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Have pity on me, Lord, son of David

Jesus and the Canaanite Woman

This coming Sunday is the Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time. To help you prepare for worship, consider these timeless insights from St. Jerome on Sunday’s Gospel reading.

15:21. And having gone out from there, Jesus withdrew to the district of Tyre and Sidon. He leaves his false accusers, the scribes and Pharisees, and goes to the district of Tyre and Sidon in order to cure the residents of Tyre and Sidon. But a Canaanite woman leaves her native land and cries out to procure healing for her daughter. Observe that this Canaanite daughter is healed in the fifteenth place.

15:22. “Have pity on me, Lord, son of David, my daughter is badly vexed by a demon.” She knew to call him “son of David” because she had already come forth from her land and had left the error of the Tyrians and Sidonians by a change of place and of faith. “My daughter is badly vexed by a demon.” I believe that the daughter of the Church refers to the souls of believers, which were badly vexed by a demon. They did not know the Creator and were worshiping stone.

15:23. He answered her not a word. [His silence was] due not to some sort of pharisaical arrogance or superciliousness of the scribes, but that he might not seem to be opposed to his own statement by which he had commanded: “Do not go into the way of the Gentiles and do not enter into the cities of the Samaritans.” For he was unwilling to give an occasion to his false accusers, and he was reserving the perfected salvation of the Gentiles for the time of his Passion and Resurrection.

15:23. And his disciples came and were asking him, saying: “Dismiss her, because she is calling out after us.” Even at that time the disciples did not know the mysteries of the Lord. They were either moved by compassion to make this request for the Canaanite woman (whom another evangelist calls a Syrophoenician), or they were longing to be free from her importunity, since she was calling out repeatedly, not as if for a kind physician, but for a harsh one.

15:24. “I was not sent except to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” He is not saying that he was not also sent to the Gentiles, but that he was sent first to Israel. In that way the transference to the Gentiles would be just, since Israel did not receive the Gospel. He has expressly said: “to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” Thus, on the basis of this passage, we can also understand the one wandering sheep of another parable.

15:25. But she came and worshiped him, saying. In the person of the Canaanite woman, we should admire the faith, patience, and humility of the Church: faith, by which she believed that her daughter could be healed; patience, by which she perseveres in prayer, after having been so often scorned; humility, by which she compares herself not with dogs but with puppies. Now, pagans are called dogs on account of their idolatry. They have surrendered themselves to the eating of blood, and by the bodies of the dead are carried off into madness. Note that this Canaanite woman with persistence first calls him son of David, then Lord, and finally she worships him as God.

15:27. But she said: “Yes, Lord, for even the puppies eat from the crumbs that fall from the table of their masters.” I know, she says, that I do not deserve the sons’ bread. I am incapable of taking whole food or of sitting at the table with the Father. But I am content with what is left over for the puppies, so that by the humility of crumbs I might come to the greatness of the whole loaf. Oh, what a marvelous transformation of things! Israel was once a son, and we were the dogs. The arrangement of the titles is changed due to the difference in faith. Of Israel it is later said: “Many dogs have surrounded me”; and: “Beware of the dogs, beware of the evil workers, beware of the mutilation.” But with the Syrophoenician woman and with the woman who flowed with blood, we have heard: “Great is your faith; let it be done to you according to your faith”; and: “Daughter, your faith has saved you.”

How might this scene with the Canaanite woman help us understand the relationship of Christianity with other religions? To dig deeper in your own devotional time, contemplate these verses in the Verbum Bible Study software. Or, if you don’t yet own it, request Jerome’s commentary—available this month at a special discount.

Jerome. (2008). Commentary on Matthew. (T. P. Halton, Ed., T. P. Scheck, Trans.) (Vol. 117, pp. 182–183). Washington, DC: The Catholic University of America Press.

Lord, save me!

Lord, save me.

This coming Sunday is the Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time. We now continue our reflection of timeless insights from St. Jerome on Sunday’s Gospel reading.

14:30. But when he saw the strong wind, he was afraid, and, beginning to sink, he shouted out, saying: “Lord, save me!” The faith of his heart was burning, but human weakness dragged him into the depths. Therefore, he is abandoned for a little while in temptation, that his faith might increase and he might understand that he has been saved not by the easiness of a request but by the Lord’s power.
14:31. And Jesus at once stretched forth his hand and took hold of him and said to him: “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” Because the apostle Peter had grown a little afraid, Jesus said to him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” Now we have spoken above about Peter’s faith and ardor of mind. It was he who had courageously asked the Savior, saying, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.”273 If this is so, what will Jesus say to us, who do not even have the smallest particle of this little faith?
14:33. Those who were in the boat came and worshiped him, saying: “Truly you are the Son of God.” At a single sign when the tranquility of the sea is restored, which normally happens after occasional heavy storms, the sailors and passengers confess that he is truly the Son of God; and yet in the Church Arius proclaims him to be a creature!

Peter made that leap of faith onto the water, but each step of the way was met with trepidation, and he began to sink. “Lord, save me,” he cried. We’ve all cried out like that before, desperately in need of God’s help, but God is always there, steadying us like an anchor. To dig deeper in your own devotional time, contemplate these verses in the Verbum Bible Study software. Or, if you don’t yet own it, request Jerome’s commentary—available this month at a special discount.

Jerome. (2008). Commentary on Matthew. (T. P. Halton, Ed., T. P. Scheck, Trans.) (Vol. 117, p. 176). Washington, DC: The Catholic University of America Press.

So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water

He said,

This coming Sunday is the Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time. To help you prepare for worship, consider these timeless insights from St. Jerome on Sunday’s Gospel reading.

14:22. And he compelled his disciples to get into the boat and to go ahead of him across the sea, until he dismissed the crowds. He ordered the disciples to cross the sea and he compelled them to get into the boat. By these words it is shown that they withdrew from the Lord unwillingly, since for love for their teacher they do not want to be separated from him even for a moment of time.
14:23. And when he had dismissed the crowd, he went up on a mountain alone to pray. If the disciples Peter, James, and John, who had seen the glory of the transfigured one, had been with him, perhaps they would have gone up on the mountain with him, but the crowd cannot follow to the heights. He can only teach them near the sea on the shore and feed them in the desert. Now it says that he went up alone to pray. You should refer this not to him who, from five loaves, satisfied five thousand men, not counting the women and children, but to him who, when he heard about the death of John, withdrew to a lonely place. It is not that we separate the person of the Lord, but that his works have been divided between his deity and his humanity.261
14:24. But the boat was being buffeted by the waves in the midst of the sea. It was right that the apostles departed from the Lord against their will and reluctantly. They did not want to suffer a shipwreck in his absence. Finally, while the Lord was delaying at the top of the mountain, at once a contrary wind arises and disturbs the sea. The apostles are in danger, and a shipwreck continues to be imminent, until Jesus comes.
14:25. But at the fourth watch of the night, he came to them, walking upon the sea. Guard duties and military watches are divided into intervals of three hours. So then, when he says that the Lord came to them at the fourth watch of the night, he is showing that they were in danger through the whole night. Then, at the end of the night and at the consummation of the world, he will bring help to them.
14:26. And when they saw him walking upon the sea, they were alarmed and said: “It is a ghost!” If, in accordance with Marcion and Manicheus, our Lord was not born of a virgin, but appeared as an imaginary representation, how is it that the apostles are now afraid that they are seeing a ghost?
14:26. And they cried out for fear. A confused outcry and uncertain voice is a sign of great fear.
14:27. And immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying: “Have courage; I am.” In the first place, this brings a remedy for what was the cause [of their fear]. He commands those who are afraid, saying: “Have courage,” do not fear. In the words that follow: “I am,” he is not adding who he is. For they could either have understood him from his voice, which was familiar to them and which was speaking through the misty darkness of the night; or they could have recalled that he was the one who they knew had spoken to Moses: “You are to tell this to the sons of Israel: He who is has sent me to you.”
14:28. But Peter responded and said: “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” In all passages Peter is found to be a man of an intensely burning faith. When the disciples are asked who men were saying Jesus is, Peter confesses him to be the Son of God. When the Savior wills to go to his Passion, Peter is unwilling that he whom a little earlier he had confessed to be the Son of God should die.266 I grant that Peter was in error on this matter, but the error was not in the affection he had. Peter goes up on the mountain with the Savior, as first among the first. And in the Passion, Peter alone follows.268 With bitter tears he immediately washed away the sin of denial into which he had fallen due to sudden fear. After the Passion, when they were fishing at Lake Genesareth, while the Lord was standing on the shore, the others were taking their time in sailing back. But Peter brooks no delay. He wraps himself with his garment and at once plunges headfirst into the waves.270 Therefore, with the same ardor of faith that he always has, now too, while the others are silent, he believes that by the will of his Master, he can do what Jesus was able to do by nature. “Command me to come to you on the water.” You give the command, and on the spot the water will grow solid, the body will become light, which in its own right is heavy.
14:29. And getting out of the boat, Peter walked on the water. Let those who think that the body of the Lord was not a true body because it went softly like air over the soft water answer how it was that Peter walked. Surely they are not going to deny that Peter was a true man.

This infamous scene of Jesus walking on the water has a way of encouraging us and confounding us in our faith. To dig deeper in your own devotional time, contemplate these verses in the Verbum Bible Study software. Or, if you don’t yet own it, request Jerome’s commentary—available this month at a special discount.

Jerome. (2008). Commentary on Matthew. (T. P. Halton, Ed., T. P. Scheck, Trans.) (Vol. 117, pp. 173–176). Washington, DC: The Catholic University of America Press.

Free Verbum 6 Training Video!

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Learn more about the Bible!

The Bible is the inspired word of God, and this month, Verbum features one of the most up-to-date and scholarly study Bibles available: The Catholic Study Bible, 2nd edition. Along with essays and notes by world-renowned scholars on the writing, history, and interpretation of Scripture, Verbum’s amazing functionality links you in with commentaries and resources of your choice on each page. You can save even more when you make your purchase part of a new library!

Fr. Daniel Harrington notes that the Catholic mass has included more Scripture since Vatican II:

Since Vatican II the Bible has become prominent not only in Catholic liturgy and education but also in popular piety. The revised prayers for the sacraments and other liturgical actions use biblical language almost entirely. Charismatic groups and base communities have found biblical reflection and prayer to be the source of great spiritual energy. Even traditional Catholic observances like the Rosary are (and always have been) thoroughly biblical. The language of Catholic prayer in almost every instance derives from the Bible.

…Catholic theology since the Council gives far more attention to biblical sources and is likely to express itself more in biblical than in philosophical language. Official church documents on theological matters or current problems almost always begin from Scripture and try to ground their arguments in biblical texts. The Catholic Church today is far more biblical than it was in the mid-1950s (18-9, emphasis added).

Take advantage of the special features of Verbum that enhance your study with the Catholic Study Bible, on sale through the end of the month as part of our Easter Sale.


New to Verbum? Learn more about our powerful Catholic study tools.


Steve Ray’s Summer Picks

Today’s guest post is by Steve Ray, popular speaker and author of St. John’s Gospel, Upon This Rock, Crossing the Tiber, and host of the popular TV series, The Footprints of God.

When Verbum asked me what books I would recommend for summer reading, it was easy to come up with some great titles.

I use Verbum every day, and there are certain books I use over and over again. The books are all interconnected, so while you could sit and read any of the books I picked (they’re all that good!), I use them more like reference works.

Home pageFor example, from the Verbum homepage, I like to start every day by simply clicking on today’s Gospel. Verbum springs into action. It opens an entire screen of windows—like having dozens of books all open to the exact right page. I have the Great Commentary of Cornelius à Lapide prioritized as a favorite, so it shows up automatically, and I can easily use parallel resources to switch to the Catholic Commentary on Holy Scripture, and the Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture. With just these three commentaries, I’ve uncovered spectacular insights about the Gospel (and Verbum has plenty more).

parallel resources

At any point in this process, I can run a Verbum Topic Guide or Passage Guide, and I’m presented with default collections of links to the Catechism, Church Documents, and the writings of the Church Fathers. The last category is often primarily populated by the Early Church Fathers Collection available in most of the Verbum Libraries. However, I’ve found the addition of the CUA Fathers of the Church Series invaluable in my study of any passage. I couldn’t even capture all the results I got just from today’s Gospel reading! Such easy access to our rich Tradition!

passage Guide

anchor yaleFinally, the Anchor Yale Bible Dictionary is my go-to source for definitions. See more on why Bible dictionaries are awesome in this video. The Anchor Yale Dictionary has extensive definitions for over 6,000 entries. And it gets pulled right into the Bible Facts frame and opens on a double click of almost any word. With definitions this extensive, even clicking on words I already understand yields new discoveries.

The rest of my recommendations are just great titles that everyone should read or be familiar with.

For a marvelous Catholic Bible Study program that anyone can start in their parish or community, I’ve always recommended Catholic Scripture Study International. It is the best program you will find anywhere!! And it’s even better in Verbum. All the Bible links are connected directly to Scripture and the verse memorization works right in the software.

I used Verbum to write all my books, including Crossing the Tiber, Upon This Rock, and St. John’s Gospel. They take on a whole new dimension within the Verbum software.

See my complete list of recommendations here.



Addendum (by Alex Renn):

Steve asked me to address a question from a user on his blog: “What does your entire screen look like after you click on the daily reading?” Here’s the basic answer plus some additional considerations:

Steve’s layout will look something like this:

steve ray screenshot

1) The Lectionary layout does not actually change as far as panels are concerned. Setting priorities will change what appears in each panel. This post, though old, is a great tutorial on setting priorities. You will be able to customize the order of the Bibles that appear in the top middle pane, and the commentary that populates the bottom middle. This is where he mentioned the Great Commentary of Cornelius à Lapide appearing in his post above.

2) It looks like some of the screenshot panels were pulled out of context to reveal more information (that may be why they look different from what you’re seeing.)

3) The topic guide was accessed by right clicking the Gospel in the Lectionary, making sure “Bible” is selected on the right, and Clicking “Passage Guide” on the left. Scroll down to see the Church Fathers section (pictured above).

open passage guide

4) Lastly, the dictionary was also prioritized as shown in number 1, so that double-clicking will open the Anchor Yale Bible Dictionary if possible. If you double click a word that isn’t an entry, it will open a different dictionary instead.

Hope that helps!

Cyril of Alexandria—Saint & Scrapper

Today’s guest post is by Robert Klesko, Verbum’s Catholic Educational Resources Product Manager

It is zeal for your house that has consumed me – Psalm 69:9

The above quote from the Psalmist seems especially appropriate to the life and ministry of St. Cyril, Pope of Alexandria (c. 376-444). He was zealous. Zealous for the authentic Christian faith. But zeal without a bridle can lead to failures. Cyril certainly made mistakes in regard to his dealings with the city’s Jewish population and Orestes, the Roman Governor in Alexandria. He was prone to be hotheaded and unflinching in what he viewed to be unjust persecution against his flock from rival religious and political authority. However, Cyril is not honored as a saint and doctor of the Church for his political savvy. In fact, I believe it was precisely these early failures which caused him to refocus his ministry on the Christological questions of his time.

Cyril of course is known for his dispute with Nestorius, Patriarch of Constantinople. This dispute produced some of the most prodigious theology of the Patristic Age. His theology is available from Verbum as part of our special monthly sale. Our six-volume set of the Works of St. Cyril of Alexandria will introduce you to the zealous champion of the orthodox faith. Included in this collection are the Five Tomes against Nestorius, which set the groundwork for the Council of Ephesus (431AD) and Chalcedon (451AD). In Tome II, Cyril makes the following affirmation of the dual nature of the human and divine in Jesus:

Yet how is it not obvious to all that the Only-Begotten being God by Nature has been made man, not by connection simply […] considered as external or accidental, but by true union, ineffable and passing understanding. And thus He is conceived of as One and Only, and everything said befits Him and all will be said of One Person.

This statement, and others like it, heavily influenced the Church’s doctrine of hypostasis, the understanding that Christ is one person with two natures, human and divine. The “hypostatic union” articulated by St. Cyril would become one of the key doctrines of Christological and Trinitarian theology.

Beyond his Christological writings, this six-volume set will introduce you to St. Cyril as a Biblical scholar. Included are his two-volume commentary on the Gospel of St. Luke and the companion two-volume commentary on the Gospel of John. Composed of sermons delivered by St. Cyril on themes in the Gospels, these commentaries offer a rich exposition of the Alexandrian school of theology. Anyone interested in Patristics or Biblical theology would benefit greatly by making these resources part of their Verbum library.

Verbum’s sale on the Works of St. Cyril of Alexandria is for a limited time, so don’t let this opportunity pass by. Studying Cyril’s theology will give you a clear understanding of the development of the Church’s doctrine on the divinity and humanity of Christ. What a great opportunity to look at Christ through the eyes of one who was among the first to grapple with the classic theological question, “What do you think of the Christ?” (Mt. 22:42). Let the study of St. Cyril’s work ignite the zeal for Christ in your own life. Order today and take advantage of the savings!

Lift Up Your Hearts

Take 28% off Lift Up Your Hearts on Pre-Publication

Right now, you can pre-order the Lift Up Your Hearts collection for 28% off!

The liturgy “is the outstanding means whereby the faithful may express in their lives . . . the mystery of Christ and the real nature of the true church” (Sancrosanctum Concilium 2). Verbum now brings you the Lift Up Your Hearts collection, a three-volume bundle of homiletic and liturgical helps for every Sunday and feast day during each year of the lectionary cycle. These volumes are linked and easily searchable, preparing you to give homilies that will inspire your parishioners all week long.

Lift Up Your Hearts isn’t just for priests and deacons, though it is ideal for this sort of work. It’s also great for parishioners looking for a deeper experience of the Sunday readings, or for liturgical ministers seeking insight into their participation in the Mass. Aptly named, Lift Up Your Hearts presents an engaging and deep exploration of the Word of God expressed living and true in the Mass and the public prayers of the Church.

Pre-order early to save 28% while this collection is on Pre-Publication. Regularly $45.95, these three volumes can be yours for $32.95. Pre-order yours today!

Or, better yet, check out the Homilies Bundle, which offers even bigger savings.

Study the Gospel with Us this Lent

Today we begin Lent, the season in which we imitate Christ’s 40 days of fasting and prayer in the desert.

There are many ways to unite ourselves to Christ’s suffering during the Lenten season: some choose a certain food or luxury to give up, while others will give of their time to serve the poor or needy (and Pope Francis has stressed this latter form of sacrifice for this year).

As we offer ourselves up in service to God and others, we also must return to the source of nourishment that gives us strength. We find this nourishment in the Sacraments of the Church, especially the Eucharist, and in Holy Scripture.

This year, deepen your understanding of Lent as we study the daily Gospel readings. Join Verbum’s Lenten Journey and receive daily Gospel reflections delivered right to your inbox. You’ll also get Lenten Grace: Daily Gospel Reflections for free, and you can study alongside others in the Verbum Faithlife group throughout this Lenten season.

Join the Lenten Journey today.


The Ascension: A Call to Evangelism

Mark 16:19

Luke 24:49–53

Acts 1:6–11

This Sunday, many of us will be celebrating the feast day of the Ascension of our Lord (unless you live in in certain ecclesiastical provinces and have celebrated it already on Thursday). We observe the Ascension of our Lord as a holy day of obligation—it is a commemoration of the moment when Christ was taken up into heaven 40 days after his resurrection. But our commemorating of the ascension is not just a remembering of Christ’s going into heaven; when we read the scriptural accounts of the ascension, we are also reminded that his ascending into heaven marked the beginning of an evangelistic ministry that would change the world.

Benvenuto_Tisi_da_Garofalo_-_Ascension_of_Christ_-_WGA08474There are three primary accounts of Christ’s ascension in the Scriptures, two in the Gospels and one in the Acts of the Apostles. It is in Acts that we see the most detailed account, but each portrays a unique and important aspect of the ascension. In Mark 16:19, we read that after Jesus was taken into heaven, the disciples “went forth and preached everywhere” and that “the Lord worked with them.” In Luke 24:4953, we read that the disciples went and were “continually in the temple blessing God” after Christ’s ascension. In Acts, right before Jesus is taken up, he tells the apostles that “you shall be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the end of the earth.” After Jesus disappears, two angels called out to the gawking disciples, “why do you stand looking up into heaven?,” as if to waken them out of a stupor.

What do all these accounts have in common? Other than the fact that Jesus is indeed taken up to sit at the right hand of the Father, the most important element in all these accounts is that Christ’s ascension is fundamentally tied to a call to evangelism and worship. The disciples did not lose heart when Jesus was taken up. They did not disperse in confusion. Instead, they “went out and preached everywhere” to be Christ’s witnesses “to the ends of the earth.” Looking at the Scriptures, we see that the concept of ascension is fundamentally died to the concept of ministry. When we celebrate the ascension, we are celebrating not just the sovereignty of our Lord as King, but also the promise that when Jesus goes, he leaves us the Holy Spirit to go and carry out his ministry while he is away.

The angels that appeared to the apostles remind us that Christ will come again, just as he has left. But in the meantime, we are given guidance and strength that the Holy Spirit provides as we carry out Christ’s ministry as his hands and feet. As we celebrate the ascension this weekend, let us remember not just our Lord’s ascension into heaven, but also our call to proclaim the Gospel on earth.

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