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For God sent the Son, not to condemn, but to save

For God sent the Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him.

Today we celebrate the feast of the Exaltation of the Cross. Rejoice in this great victory by reflecting on John 3:13–21 with an excerpt from The Navarre Bible commentary series.


No one has ascended into heaven but he who descended from heaven, the Son of man.

3:13. This is a formal declaration of the divinity of Jesus. No one has gone up into heaven and, therefore, no one can have perfect knowledge of God’s secrets, except God himself who became man and came down from heaven—Jesus, the second Person of the Blessed Trinity, the Son of man foretold in the Old Testament (cf. Dan 7:13), to whom has been given eternal lordship over all peoples.

The Word does not stop being God on becoming man: even when he is on earth as man, he is in heaven as God. It is only after the Resurrection and the Ascension that Jesus is in heaven as man also.

And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.

3:14–15. The bronze serpent which Moses set up on a pole was established by God to cure those who had been bitten by the poisonous serpents in the desert (cf. Num 21:8–9). Jesus compares this with his crucifixion, to show the value of his being raised up on the cross: those who look on him with faith can obtain salvation. We could say that the good thief was the first to experience the saving power of Christ on the cross: he saw the crucified Jesus, the King of Israel, the Messiah, and was immediately promised that he would be in Paradise that very day (cf. Lk 23:39–43).

The Son of God took on our human nature to make known the hidden mystery of God’s own life (cf. Mk 4:11; Jn 1:18; 3:1–13; Eph 3:9) and to free from sin and death those who look at him with faith and love and who accept the cross of every day.

The faith of which our Lord speaks is not just intellectual acceptance of the truths he has taught: it involves recognizing him as Son of God (cf. 1 Jn 5:1), sharing his very life (cf. Jn 1:12) and surrendering ourselves out of love and therefore becoming like him (cf. Jn 10:27; 1 Jn 3:2). But this faith is a gift of God (cf. Jn 3:3, 5–8), and we should ask him to strengthen it and increase it as the Apostles did: Lord “increase our faith!” (Lk 17:5). While faith is a supernatural, free gift, it is also a virtue, a good habit, which a person can practise and thereby develop: so the Christian, who already has the divine gift of faith, needs with the help of grace to make explicit acts of faith in order to make this virtue grow.

For God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God sent the Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him. He who believes in him is not condemned; he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only-begotten Son of God. And this is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one who does evil hates the light, and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does what is true comes to the light, that it may be clearly seen that his deeds have been wrought in God.

3:16–21. These words, so charged with meaning, summarize how Christ’s death is the supreme sign of God’s love for men (cf. the section on charity, pp. 30ff above). “ ‘For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son’ for its salvation. All our religion is a revelation of God’s kindness, mercy and love for us. ‘God is love’ (1 Jn 4:16), that is, love poured forth unsparingly. All is summed up in this supreme truth, which explains and illuminates everything. The story of Jesus must be seen in this light. ‘(He) loved me’, St Paul writes. Each of us can and must repeat it for himself—‘He loved me, and gave himself for me’ (Gal 2:20)” (Paul VI, Homily on Corpus Christi, 13 June 1976).

Christ’s self-surrender is a pressing call to respond to his great love for us: “If it is true that God has created us, that he has redeemed us, that he loves us so much that he has given up his only-begotten Son for us (cf. Jn 3:16), that he waits for us—every day!—as eagerly as the father of the prodigal son did (cf. Lk 15:11–32), how can we doubt that he wants us to respond to him with all our love? The strange thing would be not to talk to God, to draw away and forget him, and busy ourselves in activities which are closed to the constant promptings of his grace” (St Josemaría Escrivá, Friends of God, 251).

“Man cannot live without love. He remains a being that is incomprehensible for himself, his life is senseless, if love is not revealed to him, if he does not encounter love, if he does not experience it and make it his own, if he does not participate intimately in it. This […] is why Christ the Redeemer ‘fully reveals man to himself’. If we may use the expression, this is the human dimension of the mystery of the Redemption. In this dimension man finds again the greatness, dignity and value that belong to his humanity. […] The one who wishes to understand himself thoroughly […] must, with his unrest and uncertainty and even his weakness and sinfulness, with his life and death, draw near to Christ. He must, so to speak, enter into him with all his own self, he must ‘appropriate’ and assimilate the whole of the reality of the Incarnation and Redemption in order to find himself. If this profound process takes place within him, he then bears fruit not only of adoration of God but also of deep wonder at himself. How precious must man be in the eyes of the Creator, if he ‘gained so great a Redeemer’ (Roman Missal, Exultet at Easter Vigil), and if God ‘gave his only Son’ in order that man ‘should not perish but have eternal life’. […]

“Increasingly contemplating the whole of Christ’s mystery, the Church knows with all the certainty of faith that the Redemption that took place through the Cross has definitively restored his dignity to man and given back meaning to his life in the world, a meaning that was lost to a considerable extent because of sin. And for that reason, the Redemption was accomplished in the paschal mystery, leading through the Cross and death to Resurrection” (John Paul II, Redemptor hominis, 10).

Jesus demands that we have faith in him as a first prerequisite to sharing in his love. Faith brings us out of darkness into the light, and sets us on the road to salvation. “He who does not believe is condemned already” (v. 18). “The words of Christ are at once words of judgment and grace, of life and death. For it is only by putting to death that which is old that we can come to newness of life. Now, although this refers primarily to people, it is also true of various worldly goods which bear the mark both of man’s sin and the blessing of God. […] No one is freed from sin by himself or by his own efforts, no one is raised above himself or completely delivered from his own weakness, solitude or slavery; all have need of Christ, who is the model, master, liberator, saviour, and giver of life. Even in the secular history of mankind the Gospel has acted as a leaven in the interests of liberty and progress, and it always offers itself as a leaven with regard to brotherhood, unity and peace” (Vatican II, Ad gentes, 8).[1]


To dig deeper in your own devotional time, contemplate these verses in the Verbum Bible Study software.

[1] Saint John’s Gospel. (2005). (pp. 63–65). Dublin; New York: Four Courts Press; Scepter Publishers.

Free Advent and Christmas Sermons!

Deepen your spiritual life with Sermons of St. Bernard on Advent and Christmas, free this month. St. Bernard of Clairvaux is a doctor of the church and speaks with wisdom and insight about the scriptures leading up to Christmas:

It is now fitting that we should consider the time of our Lord’s coming.
He came, as you know, not in the beginning, nor in the midst of time, but in the end of it. This was no unsuitable choice, but a truly wise dispensation of His infinite wisdom, that He might afford help when He saw it was most needed. Truly, “it was evening, and the day was far spent”(Lk 24:29); the sun of justice had wellnigh set, and but a faint ray of his light and heat remained on earth. The light of Divine knowledge was very small, and as iniquity abounded, the fervour of charity had grown cold. No angel appeared, no prophet spoke. The angelic vision and the prophetic spirit alike had passed away, both hopelessly baffled by the exceeding obduracy and obstinacy of mankind. Then it was that the Son of God said: “Behold, I come”(He 10:7). And “while all things were in quiet silence, and the night was in the midst of her course, the almighty word leaped down from heaven from thy royal throne” (Wi 18:14,15). Of this coming the Apostle speaks: “When the fullness of time was come, God sent his Son” (Ga 4:4) (Sermons 11-12).

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Celebrate Pentecost with Verbum

We at Verbum wish all of our readers and software users a blessed Pentecost!

We also encourage you to enhance your Biblical understanding with the full Old and New Testament commentaries from the University of Navarre.  While individual titles of the Navarre commentary are available, along with the New and Old Testament may be purchased as sets, Verbum Capstone library is the only base package that includes the full commentary.

Take a look at this Sunday’s Gospel, Jn 20:19-23, in the Navarre Bible commentary, including in-depth discussion of each verse, along with pertinent references to Papal writings and other valuable resources from the Tradition.

Jesus’ first appearance to the disciples (20:19–23)

Jn 20:19–20. Jesus appears to the apostles on the evening of the day on which he rose. He presents himself without any need for the doors to be opened, by using the qualities of his glorified body; but in order to dispel any impression that he is only a spirit he shows them his hands and his side: there is no longer any doubt of its being Jesus himself, about his being truly risen from the dead. He greets them twice using the words of greeting customary among the Jews, with the same tenderness as he previously used put into this salutation. These friendly words dispel the fear and shame the apostles must have been feeling at behaving so disloyally during his passion: he has recreated the normal atmosphere of intimacy, and now he will endow them with transcendental powers.

Jn 20:21. Pope Leo XIII explained how Christ transferred his own mission to the apostles: ‘What did he wish in regard to the Church founded, or about to be founded? This: to transmit to it the same mission and the same mandate which he had received from the Father, that they should be perpetuated. This he clearly resolved to do: this he actually did’ [Here the Pope cites Jn 20:21 and Jn 17:18.]. […] When about to ascend into heaven he sends his Apostles in virtue of the same power by which he had been sent from the Father; and he charges them to spread abroad and propagate his teachings (cf. Mt 21:19), so that those obeying the Apostles might be saved, and those disobeying should perish (cf. Mk 16:16). […] Hence he commands that the teaching of the Apostles should be religiously accepted and piously kept as if it were his own: ‘He who hears you hears me, and he who rejects you rejects me’ (Lk 10:16). Wherefore the Apostles are ambassadors of Christ as he is the ambassador of the Father” (Satis cognitum). In this mission the bishops are the successors of the apostles: “Christ sent the Apostles, as he himself had been sent by the Father, and then through the apostles made their successors, the bishops, sharers in his consecration and mission. The function of the bishops’ ministry was handed over in a subordinate degree to priests so that they might be appointed in the order of the priesthood and be co-workers of the episcopal order for the proper fulfilment of the apostolic mission that had been entrusted to it by Christ” (Vatican II, Presbyterorum ordinis, 2).

Jn 20:22–23. The Church has always understood—and has in fact defined—that Jesus Christ here conferred on the Apostles authority to forgive sins, a power which is exercised in the sacrament of Penance. ‘The Lord then especially instituted the sacrament of Penance when, after being risen from the dead, he breathed upon his disciples and said: ‘Receive the Holy Spirit …’. The consensus of all the Fathers has always acknowledged that by this action so sublime and words so clear the power of forgiving and retaining sins was given to the Apostles and their lawful successors for reconciling the faithful who have fallen after Baptism’ (Council of Trent, De Paenitentia, chap. 1).
The sacrament of Penance is the most sublime expression of God’s mercy, described so vividly in Jesus’ parable of the prodigal son (cf. Lk 15:11–32). The Lord always awaits us, with his arms wide open, waiting for us to repent—and then he will forgive us and restore us to the dignity of being his sons.
The popes have consistently recommended Christians to have regular recourse to this sacrament: “For a constant and speedy advancement in the path of virtue we highly recommend the pious practice of frequent confession, introduced by the Church under the guidance of the Holy Spirit; for by this means we grow in a true knowledge of ourselves and in Christian humility, bad habits are uprooted, spiritual negligence and apathy are prevented, the conscience is purified and the will strengthened, salutary spiritual direction is obtained, and grace is increased by the efficacy of the sacrament itself” (Pius XII, Mystici Corporis) (194-5).

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Pentecost by Titian, 1545

Subida del Señor a los Cielos

This guest post was written by Juan-Pablo Saju, Verbum Spanish Products Manager.

Lo invitamos a conocer más sobre nuestros nuevos productos en español, Verbum Esencial and Verbum Esencial Bilingüe !

 

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Subida del Señor a los Cielos

Texto del Evangelio (Mk 16:15-20)

15 Y les dijo: «Vayan por todo el mundo y proclamen la Buena Nueva a toda la creación. 16 El que crea y sea bautizado, se salvará; el que no crea, se condenará. 17 Estas son las señales que acompañarán a los que crean: en mi nombre expulsarán demonios, hablarán en lenguas nuevas, 18 tomarán serpientes en sus manos y aunque beban veneno no les hará daño; impondrán las manos sobre los enfermos y se pondrán bien»

19 Con esto, el Señor Jesús, después de hablarles, fue elevado al cielo y se sentó a la diestra de Dios.

20 Ellos salieron a predicar por todas partes, colaborando el Señor con ellos y confirmando la Palabra con las señales que la acompañaban*. (Mk 16:15-20)[1]

Comentario:

 El pasaje que comentamos (Mk 16:15-20) contiene dos breves relatos: 1) el mandato misionero a los once; 2) la ascensión.

1) la aparición y mandato misionero a los once;

Jesús comienza en el v15 con el envío a misionar a todo el mundo. El mensaje que el Señor quiere dar es el de la Buena Noticia que él vino a traer con su palabra y con su ejemplo. El centro de ese anuncio son: el Mandamiento del amor que meditamos el Domingo pasado: “Amaos los unos a los otros como yo los he amado” (Jn 15: 9-17) y el de las Bienaventuranzas (Mt 5:1-11); (Lk 6:20-22), los cuales constituyen el corazón del Nuevo Testamento.

Al ser estos dos mensajes algo que todo hombre desea tener en el fondo de su corazón para ser feliz fundado en el amor, Jesús quiere que sea proclamado en todo el mundo, no solo de palabra sino también a través de las obras de amor y de entrega personal:

La Iglesia y los cristianos recibimos la misión de Jesús. Somos enviados a proclamar la buena noticia, no a crear dudas o presagiar castigos. Todos los signos que acompañan a los que creen tienen una dimensión positiva para esta vida. Y es que anunciar el evangelio tiene que ver con la liberación integral de las personas y el mundo. La buena nueva no es un mensaje al margen de la realidad que vivimos. No podía ser de otra forma cuando quien nos envía a anunciarla es quien luchó hasta el fin y dio su vida en pro del pueblo pobre y marginado.[2]

El domingo pasado decíamos que el mandamiento nuevo incluye el amor que Jesús nos viene a traer. Ahora, ese amor viene con la gracia que Dios deposita en nuestros corazones por el Espíritu Santo. Para recibir la gracia de Dios y consecuentemente su amor, debemos creer en Jesús. Por eso el Señor en el v16 nos invita a tener fe, que es condición para recibir las gracias que nos vienen por el Bautismo. Las dones del Bautismo nos limpian de nuestras faltas, nos dan la fuerza para huir del error, el amor cristiano que nos ayuda a que nos queramos mutuamente como Jesús nos quiso y el vivir junto al Padre eternamente. Es por eso que Jesús dice: “el que crea y sea bautizado, se salvará” Pero el Señor nos enseña también que pierde todas estas gracias la persona que reniega de su fe, por eso dice: “el que no crea, se condenará.” Es por eso que este domingo debemos pedirle a Dios que aumente cada vez más nuestra fe para recibir la enorme cantidad de dones que el Señor quiere darnos.

Aparte de las gracias que nos vienen con el bautismo y que hemos enunciado anteriormente, también el Señor nos colma de muchas otras bendiciones. En el v17 enumera algunas:

1) “expulsarán demonios”: nos da el poder de alejar el mal de nuestras vidas. “Recordemos que el primer milagro (Mk 1:21-38) fue la expulsión de un demonio y que el tema estuvo presente en todo el evangelio. Este poder es el mismo que los apóstoles recibieron al ser enviados por primera vez (cf. Mt 10;1).”[3]

2) “hablarán en lenguas nuevas”: nos da la habilidad de hablar con un idioma fundado en la Nueva Noticia que nos infunde el Espíritu Santo dentro de nuestras almas. “Recordamos inmediatamente el milagro de Pentecostés (Acts 2:5-13 y 1 Cor 12 y 14). El don de lenguas parece haber sido un carisma frecuente en la comunidad primitivay hasta el siglo II, fecha en que desaparece seguramente bajo la influencia de Montano”[4]. En estos últimos tiempos ha resurgido de nuevo en algunas comunidades.

3) “tomarán serpientes en sus manos y aunque beban veneno no les hará daño”: no solo nos da el poder de alejar el mal sino de dominarlo de tal modo que no nos haga ningún daño. Este es el don de la inmunidad y “La noticia ha sido tomada de Lk 10:19…”[5]

4) “impondrán las manos sobre los enfermos y se pondrán bien”: el señor nos da el don de sanar por obra del Espíritu Santo a quienes padezcan una enfermedad. Este don “en Marcos aparece junto con la expulsión de espíritus inmundos, es el otro signo constante del Reino” (Mk 6:13) [6]

Estas gracias que el Señor nos da deben llenarnos de paz por el poder que tenemos sobre las cosas que nos perjudican. Nada ni nadie nos puede hacer daño porque el Señor es mi escudo y protector. Nos llena también de confianza porque a través de la fe, la oración y por obra del Espíritu Santo podemos ayudar a las personas, no solo espiritualmente sino también en sus dolencias físicas.

2) la ascensión

“La ascensión no es alejamiento o simple despedida, sino el comienzo de un nuevo modo de presencia del Señor. En el evangelio está vinculada al comienzo de la actividad evangelizadora universal de los discípulos. Ascensión y misión aparecen estrechamente unidas. El señor exaltado coopera activamente en la evangelización.”[7]

En el Mk 16:19, el Señor nos muestra el camino al Cielo, donde todos iremos si creemos en sus palabras y seguimos su ejemplo, y por eso asciende al cielo para esperarnos en la casa del Padre: “con esto, el Señor Jesús, después de hablarles, fue elevado al cielo y se sentó a la diestra de Dios.”

“La ascensión y la sesión a la derecha del Padre, tomadas del Sal 110,1, son la culminación del misterio pascual. Jesús, que padeció la Muerte, ahora vive resucitado con una vida que no tiene fin, y llega al lugar que había anunciado en las palabras sobre el Hijo del hombre: el Hijo está ahora en su gloria para siempre.”[8]

En el Mk 16:20, el evangelio nos muestra como los discípulos de Jesús, siendo obedientes al mandato del Señor, salen a anunciar la Buena Noticia a todo el mundo “ellos salieron a predicar por todas partes” con la ayuda y la fuerza que da Jesús “colaborando el Señor con ellos” dando frutos de conversión, sanación y santidad, tal como vemos en el libro de los hechos ” 37 Al oír esto, dijeron con el corazón compungido a Pedro y a los demás apóstoles:

¿Qué hemos de hacer, hermanos?» 38 Pedro les contestó: «Conviértanse y que cada uno de ustedes se haga bautizar en el nombre de Jesucristo*, para perdón de sus pecados; y recibirán el don del Espíritu Santo; 39 pues la Promesa es para ustedes y para sus hijos, y para todos los que están lejos, para cuantos llame* el Señor Dios nuestro». 40 Con otras muchas palabras les conjuraba y les exhortaba: «Pónganse a salvo de esta generación perversa». 41 Así pues, los que acogieron su palabra fueron bautizados. Y aquel día se les unieron unas tres mil personas (Acts 2:37-41)[9]

Que las palabras del Señor en el Evangelio de hoy nos llene de paz sabiendo que Dios es nuestro escudo contra el mal, de confianza porque el Señor quiere sanarnos física y espiritualmente y de amor porque Jesús nos ha salvado y quiere llevarnos al Cielo para vivir eternamente.

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“The Ascension” by John Singleton Copley, 1775

[1] Biblia de Jerusalén Latinoamericana. (2007). (Mr 16.15–20). Bilbao: Desclée de Brouwer.

[2] Florentino Ulibarri, Conocer, gustar y vivir la Palabra Sugerencias para orar con el Evangelio Ciclo B, EVD, 2006, 201.

[3] Briglia, Sergio, Comentario Bíblico Latinoamericano, Nuevo Testamento, Evangelio según San Juan, EVD, 2007, 470.

[4] Briglia, Sergio, Comentario Bíblico Latinoamericano, Nuevo Testamento, Evangelio según San Juan, EVD, 2007, 470.

[5] Briglia, Sergio, Comentario Bíblico Latinoamericano, Nuevo Testamento, Evangelio según San Juan, EVD, 2007, 470.

[6] Briglia, Sergio, Comentario Bíblico Latinoamericano, Nuevo Testamento, Evangelio según San Juan, EVD, 2007, 470.

[7] Florentino Ulibarri, Conocer, gustar y vivir la Palabra Sugerencias para orar con el Evangelio Ciclo B, EVD, 2006, 201.

[8]  Briglia, Sergio, Comentario Bíblico Latinoamericano, Nuevo Testamento, Evangelio según San Juan, EVD, 2007, 470.

[9] Biblia de Jerusalén Latinoamericana. (2007). (Hch 2.37–41). Bilbao: Desclée de Brouwer.

Fiesta de Nuestra Señora de Fátima

This guest post was written by Juan-Pablo Saju, Verbum Spanish Products Manager.

13 de Mayo—Fiesta de Nuestra Señora de Fátima

En el año 1916, cuando la guerra se había extendido sobre Europa y Portugal, en una de las colinas que rodean Fátima, tres pequeños campesinos portugueses: Lucía de 9 años, Francisco de 8 y Jacinta de 6, se encontraron con una resplandeciente figura que les dijo: “Soy el Angel de la Paz”. Durante aquel año vieron dos veces la misma aparición. Los exhortó a ofrecer constantes “plegarias y sacrificios” y a aceptar con sumisión los sufrimientos que el Señor les envíe como un acto de reparación por los pecados con los que El es ofendido.

El 13 de mayo de 1917, se les apareció una “Señora toda de blanco, más brillante que el sol,” a quien Lucía preguntó de dónde venía; ella respondió: “Vengo del cielo.” Les pidió que regresaran al mismo lugar durante seis meses seguidos, los días trece.

El hambre, la sed, las burlas de los que no creían en las apariciones (incluyendo a la familia de Lucía), los ofrecían como la Señora lo había pedido, por la conversión de los pecadores.

El 13 de junio de ese año, mientras se celebraba a San Antonio, patrono de Fátima, Nuestra Señora se apareció nuevamente a los tres niños. Alrededor de 50 personas se encontraban con ellos en Cova. La Señora dijo que Jacinta y Francisco irían pronto al cielo, que Lucía permanecería para ayudar a establecer el culto al “Sagrado Corazón de María” El 13 de julio de 1917, se trató de impedir que Lucía asistiera a este encuentro que fue uno de los más extensos y en el cual los niños tuvieron una visión del infierno que les despertó un anhelo de oración y penitencia incontenibles. Además les fue prometido que en octubre se realizaría un milagro para demostrar la verdad de las apariciones. En agosto de ese mismo año, el anticlerical administrador de Ourem, con engaños alejó a los tres pastores de Fátima y logró impedir que asistieran a la cita del día trece.

El 13 de octubre de 1917 alrededor de 70,000 personas habían llegado al lugar para presenciar el milagro de Fátima. Ese día, el sol se podía mirar sin cerrar los ojos y como un prisma gigantesco, cubría el cielo con franjas de colores. Luego giró 3 veces y se precipitó en “zig zag” hacia la multitud. La gente quedó conmovida y convencida de la veracidad de las apariciones. Antes de que pasaran tres años, Jacinta y Francisco habían muerto ya. Lucía fue religiosa con las hermanas de Santa Dorotea desde 1925.

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The Real St. Valentine

Tired of seeing hearts and flowers everywhere?

If the holiday clichés of buying candy and flowers don’t hold much meaning for you, celebrate the real St. Valentine, who was a third-century Christian, martyred in Rome on February 14 and buried near the Milvian bridge. Beyond this, not much is known for sure about his life and martyrdom, but the older traditional stories of his martyrdom have no connection with romance. Instead, they reflect the courage of one who was willing to die for his faith in Jesus. St. Valentine believed, as St. Paul says, “For me to live is Christ and to die is gain” (Phil 1:21).

St. Valentine was a holy priest in Rome, who, with St Marius and his family, assisted the martyrs in the persecution under Claudius II. He was apprehended, and sent by the emperor to the prefect of Rome, who, on finding all his promises to make him renounce his faith ineffectual, commanded him to be beaten with clubs, and afterward to be beheaded. Valentine was executed on the 14th of February, about the year 270 (Pictorial Lives of the Saints 93-94).

 

Celebrate the Feast Day of St. Thomas Aquinas

On the feast day of  St. Thomas Aquinas, we will feature him in his own words! Here is this Sunday’s gospel reading from Mark:

And they went into Caperna-um; and immediately on the sabbath he entered the synagogue and taught. And they were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one who had authority, and not as the scribes. And immediately there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit;  and he cried out, “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are, the Holy One of God.” But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be silent, and come out of him!” And the unclean spirit, convulsing him and crying with a loud voice, came out of him. And they were all amazed, so that they questioned among themselves, saying, “What is this? A new teaching! With authority he commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him.” And at once his fame spread everywhere throughout all the surrounding region of Galilee (Mk 1:21-28).

To demonstate the tremendous scope of his erudition, we excerpt the Catena Aurea: Commentary on the Four Gospels. St. Thomas Aquinas’ masterful treatment of this same passage includes the works of the early church fathers, as well as scripture:

BEDE. (in Marc. i. 7) Since by the envy of the devil death first entered into the world, it was right that the medicine of healing should first work against the author of death; and therefore it is said, And there was in their synagogue a man, &c.

PSEUDO-CHRYSOSTOM. (Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.) The word Spirit is applied to an Angel, the air, the soul, and even the Holy Ghost. Lest therefore by the sameness of the name we should fall into error, he adds, unclean. And he is called unclean on account of his impiousness and far removal from God, and because he employs himself in all unclean and wicked works.

AUGUSTINE. (de Civ. Dei, ix. 21) Moreover, how great is the power which the lowliness of God, appearing in the form of a servant, has over the pride of devils, the devils themselves know so well, that they express it to the same Lord clothed in the weakness of flesh. For there follows, And he cried out, saying, What have we to do with thee, Jesus of Nazareth, &c. For it is evident in these words that there was in them knowledge, but there was not charity; and the reason was, that they feared their punishment from Him, and loved not the righteousness in Him.

BEDE. (ubi sup.) For the devils, seeing the Lord on the earth, thought that they were immediately to be judged.

PSEUDO-CHRYSOSTOM. (Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.) Or else the devil so speaks, as if he said, ‘by taking away uncleanness, and giving to the souls of men divine knowledge, Thou allowest us no place in men.’

THEOPHYLACT. For to come out of man the devil considers as his own perdition; for devils are ruthless, thinking that they suffer some evil, so long as they are not troubling men. There follows, I know that thou art the Holy One of God.

PSEUDO-CHRYSOSTOM. (Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.) As if he said, Methinks that Thou art come; for he had not a firm and certain knowledge of the coming of God. But he calls Him holy not as one of many, for every prophet was also holy, but he proclaims that He was the One holy; by the article in Greek he shews Him to be the One, but by his fear he shews Him to be Lord of all.

AUGUSTINE. (ubi sup.) For He was known to them in that degree in which He wished to be known; and He wished as much as was fitting. He was not known to them as to the holy Angels, who enjoy Him by partaking of His eternity according as He is the Word of God; but as He was to be made known in terror, to those beings from whose tyrannical power He was about to free the predestinate. He was known therefore to the devils, not in that He is eternal Life, but by some temporal effects of His Power, which might be more clear to the angelic senses of even bad spirits than to the weakness of men.

PSEUDO-CHRYSOSTOM. (Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.) Further, the Truth did not wish to have the witness of unclean spirits; wherefore there follows, And Jesus threatened him, saying, &c. Whence a healthful precept is given to us; let us not believe devils, howsoever they may proclaim the truth. It goes on, And the unclean spirit tearing him, &c. For, because the man spoke as one in his senses and uttered his words with discretion, lest it should be thought that he put together his words not from the devil but out of his own heart, He permitted the man to be torn by the devil, that He might shew that it was the devil who spoke.

THEOPHYLACT. That they might know, when they saw it, from how great an evil the man was freed, and on account of the miracle might believe.

BEDE. (ubi sup.) But it may appear to be a discrepancy, that he should have gone out of him, tearing him, or, as some copies have it, vexing him, when, according to Luke, he did not hurt him. But Luke himself says, When he had, cast him into the midst, he came out from him, without hurting him. (Luke 4:35) Wherefore it is inferred that Mark meant by vexing or tearing him, what Luke expresses, in the words, When he had cast him into the midst; so that what he goes on to say, And did not hurt him, may be understood to mean, that the tossing of his limbs and vexing, did not weaken him, as devils are wont to come out even with the cutting off and tearing away of limbs. But seeing the power of the miracle, they wonder at the newness of our Lord’s doctrine, and are roused to search into what they had heard by what they had seen. Wherefore there follows, And they all wondered &c. For miracles were done that they might more firmly believe the Gospel of the kingdom of God, which was being preached, since those who were promising heavenly joys to men on earth, were shewing forth heavenly things and divine works even on earth. For before (as the Evangelist says) He was teaching them as one who had power, and now, as the crowd witnesses, with power He commands the evil spirits, and they obey Him. (1 John 5:20. John 17:3) It goes on, And immediately His fame spread abroad, &c.

GLOSS. (non occ.) For those things which men wonder at they soon divulge, for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. (Mat. 12:24)

PSEUDO-JEROME. Moreover, Capernaum is mystically interpreted the town of consolation, and the sabbath as rest. The man with an evil spirit is healed by rest and consolation, that the place and time may agree with his healing. This man with an unclean spirit is the human race, in which uncleanness reigned from Adam to Moses; for they sinned without law, and perished without law. (v. Rom. 5:14. 2:12) And he, knowing the Holy One of God, is ordered to hold his peace, for they knowing God did not glorify him as God, but rather served the creature than the Creator. (1:21.25) The spirit tearing the man came out of him. When salvation is near, temptation is at hand also. Pharaoh, when about to let Israel go, pursues Israel; the devil, when despised, rises up to create scandals.

Be sure to take advantage of all the excellent St. Thomas Aquinas resources as we come to the close of January’s Verbum Monthly Sale!

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Jesus Casting Out Demons, Strasbourg Cathedral

Celebrate the Genius of St. Thomas Aquinas, Part 4

Bloomsbury Studies on Thomas Aquinas is on pre-pub for 18% off!

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In his book, On Aquinas, Herbert McCabe tells the story of a propitious meeting between St. Thomas Aquinas and an Irishman named Peter (Petrus Hibernicus), who introduced St. Thomas to “some bewildering and exciting new thinking that was filtering in from Islamic sources” (1).

McCabe goes on to indicate that discovery of Aristotle’s method from these newly-translated sources was an intellectual turning point for Aquinas:

A whole  lot of texts of Aristotle were beginning to make their way through Naples into Europe, texts that nobody there had seen before.

Aristotle, a student and critical disciple of Plato, and a teacher of Alexander of Macedon, was a marine biologist who not only observed and classified his specimens but used the same methods in all sorts of other areas like physics, astronomy, the study of society, and of what makes human begins tick. He found time to invent logic in the modern sense, and moreover was intensely interested in what we would nowadays call philosophy of science—questions about what it means to pursue such studies, and questions about language itself and so on. Medieval Europe was being quite suddently hit by systematic scientific investigation and thinking. Many of Aristotles’s answers turned out to be wrong, but that didn’t matter. It was the method that mattered. This is what the young Aquinas fell in love with. One outstanding feature of it all was that it seemed completely subversive of Christianity, especially as it came through Christendom’s main enemy, Islam. This didn’t worry the Emperor too much but it must have presented an exciting challenge to Thomas. Anyway he spent much of his life painstakingly showing that if you found Aristotle right, broadly speaking, that didn’t mean you had to stop being a Christian; and indeed it sometimes helped you to express the Gospel (2).

Take advantage of the pre-pub savings for this 13-volume scholarly resource!

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The Triumph of St. Thomas Aquinas by Benozzo Lozzoli, 1468-1484

Celebrate the Genius of St. Thomas Aquinas, Part 3

The Verbum monthly sale features several valuable resources from St. Thomas Aquinas, leading up to his feast day, January 28th.

Contemporary moral issues are considered by academics and experts in several fields from the Georgetown University Press Aquinas Studies Collection, specially priced through the end of January!

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This 4-volume set has been highly praised. Here’s a review of The Ethics of Aquinas, edited by Stephen J. Pope:

[A] must have for every theology library and an invaluable resource for moral theologians, philosophers, and students alike. Pope has gathered some of the best Thomistic scholars and ethicists in Europe and America to contribute to this book.

Horizons

Included in the set is Aquinas on the Emotions, lauded by Jean Porter,  John A. O’Brien Professor of Theological Ethics at the University of Notre Dame:

Diana Cates’ book thus fills a real need, offering us a comprehensive, reliable, and engagingly clear guide to Aquinas’ complex theory, firmly placed within the wider context of his thought. What is more, by comparing Aquinas’ account with that of central contemporary theories of the emotions, she draws Aquinas into our own conversations, where he proves to be a surprisingly illuminating interlocutor. This fine book makes an important contribution both to Aquinas studies and to contemporary religious ethics and moral philosophy, and it deserves, and I expect it to have, wide influence.

Be sure to take advantage of the savings and add to your library now!

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