Advent II – Matt 3:12

12 . . . and he will thoroughly cleanse his floor and gather his wheat into the barn; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.

Pseudo-Chrysostom: “The floor,” is the Church, “the barn,” is the kingdom of heaven, “the field,” is the world. The Lord sends forth His Apostles and other teachers, as reapers to reap all nations of the earth, and gather them into the floor of the Church. Here were must be threshed and winnowed, for all men are delighted in carnal things as grain delights in the husk. But whoever is faithful and has the marrow of a good heart, as soon as he has a light tribulation, neglecting carnal things runs to the Lord; but if his faith be feeble, hardly with heavy sorrow; and he who is altogether void of faith, however he may be troubled, passes not over to God.

The wheat when first thrashed lies in one heap with chaff and straw, and is after winnowed to separate it; so the faithful are mixed up in one Church with the unfaithful; but persecution comes as a wind, that, tossed by Christ’s fan, they whose hearts were separate before, may be also now separated in place. He shall not merely cleanse, but “thoroughly cleanse;” therefore the Church must needs be tried in many ways till this be accomplished.

Rabanus: There is this difference between the chaff and the tares, in that the chaff is produced of the same seed as the wheat, but the tares from one of another kind. The chaff therefore are those who enjoy the sacraments of the faith, but are not solid; the tares are those who in profession as well as in works are separated from the lot of the good.

Scripture from the Douay-Rheims Bible. Commentary from St. Thomas Aquinas, Catena Aurea, Vol. I (London: Rivington, 1842).

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Advent II – Matt 3:11-12

11 I indeed baptize you in the water unto penance, but he that shall come after me, is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear; he shall baptize you in the Holy Ghost and fire. 12 Whose fan is in his hand, . . .

Gregory: John baptizes not with the Spirit but with water, because he had no power to forgive sins; he washes the body with water, but not at the same time the soul with pardon of sin.

Rabanus: As though he had said, I indeed am mighty to invite to repentance, He to forgive sins; I to preach the kingdom of heaven, He to bestow it; I to baptize with water, He with the Spirit.

Jerome: The Holy Ghost Himself is a fire, as we learn from the Acts, when there sat as it were fire on the tongues of the believers. . . . Or, we are baptized now with the Spirit, hereafter with fire; as the Apostle speaks, “Fire shall try every man’s work, of what sort it is.” [1 Cor 3:13]

Chrysostom: By fire he signifies the strength of grace which cannot be overcome, and that it may be understood that He makes His own people at once like to the great and old prophets, most of the prophetic visions were by fire.

Pseudo-Chrysostom: John’s baptism does not include in it the baptism of Christ, because the less cannot include the greater. Thus the Apostle having found certain Ephesians baptized with John’s baptism, baptized them again in the name of Christ, because they had not been baptized in the Spirit: thus Christ baptized a second time those who had been baptized by John, as John himself declared he should, “I baptize you with water; but He shall baptize you with the Spirit.”

Rabanus: By the fan is signified the separation of a just trial.

Scripture from the Douay-Rheims Bible. Commentary from St. Thomas Aquinas, Catena Aurea, Vol. I (London: Rivington, 1842).

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Advent II – Matt 3:7-10

7 And seeing many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them: Ye brood of vipers, who hath shewed you to flee from the wrath to come? 8 Bring forth therefore fruit worthy of penance. 9 And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham for our father. For I tell you that God is able of these stones to raise up children to Abraham.

Pseudo-Chrysostom: Stone is hard to work, but when wrought to some shape, it loses it not; so the Gentiles were hardly brought to the faith, but once brought they abide in it for ever.

Jerome: “These stones” signify the Gentiles because of their hardness of heart. See Ezekiel, “I will take away from you the heart of stone, and give you the heart of flesh.” Stone is emblematic of hardness, flesh of softness.

10 For now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that doth not yield good fruit, shall be cut down, and cast into the fire.

Rabanus: There are four sorts of tree; the first totally withered, to which the Pagans may be likened; the second, green but unfruitful, as the hypocrites; the third, green and fruitful, but poisonous, such are heretics; the fourth, green and bringing forth good fruit, to which are like the good Catholics.

Scripture from the Douay-Rheims Bible. Commentary from St. Thomas Aquinas, Catena Aurea, Vol. I (London: Rivington, 1842).

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Advent II – Matt 3:1-6

1 And in those days cometh John the Baptist preaching in the desert of Judea. 2 And saying: Do penance: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

Chrysostom: He preaches what the Jews had never heard, not even from the Prophets, Heaven, namely, and the Kingdom that is there, and of the kingdoms of the earth he says nothing. Thus by the novelty of those things of which he speaks, he gains their attention to Him whom he preaches.

Remigius: “The Kingdom of Heaven” has a fourfold meaning. It is said, of Christ, as “The Kingdom of God is within you.” [Luke 17:21] Of Holy Scripture, as, “The Kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and shall be given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof.” [Matt 21:43] Of the Holy Church, as, “The Kingdom of Heaven is like unto ten virgins.” [Matt 25:1] Of the abode above, as, “Many shall come from the East and the West, and shall sit down in the Kingdom of Heaven.” [Matt 8:11] And all these significations may be here understood.

3 For this is he that was spoken of by Isaias the prophet, saying: A voice of one crying in the desert, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight his paths. 4 And the same John had his garment of camels’ hair, and a leathern girdle about his loins: and his meat was locusts and wild honey. 5 Then went out to him Jerusalem and all Judea, and all the country about Jordan: 6 And were baptized by him in the Jordan, confessing their sins.

Pseudo-Chrysostom: The voice is a confused sound, discovering no secret of the heart, only signifying that he who utters it desires to say somewhat; it is the word that is the speech that openeth the mystery of the heart. Voice is common to men and other animals, word peculiar to man. John then is called the voice and not the word, because God did not discover His counsels through him, but only signified that He was about to do something among men; but afterwards by His Son he fully opened the mystery of his will.

Gregory: “Crying in the desert,” because he shews to deserted and forlorn Judaea the approaching consolation of her Redeemer.

Scripture from the Douay-Rheims Bible. Commentary from St. Thomas Aquinas, Catena Aurea, Vol. I (London: Rivington, 1842).

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Advent I – Matt 24:42-44

42 Watch ye therefore, because ye know not what hour your Lord will come. 43 But know this ye, that if the goodman of the house knew at what hour the thief would come, he would certainly watch, and would not suffer his house to be broken open. 44 Wherefore be you also ready, because at what hour you know not the Son of man will come.

Origen: “The master of the household” is the understanding, “the house” is the soul, “the thief” is the Devil. The thief is also every contrary doctrine which enters the soul of the unwary by other than the natural entrance, breaking into the house, and pulling down the soul’s natural fences, that is, the natural powers of understanding, it enters the breach, and spoils the soul.

Sometimes one takes the thief in the act of breaking in, and seizing him, stabs him with a word, and slays him. And the thief comes not in the day-time, when the soul of the thoughtful man is illuminated with the Sun of righteousness, but in the night, that is, in the time of prevailing wickedness; in which, when one is plunged, it is possible, though he have not the power of the sun, that he may be illuminated by some rays from the Word, as from a lamp; continuing still in evil, yet having a better purpose, and watchfulness, that this his purpose should not be broken through.

Gregory: The thief breaks into the house through the neglect of the master of the house, when the spirit has slept upon its post of guard, and death has come in unawares into the dwelling house of our flesh, and finding the lord of the house sleeping, slays him; that is, the spirit, little providing for coming evils, is taken off unprepared, to punishment, by death.

Chrysostom: In this He rebukes such as have less care for their souls, than they have of guarding their money against an expected thief.

Scripture from the Douay-Rheims Bible. Commentary from St. Thomas Aquinas, Catena Aurea, Vol. I (London: Rivington, 1842).

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Advent I – Matt 24:37-41

37 And as in the days of Noe, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. 38 For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, even till that day in which Noe entered into the ark, 39 And they knew not till the flood came, and took them all away; so also shall the coming of the Son of man be. 40 Then two shall be in the field: one shall be taken, and one shall be left. 41 Two women shall be grinding at the mill: one shall be taken, and one shall be left.

Hilary: The two in the field, are the two people of believers and unbelievers, whom the day of the Lord shall overtake, as it were in the labours of this life. And they shall be separated, one being taken and the other left; this shews the separation that shall be between believers and unbelievers; when God’s wrath is kindled, the saints shall be gathered into His garner, and the unbelievers shall be left as fuel for the fire from heaven. The same is the account to be given of that, “Two shall be grinding at the mill.” The mill is the work of the Law, but as some of the Jews believed through the Apostles, so some shall believe through Elias, and be justified through faith; and one part shall be taken through this same faith of good works, the other part shall be left unfruitful in the work of the Law, grinding in vain, and never to produce the bread of heavenly food.

Jerome: “Two men in one field” shall be found performing the same labour, sowing corn together, but not reaping the same fruit of their labour. The two “grinding together” we may understand either of the Synagogue and the Church, which seem to grind together in the Law, and to make of the same Scriptures meal of the commandments of God; or of other heresies, which out of both or one Testament, seem to grind meal of their own doctrines.

Remigius: These words denote three orders in the Church. “The two men in the field” denote the order of preachers, to whom is committed the field of the Church; by “the two grinding at the mill,” the order of the married priests, who while with a divided heart they are called first to one side, then to the other, do, as it were, ever turn round a mill. . . . But in all these orders are good and bad, righteous and unrighteous, so that some shall be taken, and some left.

Origen: The body is laid as sick on the bed of carnal passions, the soul grinds in the mill of this world, and the bodily senses labour in the field of the world.

Scripture from the Douay-Rheims Bible. Commentary from St. Thomas Aquinas, Catena Aurea, Vol. I (London: Rivington, 1842).

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Christ the King – Matt 25:46

46 And these shall go into everlasting punishment: but the just, into life everlasting.

Origen: He did not, as far as in Him lay, create men to perdition, but sinners yoke themselves to the Devil, so that as they that are saved are made equal to the holy Angels, they that perish are made equal with the Devil’s Angels.

Gregory: If he who has not given to others is visited with so heavy a punishment, what shall he get who is convicted of having robbed others of their own.

Augustine: Eternal life is our chief good, and the end of the city of God, of which the Apostle speaks, “And the end everlasting life” [Rom 6:22].

That which the Lord spoke to His servant Moses, “I am that I am” [Exod 3:14], this we shall contemplate when we shall live in eternity. For thus the Lord speaks, “This is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God [John 17:3]. This contemplation is promised to us as the end of all action, and the eternal perfection of our joys, of which John speaks, “We shall see him as he is” [1 John 3:2].

Gregory: It belongs to the righteousness of an impartial Judge, that those whose heart would never be without sin in this life, should never be without punishment.

Augustine: How then is that true which Christ says, “With what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again” [Matt 7:2], if temporal sin is punished with eternal pain? . . . Man was made worthy of everlasting evil, because he destroyed in himself that good which might have eternal.

Gregory: When the wicked are given over to hell fire, to what purpose shall they burn there for ever? . . . Almighty God, seeing He is good, does not delight in the torments of the wretched; but forasmuch as He is righteous, He ceases not from taking vengeance on the wicked; yet do the wicked burn not without some purpose, namely, that the righteous may acknowledge how they are debtors for eternity to Divine grace, when they see the wicked suffering for eternity misery, which themselves have escaped only by the assistance of that Divine grace.

Augustine: The soul shall be united to such a body, and in such a way, that no pain shall be able to overcome the connection. There will not then be no death, but an everlasting death, the soul being unable to live, as being without God, and equally unable to rid itself of the pains of body by dying.

Gregory: How can they be called Saints, if they shall not pray for their enemies whom they see then burning? They do indeed pray for their enemies so long as there is any possibility of converting their hearts to a profitable penitence, but how shall they pray for them when any change from their wickedness is no longer possible?

Scripture from the Douay-Rheims Bible. Commentary from St. Thomas Aquinas, Catena Aurea, Vol. I (London: Rivington, 1842).

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