Commentaries and Resources for Sunday Within the Octave of Christmas

READINGS:

NABRE. Used in the USA.

New Jerusalem Bible. Used in most English speaking countries.

COMMENTARIES ON THE FIRST READING: Sirach 3:2-6, 12-14.

Word-Sunday Notes on Sirach 3:2-6, 12-14.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Sirach 3:2-6, 12-14.

COMMENTARIES OF THE RESPONSORIAL: Psalm 128.

Father Boylan’s Introduction to Psalm 128.

St Augustine’s Notes on Psalm 128.

Patristic/Medieval Commentary on Psalm 128.

Word-Sunday Notes on Psalm 128.

COMMENTARIES ON THE SECOND READING: Colossians 3:12-21 (or 12-17).

Bernardin de Piconio on Colossians 3:12-21.

Father  MacEvilly’s Commentary on Colossians 3:12-21.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Colossians 3:12-21.

Shorter reading: Father Callan’s Commentary on Colossians 3:12-17.

Shorter reading: Word-Sunday Notes on Colossians 3:12-17.

COMMENTARIES ON THE GOSPEL READING: Year B. Luke 2:22-40. Shorter reading, Lk 2:22, 39-40.

Father Callan’s Commentary on Luke 2:22-40.

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Luke 2:22-40.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Luke 2:22-40.

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Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Luke 2:22-40

Ver 22. And when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were accomplished, they brought him to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord;23. (As it is written in the law of the Lord, Every male that opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord;)24. And to offer a sacrifice according to that which is said in the law of the Lord, A pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.

CYRIL; Next after the circumcision they wait for the time of purification, as it is said, And when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were come.

THEOPHYL; If you diligently examine the words of the law, you will find indeed that the mother of God as she is free from all connection with man, so is she exempt from any obligation of the law. For not every woman who brings forth, but she who has received seed and brought forth, is pronounced unclean, and by the ordinances of the law is taught that she must be cleansed, in order to distinguish probably from her who though a virgin has conceived and brought forth. But that we might be loosed from the bonds of the law, as did Christ, so also Mary submitted herself of her own will to the law.

TITUS BOST. Therefore the Evangelist has well observed, that the days of her purification were come according to the law, who since she had conceived of the Holy Spirit, was free from all uncleanness. It follows, They brought him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord.

ATHAN. But when was the Lord hid from His Father’s eye, that He should not be seen by Him, or what place is excepted from His dominion, that by remaining there He should be separate from His Father unless brought to Jerusalem and introduced into the temple? But for us perhaps these things were written. For as not to confer grace on Himself was He made man and circumcised in the flesh, but to make us Gods through grace, and that we might be circumcised in the Spirit, so for our sakes is He presented to the Lord, that we also might learn to present ourselves to the Lord.

THEOPHYL; On the thirty-third day after His circumcision He is presented to the Lord, signifying in a mystery that no one but he who is circumcised from his sins is worthy to come into the Lord’s sight, that no one who ho has not severed himself from all human ties can perfectly enter into the joys of the heavenly city. It follows, As it is written in the law of the Lord.

ORIGEN; Where are they who deny that Christ proclaimed in the Gospel the law to be of God, or can it be supposed that the righteous God made His own Son under a hostile law which He Himself had not given? It is written in the law of Moses as follows, Every male which opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord.

THEOPHYL; By the words, opening the womb, he signifies the first-born both of man and beast, and each one of which was, according to the commandment, to be called holy to the Lord, and therefore to become the property of the priest, that is, so far that he was to receive a price for every first-born of man, and oblige every unclean animal to be ransomed.

GREG. NYSS. Now this commandment of the law seems to have had its fulfillment in the incarnate God, in a very remarkable and peculiar manner. For He alone, ineffably conceived and incomprehensibly brought forth, opened the virgin’s womb, till then unopened by marriage, and after this birth miraculously retaining the seal of chastity.

AMBROSE; For no union with man disclosed the secrets of the virgin’s womb, but the Holy Spirit infused the immaculate seed into an inviolate womb. He then who sanctified another womb in order that a prophet should be born, He it is who has opened the womb of His own mother, that the Immaculate should come forth. By the words opening the womb, he speaks of birth after the usual manner, not that the sacred abode of the virgin’s womb, which our Lord in entering sanctified, should now be thought by His proceeding forth from it to be deprived of its virginity.

GREG. NYSS. But the offspring of this birth is alone seen to be spiritually male, as contracting no guilt from being born of a woman. Hence He is truly called holy, and therefore Gabriel, as if announcing that this commandment belonged to Him only, said, That Holy thing which shall be born of you shall be called, the Son of God. Now of other first-borns the wisdom of the Gospel has declared that they are called holy from their being offered to God. But the first-born of every creature, That holy thing which is born, &c. the Angel pronounces to be in the nature of its very being holy.

AMBROSE; For among those that are born of a woman, the Lord Jesus alone is in every thing holy, who in the newness of His immaculate birth experienced not the contagion of earthly defilement, but by His Heavenly Majesty dispelled it. For if we follow the letter, how can every male be holy, since it is undoubted that many have been most wicked? But He is holy whom in the figure of a future mystery the pious ordinances of the divine law prefigured, because He alone was to open the hidden womb of the holy virgin Church for the begetting of nations.

CYRIL; Oh the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! He offers victims, Who in each victim is honored equally with the Father. The Truth preserves the figures of the law. He who as God is the Maker of the law, as man has kept the law. Hence it follows, And that they should give a victim as it was ordered in the law of the Lord, a pair of turtle doves or two young pigeons.

THEOPHYL; Now this was the victim of the poor. For the Lord commanded in the law that they who were should offer a lamb for a son or a daughter as well as a turtle dove or pigeon; but they who were not able to offer a lamb should give two turtle doves or two young pigeons. Therefore the Lord, though he was rich, deigned to become poor, that by his poverty He might make us partakers of His riches.

CYRIL; But let us see what these offerings mean. The turtle dove is the most vocal of birds, and the pigeon the gentlest. And such was the Savior made unto us; He was endowed with perfect meekness, and like the turtle dove entranced the world, filling His garden with His own melodies. There was killed then either a turtle dove or a pigeon, that by a figure He might be shown forth to us as about to suffer in the flesh for the life of the world.

THEOPHYL; Or the pigeon denotes simplicity, the turtle dove chastity, for the pigeon is a lover of simplicity, and the turtle dove of chastity, so that if by chance she has lost her mate, she heeds not to find another. Rightly then are the pigeon and turtle dove offered as victims to the Lord, because the simple and chaste conversation of the faithful is a sacrifice of righteousness well pleasing to Him.

ATHAN. He ordered two things to be offered, because as man consists of both body and soul, the Lord requires a double return from us, chastity and meekness, not only of the body, but also of the soul. Otherwise, man will be a dissembler and hypocrite, wearing the face of innocence to mask his hidden malice.

THEOPHYL; But while each bird, from its habit of wailing, represents the present sorrows of the saints, in this they differ, that the turtle is solitary, but the pigeon flies about in flocks, and hence the one points to the secret tears of confession, the other to the public assembling of the Church.

THEOPHYL; Or the pigeon which flies in flocks sets forth the busy intercourse of active life. The turtle, which delights in solitariness, tells of the lofty heights of the contemplative life. But because each victim is equally accepted by the Creator, St. Luke has purposely omitted whether the turtles or young pigeons were offered for the Lord, that he might not prefer one mode of life before another, but teach that both ought to be followed.

Ver 25. And, behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Ghost was upon him.26. And it was revealed to him by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord’s Christ.27. And he came by the Spirit into the temple: and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him after the custom of the law,28a. Then took he him up in his arms.

AMBROSE; Not only did Angels and Prophets, the shepherds and his parents, bear witness to the birth of the Lord, but the old men and the righteous. As it is said, And, behold, there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon, and he was a just man, and one who feared God. For scarcely is righteousness preserved without fear, I mean not that fear which dreads the loss of worldly goods, (which perfect love casts out,) but that holy fear of the Lord which abides for ever, by which the righteous man, the more ardent his love to God, is so much the more careful not to offend Him.

AMBROSE; Well is he called righteous who sought not his own good, but the good of his nation, as it follows, Waiting for the consolation of Israel.

GREG. NYSS. It was not surely worldly happiness that the prudent Simeon was waiting for as the consolation of Israel, but a real happiness, that is, a passing over to the beauty of truth from the shadow of the law. For he had learnt from the sacred oracles that he would see the Lord’s Christ before he should depart out of this present life. Hence it follows, And the Holy Spirit was in him, (by which indeed he was justified,) and he received an answer from the Holy Spirit.

AMBROSE; He desired indeed to be loosed from the chains of bodily infirmity, but he wails to see the promise, for he knew, Happy are those eyes which shall see it.

GREG. Hereby also we learn with what desire the holy men of Israel desired to see the mystery of His incarnation.

THEOPHYL; To see death means to undergo it, and happy will he be to see the death of the flesh who has first been enabled to see with the eyes of his heart the Lord Christ, having his conversation in the heavenly Jerusalem, and frequently entering the doors of God’s temple, that is, following the examples of the saints in whom God dwells as in His temple. By the same grace of the Spirit whereby he foreknew Christ would come, he now acknowledges Him come, as it follows, And he came by the Spirit into the temple.

ORIGEN; If you will touch Jesus and grasp Him in your hands, strive with all your strength to have the Spirit for your guide, and come to the temple of God. For it follows, And when his parents brought in the child Jesus, (i.e. Mary His mother, and Joseph His reputed father,) to do for him after the custom of the law,  then took he him up in his arms.

GREG. NYSS. How blessed was that holy entrance to holy things through which he hastened on to the end of life, blessed those hands which handled the word of life, and the arms which were held out to receive Him!

THEOPHYL; Now the righteous man, according to the law, received the Child Jesus in his arms, that he might signify that the legal righteousness of works under the figure of the hands and arms was to be changed for the lowly indeed but saving grace of Gospel faith The old man received the infant Christ, to convey thereby that this world, now worn out as it were with old age, should return to the childlike innocence of the Christian life.

Ver 28. – and blessed God, and said,29. Lord, now let you your servant depart in peace, according to your word:30. For mine eyes have seen your salvation,31. Which you have prepared before the face of all people;32. A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel.

ORIGEN; If we marvel to hear that a woman was healed by touching the hem of a garment, what must we think of Simeon, who received an Infant in his arms, and rejoiced seeing that the little one he carried was He who had come to let loose the captive! Knowing that no one could release him from the chains of the body with the hope of future life, but He whom he held in his arms. Therefore it is said, And he blessed God, saying, Lord, now let you your servant depart.

THEOPHYL. When he says Lord, he confesses that He is the very Lord of both life and death, and so acknowledges the Child whom he held in his arms to be God.

ORIGEN; As it he said, “As long as I held not Christ, I was in prison, and could not escape from my bonds.”

BASIL; If you examine the words of the righteous, you will find that they all sorrow over this world and its mournful delay. Alas me! says David, that my habitation is prolonged.

AMBROSE; Observe then that this just man, confined as it were in the prison house of his earthly frame, is longing to be loosed, that he may again be with Christ. But whoso would be cleansed, let him come into the temple; – into Jerusalem: let him wait for the Lord’s Christ, let him receive in his hands the word of God, and embrace it as it were with the arms of his faith. Then let him depart that he might not see death who has seen life.

GREEK EX. Simeon blessed God also, because the promises made to him had received their true fulfillment. For He was reckoned worthy to see with his eyes, and to carry in his arms the consolation of Israel. And therefore he says, According to your word, i.e. since I have obtained the completion of your promises. And now that I have seen with my eyes what was my desire to see, now let you your servant depart, neither dismayed at the taste of death, nor harassed with doubting thoughts: as he adds, in peace.

GREG. NYSS. For since Christ has destroyed the enemy, which is sin, and has reconciled us to the Father, the removal of saints has been in peace.

ORIGEN; But who departs from this world in peace, but he who is persuaded that was Christ reconciling the world to Himself; who has nothing hostile to God, having derived to himself all peace by good works in himself?

GREEK EX. But it had been twice promised to him that he should not see death before ho should see the Lord’s Christ, and therefore he adds, to show that this promise was fulfilled, For mine eyes have seen your salvation.

GREG. NYSS. Blessed are the eyes, both of your soul and your body. For the one visibly embrace God, but the others not considering those things which are seen, but enlightened by the brightness of the Spirit of the Lord, acknowledge the Word made flesh. For the salvation which you have perceived with your eyes is Jesus Himself, by which name salvation is declared.

CYRIL; But Christ was the mystery which has been revealed in the last times of the world, having been prepared before the foundation of the world. Hence it follows, which you have prepared before the face of all men.

ATHAN. That is to say, the salvation wrought by Christ for the whole world. How then was it said above that he was watching for the consolation of Israel, but because he truly perceived in the spirit that consolation would be to Israel at that time when salvation was prepared for all people.

GREEK EX. Mark the wisdom of the good and venerable old man, who before that he was thought worthy of the blessed vision, was waiting for the consolation of Israel, but when he obtained that which he was looking for, exclaims that he saw the salvation of all people. So enlightened was he by the unspeakable radiance of the Child, that the perceived at a glance things that were to happen a long time after.

THEOPHYL. By these words, Before the face, he signifies that our Lord’s incarnation would be visible to all men. And this salvation he says is to be the light of the Gentiles and the glory of Israel, as it follows, A light to lighten the Gentiles.

ATHAN. For the Gentiles before the coming of Christ were lying in the deepest darkness, being without the knowledge of God.

CYRIL; But Christ coming was made a light to them that sat in darkness, being sore oppressed by the power of the devil but they were called by God the Father to the knowledge of His Son, Who is the true light.

GREG. NYSS. Israel was enlightened though dimly by the law, so he says not that light came to them, but his words are, to be the glory of your people Israel. Calling to mind the ancient history that as of old Moses after speaking with God returned with his face glorious, so they also coming to the divine light of His human nature, casting away their old veil, might be transformed into the same image from glory to glory. For although some of them were disobedient, yet a remnant were saved and came through Christ to glory, of which the Apostles were first-fruits, whose brightness illumines the whole world. For Christ was in a peculiar manner the glory of Israel, because according to the flesh He came forth from Israel, although as God He was over all blessed for ever.

GREG. NYSS, He said therefore, of your people, signifying that not only was He adored by them, but moreover of them was He born according to the flesh.

THEOPHYL; And well is the enlightening of the Gentiles put before the glory of Israel, because when the fullness of the Gentiles shall have come in, then shall Israel be safe.

Ver  33. And Joseph and his mother marveled at those things which were spoken of him.34. And Simeon blessed them, and said to Mary his mother, Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against;35. (Yea, a sword shall pierce through your own soul also,) that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.

GREEK EX. The knowledge of supernatural things, as often as it is brought to the recollection, renews the miracle in the mind, and hence it is said, His father and mother marveled at those things which were said of him.

ORIGEN; Both by the angel and the multitude of the heavenly host, by the shepherds also, and Simeon.

THEOPHYL; Joseph is called the father of the Savior, not because he was (as the Photinians say) His real father, but because from regard to the reputation of Mary, all men considered him so.

AUG. He however might be called His father in that light in which, he is rightly regarded as the husband of Mary, that is, not from any carnal connection, but by reason of the very bond of wedlock, a far closer relationship than that of adoption. For that Joseph was not to be called Christ’s father was not, because he had not begotten Him by cohabitation, since in truth he might be a father to one whom he had not begotten from his wife, but had adopted from another.

ORIGEN; But they who look deeper into the matter may say, that since the genealogy is deduced from David to Joseph, therefore lest Joseph should seem to be mentioned for no purpose, as not being the father of the Savior, he was called His father, that the genealogy might maintain sup. its place.

GREEK EX. Having given praise to God, Simeon now turns to bless them that brought the Child, as it follows, And Simeon blessed them. He gave to each a blessing, but his presage of hidden things he imparts only to the mother, in order that in the common blessing He might not deprive Joseph of the likeness of a father, but in what he says to the mother apart from Joseph he might proclaim her to be the true mother.

AMBROSE; Behold what abundant grace is extended to all men by the birth of the Lord, and how prophecy is withheld from the unbelievers, not from the righteous. Simeon also prophesies that Christ Jesus has come for the fall and rising again of many.

ORIGEN; They who explain this simply, may say that He came for the fall of unbelievers, and the rising again of believers.

CHRYS. As the light though it may annoy weak eyes, is still light; in like manner the Savior endures, though many fall away, for His office is not to destroy; but their way is madness. Wherefore not only by the salvation of the good but by the scattering of the wicked, is His power shown. For the sun the brighter it shines, is the more trying to the weak sight.

GREG. NYSS. Mark the nice distinction here observed. Salvation is said to be prepared before the face of all people, but the falling and raising is of many; for the Divine purpose was the salvation and sanctification of every one whereas the falling and lifting up stands in the will of many believers and unbelievers. But that those who were lying in unbelief should be raised up again is not unreasonable

ORIGEN; The careful interpreter will say, that no one falls who was not before standing. Tell me then, who were they who stood, for whose fall Christ came?

GREG. NYSS. But by this he signifies a fall to the very lowest, as if the punishment before the mystery of the incarnation, fell far short of that after the giving and preaching of the Gospel dispensation And those spoken of are chiefly of Israel, who must of necessity forfeit their ancient privileges, and pay a heavier penalty than any other nation, because they were so unwilling to receive Him Who had long been prophesied among them, had been worshipped, and had come forth from them. In a most especial manner then he threatens them with not only a fall from spiritual freedom, but also the destruction of their city, and of those who dwelt among them. But a resurrection is promised to believers, partly indeed as subject to the law, and about to be delivered from its bondage, but partly as buried together with Christ, and rising with Him.

GREG. NYSS. Now from these words, you may perceive through the agreement of men’s minds on the word of prophecy, that one and the same God and lawgiver has spoken both in the Prophets and the New Testament. For the language of prophecy declared that there shall be a stone of falling, and a rock of offense, that they who believe on Him should not be confounded. The fall therefore is to them who are offended with the meanness of His coming in the flesh; the rising again to those who acknowledge the steadfastness of the Divine purpose.

ORIGEN; There is also a deeper meaning aimed against those who raise their voices against their Creator, saying, Behold the God of the Law and the Prophets of what sort He is! He says, I kill, and I make alive. If God then is a bloody judge and a cruel master, it is most plain that Jesus is His Son, since the same things here are written of Him, namely, that He comes for the fall and rising again of many.

AMBROSE; That is, to distinguish the merits of the just and the unjust, and according to the quality of our deeds, as a true and just Judge, to decree punishment or rewards.

ORIGEN; But we must take care lest by chance the Savior should not come to some equally for the fall and rising again; for when I stood in sin, it was first good for me to fall, and die to sin. Lastly, Prophets and Saints when they were designing some great thing, used to fall on their faces, that by their fall their sins should be the more fully blotted out. This it is that the Savior first grants to you. You were a sinner, let that which is sin fall in you, that you may thence rise again, and say, If we be dead with Him, we shall also live with Him.

CHRYS. The resurrection is a new life and conversation. For when the sensual man becomes chaste, the covetous merciful, the cruel man gentle, a resurrection takes place. Sin being dead, righteousness rises again. It follows, And for a sign which shall be spoken against.

BASIL; The sign which is spoken against is called in Scripture, the cross. For Moses, it says, made a brazen serpent, and placed it for a sign.

GREG. NYSS. He has joined together honor and dishonor. For to us Christians this sign is a token of honor, but it is a sign of contradiction, inasmuch by some indeed it is received as absurd and monstrous, by others with the greatest veneration. Or perhaps Christ Himself is termed a sign, as having a supernatural existence, and as the author of signs.

BASIL; For a sign betokens something marvelous and mysterious, which is seen indeed by the simple minded.

ORIGEN; But all the things which history relates of Christ are spoken against, not that those who believe on Him speak against Him, (for we know that all the things which are written of Him are true,) but that every thing which has been written of Him is with the unbelievers a sign which is spoken against.

GREG. NYSS. Though these things are said of the Son, yet they have reference also to His mother, who takes each thing to herself, whether it be of danger or glory. He announces to her not only her prosperity, but her sorrows; for it follows, And a sword shall pierce through your own heart.

THEOPHYL; No history tells us that Mary departed this life by being slain with the sword, therefore since not the soul but the body is killed with iron, we are left to understand that sword which is mentioned, And a sword in their lips, that is, grief because of our Lord’s passion passed through her soul, who although she saw Christ the very Son of God die a voluntary death, and doubted not that He who was begotten of her flesh would overcome death, could not without grief see Him crucified.

AMBROSE; Or it shows the wisdom of Mary, that she was not ignorant of the heavenly Majesty For the word of God is living and strong, and sharper than the sharpest sword

AUG. Or by this is signified that Mary also, through whom was performed the mystery of the incarnation, looked with doubt and astonishment at the death of her Lord, seeing the Son of God so humbled as to come down even to death. And as a sword passing close by a man causes fear, though it does not strike him; so doubt also causes sorrow, yet does not kill; for it is not fastened to the mind, but passes through it as through a shadow.

GREG. NYSS. But it is not meant that she alone was concerned in that passion, for it is added, that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed. The word that marks the non event; it is not used causatively; for when all these events took place, there followed the discovery of many men’s intentions. For some confessed God on the cross, others even then ceased not from their blasphemies and revilings. Or this was said, meaning that at the time of the passion the thoughts of men’s hearts should be laid open, and be corrected by the resurrection. For doubts are quickly superseded by certainty. Or perhaps by revealing may be meant, the enlightening of the thoughts, as it is often used in Scripture.

THEOPHYL; But now even down to the close of the present time, the sword of the severest tribulation ceases not to go through the soul of the Church, when with bitter sorrow she experiences the evil speaking against the sign of faith, when hearing the word of God that many are raised with Christ, she finds still more falling from the faith, when at the revealing of the thoughts of many hearts, in which the good seed of the Gospel has been sown, she beholds the tares of vice overshooting it, spreading beyond it, or growing alone.

ORIGEN; But the evil thoughts of men were revealed, that He Who died for us might slay them; for while they were hidden, it was impossible to utterly destroy them. Hence also when we have sinned we ought to say, Mine iniquity have I not hid. For if we make known our sins not only to God, but to whoever can heal our wounds, our sins will be blotted out.

Ver 36. And there was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Aser: she was of a great age, and had lived with a husband seven years from her virginity;37. And she was a widow of about fourscore and four years, which departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day.38 And she coming in that instant gave thanks likewise to the Lord, and spoke of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem.

AMBROSE; Simeon had prophesied, a woman united in marriage had prophesied, a virgin had prophesied, it was meet also that a widow should prophesy, that there might lack no sex or condition of life, and therefore it is said, And there was one Anna a prophetess.

THEOPHYL. The Evangelist dwells some time on the account of Anna, mentioning both her father’s tribe, and adding, as it were, many witnesses who knew her father and her tribe.

GREG. NYSS. Or because at that time there were several others who were called by the same name, that there might be a plain way of distinguishing her, he mentions her father, and describes the quality of her parents.

AMBROSE; Now Anna, both from the duties of her widowhood and her manner of life, is found to be such that she is thought worthy to announce the Redeemer of the world. As it follows, She was of a great age, and had lived with her husband, &c.

ORIGEN; For the Holy Spirit dwelt not by chance in her. For the highest blessing, if any can possess it, is the grace of virginity, but if this cannot be, and it chance to a woman to lose her husband, let her remain a widow, which indeed not only after the death of her husband, but even while he is living, she ought to have in her mind, that supposing it should not happen, her will and determination might be crowned by the Lord, and her words should be, “This I vow, and promise, that if a certain condition of this life be mine, (which yet I wish not,) I will do nothing else but remain inviolate and a widow.” Most justly then was this holy woman thought worthy to receive the gift of prophecy, because by long chastity and long fastings she had ascended to this height of virtue, as It follows, Who departed not from the temple with fastings and prayers, &c.

ORIGEN; From which it is plain that she possessed a multitude of other virtues, and mark how she resembles Simeon in his goodness, for they were both in the temple together, anti both counted worthy of prophetic grace, as it follows, And she coming in at this very instant, gave thanks to the Lord.

THEOPHYL. That is, returned thanks for seeing in Israel the Savior of the world, and she confessed of Jesus that He was the Redeemer and the Savior. Hence it follows, And she spoke of him to all, &c.

ORIGEN; But because Anna’s words were nothing remarkable, and of no great note respecting Christ, the Gospel does not give the particulars of what she said, and perhaps for this reason one may suppose that Simeon anticipated her, since he indeed bore the character of the law, (for his name signifies obedience,) but she the character of grace, (which her name is by interpretation,) and Christ came between them. Therefore He let Simeon depart dying with the law, but Anna he sustains living beyond through grace.

THEOPHYL; According to the mystical meaning, Anna signifies the Church, who at present is indeed a widow by the death of her Husband ; the number also of the years of her widowhood marks the time of the Church, at which established in the body, she is separated from the Lord. For seven times twelve make eighty-four, seven indeed referring to the course of this world, which revolves in seven days; but twelve had reference to the perfection of Apostolic teaching, and therefore the Universal Church, or any faithful soul which strives to devote the whole period of its life to the following of Apostolic practice, is said to serve the Lord for eighty-four years. The term also of seven years, during which she lived with her husband, coincides. For through the prerogative of our Lord’s greatness, whereby abiding in the flesh, He taught, the simple number of seven years was taken to express the sign of perfection. Anna also favors the mysteries of the Church, being by interpretation its “grace,” and being both the daughter of Phanuel, who is called “the face of God,” and descended from the tribe of Aser, i.e. the blessed.

Ver  39. And when they had performed all things according to the law of the Lord, they returned into Galilee, to their own city Nazareth.40. And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was upon him.41. Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the feast of the Passover.

THEOPHYL; Luke has omitted in this place what he knew to have been sufficiently set forth by Matthew, that the Lord after this, for fear that He should be discovered and put to death by Herod, was carried by His parents into Egypt, and at Herod’s death, having at length returned to Galilee, came to dwell in His own city Nazareth. For the Evangelists individually are wont to omit certain things which they either know to have been, or in the Spirit foresee will be, related by others, so that in the connected chain of their narrative, they seem as it were to have omitted nothing, whereas by examining the writings of another Evangelist, the careful reader may discover the places where the omissions have been. Thus after omitting many things, Luke says, And when they had accomplished all things, &c.

THEOPHYL. Bethlehem was indeed their city, their paternal city, Nazareth the place of their abode.

AUG. Perhaps it may strike you as strange that Matthew should say that His parents went with the young Child into Galilee because they were unwilling to go to Judea for fear of Archelaus, when they seem to have gone into Galilee rather because their city w as Nazareth in Galilee, as Luke in this place explains it. But we must consider, that when the Angel said in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, Rise, and take the young child and his mother, and go into the land of Israel, it was at first understood by Joseph as a command to go into Judea, for so at first sight the land of Israel might have been taken to mean. But when afterwards he finds that Herod’s son Archelaus was king, he was unwilling to be exposed to that danger, seeing the land of Israel might also be understood to include Galilee also as a part of it, for there also the people of Israel dwelt.

GREEK EX. Or again, Luke is here describing the time before the descent to Egypt, for before her purification Joseph had not taken Mary there But before they went down into Egypt, they were not told by God to go to Nazareth but as living more freely in their own country, thither of their own accord they went; for since the going up to Bethlehem was for no other reason but the taxing, when that was accomplished they go down to Nazareth.

THEOPHYL. Now our Lord might have come forth from the womb in the stature of mature age, but this would seem like something imaginary; therefore His growth is gradual, as it follows, And the child grew, and waxed strong.

THEOPHYL; We must observe the distinction of words, that the Lord Jesus Christ in that He w as a child, that is, had put on the condition of human weakness, was daily growing and being strengthened.

ATHAN. But if as some say the flesh was changed into a Divine nature, how did it derive growth? for to attribute growth to an uncreated substance is impious.

CYRIL; Rightly with the A growth in age, St. Luke has united increase in wisdom, as he says, And he was strengthened, (i.e. in spirit.) For in proportion to the measure of bodily growth, the Divine nature developed its own wisdom.

THEOPHYL. For if while yet a little child, He had displayed His wisdom, He would have seemed a miracle, but together with the advance of age He gradually showed Himself, so as to fill the whole world. For not as receiving wisdom is He said to be strengthened in spirit. For that which is most perfect in the beginning, how can that become any more perfect. Hence it follows, Filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was in him.

THEOPHYL; Wisdom truly, for in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily, but grace, because it was in great grace given to the man Christ Jesus, that from the time He began to be man He should be perfect man and perfect God. But much rather because He was the word of God, and God needed not to be strengthened, nor was in a state of growth. But while He was yet a little child He had the grace of God, that as in Him all things were wonderful, His childhood also might be wonderful, so as to be filled with the wisdom of God. It follows, And his parents went every year to Jerusalem, at the feast of the Passover.

CHRYS. At the feast of the Hebrews the law commanded men not, only to observe the time, but the place, and so the Lord’s parents wished to celebrate the feast of the Passover only at Jerusalem.

AUG. But it may be asked, how did His parents go up all the years of Christ’s childhood to Jerusalem, if they were prevented from going there by fear of Archelaus? This question might be easily answered, even had some one of the Evangelists mentioned how long Archelaus reigned. For it were possible that on the feast day amid so great a crowd they might secretly come, and soon return again, at the same time that they feared to remain there on other days, so as neither to be wanting in religious duties by neglecting the feast, nor leave themselves open to detection by a constant abode there. But now since all have been silent as to the length of Archelaus’ reign, it is plain that when Luke says, They were accustomed to go up every year to Jerusalem, we are to understand that to have been when Archelaus was no longer feared.

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Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Matthew 2:13-15, 19-23

Ver 13. And when they were departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeareth to Joseph in a dream, saying, “Arise, and take the young Child and His mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word; for Herod will seek the young Child to destroy Him.14. When he arose, he took the young Child and His mother by night, and departed into Egypt:15. And was there until the death of Herod: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, “Out of Egypt have I called my Son.”

Rabanus: Here Matthew omits the day of purification when the first-born must be presented in the Temple with the lamb, or a pair of turtle doves, or pigeons. Their fear of Herod did not make them bold to transgress the Law, that they should not present the Child in the temple. As soon then as the rumour concerning the Child begins to be spread abroad, the Angel is sent to bid Joseph carry Him into Egypt.

Remig.: by this that the Angel appears always to Joseph in sleep, is mystically signified that they who rest from mundane cares and secular pursuits, deserve angelic visitations.

Hilary: The first time when he would teach Joseph that she was lawfully espoused, the Angel called the Virgin his espoused “wife;” but after the birth she is only spoken of as the Mother of Jesus. As wedlock was rightfully imputed to her in her virginity, so virginity is esteemed venerable in her as the mother of Jesus.

Pseudo-Chrys.: He says not, ‘the Mother and her young Child,’ but, “the young Child and His mother;” for the Child was not born for the mother, but the mother prepared for the Child. How is this that the Son of God flies from the face of man? or who shall deliver from the enemy’s hand, if He Himself fears His enemies?

First; He ought to observe, even in this, the law of that human nature which He took on Him; and human nature and infancy must flee before threatening power.

Next, that Christians when persecution makes it necessary should not be ashamed to fly. But why into Egypt? The Lord, “who keepeth not His anger for ever,” remembered the woes He had brought upon Egypt, and therefore sent His Son thither, and gives it this sign of great reconciliation, that with this one remedy He might heal the ten plagues of Egypt, and the nation that had been the persecutor of this first-born people, might be the guardian of His first-born Son. As formerly   they had cruelly tyrannized, now they might devoutly serve; nor go to the Red Sea to be drowned, but be called to the waters of baptism to receive life.

Aug.: Hear the sacrament of a great mystery. Moses before had shut up the light of day from the traitors the Egyptians; Christ by going down thither brought back light to them that sat in darkness. He fled that he might enlighten them, not that he might escape his foes.

Aug., Serm. 218, App.: The miserable tyrant supposed that by the Saviour’s coming he should be thrust from his royal throne. But it was not so; Christ came not to hurt others’ dignity, but to bestow His own on others.

Hilary: Egypt full of idols; for after this enquiry for Him among the Jews, Christ leaving Judaea goes to be cherished among nations given to the vainest superstitions.

Jerome: When he takes the Child and His mother to go into Egypt, it is in the night and darkness, when to return into Judaea, the Gospel speaks of no light, no darkness.

Pseudo-Chrys.: The straitness of every persecution may be called night – the relief from it in like manner, day.

Rabanus: For when the true light withdraws, they who hate the light are in darkness, when it returns they are again enlightened.

Chrys.: See how immediately on His birth the tyrant is furious against Him, and the mother with her Child is driven into foreign lands. So should you in the beginning of your spiritual career seem to have tribulation, you need not to be discouraged, but bear all things manfully, having this example.

Bede, Hom. in Nat. Innocent: The flight into Egypt signifies that the elect are often by the wickedness of the bad driven from their homes, or sentenced to banishment. Thus He, who, we shall see below, gave the command to His own, “When they shall persecute you in one city, flee ye to another,” first practised what He enjoined, as a man flying before the face of man on earth. He whom but a little before a star had proclaimed to the Magi to be worshipped as from heaven.

Remig.: Isaiah had foretold this flight into Egypt. “Lo! the Lord shall ascend on a light cloud, and shall come into Egypt, and shall scatter the idols of Egypt.” [Isa_19:1] It is the practice of this Evangelist to confirm all he says; and that because he is writing to the Jews, therefore he adds, “that it might be fulfilled, &c.”

Jerome, Epist., 57. 7: This is not in the LXX; but in Osee according to the genuine Hebrew text we read; “Israel is my child, and I have loved him,” and “from Egypt have I called my Son;” where the LXX render, “Israel is my child, and I have loved him, and called my sons out of Egypt.”

Jerome, in Osee, 11, 2: The Evangelist cites this text because it refers to Christ typically. For it is to be observed, that in this Prophet and in others, the coming of Christ and the call of the Gentiles are foreshewn in such a manner, that the thread of history is never broken.

Chrys.: It is a law of prophecy, that in a thousand places many things are said of some and fulfilled of others. As it is said of Simeon and Levi, “I will divide them in Jacob, and scatter them in Israel;” [Gen_49:7] which was fulfilled not in themselves, but in their descendants. So here Christ is by nature the Son of God, and so the prophecy is fulfilled in Him.

Jerome: Let those who deny the authenticity of the Hebrew copies, shew us this passage in the LXX, and when they have failed to find it, we will shew it them in the Hebrew. We may also explain it in another way, by considering it as quoted from Numbers, “God brought him out of Egypt; his glory is as it were that of a unicorn.” [Num_23:22]

Remig.: In Joseph is figured the order of preachers, in Mary Holy Scripture; by the Child the knowledge of the Saviour; by the cruelty of Herod the persecution which the Church suffered in Jerusalem; by Joseph’s flight into Egypt the passing of the preachers to the unbelieving Gentiles, (for Egypt signifies darkness;) by the time that he abode in Egypt the space of time between the ascension of the Lord and the coming of Anti-Christ; by Herod’s death the extinction of jealousy in the hearts of the Jews.

Ver 19. But when Herod was dead, behold, an Angel of the Lord appeareth in a dream to Joseph in Egypt,20. Saying, “Arise, and take the young Child and His mother, and go into the land of Israel; for they are dead which sought the young Child’s life.

Euseb., Eccles. Hist., 1, 8: For the sacrilege which Herod had committed against the Saviour, and his wicked slaughter of the infants of the same age, the Divine vengeance hastened his end; and his body, as Josephus relates, was attacked by a strange disease; so that the prophets declared that they were not human ailments, but visitations of Divine vengeance. Filled with mad fury, he gives command to seize and imprison the heads and nobles out of all parts of Judaea; ordering that as soon as ever he should breathe his last, they should be all put to death, that so Judaea, though unwillingly, might mourn at his decease.

Just before he died he murdered his son, Antipater,(besides two boys put to death before, Alexander and Aristobulus.) Such was the end of Herod, noticed in those words of the Evangelist, “when Herod was dead,” and such the punishment inflicted.

Jerome: Many here err from ignorance of history, supposing the Herod who mocked our Lord on the day of His passion, and the Herod whose death is here related, were the same. But the Herod who was then made friends with Pilate was son of this Herod and brother to Archelaus; for Archelaus was banished to Lyons in Gaul, and his father Herod made king in his room, as we read in Josephus.

Pseudo-Dionysius, Dion. De Cael. Hierarch. 4: See how Jesus Himself, though far above all celestial beings, and coming unchanged to our nature, shunned not that ordinance of humanity which He had taken on Him, but was obedient to the dispositions of His Father made known by Angels. For even by Angels is declared to Joseph the retreat of the Son into Egypt, so ordained of the Father, and His return again to Judaea.

Pseudo-Chrys.: See how Joseph was set for ministering to Mary; when she went into Egypt and returned, who would have fulfilled to her this so needful ministry, had she not been betrothed? For to outward view, Mary nourished and Joseph defended the Child; but in truth the Child supported His mother and protected Joseph.

“Return into the land of Israel;” for He went down into Egypt as a physician, not to abide there, but to succour it sick with error. But the reason of the return is given in the words, “They are dead, &c.”

Jerome: From this we see that not Herod only, but also the Priests and Scribes had sought the Lord’s death at that time.

Remig.: But if they were many who sought his destruction, how came they all to have died in so short a time? As we have related above, all the great men among the Jews were slain at Herod’s death.

Pseudo-Chrys.: And that is said to have been done by the counsel of God for their conspiring with Herod against the Lord; as it is said, “Herod was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.”

Remig.: Or the Evangelist uses a figure of speech, by which the plural is used for the singular. These words, “the Child’s life,” overthrow those heretics [margin note: or “soul,” i.e. the Apollinarians] who taught that Christ did not take a soul, but had His Divinity in place of a soul.

Bede, Hom. in Nat. Innocent: This slaughter of the infants for the Lord’s sake, the death of Herod soon after, and Joseph’s return with the Lord and his mother to the land of Israel, is a figure shewing that all the persecutions moved against the Church will be avenged by the death of the persecutor, peace restored to the Church, and the saints who had concealed themselves return to their own places. Or the return of Jesus to the land of Israel on the death of Herod shews, that, at the preaching of Enoch and Elijah [see note, c, below], the Jews, when the fire of modern jealousy shall be extinguished, shall receive the true faith.

Ver 21. And he arose, and took the young Child and His mother, and came into the land of Israel.22. But when he heard that Archelaus did reign in Judaea in the room of his father Herod, he was afraid to go thither: notwithstanding, being warned of God in a dream, he turned aside into the parts of Galilee:23. And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, “He shall be called a Nazarene.

Gloss: Joseph was not disobedient to the angelic warning, but “he arose, and took the young Child and his mother, and came into the land of Israel.”

The Angel had not fixed the particular place, so that while Joseph hesitates, the Angel returns, and by the often visiting him confirms his obedience.

Josephus: Herod had nine wives, by seven of whom he had a numerous issue. By Josida, his first born Antipater – by Mariamine, Alexander and Aristobulus – by Mathuca, a Samaritan woman, Archelaus – by Cleopatra of Jerusalem, Herod, who was afterwards tetrarch, and Philip. The three first were put to death by Herod; and after his death, Archelaus seized the throne by occasion of his father’s will, and the question of the succession was carried before Augustus Caesar. After some delay, he made a distribution of the whole of Herod’s dominions in accordance with the Senate’s advice. To Archelaus he assigned one half, consisting of Idumaea and Judaea, with the title of tetrarch, and a promise of that of king if he shewed himself deserving of it. The rest he divided into two tetrarchates, giving Galilee to Herod the tetrarch, Ituraea and Trachonitis to Philip. Thus Archelaus was after his father’s death a duarch, which kind of sovereignty is here called a kingdom.

Aug., De Con. Evan. ii. 10: Here is may be asked, How then could his parents go up every year of Christ’s childhood to Jerusalem, as Luke relates, if fear of Archelaus now prevented them from approaching it? This difficulty is easily solved. At the festival they might escape notice in the crowd, and by returning soon, where in ordinary times they might be afraid to live. So they neither became irreligious by neglecting the festival, nor notorious by dwelling continually in Jerusalem.

Or it is open to us to understand Luke when he says, they “went up every year,” as speaking of a time when they had nothing to fear from Archelaus, who, as Josephus relates, reigned only nine years.

There is yet a difficulty in what follows; “Being warned in a dream, he turned aside into the parts of Galilee.” If Joseph was afraid to go into Judaea because one of Herod’s sons, Archelaus, reigned there, how could he go into Galilee, where another of his sons Herod was tetrarch, as Luke tells us? As if the times of which Luke is speaking were times in which there was any longer need to fear for the Child, when even in Judaea things were so changed, that Archelaus no longer ruled there, but Pilate was governor.

Gloss. ord.: But then we might ask, why was he not afraid to go into Galilee, seeing Archelaus ruled there also? He could be better concealed in Nazareth than in Jerusalem, which was the capital of the kingdom, and where Archelaus was constantly resident.

Chrys.: And when he had once left the country of His birth, all the occurrences passed out of mind; the rage of persecution had been spent in Bethlehem and its neighbourhood. By choosing Nazareth therefore, Joseph both avoided danger, and returned to his country.

Aug., de Con. Evan., ii, 9: This may perhaps occur to some, that Matthew says His parents went with the Child Jesus to Galilee because they feared Archelaus, when it should seem most probable that they chose Galilee because Nazareth was their own city, as Luke has not forgot to mention. We must understand, that when the Angel in the vision in Egypt said to Joseph, “Go into the land of Israel,” Joseph understood the command to be that he should go straight into Judaea, that being properly “the land of Israel.” But finding Archelaus ruling there, he would not court the danger, as “the land of Israel” might be interpreted to extend to Galilee, which was inhabited by children of Israel.

Or we may suppose His parents supposed that Christ should dwell no where but in Jerusalem, where was the temple of the Lord, and would have gone thither had not the fear of Archelaus hindered them. And they had not been commanded from God to dwell positively in Judaea, or Jerusalem, so as that they should have despised the fear of Archelaus, but only in the land of Israel generally, which they might understand of Galilee.

Hilary: But the figurative intepretation holds good any way. Joseph represents the Apostles, to whom Christ is entrusted to be borne about. These, as though Herod were dead, that is, his people being destroyed in the Lord’s passion, are commanded to preach the Gospel to the Jews; they are sent to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. But finding the seed of their hereditary unbelief still abiding, they fear and withdraw; admonished by a vision, to wit, seeing the Holy Ghost poured upon the Gentiles, they carry Christ to them.

Rabanus: Or, we may apply it to the last times of the Jewish Church, when many Jews having turned to the preaching of Enoch and Elijah, the rest filled with the spirit of Antichrist shall fight against the faith. So that part of Judaea where Archelaus rules, signifies the followers of Antichrist; Nazareth of Galilee, whither Christ is conveyed, that part of the nation that shall embrace the faith. Galilee means, ‘removal;’ Nazareth, ‘the flower of virtues;’ for the Church the more zealously she removes from the earthly to the heavenly, the more she abounds in the flower and fruit of virtues.

Gloss: To this he adds the Prophet’s testimony, saying, “That is might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Prophets, &c.”

Jerome: Had he meant to quote a particular text, he would not have written ‘Prophets,’ but ‘the Prophet.’ By thus using the plural he evidently does not take the words of any one passage in Scripture, but the sense of the whole. Nazarene is interpreted, ‘Holy,’ and that the Lord would be Holy, all Scripture testifies.

Otherwise we may explain that it is found in Isaiah rendered to the strict letter of the Hebrew. [margin note: c. 11. 1] “There shall come a Rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Nazarene shall grow out of His roots.”

Pseudo-Chrys.: They might have read this in some Prophets who are not in our canon, as Nathan or Esdras. That there was some prophecy to this purport is clear from what Philip says to Nathanael. “Him of whom Moses in the Law and the Prophets did write, Jesus of Nazareth.” [Joh_1:15] Hence the Christians were at first called Nazarenes, at Antioch their name was changed to that of ‘Christians.’

Aug., de Con. Evan., ii, 5: The whole of this history, from the account of the Magi inclusively, Luke omits. Let it be here noticed once for all, that each of the Evangelists writes as if he were giving a full and complete history, which omits nothing; where he really passes over any thing, he continues his thread of history as if he had told all. Yet by a diligent comparison of their several narratives, we can be at no loss to know where to insert any particular that is mentioned by one and not by the other.

[ed. note, c: That Enoch and especially Elias will come at the end of the world and by their preaching convert the Jews is affirmed by Tertullian, (de Anima 35. de Resur. c. 22) Origen, (in Joann, i. tom. 5. in Matt. tom. 13) Hilary, (in Matt. xx. 10. xxvi. 5) Chrysostom, (in Matt. xvii. 10) Augustine, (City of God 20, 29. Op. Imp. contra Julian. vi. 30) Pope Gregory, (in Job. lib. xiv. 23. in Joann. Hom. vii. 1) and Damascene, (de Fid. Orth. iv. 26 fin]

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Father Bernadin de Piconio’s Commentary on Colossians 3:8-25

8. But now do you lay aside also all: anger, indignation, malice, blasphemy, filthy language from your mouth.

Not only those graver sins in which you no longer live, are to be laid aside, but also minor faults against God and your neighbour, anger, malice, and violent and unseemly language.

9. Do not lie one to another, stripping yourselves of the old man with his deeds.
10. And putting on the new, him who is renewed to knowledge, according to the image of him who created him.

See the note on Eph 4:31, and that on Eph 4:22, 24, as to the distinction drawn by the Apostle between the old and the new man. The Greek (at the end of 9) has, now that you have put off the old man, (at the beginning of 10) and put on the new, that is, in your Christian profession. For as the faults and vices of the pagan life are the result and outcome of the influence of the evil spirit which dwells within the heart, so the graces of the Christian life will, if encouraged, grow from the presence of Christ within the soul. But, as the reading of the Vulgate would imply, the old tendencies, having still their root in human nature, and possibly in habit, will still have to be repressed, and the Christian life daily renewed and carefully cultivated. The new man is renewed, according to the Syriac, through knowledge, according to the likeness of Him who made him. By learning more and more of the character of God, through communion with Him, the Christian grows into his likeness. The Greek and the Vulgate read renewed into knowledge, advances continually in the knowledge of God, and consequently in his likeness.

11. There is not Gentile and Jew, circumcision and uncircumcision, Barbarian and Scythian, slave and free, but all and in all Christ.

This likeness of God is the perfection of man’s nature, not following any special or particular type, or nationality, or class; its model or pattern is not Gentile or Jew, Greek or barbarian, civilised or savage, slave or free ; but wholly Christ, and Christ in all. The mention of Scythians suggests the possibility that, as it is known that these people had formerly invaded Western Asia, there may have been traces or traditions of a colony of them in Phrygia.

12. Put you on, therefore, as elect of God holy and beloved bowels of mercy, kindness, humility, modesty, patience;
13. Bearing with one another and forgiving one another, if any against any has complaint; as the Lord forgave you, so also do you.

(12) Your real nationality, whatever it was originally, and your real state and condition, whatever it may be by the provisions of human law, is now the elect people of God, holy, and beloved of God, of angels, and of saints. Therefore put on, or exhibit in your life and conversation, the characteristics of this condition, mercy and kindliness, humility and patience, bearing with and forgiving the faults and imperfections of one another (13), since you have so many of your own. Forgive, as the Lord (the Greek has, Christ) forgave you.

14. But above all these things have charity, which is the bond of perfection,

Above all, have charity. The Greek has no verb, supplying put on from the previous sentence. Above all, because it is the highest grace. Charity is the love of God, and of man for God’s sake, and this is the highest motive for affection, for kindness, and well doing. The bond of perfection is a Hebraism for the most perfect bond, that which binds the souls of men together by the noblest and truest bond, the relation they bear to their Creator. And let the peace of Christ exult in your hearts.

15. And let the peace of Christ exult in your hearts, in which also you were called in one body: and be grateful.

The Greek verb (βραβευετω) might either mean, as the Vulgate understands it, carry off the prize of victory, be victorious over anger, or dissension, or cupidity, or pride. Or it may mean, adjudge the prize of victory, that is, preside, moderate, and rule. And if between you there arise controversy or difference, let the peace of Christ, not anger, or pride, or passoin, determine it. In this sense the word is understood by Saint Chrysostom and Theodoret, and this is the sense of the Syriac: Let the peace of Christ govern your hearts. For you all form one body, and the portions of one and the same body do not fight one with another. In peace, therefore, you are called. And be grateful, in the Syriac, give thanks to God. Saint Jerome, however, as quoted by Erasmus, understands it gracious, amiable, kind and easy, for this contributes to peace.

16. Let the word of Christ dwell in you abundantly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, in grace singing in your hearts to God.

Let the word of Christ, that is the teaching of Christ, which you have received from Epaphras and other instructors, dwell in your minds and hearts habitually and abundantly  so as to make you rich in all wisdom, often speaking of it to one another. The words with psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs may perhaps be more fitly taken with the participle cantantes (singing) which follows them. For the distinction between these see on Eph 5:19, 20. Singing in grace, that is, in thanksgiving, or otherwise, with sweetness, care, and correctness, so as to give pleasure to yourselves and those who hear you. In your hearts, that is, with your hearts, heartily, sincerely, not with the voice only, and the heart not in harmony with what you sing.

17. All you do in word or work, all in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, giving thanks to the God and Father through him.

In all you say or do, in word or work, invoke the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, not the names of angels, like the followers of Simon; and through him, and not through angels, give thanks to God the Father. So Theodoret and Saint Chrysostom understand it. Saint Thomas says that the precept is also to be taken in a directly affirmative sense, but that to fulfil it, it is not necessary that everything should be formally and in act referred to God, but in the habit of the mind, and is satisfied when our words and deeds are such as to promote God’s glory. Whoever acts or speaks against the glory or the commands of God, acts in opposition to this precept of the Apostle. The perfection of charity is when all things are actually, or at least effectually, referred to God’s glory in the name and power of Christ. For then all we do will be God,s praise, and pious and meritorious in his sight. Do all through Christ, as your mediator and pontiff; with Christ, as your head; in Christ, in his spirit, motive, and intention.

18. Wives, be subject to your husbands, as is fit in the Lord.
19. Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter towards them.
20. Sons, obey your parents through all ; for this is pleasing to the Lord.
21. Fathers, do not provoke your sons to indignation, that they become not pusillanimous.
22. Slaves, obey through all your carnal masters, not serving to the eye, as pleasing men, but in simplicity of heart, fearing God.
23. Whatever you do, work heartily, as to the Lord, and
not to men:
24. Knowing that from the Lord you will receive the retribution of the inheritance. Serve the Lord Christ.
25. For who does wrong will receive that which he has done unjustly; and there is not acceptance of persons with God.

These injunctions are almost verbally the same as those given in the Epistle to the Ephesians 5:22—6:9, but more pointedly and briefly expressed. They were rendered necessary by the doctrine of the heretics, who represented Jesus Christ as an opponent of the Creator of the world and God of the Old Testament, from whose dominion, as they pi’etended, he came to deliver mankind. The Apostle, in effect, maintains that as Christ came, not to do away with the law of Moses, nor yet to re-enact it, but to fulfil it and present the reality of which it was a symbol and a shadow, so he came not to abrogate and unsettle the constitutions of nature and society, which he has himself ordained for the guidance of mankind in this mortal life, and which were preserved in tradition, more or less perfectly, from the beginning of the world, by all nations of men; but to preserve them, while giving to them a fuller explanation and a higher meaning.

(18) As is fit in the Lord, so far as the law of Christ permits. Love your wives, and be not bitter to them, be indulgent to their faults or imperfections, recognising all they endeavour to do well.  (19-20) Obey your parents through all, in all respects, and through all apparent discouragement, for the obedience itself is pleasing to the Lord, who set the example of it in his own early life at Nazareth. (21) Fathers, provoke not your children, lest they be discouraged in God’s service, or lose confidence in the benevolence and goodwill of their seniors. Slaves are reminded in verse 25 that the master who ill-treats them, as a pagan master possibly might, will have to answer to the Great Judge at the last day, who will render to them the same usage they have dealt out to those now in their power. Human laws may give you no redress, but who does wrong will receive that which he has done, and before that Judge all are equal. They should not, therefore, seek revenge, but rather pray for the unjust master’s conversion and salvation.

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Dec 6, Commentaries on Today’s Mass Readings

Navarre Bible Commentary on Isaiah 25:6-10.

Father Boylan’s Introduction to Psalm 23.

St Augustine’s Notes on Psalm 23.

St Thomas Aquinas’ Lecture on Psalm 23.

St Robert Bellarmine’s Commentary on Psalm 23.

Pope Benedict XVI’s Commentary on Psalm 23.

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Matthew 15:29-38.

Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on Matthew 15:29-38.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Matthew 15:29-38.

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Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on Matthew 15:29-37

Mat 15:29  And when Jesus had passed away from thence, he came nigh the sea of Galilee: and going up into a mountain, he sat there.

From thence, that is, the confines of Tyre and Sidon, where the singular faith and humility of the Canaanite woman, as if, extorted the miracle from Him. He left, lest others from among the Gentiles would apply for the cure of their sundry diseases.

He came near the Sea of Galilee. St. Mark (7:31), says, that leaving the borders of Tyre, He came by Sidon, to the Sea of Galilee, through the midst of the coasts of Decapolis. How our Redeemer could have gone from Tyre to Sidon on His way to the Sea of Galilee, when He should, it would seem, on the contrary, have gone from Sidon to Tyre to the Sea of Galilee, is a subject of controversy with commentators. In the common Greek, the words, by Sidon, are omitted. They are, however, found in the Codex Vaticanus, and in all the later copies. If the reading now quoted be correct, all we can say is, that our Redeemer had some good reasons for taking the circuitous northerly route by Sidon to the Sea of Galilee, of which the Evangelist makes no mention. Decapolis, the country of the ten cities, some on the east, and others on the west of the Jordan. Our Redeemer passed through the midst of this district on His way to the Sea of Galilee. St. Mark (ibidem) states, that on His arrival, He cured a man that was deaf and dumb of which miracle no mention is here made by St. Matthew. The man was, most likely, not deaf by nature, he only stammered (μογιλαλον), or, had a difficulty of speech. This is inferred from its being said, that after the string of his tongue was loosed, he spoke RIGHT, in which it is implied, that he had before spoken, not right; but, in a stammering, confused way.  The ceremonies employed by our Blessed Lord in the performance of this miracle, are very instructive, and teach us to venerate the ceremonies employed by the Church in the conferring of Sacraments and in her worship, after His Divine example, in opening the ears and loosing the tongue of the deaf and dumb man. (See Mark 7:32, &c.)

And going up into a mountain, He sat there to await the people who flocked round Him, wherever He was known to be.

Mat 15:30  And there came to him great multitudes, having with them the dumb, the blind, the lame, the maimed, and many others: and they cast them down at his feet, and he healed them:

The cures of these multitudes is passed over by St. Mark, who only records the cure above alluded to. St. Matthew and St. Mark both give a full account of all that took place.

Mat 15:31  So that the multitudes marvelled seeing the dumb speak, the lame walk, the blind see: and they glorified the God of Israel.

The people were seized with admiration, seeing the prophecy of Isaias (35:5), fully verified, Then shall be opened the eyes of the blind, &c. And they glorified the God of Israel who sent the Messiah, promised their fathers, and in His mercy visited Israel.

Mat 15:32  And Jesus called together his disciples, and said: I have compassion on the multitudes, because they continue with me now three days, and have not what to eat, and I will not send them away fasting, lest they faint in the way.

Our Redeemer, while administering the spiritual bread of life to the multitude, is not forgetful of their temporal wants. He now, from a kind of necessity, works a miracle, to satiate the cravings and hunger of this immense multitude. He takes pity on them; for, they continue three days in His company, forgetful of their temporal wants.

Mat 15:33  And the disciples say unto him: Whence then should we have so many loaves in the desert, as to fill so great a multitude?

In proposing this question, the disciples seem forgetful of the former miracle of the multiplication of bread (14:17), or, it should rather be said, they were slow and tardy of belief. For, St. Mark observes, after the former miracle (6:52), they understood not concerning the loaves; for, their heart was blinded.

Mat 15:34  And Jesus said to them: How many loaves have you? But they said: Seven, and a few little fishes.

In order to proceed, in an orderly way, so that the greatness and certainty of the miracle might be rendered still more apparent, our Redeemer asks His Apostles, how many loaves they had still remaining of those which they carried with them for their support, and His own. Having to travel and spend some time in desert places, away from the towns and cities, the Apostles were obliged to carry some provisions for such occasions. Seven loaves and five fishes.

Mat 15:35  And he commanded the multitude to sit down upon the ground.

On the former occasion, He commanded them to sit down on the grass. Here it was, on the ground.

Mat 15:36  And taking the seven loaves and the fishes, and giving thanks, he brake, and gave to his disciples, and the disciples gave to the people.

(See 14:19).  Giving thanks, to God the Father, for the power granted to Him of multiplying these breads in a miraculous way. This is expressed (ch. 14), by the words, looking up to heaven, He blessed. Here, giving thanks, includes looking up to heaven, which is generally done by men, rendering thanks; and the benediction of the bread and fishes is the effort of the act of thanksgiving.

Mat 15:37  And they did all eat, and had their fill. And they took up seven baskets full, of what remained of the fragments.
Mat 15:38  And they that did eat, were four thousand men, beside children and women.

In the former miracle, there were only five loaves; here, there are seven. In the former, 5000, a larger number, were satiated with a smaller quantity of loaves, to intimate to us, that with God, it is all the same, to satiate many or few with a greater or lesser quantity of food. In the former, there remained twelve baskets, corresponding with the number of Apostles; here, seven baskets, corresponding with the number of loaves. This difference of circumstances shows, in the clearest way, that the present miracle was quite different from the preceding.

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Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Matthew 15:29-38

Ver 29. And Jesus departed from thence, and came nigh unto the sea of Galilee; and went up into a mountain, and sat down there.30. And great multitudes came unto him, having with them those that were lame, blind, dumb, maimed, and many others, and cast them down at Jesus’ feet; and he healed them:31. Insomuch that the multitude wondered, when they saw the dumb to speak, the maimed to be whole, the lame to walk, and the blind to see: and they glorified the God of Israel.

Jerome: Having healed the daughter of this Chananaean, the Lord returns into Judaea, as it follows, “And Jesus departed from thence, and came nigh unto the sea of Galilee.”

Remig.: This sea is called by various names; the sea at Galilee, because of its neighbourhood to Galilee; the sea of Tiberias, from the town of Tiberias.  “And going up into a mountain, he sat down there.”

Chrys.: It should be considered that sometimes the Lord goes about to heal the sick, sometimes He sits and waits for them to come; and accordingly here it is added, “And there came great multitudes unto him, having with them those that were dumb, lame, blind, maimed, and many others.”

Jerome: What the Latin translator calls ‘debiles’ (maimed), is in the Greek, which is not a general term for a maimed person, but a peculiar species, as he that is lame in one foot is called ‘claudus,’ so he that is crippled in one hand is called..

Chrys.: These shewed their faith in two points especially, in that they went up the mountain, and in that they believed that they had need of nothing beyond but to cast themselves at Jesus’ feet; for they do not now touch the hem even of His garment, but have attained to a loftier faith; “And cast them down at Jesus’ feet.”

The woman’s daughter He healed with great slackness, that He might shew her virtue; but to these He administers healing immediately, not because they were better than that woman, but that He might stop the mouths of the unbelieving Jews; as it follows, “and he healed them all.”

But the multitude of those that were healed, and the ease with which it was done, struck them with astonishment. “Insomuch that the multitude wondered when they saw the dumb to speak.”

Jerome: He said nothing concerning the maimed, because there was no one word which was the opposite of this.” [ed. note: The Vulgate and old Italic have no clause to , (the maimed to be whole) of the Greek, which is also wanting in many ancient versions.]

Raban.: Mystically; Having in the daughter of this Chananaean prefigured the salvation of the Gentiles, Ho came into Judaea; because, “when the fulness of the Gentiles shall have entered in, then shall all Israel be saved.” [Rom_11:25]

Gloss., ap Anselm: The sea near to which Jesus came signifies the turbid swellings of this world; it is the sea of Galilee when men pass from virtue to vice.

Jerome: He goes up into the mountain, that as a bird He may entice the tender nestlings to fly.

Raban.: Thus raising his hearers to meditate on heavenly things. He sat down there to shew that rest is not to be sought but in heavenly things. And as He sits on the mountain, that is, in the heavenly height, there come unto Him multitudes of the faithful, drawing near to Him with devoted mind, and bringing to Him the dumb, and the blind, &c. and cast them down at Jesus’ feet; because they that confess their sins are brought to be healed by Him alone.

These He so heals, that the multitudes marvel and magnify the God of Israel; because the faithful when they see those that have been spiritually sick richly endued with all manner of works of virtuousness, sing praise to God.

Gloss. ord.: The dumb are they that do not praise God; the blind, they who do not understand the paths of life; the deaf, they that obey not; the lame, they that walk not firmly through the difficult ways of good works; the maimed, they that are crippled in their good works.

Ver 32. Then Jesus called his disciples unto him, and said, “I have compassion on the multitude, because they continue with me now three days, and have nothing to eat: and I will not send them away fasting, lest they faint in the way.33, And his disciples say unto him, “Whence should we have so much bread in the wilderness, as to fill so great a multitude?”34. And Jesus saith unto them, “How many loaves have ye?” And they said, “Seven, and a few little fishes.”35. And he commanded the multitude to sit down on the ground.36. And he took the seven loaves and the fishes, and gave thanks, and brake them, and gave to his disciples, and the disciples to the multitude.37. And they did all eat, and were filled: and they took up of the broken meat that was left seven baskets full.38. And they that did eat were four thousand men, beside women and children.

Jerome: Christ first took away the infirmities of the sick, and afterwards supplied food to them that had been healed. Also He calls His disciples to tell them what He is about to do; “Then Jesus called his disciples unto him, and said, I have compassion on the multitude.” This He does that He may give an example to masters of sharing their counsels with the young, and their disciples; or, that by this dialogue they might come to understand the greatness of the miracle.

Chrys., Hom., iii: For the multitude when they came to be healed, had not dared to ask for food, but He that loveth man, and hath care of all creatures, gives it to them unasked; whence He says, “I have compassion upon the multitude.”

That it should not be said that they had brought provision with them on their way, He says, “Because they continue with me now three days, and have nothing to eat.” For though when they came they had food, it was now consumed, and for this reason He did it not on the first or second day, but on the third, when all was consumed that they might have brought with them; and thus they having been first placed in need, might take the food that was now provided with keener appetite.

That they had come from far, and that nothing was now left them, is shewn in what He says, “And I will not send them away fasting, lest they faint by the way.”

Yet He does not immediately proceed to work the miracle, that He may rouse the disciples’ attention by this questioning, and that they may shew their faith by saying to Him, Create loaves. And though at the time of the former miracle Christ had done many things to the end that they should remember it, making them distribute the loaves, and divide the baskets among them, yet they were still imperfectly disposed, as appears from what follows; “And his disciples say unto him, Whence should we have so much bread in the wilderness as to fill so great a multitude?”

This they spoke out of the infirmity of their thoughts, yet thereby making the ensuing miracle to be beyond suspicion; for that none might suspect that the loaves had been got from a neighbouring village, this miracle is wrought in the wilderness far distant from villages.

Then to arouse His disciples’ thoughts, He puts a question to them, which may call the foregone miracle to their minds; “And Jesus saith unto them, How many loaves have ye? They said unto him, Seven, and a few little fishes.”

But they do not add, ‘But what are they among so many?’ as they had said before; for they had advanced somewhat, though they did not yet comprehend the whole. Admire in the Apostles their love of truth, though themselves are the writers, they do not conceal their own great faults; and it is no light self-accusation to have so soon forgotten so great a miracle.

Observe also their wisdom in another respect, how they had overcome their appetite, taking so little care of their meals, that though they had been three days in the desert, yet they had with them only seven loaves. Some other things also He does like to what had been done before. He makes them to sit down on the ground, and the bread to grow in the hands of the disciples; as it follows, “And he commanded the multitude to sit down on the ground.”

Jerome, Sup. c. xiv, 15: As we have spoken of this above, it would be tedious to repeat what has been already said; we shall therefore only dwell on those particulars in which this differs from the former.

Chrys.: The end of the two miracles is different; “And they took up of the broken meat that was left seven baskets full. Now they that had eaten were four thousand men, besides children and women.”

Whence are the fragments fewer in this miracle than in the former, although they that ate were not so many? It is a either that the basket [margin note: sporta] in this miracle is of larger capacity than the basket [margin note: cophinus] in the former, or that by this point of difference they might remember the two separate miracles; for which reason also He then made the number of baskets equal to the number of the disciples, but now to the number of the loaves.

Remig.: In this Gospel lection we must consider in Christ the work of His humanity, and of His divinity. In that He has compassion on the multitudes, He shews that He has feeling of human frailty; in the multiplication of the loaves, and the feeding the multitudes, is shewn the working of His divinity. So here is overthrown the error of Eutyches [margin note: vid. sup. p. 16], who said, that in Christ was one nature only.

Aug., de Cons. Ev., ii, 50: Surely it will not be out of place to suggest upon this miracle, that if any of the Evangelists who had not given the miracle of the five loaves had related this of the seven loaves, he would have been supposed to have contradicted the rest. But because those who have related the one, have also related the other, no one is puzzled, but it is understood at once that they were two separate miracles.

This we have said, that wherever any thing is found done by the Lord, wherein the accounts of any two Evangelists seem irreconcilable, we may understand them as two distinct occurrences, of which one is related by one Evangelist, and one by another.

Gloss., ap. Anselm:. It should be noted, that the Lord first removes their sicknessess, and after that feeds them; because sin must be first wiped away, and then the soul fed with the words of God.

Hilary: As that first multitude which He fed answers to the people among the Jews that believed; so this is compared to the people of the gentiles, the number of four thousand denoting an innumerable number of people out of the four quarters of the earth.

Jerome: For these are not five, but four thousand; the number four being one always used in a good sense, and a four-sided stone is firm and rocks not, for which reason the Gospels also have been sacredly bestowed in this number.

Also in the former miracle, because the people were neighbours unto the five senses [ed. note: That is, there were five thousand, and they were fed with five loaves], it is the disciples, and not the Lord, that calls to mind their condition; but here the Lord Himself says, that He has compassion upon them, “because they continue now three days” with Him, that is, they believed on the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Hilary: Or, they spend the whole time of the Lord’s passion with the Lord; either because when they should come to baptism, they would confess that they believed in His passion and resurrection; or, because through the whole time of the Lord’s passion they are joined to the Lord by fasting in a kind of union of suffering with Him.

Raban.: Or, this is said because in all time there have only been three periods when grace was given; the first, before the Law; the second, under the Law; the third, under grace; the fourth, is in heaven, to which as we journey we are refreshed by the way.

Remig.: Or, because correcting by penitence the sins that they have committed, in thought, word, and deed, they turn to the Lord. These multitudes the Lord would not send away fasting, that they should not faint by the way; because sinners turning in penitence, perish in their passage through the world, if they are sent away without the nourishment of sacred teaching.

Gloss. ord.: The seven loaves are the Scripture of the New Testament, in which the grace of the Holy Spirit is revealed and given. And these are not as those former loaves, barley, because it is not with these, as in the Law, where the nutritious substance is wrapped in types, as in a very adhesive husk; here are not two fishes, as under the Law two only were anointed, the King, and the Priest, but a fewer, that is, the saints of the New Testament, who, snatched from the waves of the world, sustain this tossing sea, and by their example refresh us lest we faint by the way.

Hilary: The multitudes sit down on the ground; for before they had not reposed on the works of the Law, but they had supported themselves on their own sins, as men standing on their feet.

Gloss.: Or, they sit down there [margin note: xiv, 19] on the grass, that the desires of the flesh may be controlled, here on the ground, because the earth itself is commanded to be left. Or, the mountain in which the Lord refreshes them is the height of Christ; there, therefore, is grass upon the ground, because there the height of Christ is covered with carnal hopes and desires, on account of the carnal; here, where all carnal lust is banished, the guests are solidly placed on the basis of an abiding hope; there, are five thousand, who are the carnal subjected to the five senses; here, four thousand, on account of the four virtues, by which they are spiritually fortified, temperance, prudence, fortitude, and justice; of which the first is the knowledge of things to be sought and avoided; the second, the restraining of desire from those things that give pleasure in the world; the third, strength against the pains of life; the fourth, which is spread over all the love of God and our neighbour.

Both there and here women and children are excepted, because in the Old and New Testament, none are admitted to the Lord who do not endure to the perfect man, whether through the infirmity of their strength, or the levity of their tempers.

Both refreshings were performed upon a mountain, because the Scriptures of both Testaments commend the loftiness of the heavenly commands and rewards, and both preach the height of Christ. The higher mysteries which the multitudes cannot receive the Apostles discharge, and fill seven baskets, to wit, the hearts of the perfect which are enlightened to understand by the grace of the seven-fold spirit. [margin note: Isa_11:2] Baskets are usually woven of rushes, or palm leaves; these signify the saints, who fix the root of their hearts in the very fount of life, as a bulrush in the water, that they may not wither away, and retain in their hearts the palm of their eternal reward.

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Father Maas’ Commentary on Matthew 11:1-11

1 And it came to pass, when Jesus had made an end of commanding his twelve disciples, he passed from thence, to teach and to preach in their cities.
2 Now when John had heard in prison the works of Christ: sending two of his disciples he said to him:
3 Art thou he that art to come, or look we for another?

And it came to pass, when Jesus had made an end of commanding.] In this section the evangelist narrates first John’s embassy to Jesus, vv. 1–6; secondly, Christ’s testimony to John, vv. 7–15; thirdly, the rebuke of the people, vv. 16–24; fourthly, our Lord’s call of the citizens of the kingdom, vv. 25–30.

1. The Baptist’s embassy. The gospel gives first the circumstances of the embassy; secondly, the event itself; thirdly, the answer of our Lord.

α. Circumstances of John’s embassy. These are on the part of our Lord contained in the statement that he had made an end of commanding [an expression which according to its Greek original may comprise strict commands, councils, forewarnings, and promises] his disciples, and was preaching and teaching in the cities of Galilee; on the part of the Baptist, we are told that he heard in prison the works of Christ.

[1] On the part of Jesus. The third gospel, which professes to follow a chronological order, states that Jesus sent out his Twelve [Lk. 9:1–6] some time after the Baptist’s embassy [Lk. 7:18 f.]. As the first evangelist confirms the doctrine of our Lord contained in the sermon on the mount [cc. 5–7] by the miracles of cc. 8, 9, so he corroborates the beginnings of the foundation of the kingdom [c. 10.] by the testimony of the Baptist [c. 11.]. “From thence” may therefore be referred to the place in Galilee determined in 9:35. “Teach” and “preach” are expressed by two Greek words meaning the exercise of a master and a herald respectively; the former explains and instructs [cf. lxx. in Gen. 41:43; 2 Par. 36:22; Esth. 6:9, 11], the latter proclaims publicly and solemnly [Ex. 32:5; 36:6; 4 Kings 10:20; 2 Par. 20:3]. “In their cities” refers either to the cities of the apostles [Euth. Alb. Fritzsche, etc.], or to those of the inhabitants of Judea and Galilee [Bed. Rab. Pasch. Mald.].

[2] On the part of John. The history of John’s imprisonment is told in Mt. 14:3, 4; according to Josephus [Ant. XVIII. v. 2] he was shut up in the fortress Machærus, the modern Mkhaur, situated in the southern part of Perea, east of the Dead Sea, near the Arabian frontier. If the present text of Josephus [Ant. XVIII. v. 1] be accurate, this naturally strong and artfully fortified place [Joseph. B. J. VII. vi. 1, 2] belonged to the Arabian king Aretas at the time that Herod Antipas first put away his lawful wife, the daughter of Aretas, and married Herodias. Schürer [The Jewish People in the Time of Jesus Christ, Div. I. vol. ii. p. 26; Engl. Transl. Edinburgh, 1890] mentions a number of conjectures concerning the manner in which the fortress might have come into the hands of Herod Antipas before the time of John’s imprisonment,—for it can hardly be supposed that the Baptist should have been detained in a foreign stronghold,—the most probable of which is that Tiberius ordered Aretas to surrender the place to Antipas [cf. Wieseler, Chronological Synopsis, pp. 216, 217; Beweis des Glaubens, 1870, p. 166]. The “works of Christ” which John heard in prison are his miracles [Jn. 5:36; Lk. 7:18]. That the confinement of the Baptist was not very strict may be inferred from the fact that he heard, probably through his disciples, of the events of the outer world; the same seems to follow from Mk. 6:20, 29.

—sending two of his disciples, he said to him.] β. John’s embassy. [1] The sending. The reading “sending two of his disciples” is less probable than “sending through his disciples.” The former reading owes its origin probably to the parallel passage in the third gospel [7:19], while it is hard to understand how such an easy and clear reading could have given room to the difficult reading “through:” the latter must therefore represent the earlier text. Again, the latter reading is based on a Hebrew idiom, which fully accords with the nature of the first gospel [cf. Ex. 4:13; Lev. 16:21; 1 Kings 16:20; 2 Kings 12:25; 15:36; etc.]. There is no necessity of transposing the words so as to read “sending, said to him by his disciples” [cf. Meyer], since it is self-evident that John did not speak to Jesus immediately. The third gospel [7:20], too, emphasizes the sending of the disciples rather than their instrumentality as speakers.

[2] The question. In the question, or rather its second part “or look we for another,” it is doubtful in the original Greek whether we have the indicative or the subjunctive. The Vulgate, Schegg, Fritzsche, etc. prefer the indicative, so that we may interpret, “or are the conditions such that we look for another?” Fil. and most Protestant writers prefer the subjunctive mood, which according to their view expresses a deliberation in the present question. Jesus is addressed, or at least asked, whether he be “he that is to come.” This expression is, according to the language of the Old Testament, a Messianic title: cf. Gen. 49:10; Ez. 21:27; Ps. 117:26; 39:8; Deut. 18:15. It is for the same reason that in Rabbinic language the Messianic kingdom was named עֹלָם הַבָּא, δ αἰὼν ὁ ἐρχόμενος [cf. Mk. 10:30; Lk. 18:30; Jn. 6:14; Mt. 12:32]. Similar language we meet in the epistles of St. Paul: Eph. 1:21; Heb. 6:5; 9:11, so that the question must have been quite clear to our Lord and his surrounding.

[3] Motive of the Baptist. Writers are very much at variance concerning the motive that impelled the Baptist to send his messengers and ask the foregoing question, [a] Many of the more recent Protestant commentators [cf. Ed. i. p. 607; Meyer, Keil, Weiss] and some Catholic writers [cf. Schanz, Loisy, Evang. synopt. pp. 244 ff.] maintain that the Baptist sent his envoys and asked the foregoing question to settle his own doubts concerning the Messiasship of Jesus. They are of opinion that the lengthy imprisonment had a depressing effect upon John, so that he began to doubt about the true character of our Lord. It is true that Tert. [De baptism, c. 10] believed the special assistance of the Holy Ghost had left the Baptist when Jesus had begun his public ministry, so that the former fell into a state of religious doubt concerning the very person whose precursor he had been [c. Marc. iv. 18]. While the latter opinion is singular, to say the least, the first-mentioned authors do not sufficiently distinguish between the time of spiritual desolation and that of actual transgression. Besides, a doubt in matters of faith after once possessing the light of faith, as John did, implies grievous sin.

[b] The author of “Quæstion. et responsion. ad orthodox.” [qu. 38; cf. 87] contends that John sent his embassy, not indeed to learn whether the person concerning whom he had testified in his ministry was the Messias, but to establish the identity of the wonder-worker with the person in whose favor he had testified [cf. Lam. Mansel]. But the gospel shows that the ministry of the Baptist and of our Lord overlapped in such a manner that John could hardly be ignorant of the identity of our Lord’s person.

[c] Gams, Schegg, and other writers imagine that the Baptist sent his embassy in order to urge our Lord to hasten the manifestation of his royal power; some writers add that John himself hoped to regain his liberty by the manifestation of our Lord’s Messianic character. We need not state that this interpretation is wholly at variance with the humility of the Baptist manifested at the first public appearance of Jesus [cf. Mt. 3:11].

[d] Orig. [hom. in lib. Reg. 2. c. xxviii; de engastrimytho], Jer. [ad Mt. xi. 3; ep. ad Algas. ep. 121, qu. 1], Gregor. [hom. in Ez. i. 1, n. 5; hom. vi. 1 in evang.], Bed. Pasch. Br. Gregor. Naz. [or. xliii. n. 75], Euseb. Emess. [or. i.], Ruffin. Toran. [expos. symb.] believe that John asked our Lord whether he was the one to come into Limbo,—whether in other words the Baptist, foreseeing his own death, might announce the coming of the Messias to the souls of the Old Testament detained in Limbo. Both the form of the question and of the answer show that this was not the meaning of the Baptist’s embassy. A similar view is mentioned in the works of Chrys. Theoph. Euth. Ambr. [in Luc. vii. 19; l. v. n. 98]. The Baptist is said not to have known the mystery of Christ’s death, or if he knew it, to have doubted whether the Word Incarnate must really subject himself to such shame and suffering. Chrys. Theoph. Euth. Alb. Thom. Dion. reject this opinion. It is not probable that he who was more than a prophet understood the mystery of the redemption less than a prophet [cf. Is. 53; Ps. 21:17 ff.; 68:22; etc.]; nor can we suppose that he who uttered the words concerning the Lamb of God [Jn. 1:29] was ignorant of the manner in which the sins of the world were to be taken away.

[e] While the Fathers generally reject the opinion according to which the Baptist sent to Jesus in order to satisfy his own doubt concerning the Messiasship of our Lord [Hil. Theodor heracl. in cat. Orig. in cat. Ambr. in Luc. vii. 19; l. 5, n. 93–95, Jer. ep. ad Algas. 121, qu. 1, August. serm. 66, n. 4, Chrys. Theoph. Euth. Cyril Alex. ad h. l. in cat. Basil. or. 34, Euseb. Alex. op. imp.], they also agree for the most part with the greater number of later writers in maintaining that the Baptist intended to convince or confirm his own disciples and the multitudes at large in their faith of the Messiasship of Jesus [Bed. Pasch. Thom. Fab. Dion. Caj. Jans. Mald. Lap. Men. Tir. Gord. Calm. Arn. Bisp. Fil. Friedlieb, Knab. Tolet. in Luc. 7:20, Grimm, iii. 175 f.]. This opinion agrees not only with the character of the Baptist as a precursor of our Lord, but also with the gospel record concerning his lively faith in the person of Jesus on their meeting in the earlier part of our Lord’s public life [cf. John 1:26–36; 3:29], as well as with the Baptist’s zeal to lead his own followers to the faith in our Lord [cf. John 3:26 ff.; Mt. 9:14; Mk. 2:18; Lk. 1:17; etc.]. The circumstance that the Baptist asked the question in the first person, and seemingly in his own name, and that Jesus answered the question as if it had been asked by John for himself, loses its weight by the consideration that such an answer of our Lord directed to his faithful precursor must have been a boundless source of consolation to the latter.

4 And Jesus making answer said to them: Go and relate to John what you have heard and seen.
5 The blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead rise again, the poor have the gospel preached to them.
6 And blessed is he that shall not be scandalized in me.

And Jesus making answer said to them.] γ. Our Lord’s answer. The explanation may be reduced to the following considerations: [1] As to grammatical form it must be noted that our version “the poor have the gospel preached to them” rests upon sufficiently good authority, since the passive voice of the Greek verb occurs also in Lk. 7:22; 16:16; Heb. 4:2, 6; Gal. 1:11; 1 Pet. 1:25; 4:6; though we grant that the middle voice of the verb is more common, it does not agree with the prophecies to which our Lord appeals. The verb “scandalized” is construed with the preposition ἐν following it in Mt. 13:57; 26:31; Mk. 6:3; 14:27; Lk. 7:23, so that the construction in the present passage is not unusual.

[2] In its character, the present answer of Jesus agrees with others given by him in public [cf. Jn. 5:36; 10:25, 38; 14:12; 15:24]. Instead of answering directly, our Lord appeals to a series of facts containing the answer and cutting short any logical quibbling that might result from a different manner of proceeding.

[3] Lk. 7:21 is careful to add here that our Lord “in that same hour cured many of their diseases, and hurts, and evil spirits, and to many that were blind he gave sight.” Of their very nature all these facts contained a divine testimony for the truth of our Lord’s mission, since miracles as such are God’s own seal and signature.

[4] Considering, moreover, the object of these various miracles, they proclaim Jesus as the Redeemer from the various consequences of sin, and therefore render it antecedently probable that his sacred person will also be the Redeemer from sin itself, the promised Messias [Alb.].

[5] This inference becomes a certainty by the fact that Is. 35:5; 61:1 had predicted the Messias as noted for exactly those miraculous deeds that were done and appealed to by our Lord; for while the Messianic prophecy is thus fulfilled in the person of Jesus, the fulfilment is of such a nature that God alone can bring it about, and therefore above all suspicion of merely human calculation.

[6] Finally, in the last words, “blessed is he that shall not be scandalized in me” our Lord not only warns the Baptist’s disciples and the multitudes to follow the evidence thus put forth for his Messianic claims, in spite of their preconceived notions of a grand Messianic liberator of the Jewish nation, but he also points to a new series of prophecies which must be fulfilled in him by their very refusal of listening to his Messianic message [cf. Is. 8:6; 53:1, 4; Chrys. Jer.].

7 And when they went their way, Jesus began to say to the multitudes concerning John: What went you out into the desert to see? a reed shaken with the wind?

And when they went their way.] 2. Christ’s testimony to John. In order to remove all suspicion concerning the faith of the Baptist [op. imp. Chrys. Jer. Euth.], and especially to show the multitudes the true consequence of their veneration for John, Jesus began to sound his praises as soon as the Baptist’s disciples “went their way.” Our Lord avoided thus all appearance of flattery [Chrys.] and even of impropriety [Thom. Theoph. op. imp. Br. Alb. Caj. Hans.], a. The earnestness of Christ’s praise and warning manifests itself even in the form of his expressions: “What went you out into the desert to see? a reed shaken with the wind?” The particle at the beginning of the next clause shows [ἀλλά; cf. Winer, Neutestam. Sprachidiome, liii. 7; Hartung, Partikellehre, 2. p. 38; Klotz ad Devar. p. 13; Weiss, Knab.] that Jesus did not suppose his hearers had acted against the supposition implied in the question, i. e. they had not gone out to see the tall reed of the Jordan valley as it bent under the pressure of the storm [Beza, Grotius, Wetstein, Gratz, Fritzsche, de Wette, Schegg, Hofmann, Knab.; cf. Schanz], nor had they supposed to find in John a man of light and inconstant character [Chrys. Jer. Rab. Pasch. Br. Alb. Thom. Fab. Dion. Jans. Calm. Arn. Schanz, Fil. etc.], nor a characterless man acting under the influence of the evil spirit [Hil.], nor finally a carnal-minded person [Gregor. hom. vi. in evang.]. Our Lord rightly adds, “went you out into the desert.” For the multitudes had actually left the cities and towns of Jndea, in order to go out into the desert where John was preaching and baptizing [cf. Mt. 3:5; Mk. 1:5].

8 But what went you out to see? a man clothed in soft garments? Behold they that are clothed in soft garments, are in the houses of kings.

But what went you out to see?] b. A man in soft garments. Jesus ascends here in his discourse; supposing that his hearers had not undertaken their journey into the desert for as foolish a reason as suggested in the first clause, he now shows that they had not even gone to see and hear a common man, clothed in soft garments; for such are in the “houses,” not in the prisons, of kings. The last expression may have been an implied condemnation of the court of Herod with its luxury and voluptuousness.

9 But what went you out to see? A prophet? Yea I tell you, and more than a prophet.
10 For this is he of whom it is written: Behold I send my angel before my face, who shall prepare thy way before thee.

But what went you out to see?] c. John the prophet. The Greek particle rendered “but” implies here again a negative answer to the preceding question [cf. Jn. 7:49; 1 Cor. 6:6; 10:20]. Jesus therefore reasons with the multitudes thus: You surely did not leave your homes to see in the desert the Jordan’s banks waving with reeds, or to find in John a man as fickle by nature as a reed, or to see in him a man grown weak through a voluptuous life. Now he continues, according to the better reading, “But what went you out? to see a prophet?” You might have sought and found in him more than a prophet,—the “more” is expressed by the neuter gender in the Greek text [cf. Mk. 7:36; Lk. 12:48; Heb. 6:17], since the masculine of the word does not occur in the New Testament; the Hebrew equivalent would be יוֹתֵר מִן [cf. Schegg; Schanz],—for in John is fulfilled the prophecy of Mal. 3:1. It is important to notice the difference between the text of the prophet and that of the evangelist. The prophet writes: “Behold, I send my angel, and he shall prepare the way before my face,” while the evangelist has it: “Behold, I send my angel before thy face, who shall prepare thy way before thee.” The prophet speaks in the name of the Messias and therefore uses the first person, but the Messias puts the prophet’s words in the mouth of the Father addressing the Son, and therefore both the first and second person occur in the prophecy. The first part of the evangelist’s report agrees with Ex. 23:20 [lxx.], the second part follows the prophet’s text in its Hebrew form. Without inferring from this circumstance the existence of an Aram. original of the first gospel [cf. Hilgenfeld], or a Syriac popular version [Böhl], we may safely conclude from it that the first evangelist was better aequainted with the Hebrew text of the Old Testament than with its lxx. version. We may also see in these words of our Lord a confirmation of John’s own testimony concerning his mission [Jn. 1:23; cf. Is. 40:3; Mal. 3:1]. Finally, the word “angel” both in the Greek and the Hebrew text [cf. 1 Kings 11:3; 2 Kings 11:19 ff.; 3 Kings 19:2; 4 Kings 5:10; Job 1:14; etc.] signifies “messenger.” It is true that some commentators [Theoph. Pasch. Thom. Sylv. l. 5, c. 13, q. 23] urge the technical meaning of “angel,” and thereby infer some special praise due to the Baptist. But even in the New Testament we are not allowed to interpret angel in this special sense unless we have special reasons to do so [cf. Lk. 9:52; Apoc. speaking of bishops]; moreover, the dignity of a “messenger” is in proportion to the importance of his message and his nearness to the master. In the case of John, his message is the most important of the world’s history, and he not merely predicts his Master, but points him out with his finger [cf. Chrys. Thom.].

11 Amen I say to you, there hath not risen among them that are born of women a greater than John the Baptist: yet he that is the lesser in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.

Amen I say to you.] d. Not a greater than John the Baptist. Here Jesus gives his own opinion concerning John. The expression “hath not risen” corresponds to a Greek and Hebrew verb that is often employed of God’s raising up a prophet or a judge [cf. Judges 2:18; 3:9, 15; 1 Kings 2:35; Lk. 7:16; Jn. 7:52; etc.]. The phrase “born of woman” may imply the infirmity of man; but in the present context it indicates merely the solemnity and earnestness of the occasion [Job 14:1; 15:14; 25:4; Ecclus. 10:18]. While there can be no doubt about the extraordinary degree of sanctity attained by John the Baptist [cf. Bar. Sylv. Snarez, in 3 part. Thom. q. 38, a. 4, disp. 24, sect. 3; Canisius, De verbi dei corruptelis, part, i.], it has been often discussed in what precise sense the testimony of Jesus concerning the Baptist ought to be taken:—

[1] Does our Lord speak of the office and dignity or of the sanctity of John? Cyril Alex. [Thesaur.], Dion. Mald. Jans. Sylv. Bar. Tir. refer our Lord’s testimony to the personal merits and sanctity of the Baptist. Not to speak of other inconveniences, it follows from this opinion that either the Baptist is less in sanetity than the lowest New Testament saint, or that “greater” and “lesser” must in the same sentence be applied to different points of comparison, the former regarding personal sanctity, the latter referring to outward dignity. Hil. Ambr. Isid. pelus. [ep. i. 33], Chrys. Cyril Jerusal. [catech. iii. 6], Alb. Tolet. van Steenkiste, Bisp. Fil. Reischl, Schanz, Knab. etc. are therefore right in explaining the words of Jesus concerning the official dignity of the Baptist. This consists substantially in the office of precursor, but other circumstances lend it much lustre, e.g. the miraculous birth, the sanctification in his mother’s womb, the life in the desert, etc.

[2] Another point discussed in connection with our Lord’s testimony regards the comparative greatness of the Baptist and the Old Testament heroes: Is John said to be greater than they, or is he placed on their own level? If the words of Jesus be taken strictly, they only say that no one born of woman is greater than John; John may therefore have many equals. Jer. Aug. [cont. adversar. leg. et prophet, ii. 5] op. imp. state that Jesus placed John only on the same level with the Old Testament saints; but op. imp. does not adopt this view in the end, and Aug., writing against the opponents of the law and the prophets, is anxious to confer on the latter all the dignity possible. Again, the context appears to render such an explanation impossible, because the Baptist is declared to be “more than a prophet.” The reasons alleged by Caj. for John’s equality with the Old Testament prophets do not consider the foregoing argument, taken from the context.

[3] Finally, it must be determined whether John is compared only with the prophets, or with all men of the Old Testament. This question is rendered necessary by the third gospel [7:28], where the word “prophet” enters the comparison; again, we have already seen that on the part of the Baptist, not his personal sanctity, but his office, is the term of comparison, so that we may well seek for something similar on the part of the Old Testament saints. Aug. [contr. litter. Petiliani, ii. n. 87], Jans. Tol. are right in remarking that the prophets of the Old Testament surpassed its just ones in dignity and office; if, then, the Baptist is declared not to be inferior to any one of them, and to be more than a prophet, he is superior to any Old Testament dignity and office that can be thought of.

—yet he that is the lesser in the kingdom of heaven.] e. Superiority of the New Testament. Thus far Jesus has shown what impression the doctrine and the example of the Baptist ought to produce on the multitudes. He now appeals to their own self-love, as it were, showing that they can attain to a dignity superior to that of John, if they are only willing to follow his teaching. Though writers agree that this is the general drift of our Lord’s words, they differ in explaining their precise meaning.

[1] Christ himself, who is less in age, and according to the belief of the by-standers also in sanctity, than the Baptist, is greater than the Baptist [Chrys. Theoph. Euth. op. imp. Br. Fab. Caj. Jans. Bar. Sylv. Arn. Canisius, etc.]. Though Suar. believes this opinion is very probable on account of its extrinsic authority, Maid, shows that it is not satisfactory. First, it does not bring out clearly the contrast between the Old and the New Testament; secondly, when our Lord compares his own person with other persons, he speaks more clearly [cf. Mt. 12:41, 42]; thirdly, the proposition laid down by Jesus is general, and should not be limited to any one individual; fourthly, the comparison loses its force of argument if it be limited to Jesus alone.

[2] He that is the least among the blessed in heaven is greater than John the Baptist [Jer. Bed. Rab. Pasch. etc.]. But, in the first place, the context does not treat of the blessed in heaven; secondly, the comparison between the blessedness of heaven and the condition of the Baptist has no value in the argument of our Lord.

[3] The same reasons may be urged against those that explain the passage as signifying that the least of the angels is greater than John the Baptist [cf. Aug. Dion.].

[4] Mald. mentions another explanation, according to which every one that is more humble than John the Baptist is greater than he; this opinion has not even much extrinsic authority.

[5] He that is lesser [either than John or than the other members of the kingdom] in the kingdom of heaven is greater than John; i. e. whoever belongs to the kingdom of heaven, though he occupy a less dignified position in it than John occupies in the old dispensation, excels John in dignity; or, whoever belongs to the new dispensation, though he be inferior to all his brethren, is still superior in dignity to John the Baptist [Cyril Alex. Thesaur.; Isidor. pelus. ep. i. 68; Theodor. heracl. cat.; Tostat. q. 36, in c. 11; Tol. in Lue. vii. 28; Mald. Calm. Bisp. Schegg, Reischl, Grimm, Fil. Schanz, Keil, Weiss, Mansel, etc.]. The dignity of the New Testament as compared with the Old is well set forth by St. Paul [Gal. 2:19; 4:1–7, 22–31; Heb. 10:20; Rom. 4:25; 7:4; Eph. 2:14–16; cf. Dan. 9:27]. It cannot be said that our Lord himself baptized John, and that the latter therefore belonged to the New Testament; for though John’s baptism by Jesus may be admitted as probable [Cyril Alex. Thesaur. ass. 11; op. imp. hom. 4; Thom. 3 p. q. 38, a. 6, ad 3; Suar. l. c. sect. 6, n. 3], it must be remembered that the Church was not completely founded till after the death of Jesus Christ, so that the Baptist is rightly called the end of the law and the beginning of the gospel [S. Thom. 3 p. q. 38, a. 1, ad 2; cf. 2a 2ae, q. 174, a. 4, ad 3; Suar. l. c. 3, 8].

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Dec 4. Mass and Office Readings for Monday of the First Week of Advent

MASS READINGS: 

First Reading Is 2:1–5 or Is 4:2–6
Psalm Ps 122:1–9
Gospel Acclamation Ps 80:4
Gospel Mt 8:5–11

OFFICE OF READINGS:  

Prayers: : Ps 6: 2-11; Ps 9:2-11; Ps 9:12-21.
ScriptureReading: Is 1:21-27, 2:1-5.
Non Scripture Non-Scripture Reading: St Charles Borromeo On the Season of Advent.

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Fourth Sunday of Advent, Year B: Commentaries and Resources.

But it came to pass that night, that the word of the Lord came to Nathan, saying:
Go, and say to my servant David: Thus saith the Lord: Shalt thou build me a house to dwell in? (2 Sam 7:4-5

COMMENTARIES ON THE FIRST READING: 2 Samuel 7:1-5, 8b-12, 14a, 16.

Word-Sunday Notes on 2 Samuel 7:1-5, 8b-12, 14a, 16.

Navarre Bible Commentary on 2 Samuel 7:1-5, 8b-12, 14a, 16.

St Augustine on Aspects of 2 Sam 7 in relation to Psalm 89.

COMMENTARIES ON THE RESPONSORIAL: Psalm89:2-3, 4-5, 27-29.

Father Boylan’s Introduction to Psalm 89.

St Augustine’s Notes on Psalm 89.

Patristic/Medieval Commentary on Psalm 89.

St Robert Bellarmine’s Commentary on Psalm 89.

Word-Sunday Notes on Psalm 89.

COMMENTARIES ON THE SECOND READING: Romans 16:25-27.

Bernardin de Piconio’s Commentary on Romans 16:25-27.

Father Callan’s Commentary on Romans 16:25-27.

Father Boylan’s Commentary on Romans 16:25-27.

Pending: Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on Romans 16:25-27.

Word-Sunday Notes on Romans 16:25-27.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Romans 16:25-27.

COMMENTARIES ON THE GOSPEL READING: Luke 1:26-38.

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Luke 1:26-38.

Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on Luke 1:26-38.

Father Callan’s Commentary on Luke 1:26-38.

Word-Sunday Notes on Luke 1:26-38.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Luke 1:26-38.

OTHER RESOURCES: examines one or more of the readings.

The Once and Future King. A blog post on the readings from Catholic biblical scholar John Bergsma.

Lector Notes. Brief theological and historical background. Can be printed, copied and used as a bulletin insert.

Parish Bible Study Notes on the Readings.

Liturgical Bible Study Guide. Published about a week in advance.

St Martha’s Podcast. Audio online. Looks at the readings in some detail.

Dr. Scott Hahn Podcast. Audio online. Very brief. New audio is posted early in the week. Highlights main theme(s) of the readings. Text available.

(1) Fr. Robert Barron’s Homily Podcast: Adam, David and Jesus. A noted author, theologian and speaker.

(2) Fr. Barron’s Homily: Reading the New Testament in Light of the Old.

(3) Fr. Barron’s Homily: David and Mary.

(4) Fr. Barron’s Homily: The Fiat of Mary.

 

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