Call: 877-542-7664

What are you waiting for?

What is it that you are waiting for? Advent is here, and we typically think of this season as a time of waiting for Christmas. This may be true, but there’s more. The word Advent has its root in the Latin word for “coming.” In this season we are also reminded that we are awaiting the second coming of Christ. The gospel reading from today’s liturgy makes this emphatically clear: Jesus reminds us to always be ready, because we cannot know at what time he will return.

Waiting and being ready go hand in hand; we can’t adequately wait unless we are ready. We all know what it’s like when we wait in the checkout line, but we don’t have our money or all our items ready. That’s why this time of Advent is intended to help us shift our focus from our regular way of doing things and remind us that we should always have our minds on conforming to Christ. And if we truly believe that Christ is present to us now, we will realize that ultimately it is Christ who is waiting for us, knocking at the door of hearts. And to deepen the mystery even more, we become humbled when we realize that we cannot truly wait for Christ without the life of Christ in us—without the power of the Holy Spirit.

Below you will find a short clip from a reflection on today’s gospel reading that touches on this theme. As you enter into this busy season, think about the importance of what you are waiting for. Are you being distracted by the hustle and bustle around you, or are you being watchful and alert?

Mark 13:33–37
Be watchful! Be alert! You do not know when the time will come. It is like a man traveling abroad. He leaves home and places his servants in charge, each with his work, and orders the gatekeeper to be on the watch. Watch, therefore; you do not know when the lord of the house is coming, whether in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or in the morning. May he not come suddenly and find you sleeping. What I say to you, I say to all: ‘Watch!’ ”


Waiting for more? Check out the entire lectionary devotional series.

The very stone which the builders rejected has become the cornerstone

 The very stone which the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.

This coming Sunday is the Twenty-Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time. To help you prepare to enter more deeply into Matthew 21:33–46 at worship, here is an excerpt from St. Thomas Aquinas’ Commentary on the Gospel of St. Matthew.


42 Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the Scriptures: ‘The very stone which the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; this was the Lord’s doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes’? 43 Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a nation producing the fruits of it. 44 And he who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; but when it falls on any one, it will crush him.” 45 When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard his parables, they perceived that he was speaking about them. 46 But when they tried to arrest him, they feared the multitudes, because they held him to be a prophet.[1]

Jesus saith to them. Here, the confirmation of the judgment is related. Firstly, a passage of Scripture is cited; and secondly, its explanation is related. He says, Have you never read in the Scriptures (this is found in Psalm 117:22): The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner? And He points out four things. Firstly, He points out their reprobation; secondly, He points out their dignity; thirdly, He points out the reason for their reprobation; and fourthly, He points out their admiration. He says, The stone, etc. The stone is Christ, who is called a stone based upon many similitudes. “Behold I will lay a stone in the foundations of Sion, a corner stone,” etc., (Is. 28:16). The builders are the Apostles. Let every man take heed how he builds. Hence, that rock, which they rejected, meaning which they cast away, the same is become, meaning is constituted, the head of the corner, meaning the head of the Jews and the Gentiles. Hence, He was made the head of the Church. But they could say: He made Himself the head; for that reason, He says: By the Lord this has been done. “The right hand of the Lord hath wrought strength” (Ps. 117:16). And what sort of exaltation is this? And it is wonderful in our eyes; “Behold ye among the nations, and see: wonder, and be astonished: for a work is done in your days, which no man will believe when it shall be told” (Hab. 1:5). Their dignity was so great that it could only have been produced through the grace of God. “By grace you are saved through Christ” (Eph. 2:8). Afterwards, He expounds the passage; and He makes two conclusions. Firstly, He expounds what was said in the parable; and secondly, He expounds what was said in the passage. It is said, therefore, Therefore I say to you that the kingdom of God shall be taken from you, meaning Sacred Scripture, because you will lose the understanding of Sacred Scripture. “He hath blinded their eyes and hardened their heart, that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart and be converted: and I should heal them” (Jn. 12:40). Or, you will lose your authority over the Church of the faithful, because their glory has been transferred to others. And shall be given to a nation yielding the fruits thereof. “Behold I have given him for a witness to the people, for a leader and a master to the Gentiles. Behold thou shalt call a nation, which thou knewest not: and the nations that knew not thee shall run to thee” (Is. 55:4–5). But how shall it be given to them? Above, it was said that He let it out, here, however, that it is given: because when it does not yield fruit, it is said to be let out, or rented; but when it is given, then it bears fruit. He indicates a twofold punishment, And whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken. It is expounded, according to Jerome, as follows: He falls upon a rock, meaning Christ, who holds the faith from Him, that is to say, from Christ, but falls by sin because he acts against Him. The reason why sinners fall is because they do not have charity. But on whomsoever it shall fall, it shall grind him to powder. Christ, however, falls upon unbelievers. There is this difference, namely, that when a vessel falls upon a rock, the vessel is not broken because of the rock, but because of the way that it fell, inasmuch as it fell from a greater height; but when a rock falls upon a vessel, it breaks it according to the weight of the rock. So a man, when he falls upon a rock, which is Christ, then he is broken according to the greatness of the sin; but when he becomes an unbeliever, he is completely crushed. Or someone falls upon a rock when he perishes by his own free choice; but then a rock, in fact, falls upon him, when Christ punishes him, and then the whole man is crushed. “I shall beat them as small as the dust before the wind” (Ps. 17:43). The time of wickedness follows, And seeking to lay hands on him, they feared the multitudes, because they held him as a prophet. And the meaning of these words is clear.[2]


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 St. Thomas Aquinas’ Commentary on the Gospel of St. Matthewavailable this month at a special discount.

[1] The Holy Bible. (2006). (Revised Standard Version; Second Catholic Edition, Mt 21:42–46). San Francisco: Ignatius Press.
[2] Thomas Aquinas. (2012). Commentary on the Gospel of St. Matthew. (P. M. Kimball, Trans.) (pp. 696–706). Dolorosa Press.

By what authority are you doing these things?

"By what authority are you doing these things?" (Mt 21:23)

This coming Sunday is the Twenty-Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time. To help you prepare to enter more deeply into Matthew 21:23–32 at worship, here is an excerpt from The Navarre Bible commentary series.


The authority of Jesus is questioned

23 And when he entered the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came up to him as he was teaching, and said, “By what authority are you doing these things, and who gave you this authority?” 24 Jesus answered them, “I also will ask you a question; and if you tell me the answer, then I also will tell you by what authority I do these things. 25 The baptism of John, where was it from? From heaven or from men?” And they argued with one another, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will say to us, ‘Why then did you not believe him?’ 26 But if we say, ‘From men,’ we are afraid of the multitude; for all hold that John was a prophet.” 27 So they answered Jesus, “We do not know.” And he said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things.[1]

21:23–27. When the chief priests and elders ask “By what authority are you doing these things?” they are referring both to his teaching and to his self-assured public actions—throwing the traders out of the temple, entering Jerusalem in triumph, allowing the children to acclaim him, curing the sick, etc. What they want him to do is to prove that he has authority to act in this way or to admit openly that he is the Messiah. However, Jesus knows that they are not well-intentioned and he declines to give them a direct answer; he prefers to put a question to them that forces them to make their own attitude clear. He seeks to provoke them into examining their consciences and changing their whole approach.

Parable of the two sons

32 For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the harlots believed him; and even when you saw it, you did not afterward repent and believe him.[1]

21:32. St John the Baptist had shown the way to sanctification by proclaiming the imminence of the Kingdom of God and by preaching conversion. The scribes and Pharisees would not believe him, yet they boasted of their faithfulness to God’s teaching. They were like the son who says “I will go” and then does not go; the tax collectors and prostitutes who repented and corrected the course of their lives will enter the Kingdom before them: they are like the other son who says “I will not”, but then does go. Our Lord stresses that penance and conversion can set people on the road to holiness even if they have been living apart from God for a long time.[2]


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 The Navarre Bible: Saint Matthew’s Gospelavailable this month at a special discount.

[1] The Holy Bible. (2006). (Revised Standard Version; Second Catholic Edition, Mt 21:23–27). San Francisco: Ignatius Press
[2
] Saint Matthew’s Gospel. (2005). (pp. 142–143). Dublin; New York: Four Courts Press; Scepter Publishers

 

So the last will be first, and the first last

So the last will be first, and the first last.

This coming Sunday is the Twenty-Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time. To help you prepare to enter more deeply into Matthew 20:1–16 at worship, here is the passage and an excerpt from The Navarre Bible commentary series.


“For the kingdom of heaven is like a householder who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. After agreeing with the laborers for a denarius a day, he sent them into his vineyard. And going out about the third hour he saw others standing idle in the market place; and to them he said, ‘You go into the vineyard too, and whatever is right I will give you.’ So they went. Going out again about the sixth hour and the ninth hour, he did the same. And about the eleventh hour he went out and found others standing; and he said to them, ‘Why do you stand here idle all day?’ They said to him, ‘Because no one has hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You go into the vineyard too.’ And when evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his steward, ‘Call the laborers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last, up to the first.’ And when those hired about the eleventh hour came, each of them received a denarius. 10 Now when the first came, they thought they would receive more; but each of them also received a denarius. 11 And on receiving it they grumbled at the householder, 12 saying, ‘These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.’ 13 But he replied to one of them, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong; did you not agree with me for a denarius? 14 Take what belongs to you, and go; I choose to give to this last as I give to you. 15 Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or do you begrudge my generosity?’ 16 So the last will be first, and the first last.” [1]

Parable of the labourers in the vineyard

This parable is addressed to the Jewish people, whom God called at an early hour, centuries ago. Now the Gentiles are also being called—with an equal right to form part of the new people of God, the Church. In both cases it is a matter of a gratuitous, unmerited, invitation; therefore, those who were the “first” to receive the call have no grounds for complaining when God calls the “last” and gives them the same reward—membership of his people. At first sight the labourers of the first hour seem to have a genuine grievance—because they do not realize that to have a job in the Lord’s vineyard is a divine gift. Jesus leaves us in no doubt that although he calls us to follow different ways, all receive the same reward—heaven.[2]


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 The Navarre Bible: Saint Matthew’s Gospelavailable this month at a special discount.

[1] The Holy Bible. (2006). (Revised Standard Version; Second Catholic Edition, Mt 20:1–16). San Francisco: Ignatius Press.
[2] Saint Matthew’s Gospel. (2005). (p. 135). Dublin; New York: Four Courts Press; Scepter Publishers.

I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven

21 ¶ Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” 22 Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven.

This coming Sunday is the Twenty-Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time. To help you prepare to enter more deeply into Matthew 18:21–35 at worship, here is the passage and an excerpt from The Navarre Bible commentary series.


21 Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” 22 Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven.

23 “Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants. 24 When he began the reckoning, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents; 25 and as he could not pay, his lord ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made. 26 So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, ‘Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ 27 And out of pity for him the lord of that servant released him and forgave him the debt. 28 But that same servant, as he went out, came upon one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii; and seizing him by the throat he said, ‘Pay what you owe.’ 29 So his fellow servant fell down and pleaded with him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’ 30 He refused and went and put him in prison till he should pay the debt. 31 When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their lord all that had taken place. 32 Then his lord summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me; 33 and should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’ 34 And in anger his lord delivered him to the jailers, till he should pay all his debt. 35 So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.” [1]

Forgiveness of injuries. Parable of the unforgiving servant

18:21–35. Peter’s question and particularly Jesus’ reply prescribe the spirit of understanding and mercy which should govern Christians’ behaviour.

In Hebrew the figure of seventy times seven means the same as “always” (cf. Gen 4:24): “Therefore, our Lord did not limit forgiveness to a fixed number, but declared that it must be continuous and forever” (St John Chrysostom, Hom. on St Matthew, 6). Here also we can see the contrast between man’s ungenerous, calculating approach to forgiveness, and God’s infinite mercy. The parable also clearly shows that we are totally in God’s debt. A talent was the equivalent of six thousand denarii, and a denarius a working man’s daily wage. Ten thousand talents, an enormous sum, gives us an idea of the immense value attaching to the pardon we receive from God. Overall, the parable teaches that we must always forgive our brothers, and must do so wholeheartedly.

“Force yourself, if necessary, always to forgive those who offend you, from the very first moment. For the greatest injury or offence that you can suffer from them is as nothing compared with what God has pardoned you” (St Josemaría Escrivá, The Way, 452).[2]


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 The Navarre Bible: Saint Matthew’s Gospelavailable this month at a special discount.

 

[1] The Holy Bible. (2006). (Revised Standard Version; Second Catholic Edition, Mt 18:21–35). San Francisco: Ignatius Press.
[2] Saint Matthew’s Gospel. (2005). (p. 131). Dublin; New York: Four Courts Press; Scepter Publishers.

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.

“Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven”

Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

This coming Sunday is the Twenty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time. To help you prepare to enter more deeply into Matthew 18:15-20 at worship, here is an excerpt from The Navarre Bible commentary series.


18:15–17. Here our Lord calls on us to work with him for the sanctification of others by means of fraternal correction, which is one of the ways we can do so. He speaks as sternly about the sin of omission as he did about that of scandal (cf. Chrysostom, Hom. on St Matthew, 61).

There is an obligation on us to correct others. Our Lord identifies three stages in correction: 1) alone; 2) in the presence of one or two witnesses; and 3) before the Church. The first stage refers to causing scandal and to secret or private sins; here correction should be given privately, just to the person himself, to avoid unnecessarily publicizing a private matter and also to avoid hurting the person and to make it easier for him to mend his ways. If this correction does not have the desired effect, and the matter is a serious one, resort should be had to the second stage—looking for one or two friends, in case they have more influence on him. The last stage is formal judicial correction by reference to the Church authorities. If a sinner does not accept this correction, he should be excommunicated that is, separated from communion with the Church and sacraments.

18:18. This verse needs to be understood in connexion with the authority previously promised to Peter (cf. Mt 16:13–19): it is the hierarchy of the Church that exercises this power given by Christ to Peter, to the apostles and their lawful successors—the Pope and the bishops.[1]


Why do you think the power to bind and to loose given to the Church by Jesus immediately follows his lesson about fraternal correction?
How might this connect to John 20:23 or Matthew 6:14?

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 The Navarre Bible: Saint Matthew’s Gospelavailable this month at a special discount.

[1] Saint Matthew’s Gospel. (2005). (pp. 129–130). Dublin; New York: Four Courts Press; Scepter Publishers.

“You are the Christ, the Son of the living God”

You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God

This coming Sunday is the Twenty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time. To help you prepare for worship, consider these timeless insights from St. Jerome on the classic passage in defense of the primacy and papal office of St. Peter.

16:15–16. “But you, who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter answered: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Wise reader, notice from what follows and from the context of the words that the apostles are by no means called men, but gods. For though he had said: “Who do men say that the Son of man is?” he has added: “But you, who do you say that I am?” For the former, since they are thinking human things, are men, but you who are gods, who do you consider me to be? Representing all the apostles, Peter professes: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” He calls him a living God in comparison with those gods that are thought to be gods but are dead. This refers to Saturn, Jove, Ceres, Liberus, Hercules, and the rest of the portents of the idols.

16:17. Jesus answered and said to him: “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jona, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.” For the apostle’s testimony concerning himself, Jesus repays in turn. Peter had said: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” A true confession received its reward: “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jona.” Why? Because flesh and blood has not revealed it to you, but the Father has revealed it. What flesh and blood was not able to reveal, the grace of the Holy Spirit has revealed. Therefore, because of his confession, a name is allotted to him that has been revealed by the Holy Spirit, whose son he is to be called. For indeed, in our language Bar-Jona sounds like “son of the dove.”15 Others take it more simply, that Simon, that is, Peter, is the son of John in accordance with the question found in another passage: “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He answered: “Lord, you know.”17 They think there has been a corruption through the fault of the copyists, so that in place of Bar-Johanna, that is, “son of John,” it was written Bar-Jona, with one syllable having been deleted. Now Johanna is translated “grace of the Lord.” Both names can be interpreted mystically. Thus “dove” signifies the Holy Spirit, and “grace of God” signifies a spiritual gift. Moreover, compare his words: “For flesh and blood has not revealed it to you,” with the apostolic narrative in which it says: “I did not immediately take counsel with flesh and blood.”19 In that passage [Paul] is signifying the Jews by the term “flesh and blood.” Thus here too, by another interpretation, it is shown that Christ was revealed to him as the Son of God, not through the teaching of the Pharisees, but by the grace of God.

16:18. “And I say to you.” What do his words mean: “And I say to you”? [They mean this:] Since you have said to me: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God,” “I also say to you,” not with empty words that have no effect, but “I say to you” because with me to have spoken is to have done.

16:18. “For you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church.” He himself gave light to the apostles that they might be called the light of the world, and the other designations that were allotted from the Lord. In the same way, to Simon,21 who believed in Christ the rock [petra], was granted the name of Peter [Petrus]. And in accordance with the metaphor of rock [petra], it is rightly said to him: “I will build my Church” upon you.

16:19. “And I will give to you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound also in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed also in heaven.” The bishops and priests do not understand this passage. They assume for themselves some of the superciliousness of the Pharisees when they either condemn the innocent or think that they can loose the guilty. Yet in the sight of God it is not the verdict of the priests but the life of the accused that is examined.26 We read in Leviticus about lepers that they are commanded to show themselves to the priests and, if they have leprosy, then they are established as unclean by the priest. This does not mean that the priests make them leprous and unclean, but that they have knowledge of the leprous and the non-leprous, and they can discern who is clean and who is unclean. Therefore, just as in that passage it is the priest who “makes” the leper unclean, so also here the priest or bishop binds or looses, not those who are innocent or guilty, but because of his own office. When he hears the various kinds of sins, he knows who should be bound, and who should be loosed.[1]

Do you know which passage in Isaiah is connected with the handing of the keys in Matthew 16:19? 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.

[1] Jerome. (2008). Commentary on Matthew. (T. P. Halton, Ed., T. P. Scheck, Trans.) (Vol. 117, pp. 190–192). Washington, DC: The Catholic University of America Press.

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.

Help Desk Software

Don’t miss out!

Sign up to receive announcements, special deals, freebies, and more—all tailored to your interests!

No Thanks

Get the latest Verbum news, and hear about all our sales, special offers, and giveaways. Don't miss a single deal—subscribe now!