed him.  Deprived him of the Royal dignity (1 Kings 31:1-6).

Giving testimonyaccording to my own heart, very pleasing to me, such a man as my heart desires and wishes for.  My wills execute my mandates. This testimony is found substantially in (1 Kings 13:14, 16:1; Ps 38). David may have deflected from the right path betimes but, his public kingly life was uniformly good; and, after he fell, his repentance was remarkable. His reign, as king, was good, obedient to God s will, unlike Saul, who proved to be perverse.

David is commended for having promoted the worship of God among the people (1 Kings 14:8, 9; 15:3-5) and contrasted with Jeroboam and Abias.

Act 13:23  Of this man’s seed, God, according to his promise, hath raised up to Israel a Saviour Jesus:

Of this man’s seed, posterity. Our Lord is everywhere known by the designation, Son of David.

God, according to His promise, viz., the promises generally made to Abraham and David, that the Messiah would be born of their seed (Gal 3:15) which he confirms in verse 32.

Hath raised up to Israel, a Saviour, Jesus.  Instead of raised up, the reading best supported by a preponderance of MSS., and generally preferred, has, brought forth to Israel.  It refers not to our Lord’s Incarnation; but, to his having been publicly declared by God, at the commencement of his ministry, at his Baptism, by John, to be the Saviour of all Israel Hence, aptly called Jesus. The reference here made to the precursory ministry and testimony of John shows there is question of our Lord s coming forth to exercise His ministry.

Act 13:24  John first preaching, before his coming, the baptism of penance to all the people of Israel.

John first preaching, or, as the Greek has it, having previously preachedbefore his coming, or His public appearance to exercise His ministry.

In v. 23, the Apostle introduces the chief point of his discourse, that Jesus was the promised Messiah, who was to redeem the world. The mention of the word Jesus, so odious to the Jews, and calculated to beget a prejudice, is introduced with great judgment, the promises regarding which, already laid before them, the Jews could not gainsay. With great tact he avails himself of the allusion to David to introduce the mention of the Messiah, who was to be of the seed of David.

The meaning of verses 23-24, then, is: God, conformably to His promise has declared, pointed out unto Israel Jesus as Saviour, the descendant of King David, after John had prepared the ways for His entry into the functions of His ministry, by preaching the Baptism of Penance unto all the people.

Act 13:25  And when John was fulfilling his course, he said: I am not he whom you think me to be. But behold, there cometh one after me, whose shoes of his feet I am not worthy to loose.

Fulfilling his course. When in the act of discharging his duties as precursor, he said I am not he, (see Gospels Matthew 3 Luke 3:15; John 1:27).

Act 13:26  Men, brethren, children of the stock of Abraham, and whosoever among you fear God: to you the word of this salvation is sent.

Stock of Abraham. A native born Jew, his natural descendent through Issac.

And whosoever among you fear God. Proselytes. The Apostle earnestly exhorts his listeners, whether Jew or proselytes, to accept the message of salvation, which is the fulfillment of the promises made to the fathers.

To you is emphatic. To them was the Savior first sent. This salvation, indicated in verse 23

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St Augustine’s Notes on Psalm 139

1. …Our Lord Jesus Christ speaketh in the Prophets, sometimes in His own Name, sometimes in ours, because He maketh Himself one with us; as it is said, “they twain shall be one flesh.” Wherefore also the Lord saith in the Gospel, speaking of marriage, “therefore they are no more twain, but one flesh.” One flesh, because of our mortality He took flesh; not one divinity, for He is the Creator, we the creature. Whatsoever then our Lord speaketh!in the person of the Flesh He took upon Him, belongeth both to that Head which hath already ascended into heaven, and to those members which still toil in their earthly wandering. Let us hear then our Lord Jesus Christ speaking in prophecy. For the Psalms were sung long before the Lord was born of Mary, yet not before He was Lord: for from everlasting He was the Creator of all things, but in time He was born of His creature. Let us believe that Godhead, and, so far as we can, understand Him to be equal to the Father. But that Godhead equal to the Father. was made partaker of our mortal nature, not of His own store, but of ours; that we too might be made partakers of His DivineNature, not of our store, but of His.

2. “Lord, Thou hast tried me, and known me” (ver. 1). Let the Lord Jesus Christ Himself say this; let Him too say, “Lord,” to the Father. For His Father is not His Lord, save because He hath deigned to be born according to the flesh. He is Father of the God, Lord of the Man. Wouldest thou know to whom He is Father? To the coequal Son. The Apostle saith, “Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God.” To this “Form” God is Father, the “Form” equal to Himself, the only-begotten Son, begotten of His Substance. But forasmuch as for our sakes, that we might be re-made, and made partakers of His Divine Nature, being renewed unto life eternal, He was made partaker of our mortal nature, what saith the Apostle of Him? He saith, “yet He emptied Himself, and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men, and was found in fashion as a man.” He was in the Form of God, equal to the Father; He took upon Him the form of a servant, so as therein to be less than the Father. …

3. “Thou hast known My down-sitting and Mine up-rising” (ver. 2). What here is “down-sitting,” what “up-rising”? He who sitteth, humbleth himself. The Lord then “sat” in His Passion, “up-rose” in His Resurrection. “Thou,” he saith, hast known this; that is, Thou hast willed, Thou hast approved; according to Thy will was it done. But if thou choosest to take the words of the Head in the person of the Body: man sitteth when he humbleth himself in penitence, he riseth up when his sins are forgiven, and he is lifted up to the hope of everlasting life. Lift not up yourselves, unless ye have first been humbled. For many wish to rise before they have sat down, they wish to appear righteous, before they have confessed that they are sinners. …

4. “Thou hast understood my thoughts from afar; Thou hast tracked out my path and may limit” (ver. 3); “and all my ways Thou hast seen beforehand” (ver. 4). What is, “from afar”? While I am yet in my pilgrimage, before I reach that, my true country, Thou hast known my thoughts. …The younger son went into a far country. After his toil and suffering and tribulation and want, he thought on his father, and desired to return, and said, “I will arise, and go to my father.” “I will arise,” said he, for before he had sat. Here then thou mayest recognise him saying, “Thou hast known my down-sitting and up-rising.” I sat, in want; I arose, in longing for Thy Bread. “Thou hast understood my thoughts from afar.” For far indeed had I gone; but where is not He whom I had left? Wherefore the Lord saith in the Gospel, that his father met him as he was coming. Truly; for “he had understood his thoughts from afar.” “My path,” he saith; what, but a bad path, the path he had walked to leave his father? …What is, “my path”? that by which I have gone. What is, “my limit”? that whereunto I have reached. “Thou hast tracked out my path and my limit.” That limit of mine, far distant as it was, was not far from Thine eyes. Far had I gone, and yet Thou wast there. “And all my ways Thou hast seen beforehand.” He said not, “hast seen,” but, “hast seen beforehand.” Before I went by them, before I walked in them, Thou didst see them beforehand; and Thou didst permit me in toil to go my own ways, that, if I desired not to toil, I might return into Thy ways. “For there is no deceit in my tongue.” What meant he by this? Lo, I confess to Thee, I have walked in my own way, I am become far from Thee, I have departed from Thee, with whom it was well with me, and to my good it was ill with me without Thee. …

5. “Behold Thou, Lord, hast known all my last doings, and the ancient ones” (ver. 5). Thou hast known my latest doings, when I fed swine; Thou hast known my ancient doings, when I asked of Thee my portion of goods. Ancient doings were the beginnings to me of latest ills: ancient sin, when we fell; latest punishment, when we came into this toilsome and dangerous mortality. And would that this may be “latest” to us; it will be, if now we will to return. For there is another “latest” for certain wicked ones, to whom it shall be said, “Go ye into everlasting fire.” …”Thou hast fashioned me,and hast laid Thine hand upon me.” “Fashioned me,” where? In this mortality; now, to the toils whereunto we all are born. For none is born, but God has fashioned him in his mother’s womb; nor is there any creature, whereof God is not the Fashioner. But “Thou hast fashioned me” in this toil, “and laid Thine hand upon me,” Thine avenging hand, putting down the proud. For thus healthfully hath He cast down the proud, that He may lift him up humble.

6. “Thy skill hath displayed itself wonderfully in me: it hath waxed mighty: I shall not be able to attain unto it” (ver. 6). Listen now and hear somewhat, which is obscure indeed, yet bringeth no small pleasure in the understanding thereon. Moses, the holy servant of God, with whom God spake by a cloud, for, speaking after human fashion, He must needs speak to His servant through some work of His hands which He assumed, …longed and desired to see the true appearance of God, and said to God, who was conversing with him, “If now I have found grace in Thy sight, show me Thyself.” When this he desired vehemently, and would extort from God in that sort of friendly familiarity, if we may so speak, wherewith God deigned to treat him, that he might see His Glory and His Face, in such wise as we can speak of God’s Face, He said unto him, “Thou canst not see My Face; for no one hath seen My Face, and lived;” but I will place thee in a clift of the rock, and will pass by, and will set My hand upon thee; and when I have passed by, thou shalt see My back parts. And from these words there ariseth another enigma, that is, an obscure figure of the truth. “When I have passed by,” saith God, “thou shalt see My back parts;” as though He hath on one side His face, on another His back. Far be it from us to have any such thoughts of that Majesty! For whoso hath such thoughts of God, what advantageth it him that the temples are closed? He is building an idol in his own heart. In these words then are mighty mysteries. …They who raged against the Lord, whom they saw, now seek counsel how they may be saved; and it is said to them, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the Name of Jesus Christ, and your sins shall be forgiven you.” Behold, they saw the back parts of Him, whose face they could not see. For His Hand was upon their eyes, not for ever, but while He passed by. After He had passed He took away His Hand from their eyes. When the hand was taken from their eyes, they say to the disciples, “What shall we do?” At first they are fierce, afterwards loving; at first angry, afterwards fearful; at first hard, then pleasant; at first blind, then enlightened. …

7. Behold thou findest that the runaway in a far country cannot escape His eyes, from whom he fleeth. And whither can he go now, whose “limit is tracked out”? Behold, what saith he? “Whither shall I go from Thy Spirit?” (ver. 7). Who can in the world flee from that Spirit, with whom the world is filled? “And whither shall I flee from Thy Face?” He seeketh a place whither to flee from the wrath of God. What place will shelter God’s runaway? Men who shelter runaways, ask them from whom they have fled; and when they find any one a slave of some master less powerful than themselves, him they shelter as it were without any fear, saying in their hearts, “he hath not a master by whom he can be tracked out.” But when they are told of a powerful master, they either shelter not, or they shelter with great fear, because even a powerful man can be deceived. Where is God not? Who can deceive God? Whom doth not God see? From whom doth not God demand His runaway? Whither then shall that runaway go from the Face of God? He turneth him hither and thither, as though seeking a spot to flee to.

8. “If I go up,” saith he, “to heaven, Thou art there: if I go down to Hades, Thou art present” (ver. 8). At length, miserable runaway, thou hast learnt, that by no means canst thou make thyself far from Him, from whom thou hast wished to remove far away. Behold, He is everywhere; thou, whither wilt thou go? He hath found counsel, and that inspired by Him, who now deigneth to recall him. …If by sinning I go down to the depths of wickednesses, and spurn to confess, saying, “Who seeth me” (for “in Hades who shall confess to Thee?” ) there also Thou art present, to punish. Whither then shall I go that I may flee from Thy presence, that is, not find Thee angry? This plan he found: So will I flee, saith he, from Thy Face, so will I flee from Thy Spirit; from Thy avenging Spirit, Thy avenging Face thus will I flee. How? “If I take again my wings right forward, and abide in the utmost parts of the sea” (ver. 9). So can I flee from Thy Face. If he will flee to the utmost part of the sea from the Face of God, will not He from whom he fleeth be there? …For what are “the utmost parts of the sea,” but the end of the world? Thither let us now flee in hope and longing, with the wings of twofold love; let us have no rest, save in “the utmost parts of the sea.” For if elsewhere we wish for rest, we shall be hurled headlong into the sea. Let us fly even to the ends of the sea, let us bear ourselves aloft on the wings of twofold love; meanwhile let us flee to God in hope, and in faithful hope let us meditate on that “end of the sea.”

9. Now listen who may bring us thither.The very same One whose face in wrath we wish to flee from. For what followeth? “Even thither shall Thy hand conduct me, and Thy right hand lead me” (ver. 10). This let us meditate on, beloved brethren, let this be our hope, this our consolation. Let us take again through love the wings we lost through lust. For lust was the lime of our wings, it clashed us down from the freedom of our sky, that is, the free breezes of the Spirit of God. Thence dashed down we lost our wings, and were, so to speak, imprisoned in the power of the fowler; thence “He” redeemed us with His Blood, whom we fled from to be caught. He maketh us wings of His commandments; we raise them aloft now free from lime. …Needs then must we have wings, and needs must He conduct us, for He is our Helper. We have free-will; but even with that free-will what can we do, unless He help us who commandeth us?

10. And considering the length of the way, what said he to himself? “And I said, Peradventure the darkness shall overwhelm me” (ver. 11). Lo, now I have believed in Christ, now am I wafted aloft on the wings of twofold love. …Regarding the length of the way, i said to myself, “And the night was light in my delight.” The night was made to me light, because in the night I despaired of being able to cross so great a sea, to surmount so long a journey, to reach the utmost parts by persevering to the end Thanks to Him who sought me when a runaway, who smote my back with strokes of the scourge, who by calling me recalled me from destruction, who made my night light. For it is night so long as we are passing through this life. How was the night made light? Because Christ came down into the night. …

11. “For darkness shall not be darkened by Thee” (ver. 12). Do not thou then darken thy darkness; God darkeneth it not, but enlighteneth it yet more; for to Him is said in another Psalm, “Thou, Lord, shalt light my candle: my God shall enlighten my darkness.” But who are they who “darken their darkness,” which God darkeneth not? Evil men, perverse men; when they sin, verily they are darkness; when they confess not their sins which they have committed but go on to defend them, they “darken their darkness.” Wherefore now if thou hast sinned thou art in darkness, but by confessing thy darkness thou shall obtain to have thy darkness lightened; by defending thy darkness, thou shall “darken thy darkness.” And where wilt thou escape from double darkness, who wast in difficulty in single darkness? …Let us not “darken our darkness” by defending our sins, and “the night shall be light in our delight.”

12. “And night shall be lightened as the day.” “Night, as the day.” “Day” to us is worldly prosperity, night adversity in this world: but, if we learn that it is by the desert of our sins that we suffer adversities, and our Father’s scourges are sweet to us, that the Judge’s sentence may not be bitter to us, so shall we find the darkness of this night to be, as it were, the light of this night. …But when Christ our Lord has come, and has dwelt in the soul by faith, and promised other light, and inspired and given patience, and warned a man not to delight in prosperity or to be crushed by adversity, the man, being faithful, begins to treat this world with indifference; not to be lifted up when prosperity befalls him, nor crushed when adversity, but in all things to praise God, not only when he aboundeth, but also when he loseth; not only when he is in health, but also when he is sick. …”As is His darkness, so is also His light.” His darkness overwhelms me not, because His light lifts me not up.

13. “For Thou, O Lord, hast possessed my reins” (ver. 13). The Possessor is within; He occupieth not only the heart, but also the reins; not only the thoughts, but also the delights: He then possesseth that whence I should feel delight at any light in this world: He occupieth my reins: I know not delight, save from the inward light of His Wisdom. What then? Dost thou not delight that thy affairs are very prosperous, times fortunate to thee? dost thou not delight in honour, in riches, in thy family? “I do not,” saith he. Wherefore? Because “Thou hast possessed my reins, O Lord; Thou hast taken me up from my mother’s womb.” While I was in my mother’s womb, I did not regard with indifference the darkness of that night and the light of that night. …Now, having been taken up froth the womb of that our mother, we look on them with indifference, and say, “As is His darkness, so is also His light.” Neither doth earthly prosperity make us happy, nor earthly adversity wretched. We must maintain righteousness, love faith, hope in God, love God, love our neighbours also. After these toils we shall have unfailing light, day without setting. Fleeting is all the light and darkness of this night.

14. “I will confess to Thee, O Lord, for terribly hast Thou been made wonderful: wondrous are Thy works, and my soul knoweth it right well” (ver. 14). Aforetime “Thy knowledge was made wonderful from me, it had waxed great, nor could I attain unto it.” From me then “it had waxed great.” Whence doth “my soul” now “know right well,” save because the “night is light in my delight?” save because Thy grace hath come unto me, and enlightened my darkness? save because Thou hast possessed my reins? save because Thou hast taken me up from my mother’s womb?

15. “My bone is not hid from Thee, which Thou hast made in secret” (ver. 15). “His bone,” he saith. What the people call ossum, is in Latin called os. This is the word in the Greek. For we might think the word os is here the one which makes in the plural ora, not os (short), which makes ossa. He saith then, I have a certain bone (ossum) in secret. For this word let us prefer to use; better is it that scholars find fault with us, than that the people understand us not. “There is then,” saith he, “a certain bone of mine, within, hidden; Thou hast made within a bone for me in secret, yet is it not hidden from Thee. In secret hast Thou made it, but hast Thou therefore hidden it from Thyself? This my bone made by Thee in secret men see not, men know not: Thou knowest, who hast made. What “bone” then meaneth he, brethren? Let us seek it, it is “in secret.” But because as Christians we are speaking in the Name of the Lord to Christians, now we find what bone is of this kind. It is a sort of inward strength; for strength and fortitude are understood to be in the bones. There is then a sort of inward strength of the soul, wherein it is not broken. Whatever tortures, whatever tribulations, whatever adversities rage around, that which God hath made strong in secret in us, cannot be broken, yieldeth not. For by God is made a certain strength of patience, of which is said in another Psalm, “But my soul shall be subjected to God, for of Him is my patience.” …Wherein dost thou glory? “In tribulations, knowing that tribulation worketh patience.” See how that strength is fashioned within in his heart: “because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.” So is fashioned and made strong that hidden bone, that it maketh us even to glory in tribulations. But to men we seem wretched, because that which we have within is hidden from them. “And my substance is in the lower parts of the earth.” Behold, in flesh is my substance, yet have I a bone within, which Thou hast fashioned, such as to cause me never to yield to any persecutions of this lower region, where still my substance is. For what great matter is it, if an Angel be brave? This is a great matter, if flesh is brave. And whence is flesh brave, whence is an earthen vessel brave, save because in it is made a bone in secret?

16. …”Thine eyes did see Mine imperfect one, and in Thy book shall all be written” (ver. 16), not only the perfect, but also the imperfect. Let not the imperfect fear, only let them advance. Nor yet, because I have said, “let them not fear,” let them love their imperfection, and remain there, where they are found. Let them advance, as far as in them lieth. Daily let them add, daily let them approach; yet let them not fall back from the Body of the Lord: that, compacted in one Body and among these members, they may be counted worthy to have that said of them. “By day shall they wander, and none among them.” “The Day” was yet on earth, even our Lord Jesus Christ. Whence He said, “Walk while ye have the day.” But “by day shall” His imperfect ones “wander.” They too thought that our Lord Jesus Christ was only man, that He had not within Him the hidden Godhead, that He was not secretly God, but that He was that only which was seen: this they too thought. …But what is, “In the day they shall wander”? Shall they perish? Where then is, “In Thy book shall all be written”? When then did they “wander in the day”? When they understood not the Lord set upon earth. And what followeth? “But to me Thy friends are made very honourable, O God” (ver. 17); those very ones, who “wandered in the day, and none was in them,” became Thy friends, and were made very honourable to me. That bone was made in them in secret after the resurrection of the Lord, and they suffered for His Name, at whose death they had been amazed. “Mightily strengthened were their chieftainships.” They became Apostles, they became leaders of the Church, they became rams leading their flocks, “mightily strengthened.”

17. “I will number them, and they shall be multiplied above the sand” (ver. 18). By means of them, who “wandered in the day,” lo! there has been born all this great multitude, which now is like the sand innumerable, save by God. For He said, “they shall be multiplied above the sand,” and yet He had said, “I will number them.” The very same who are numbered, “shall be multiplied above the sand.” For by Him is the sand numbered, by whom “the very hairs of our head are numbered.” “I have risen, and yet am I with Thee.” Already have I suffered, saith He, already have I been buried; lo! I have risen, and not yet do they understand that I am with them. “Yet am I with Thee,” that is, not yet with them, for not yet do they recognise Me. For thus do we read in the Gospel, that after the resurrection of oar Lord Jesus Christ, when He appeared to them, they did not at once know Him. There is another meaning also: “I have risen, and yet am I with Thee,” as though He would signify this present time, wherein He is as yet hidden at the right hand of the Father, before He is revealed in the brightness, wherein He shall come to judge the quick and the dead.

18. And then He telleth what meanwhile, during this whole time when He already has risen, and remaineth still with the Father, He suffereth by the intermixture of sinners in His Body, the Church, and by the separation of heretics. “If Thou, O God, shalt slay the sinners (since Thou shall say in Thy thought, Depart from Me, ye men of blood), they shall receive in vanity their cities” (ver. 19, 20). The words seem to be connected in this order; “If Thou, O God, shall slay the sinners, they shall receive in vanity their cities.” Thus are sinners slain, because, “having their understandings darkened, they are alienated from the life of God.” For on account of elation they lose confession, and so they are slain, and in them is fulfilled what Scripture saith, “Confession perisheth from the dead, as from one that is not.” And so “they receive in vanity their cities,” that is, their vain peoples, who follow their vanity; when, puffed up by the name of righteousness, they persuade men to burst the bond of unity, and blindly and ignorantly follow them, as being more righteous. …But now the Body of Christ, the Church, saith, Why do the proud speak falsely against me, as though I were stained by other men’s sins, and so, by separating themselves, “receive in vanity their cities”? “Have not I hated those who hated Thee, Lord?” (ver. 21). Why do those who are worse themselves require of me to separate myself in body as well as spirit from the wicked, so as to root up the wheat, together with the tares, before the time of harvest, that before the time of winnowing I lose my power of enduring the chaff; that before all the different sorts of fishes are brought to the end of the world, as to the shore, to be separated, I tear the nets of peace and unity? Are the sacraments which I receive, those of evil men? Do I; by consent, communicate in their life and deeds? …But where is, “Love your enemies”? Is it because He said “yours,” not “God’s”? “Do good to them that hate you.” He saith not, “who hate God.” So he followeth the pattern, and saith, “Have not I hated those who hated Thee; Lord?” He saith not, “Who have hated me.” “And at Thine enemies did I waste away.” “Thine,” he said, not “mine.” But those who hate us and are enemies unto us, only because we serve Him, what else do they but hate Him, and are His enemies. Ought we then to love such enemies as these? Or do not they suffer persecution for God’s sake, to whom it is said, “Pray for them that persecute you”? Observe then what followeth. “With a perfect hatred did I hate them” (ver. 22). What is, “with a perfect hatred”? I hated in them their iniquities, I loved Thy creation. This it is to hate with a perfect hatred, that neither on account of the vices thou hate the men, nor on account of the men love the vices. For see what he addeth, “They became mine enemies.” Not only as God’s enemies, but as his own too doth he now describe them. How then will he fulfil in them both his own saying, “Have not I hated those that hated Thee, Lord,” and the Lord’s command, “Love your enemies”? How will he fulfil this, save with that “perfect hatred,” that he hate in them that they are wicked, and love that they are men? For in the time even of the Old Testament, when the carnal people was restrained by visible punishments, how did Moses, the servant of God, who by understanding belonged to the New Testament, how did he hate sinners when he prayed for them, or how did he not hate them when he slew them, save that he “hated them with a perfect hatred”? For with such perfection did he hate the iniquity which he punished, as to love the manhood for which he prayed.

19. Since then the Body of Christ is in the end to be severed in body also from the unholy and wicked, but now meanwhile groaneth among them, what doeth the “love of Christ among the daughters, as the lily among thorns”? What are her words? what her conscience? what is the “appearance of the king’s daughter within”? Lo, hear what she saith. “Prove me, O God, and know my heart” (ver. 23). Do Thou, O God, Thou prove me, Thou know; not man, not an heretic, who neither knoweth how to prove, nor can know my heart, whereas Thou provest, and knowest that I consent not to the deeds of the wicked, while they think that I can be defiled by the sins of others; so that, while I in my long wandering do what I mourn in another Psalm, that is, while I “labour for peace among them that hate peace,” until I come to that Vision of peace, which is called Jerusalem, “which is the mother of us all,” the city “eternal in the heavens;” they, contending, and falsely accusing and separating themselves, may “receive,” not, evidently, in eternity, but “in vanity, their cities.” Why this? Observe what followeth.

20. “And see,” saith he, “if there be any way of wickedness in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (ver. 24). “Search,” he saith, “my paths,” that is, my counsels and thoughts. What else saith he, but “lead me in Christ”? For who is “the way everlasting,” save He that is the life everlasting? For everlasting is He who said, “I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life.” If then thou findest anything in my way which displeaseth Thine eyes, since my way is mortal, do Thou “lead me in the way everlasting,” wherein is no iniquity; for even “if any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and He is the propitiation for our sins;” He is “the Way everlasting” without sin; He is the Life everlasting without punishment.

21. These are great mysteries, brethren. How doth the Spirit of God speak with us? how doth it make us delights in this night.? What is this, we ask you, brethren, whence are they sweeter, the darker they are? He mixeth us our potion after His love, in certain wondrous ways. He maketh His own sayings wondrous, so that while we were speaking what ye already knew, yet forasmuch as it was dug out of passages which seemed obscure, the knowledge itself seemed to be made new. Did ye not know, brethren, that the wicked are to be tolerated in the Church, and schisms not to be made? Did ye not already know, that within those nets which hold both good and bad fishes, we must abide even to the shore, nor must the nets be burst, because on the shore the good shall be separated into vessels, and the bad thrown away? Ye know this already; but these verses of this Psalm ye did not understand; that which ye did not understand is explained; that which ye knew has been renewed. (source)

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