February 23, 2020 • Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time
First Reading: Leviticus 19:1–2, 17–18
Psalm: Psalm 103:1–2, 3–4, 8, 10, 12–13 (4a)
Second Reading: 1 Corinthians 3:16–23
Gospel Acclamation: 1 John 2:5
Gospel: Matthew 5:38–48
This week’s Bible Study is brought to you primarily from the Haydock Biblical Commentary, 1859 edition, which can be found on the internet at http://bit.ly/2LCY8OL . The comments are related to the Douay-Rheims Bible. The commentary has some pretty interesting thoughts from a variety of sources. The commentary on Psalm 103 is from the New American Bible Revised Edition. All material from the commentaries and the Scriptures are in block quotes.
This week’s readings are about God helping his people, his children, to become holy in heart, mind and outward action, as He Himself is holy. I hope you enjoy it and that it will generate some questions and discussion.
The Lord commands Moses to inform the people of Israel that He expects them to be holy even as He Himself is holy. Not only are the Israelites commanded to be so but we are as well. The Apostle Peter declares in 1 Peter 1:13–16.
13 Therefore, gird up the loins of your mind, live soberly, and set your hopes completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 14 Like obedient children, do not act in compliance with the desires of your former ignorance 15 but, as he who called you is holy, be holy yourselves in every aspect of your conduct, 16 for it is written, “Be holy because I [am] holy.” (New American Bible Revised Edition)
This is a process of God working with His people, His family, as the Scriptures and commentaries reveal.
Ver. 17. Openly, is not in the Hebrew or other versions. Instead of bearing malice at the heart, we are authorized to demand our right in a legal manner, or to correct in a fraternal matter, the person who may have injured us, lest we incur sin for our neglect, and the offender continue impenitent. Jesus Christ instructs us to do this with as little disturbance as possible. Matthew18:15. Yet public sins must undergo a public correction. 1 Timothy 5:20. St. Augustine, Sermon 82: “Love should regulate our complaints.” q. 70.
Ver. 18. Revenge, by private authority, or out of passion, which the pagans themselves acknowledged was more becoming a brute than a man, feræ est. (Musonias, Sen. de ira 2.32) — Citizens. Hebrew: “observe or lie not in wait.” Septuagint: “act not with fury against the son of thy people.” (Calmet) — Hebrew: notor, means to upbraid when doing a kindness. — Thy friend. Hebrew: rehaka, may denote thy neighbour, or any one with whom we have any thing to do. Thus God orders us to love strangers as ourselves, (v. 34,) and to help our enemy. Ex. 23:4. The false insinuations of the Jews are fully exploded by Jesus Christ. Matthew 22:39. We must love the offender, but detest the offence. St. Augustine, Contra Faustus 29.24. If God required his people to exterminate the Chanaanites, he did not authorize them to entertain any personal animosity against their persons, but they were to act as ministers of his justice. “O Lord (said Philo very justly), we do not rejoice at the misfortune of our enemy (Flaccus), having learnt from thy holy laws to compassionate the distress of others. But we thank thee for… delivering us from our afflictions.”
[Psalm 103] The speaker in this hymn begins by praising God for personal benefits (Ps 103:1–5), then moves on to God’s mercy toward all the people (Ps 103:6–18). Even sin cannot destroy that mercy (Ps 103:11–13), for the eternal God is well aware of the people’s human fragility (Ps 103:14–18). The psalmist invites the heavenly beings to join in praise (Ps 103:19–22).
Ver. 16–17. Know you not. After the apostle had described the builders who are employed in the spiritual edifice, he then proceeds to speak of the duties of those who are the living temples of Christ. As for you, my brethren, who are the temples of God, preserve yourselves in purity of faith, and innocence of morals. Fly from those false apostles who seek your ruin, and remain steadfast in that faith which you have received from us (Calmet); that is, the one, holy, Catholic and apostolic faith. What a happiness for the faithful minister to assist in erecting and ornamenting the living temples of God; but what punishment must await the unfaithful minister, who by his own neglect and bad example, helps to ruin and destroy the temples God himself had entrusted to his care! (Haydock) — The Spirit of God dwelleth in you, having received the grace of God at your conversion: you are the holy temple of God: But if any one violate, or profane the temple of God, either by false doctrine, or by any grievous offence, he destroys the spiritual edifice, that was built in his soul upon the faith and grace of God. He cannot be said to be built any longer upon the same foundation: and therefore God will destroy such persons: they shall not be saved even by fire, or temporal punishments, but shall be excluded for ever from heaven, and condemned to eternal punishments. (Witham)
Ver. 18–21. Let no man deceive himself. He next precautions them against themselves, and admonishes them to be upon their guard against curiosity, presumption, and self-love, and tells them to undervalue all other sciences, when put in competition with the science of salvation, the knowledge of the gospel. It hence appears, that some of the Corinthians were renowned for that human eloquence which the world so much esteems, and accordingly the apostle discovers to them the danger to which they are exposing themselves, by pursuing their present line of conduct. (Calmet) — If any man among you seem to be wise in this world. He hints at some new teachers among them (not at Apollo), who to gain the esteem of men, had introduced errors from profane philosophy, or the false principles of human wisdom, which, as he had told them before, was folly in the sight of God. He therefore tells such persons, that to become truly wise, they must become fools, by returning to the simplicity of the gospel-doctrine. (Witham) — Let no man. That is, let no man say, I am for Paul, I am for Apollo. This language will introduce into the Church of God those various sects that existed amongst the philosophers, who were distinguished by the title of Platonics, Stoics, Peripatetic, and so on. (Grotius)
Ver. 22–23. All things are yours. Are ordained for your good. For this end, I, Apollo, and Cephas have been sent to promote your salvation. The world and all things in it are allowed you, are yours, that by making good use of them, you may save your souls: that death may be to you a passage to a happy eternity, that the things to come may be your eternal reward. — You are Christ’s, you belong to him who hath redeemed you, and sanctified you by his grace: and Christ is God’s, Christ as man, who being the Son of God, was made also man, and sent to make known the glory of God, his divine perfections of mercy, justice, etc.
Whoever keeps the word of Christ, the love of God is truly perfected in him.
Ver. 38. Hence your doctors have concluded that revenge, equal to the injury, was permitted.
Ver. 39. Not to resist evil; i.e. not to resist or revenge thyself of him that hath done evil to thee. — Turn him the other cheek. Let him have also thy cloak. These are to be understood as admonitions to Christians, to forgive every one, and to bear patiently all manner of private injuries. But we must not from hence conclude it unlawful for any one to have recourse to the laws, when a man is injured, and cannot have justice by any other means. (Witham) — What is here commanded, is a Christian patience under injuries and affronts, and to be willing even to suffer still more, rather than to indulge the desire of revenge; but what is further added does not strictly oblige according to the letter, for neither did Christ, nor St. Paul, turn the other cheek. St. John 18 and Acts 23. (Challoner) — Hence also the Anabaptists infer, that it is not lawful to go to law even for our just rights; and Luther, that Christians ought not to resist the Turks. (Bristow)
Ver. 41. Go with him other two. I know many interpreters would have it to signify no more than two in all. But the literal sense of the Latin, and also of the best Greek manuscripts. (as Dr. Wells takes notice in his amendments to the Protestant translation) express two more, i.e. not only as far again, but twice as far. And thus it is expounded by St. Augustine, Sermon on the Mount, book 3, p. 193. Ed Ben. (Witham) — Continue to be his guide sooner than lose patience, or be wanting in charity. (Haydock)
Ver. 43. And hate thy enemy. The words of the law (Leviticus 19:18.) are only these: thou shalt love thy friend as thyself; but by a false gloss and inference, these words, and hate thy enemy, were added by the Jewish doctors. (Witham)
Ver. 44. I come to establish the purity of the law, which they have corrupted. (Haydock)
Ver. 46. The publicans. These were the gatherers of the public taxes: a set of men, odious and infamous among the Jews, for their extortions and injustice. (Challoner)
Ver. 48. Jesus Christ here sums up his instructions by ordering us to be perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect; i.e. to imitate, as far as our exertions, assisted by divine grace, can reach, the divine perfection. (Witham) — See here the great superiority of the new over the old law. But let no one hence take occasion to despise the old. Let him examine attentively, says St. Chrysostom, the different periods of time, and the persons to whom it was given; and he will admire the wisdom of the divine Legislator, and clearly perceive that it is one and the same Lord, and that each law was to the great advantage of mankind, and wisely adapted to the times of their promulgation. For, if among the first principles of rectitude, these sublime and eminent truths had been found, perhaps neither these, nor the less perfect rules of mortality would have been observed; whereas, by disposing of both in their proper time, the divine wisdom has employed both for the correction of the world. (Homily 18) Seeing then that we are thus blessed as to be called, and to be the children of so excellent a Father, we should endeavour, like Him, to excel in goodness, meekness, and charity; but above all in humility, which will secure to us the merit of good works, through the infinite merits of our divine Redeemer, Master, and model, Christ Jesus the Lord. (Haydock)
May God bless the reading of His Word and our meditations thereof.