1st Sunday of Advent C

COMMENTARYIN DEPTHFEATURED EXCERPTSCATENA AUREACHURCH FATHERS
DR. BRANT PITRE

Mass Readings Explained

You might be thinking… he’s probably not coming back this year, right? Well, he might not come back this Advent, but you might die this Advent. There are going to be people who die during this Advent season, who are going to encounter Christ, who are going to stand before the judgment seat of Christ in their particular judgment if not the final judgment. And no one of us Christians knows the day or hour of that encounter of our particular judgment. So it’s prudent, it’s wise for the church every year to call us to pray, to keep vigil, and to get ready to meet Jesus. That’s what we’re doing during the Advent season.

SOURCE: Mass Readings Explained by Dr. Brant Pitre.

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Our Sunday Visitor

Key Points to the Readings

FIRST READING

A shoot shall rise up

Jeremiah 33:14-16

  • The prophets believed that the fullness of God’s kingdom could be experienced in history.
  • Jeremiah was writing for an audience that was facing exile.
  • In today’s passage, the prophet Jeremiah assures the people that even in the midst of disaster God would remain faithful.
SOURCES: Content adapted from Our Sunday Visitor.  The clipart is from the archive of Father Richard Lonsdale © 2000 which may be freely reproduced in any non-profit publication.

SECOND READING

Love one another and act in ways pleasing to God

1 Thessalonians 3:12-4:2

  • The Christians at Thessalonica believed that Christ’s return would come in their lifetime.
  • Paul’s letter encourages them to live wisely in anticipation of Christ’s coming.
  • The Thessalonians are urged to persevere in the way of life they had learned from Paul so that the day of the Lord would truly be a day of rejoicing.
SOURCES: Content adapted from Our Sunday Visitor.  The clipart is from the archive of Father Richard Lonsdale © 2000 which may be freely reproduced in any non-profit publication.

GOSPEL

Jesus will come again in glory; be not afraid

Luke 21:25-28, 34-36

  • Today’s Gospel uses apocalyptic imagery to describe the return of Christ.
  • Luke’s audience recognized that the wait for Christ’s return could be long.
  • Christians must always be ready because no one knows when the great day will come.
SOURCES: Content adapted from Our Sunday Visitor.  The clipart is from the archive of Father Richard Lonsdale © 2000 which may be freely reproduced in any non-profit publication.

Sunday Website

DENNNIS HAMM, SJ

Between Two Advents

Followers of Jesus will be supported by the Holy Spirit, the gospel will reach all nations, and there is a heap of housekeeping to be done in the time between.


JOHN FOLEY, SJ

A Wake Up Call

Let yourself imagine what this planet might be like if no one paid attention except to their own wants.


DR. ELEANOR STUMP

Getting Ready and Being Blameless

At Christ’s coming again, we are to be blameless in holiness. And what is that?

SOURCE: The Sunday Website at Saint Louis University: This website is a service of the Catholic Studies Centre at Saint Louis University, Matthew Baugh, SJ, Director; John Foley, SJ, Editor; Eleonore Stump, Coordinator; JC McCollum, Webmaster
RICHARD Niell Donavan

The Readings in Context

FIRST READING

Chapter 33 is the last chapter of the Book of Consolation (chapters 30-33)—three hopeful chapters that promise redemption and restoration to Israel and Judah. “The opening movement assigns to Jeremiah, while still imprisoned, a vision of the future based upon the elements in the siege. The tearing down of the houses to repair the defenses against the siege mounds of the Chaldeans, the conditions of pestilence, of famine, and of death are suddenly reversed by a vision of health and healing, together with abundance and security” (Hopper, The Interpreter’s Bible, 1049).

These chapters follow a lengthy series of prophecies by Jeremiah against Judah and Jerusalem during the reigns of four kings—Josiah, Jehoiakim, Jehoiachin, and Zedekiah (chapters 1-25), and shine a bright light through the darkness of Jeremiah’s earlier prophecies. These chapters take place while the Babylonians are besieging Jerusalem, and there is every reason to believe that they will crush the city. However, in these three chapters, Jeremiah offers hope—assurance, even—for a hopeless situation.

Chapter 33 is composed of two major sections:

• The first section, verses 1-13, conveys a series of Yahweh’s promises: “Call to me, and I will answer you” (v. 3). Yahweh will strike down the Chaldeans and “will cause the captivity of Judah and the captivity of Israel to return, and will build them, as at the first ” (vv. 5-7). Yahweh “will cleanse them from all their iniquity” (v. 8). “This city shall be to me for a name of joy, for a praise and for a glory, before all the nations of the earth” (v. 9). Where there is now only devastation (v. 10a), “Yet again there shall be heard in this place… the voice of joy and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride” (vv. 10-11a). “For I will cause the captivity of the land to return as at the first” (v. 11b). “Yet again shall there be in this place, which is waste, without man and without animal, and in all its cities, a habitation of shepherds causing their flocks to lie down” (v. 12).

Verse 1 (“The word of the Lord came to Jeremiah a second time”) links this chapter to the previous chapter, which begins, “The word that came to Jeremiah from Yahweh” (32:1). Both the first and second words from the Lord came to Jeremiah while he “was shut up in the court of the guard, which was in the king of Judah’s house. For Zedekiah king of Judah had shut him up, saying, Why do you prophesy, and say, Thus says Yahweh, Behold, I will give this city into the hand of the king of Babylon, and he shall take it” (32:2-3).

This first section (33:1-13) echoes the good news found in 32:6-15, where Yahweh commanded Jeremiah to buy his uncle’s field, even though the city was under siege, because “Houses and fields and vineyards shall yet again be bought in this land” (32:15). It also echoes the assurance of 32:26-44 that just as Yahweh brought devastation to Judah, so also will he “bring on them all the good that I have promised them” (32:42).

• The second section, verses 14-26, is not found in the Septuagint (LXX), the Greek version of the Old Testament, suggesting that it was added after the Septuagint was translated (3rd or 2nd century B.C.). This section includes three promises to David’s lineage: “In those days, and at that time, will I cause a Branch of righteousness to grow up to David” (33:15). “I (will) multiply the seed of David my servant, and the Levites who minister to me” (33:22).

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SECOND READING

Not Available

GOSPEL

We are tempted to ignore apocalyptic texts such as this. Not only are they difficult to understand, but we are embarrassed by the excesses of today’s apocalyptic preachers. However, we must acknowledge that Jesus spoke clearly about the Second Coming (also known as the Parousia), and other New Testament writings emphasize it as well. The lectionary does us a service by helping us to recover this important doctrine.

Our Gospel lesson for this week has its beginning in Jesus’ prediction that the temple will be destroyed (vv. 5-6) and the disciples’ question, “Teacher, so when will these things be? What is the sign that these things are about to happen?” (v. 7). Jesus responds by telling of wars and rumors of wars, earthquakes, and plagues (vv. 9-11), the arrest of Christians and resultant opportunities for witnessing (vv. 12-19), and the destruction of Jerusalem (vv. 20-24). Then come the cosmic signs of verses 25-26, which is where our Gospel lesson begins.

Jesus does not say these things to frighten us, but to prepare us. Our proper response is not to be terrified (v. 9), but to avoid being led astray by false teachers (v. 8) and to take advantage of opportunities for witnessing created by the turmoil (v. 13). We are not to be concerned about preparing our defense, “for I will give you a mouth and wisdom which all your adversaries will not be able to withstand or to contradict” (v. 15).

This is very different scene from that which is too often proclaimed from apocalyptic pulpits today. There is no car suddenly left driverless at the Rapture. Jesus does not lift us above turmoil and suffering, but drops us into the middle of it. “The ‘redemption’ that is promised is not a private lifeboat to save a few privileged folk while everything else is destroyed” (Ringe, 253).

Jesus’ purpose is not to insulate us from discomfort, but to prepare us for redemption.

Richard Niell Donavan, a Disciples of Christ clergyman, published SermonWriter from 1997 until his death in 2020. His wife Dale has graciously kept his website online. A subscription is no longer required.
Dr. Kieran J. O’Mahony, OSA

Your Liberation is Near at Hand!

FIRST READING

I will cause a righteous Branch to spring up for David

Jeremiah’s ministry encompassed the Babylonian Exile. He was a key figure in the interpretation of that disaster and in spite of his reputation (“jeremiads”), he was also part of the awakening of hope. This is reflected in today’s reading, promising restoration and reconstruction.

The combination of penetrating blame and uplifting healing may be just what the church stands in need of today.

SOURCE: Hearers of the Word by Augustinian friar and biblical scholar Kieran J. O’Mahony, OSA.

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SECOND READING

May he so strengthen your hearts in holiness that you may be blameless with all his saints

This prayer and exhortation are both very suitable for Advent. The text can be read in relation to the community in Thessalonica at the time of Paul and also in relation to our personal preparation for Christmas.

SOURCE: Hearers of the Word by Augustinian friar and biblical scholar Kieran J. O’Mahony, OSA.

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GOSPEL

There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and on the earth distress among nations
confused by the roaring of the sea and the waves

The last verse is very good news: the arrival of the Son of Man contains no fears for those faithful, in faith and in hope, to prayer.

Advent is a clarion call to renew once more, in a conscious and personal fashion, our engagement with the Good News. The two Gospel passages which open Advent portray two sides of the Christian vision. Vv. 25-28, the vision of the end, constitute a re-reading of traditional material from Mark 13, which was written down during a time of persecution. Behind the dramatic—lurid?—language lies a foundational faith conviction: there is a pattern and a purpose to life. The all-encompassing immediacy of the times, with the impression of their being all there is, is challenged by Christian faith and hope. The second paragraph, vv. 34-36, responds to the spontaneous question, if this is the case, then how should we act in the present? The answer is two-fold: watchfulness and prayer. (The parable of the fig tree, which bridges the passages, is not given in the lectionary — a pity because of the great assurance given in v. 33.)

Broadly speaking, Luke portrays Jesus as a prophet, part of whose prophecy has already come to pass and part remains to be fulfilled. The last verse is very good news: the arrival of the Son of Man contains no fears for those faithful, in faith and in hope, to prayer.

SOURCE: Hearers of the Word by Augustinian friar and biblical scholar Kieran J. O’Mahony, OSA.

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Navarre Bible, et alia

Commentary on the Sunday Readings (PDF)

SOURCE: Bible study program at St. Charles Borromeo (Picayune, MS) courtesy of Military Archdiocese. Sources include The Jerome Biblical Commentary, The New Jerome Biblical Commentary, and The Navarre Bible. In addition, Church History by Laux (TAN Books), Introduction to the Bible by Laux (TAN Books), A Guide to the Bible by Fuentes (Four Courts Press), and Sharing Our Biblical Story by Russell for background information. Also included are quotations from The Faith of the Early Fathers (3 volumes) by Jergens and Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture (many volumes) edited by Odum.
AGAPE BIBLE STUDY

By Your Perseverance You Will Secure Your Lives

At this point in salvation history, we are between Christ’s two comings

The theme of the readings for this Sunday comes from Luke 21:19, a verse that precedes our Gospel Reading when Jesus said: “By your perseverance, you will secure your lives.” At this point in salvation history, we are between Christ’s two comings: His first Advent when God the Son came enfleshed to live what all that humanity experiences and to preach the Gospel of salvation, and also the promised Second Advent of His return. The angels revealed to the Apostles and disciples this future event at Jesus’s Ascension. They said, “

Men of Galilee, why are you standing there looking at the sky? This Jesus who has been taken up from you into heaven will return in the same way as you have seen him going into heaven” (Acts 1:11).

We know the promise that death and evil will be destroyed when the King of kings arrives to claim His Church, but when? We pray and wait, but is God listening? The Advent readings address these questions. Waiting on the timing of the Lord requires patience and the perseverance of faith. We must accept God’s will in the “not yet” with the hope and trust in “the better that is to come.” As to why He is taking so long to return, St. Peter wrote:  

But do not ignore this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years and a thousand years like one day. 9 The Lord does not delay his promise, as some regard “delay,” but he is patient with you, not wishing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. 10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a mighty roar, and the elements will be dissolved by fire, and the earth and everything done on it will be found out (2 Pt 3:8-10.

Excerpts from Michal E. Hunt’s Agape Bible Study. Material slightly reformatted. Used with permission.
FIRST READING

The Promised Messiah and the New Jerusalem

The prophet Jeremiah gives the people of God the promise of a Davidic Messiah who will re-establish justice and peace in the land and shepherd a spiritually renewed covenant people. 

In the days of the 6th century BC prophet Jeremiah, the citizens of Judea were about to experience the Babylonian army’s destruction of Jerusalem and Solomon’s Temple and their capture and exile to Babylonian lands in the east.  In Chapter 31, Jeremiah gave them hope if only they persevered in faith.  God promised through His prophet a return from exile, a new covenant, and a deeper, more intimate understanding of God based on a personal relationship when they would have an intimate knowledge of God (31:31-34).  Then, in Chapter 33, Jeremiah promised that a righteous Davidic Messiah would usher in this new era of peace, a promise previously made by the 8th century BC prophet Isaiah (Is 9:4/5-6/7; 11:1-12).

St. Matthew proclaims, in the introduction to his Gospel, that Jesus of Nazareth is the fulfillment of the prophecy of a Davidic Messiah (Mt 1:1).  It is also a mystery the angel Gabriel revealed to the Virgin Mary of Nazareth at the Incarnation of the Christ (Lk 1:31-33) before His first Advent.  Jesus is the Davidic King who will fulfill God’s covenant with David that his throne will endure forever (2 Sam 7:16; 23:5).  He is the one who is bringing the promise of eternal salvation to all peoples in everlasting peace and justice when He returns to defeat the power of death over humanity and to establish a new Heaven and earth and a New Jerusalem where He will rule forever (Rev 7:17; 21:1-4).

Excerpts from Michal E. Hunt’s Agape Bible Study.Material slightly reformatted. Used with permission.
RESPONSORIAL PSALM

The Lord is King

Response: “To you, O Lord, I lift my soul.”

God is merciful to sinners and gracious to the humble.

The psalmist asks for instruction in God’s laws so that he can walk the path that leads to salvation (verses 4-5).  God’s teaching is for both sinners and the humble (verses 8-9).  The humble person is the one who confesses his sins to the Lord and seeks His forgiveness.  To that person, who is faithful to his covenant relationship with the Almighty, God extends His merciful covenant love and rewards that person with the constancy of His protection (verses 10, 14).

Jesus fulfills these verses in His two Advents.  He came in His first Advent showing His mercy to sinners, pardoning their sins, and rewarding the humble with the revelation of His truth (Jn 14:6).  The mission of God the Son is the way of mercy (First Advent) and the way of justice in judging our good works (Second Advent; Mt 25:31-46).  Concerning the merits of the righteous and the gift of salvation, St. Augustine wrote: “The one who follows the Lord’s paths and sees that he has been set free through no merit of his own, and takes no pride in his own efforts, will draw nearer to the Lord.  In times to come, he will avoid the severe judgment that will be handed down to those who question all these things, for he has experienced the mercy of the one who came to his aid” (Enarrationes in Psalmos, 24.10).

The one who fears offending God is the one who loves Him and keeps His commandments (1 Jn 2:3-6).  His reward will be a special friendship with the Lord and a share in His divine life based on the family bond of covenant unity (verse 14; Lk 22:19-20).  For Christians, Baptism is our spiritual rebirth into the family of God the Father, and the Eucharist is our share in the divine life of the Christ and a foretaste of the heavenly Banquet of the Righteous (Rev 19:5-9).

Excerpts from Michal E. Hunt’s Agape Bible Study.Material slightly reformatted. Used with permission.
SECOND READING

Persevere in Holiness

Paul speaks in the “name of Christ” and refers to Jesus’s doctrine on righteous moral behavior based on love of God and love of neighbor.

The people of the Christian community at Thessalonica were anxiously waiting for Christ’s return; however, some had lost patience and did not continue to lead blameless Christian lives.  St. Paul prays for the community he founded that God will strengthen their hearts so they might be holy at the time of Christ’s coming and ready to receive Him and the “holy ones” who will come with Him.  These “holy ones” can refer to the sanctified elect who received the gift of eternal salvation, or to the angels or to both.

In verses 4:1-2, Paul speaks in the “name of Christ” and refers to Jesus’ doctrine on righteous moral behavior based on love of God and love of neighbor.  We should strive to persevere in holiness and pray for persistence in holiness for each other so, in answer to Jesus’ question in Luke 17:8b, “But when the Son of man comes, will he find any faith on earth?” our answer will be a resounding “Yes!”

Excerpts from Michal E. Hunt’s Agape Bible Study. Material slightly reformatted. Used with permission.
GOSPEL

Be Prepared for the Coming of the Son of Man

Jesus speaks in the apocalyptic language of the Old Testament prophets describing the cataclysmic event of the return of the “Son of Man” whose arrival will impact all creation.

Jesus, speaking in the apocalyptic language of the Old Testament prophets, describes the cataclysmic event of the return of the “Son of Man” whose coming will have an impact on all creation.  Verse 27 alludes to the vision the prophet Daniel had of the “Son of Man coming on the clouds of Heaven” and presented before the heavenly throne of God the Father.  There He receives sovereignty over all the nations and peoples of the earth (Dan 7:13-14).  It is a vision Jesus will claim for Himself at His trial before the Jewish Sanhedrin, for which the Jewish high priest will condemn Jesus to death for blasphemy in claiming to be the divine Messiah (Mt 26:64-66).  This warning of the return of Christ the King in judgment is for Jesus’ generation and all generations in what is the Final Age of humanity. Jesus gives us three warnings:

  1. We must recognize the signs of His imminent return.
  2. We must be ready for His return, keeping our souls in a state of grace.
  3. We must remain vigilant so that His appearing does not catch us unprepared.

The age of the Kingdom of the Church of Jesus Christ is the Final Age of humanity that will end when Christ returns to judge the righteous and the wicked.  He will condemn the wicked to everlasting punishment and welcome the righteous to eternal bliss (Mt 25:31-46)!  Advent should be a time for self-evaluation and humble repentance.  We are waiting for Christ’s renewed coming at Christmas in one perspective but also for His Second coming that will determine our eternal future at the moment we hear the signal given by the voice of the Archangel and the trumpet of God (1 Thess 4:16).  We must persevere in holiness, so we are clothed in a state of grace and ready to greet our King and Savior!

Excerpts from Michal E. Hunt’s Agape Bible Study.Material slightly reformatted. Used with permission.
SCOTT HAHN

Preview of the End of the World


AFRICA BIBLE COMMENTARY

Prophetic Ministry

AFRICA STUDY BIBLE

Truth Prevails

Pilate asked an important question: “What is truth?” It is a question that has been asked for centuries—and is still asked today. Truth was an important topic in the Gospel of John. Luke refers to truth twelve times; Mark fourteen times; Matthew thirty-two times; but John refers to truth sixty-nine times.

Like many religious leaders today, Pilate seemed to define truth as the popular idea that truth is whatever appeals to the majority. If people in a church prefer a certain style of preaching or singing without paying much attention to the content of those sermons or songs, they may unknowingly be drifting away from the truth. Pilate knew the truth that Jesus was innocent, but he would not accept it because it was not the popular idea. Pilate turned away from the truth and bowed down to what worked best for him.

  • Truth is not negotiable for us. It is an essential part of our Christian faith. According to John:
  • Truth enables us to truly worship God—“True worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth” (John 4:23).
  • Truth sets us free— “And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:32).
  • Truth helps make us holy—“Make them holy by your truth; teach them your word, which is truth” (John 17:17).

Many of us follow what is popular, even if it is not right. We do what works, even if it goes against God’s law. Too many people deceive and manipulate to make money. Too many teach wrong doctrines because that is what people want to hear. Too many pay bribes because it has become the acceptable “true practice” in our societies. Those who speak or practise the truth can be seen as the odd ones.

Do you follow God’s truth, or do you allow your own thoughts and ideas to define your “truth”? Are you willing to stand for the truth even if it goes against what might work best for you? Remember, if you know God’s truth and do not do it, you stand against God, and you will miss his blessings.

SOURCE: CONTENT taken from Africa Study Bible, NLT  which brings together 350 contributors from over 50 countries, providing a unique African perspective. It’s an all-in-one course in biblical content, theology, history, and culture, with special attention to the African context. Copyright © 2017.

NEW COLLEGE BIBLE COMMENTARY

Exhortation to be Vigilant


LIFE RECOVERY BIBLE

Waiting Recovery of One’s Sanity


 

JOHN CHRYSOSTOM

Glorious Appearance of Christ

ST. THOMAS AQUINAS

Luke 21:25-27

25. And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring;

26. Men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken.

27. And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.

COMMENTARY

BEDE. The events which were to follow the fulfilment of the times of the Gentiles He explains in regular order, saying, There shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars

AMBROSE. All which signs are more clearly described in Matthew, Then shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven.

EUSEBIUS. For at that time when the end of this perishing life shall be accomplished, and, as the Apostle says, The fashion of this world passeth away, (1 Cor. 7:13.) then shall succeed a new world, in which instead of sensible light, Christ Himself shall shine as a sunbeam, and as the King of the new world, and so mighty and glorious will be His light, that the sun which now dazzles so brightly, and the moon and all the stars, shall be hidden by the coming of a far greater light.

CHRYSOSTOM. For as in this world the moon and the stars are soon dimmed by the rising of the sun, so at the glorious appearance of Christ shall the sun become dark, and the moon not shed her ray, and the stars shall fall from heaven, stripped of their former attire, that they may put on the robe of a better light.

EUSEBIUS. What things shall befall the world after the darkening of the orbs of light, and whence shall arise the straitening of nations, He next explains as follows, And on the earth distress of nations, by reason of the confusion of the roaring of the sea. Wherein He seems to teach, that the beginning of the universal change will be owing to the failing of the watery substance. For this being first absorbed or congealed, so that no longer is heard the roaring of the sea, nor do the waves reach the shore because of the exceeding drought, the other parts of the world, ceasing to obtain the usual vapour which came forth from the watery matter, shall undergo a revolution. Accordingly since the appearance of Christ must put down the prodigies which resist God, namely, those of Antichrist, the beginnings of wrath shall take their rise from droughts, such as that neither storm nor roaring of the sea be any more heard. And this event shall be succeeded by the distress of the men who survive; as it follows, Men’s hearts being dried up for fear, and looking after those things which shall come upon the whole world. But the things that shall then come upon the world He proceeds to declare, adding, For the powers of heaven shall be shaken.

THEOPHYLACT. Or else, When the higher world shall be changed, then also the lower elements shall suffer loss; whence it follows, And on the earth distress of nations, &c. As if He said, the sea shall roar terribly, and its shores shall be shaken with the tempest, so that of the people and nations of the earth there shall be distress, that is, a universal misery, so that they shall pine away from fear and expectation of the evils which are coming upon the world.

AUGUSTINE. (ad Hes. Ep. 199.) But you will say, your punishment compels you to confess that the end is now approaching, seeing the fulfilment of that which was foretold. For it is certain there is no country, no place in our time, which is not affected or troubled. But if those evils which mankind now suffer are sure signs that our Lord is now about to come, what meaneth that which the Apostle says, For when they shall say peace and safety. (1 Thess. 5:3.) Let us see then if it be not perhaps better to understand the words of prophecy to be not so fulfilled, but rather that they will come to pass when the tribulation of the whole world shall be such that it shall belong to the Church, which shall be troubled by the whole world, not to those who shall trouble it. For they are those who shall say, Peace and safety. But now these evils which are counted the greatest and most immoderate, we see to be common to both the kingdoms of Christ and the Devil. For the good and the evil are alike afflicted with them, and among these great evils is the yet universal resort to licentious feasts. Is not this the being dried up from fear, or rather the being burnt up from lust?

THEOPHYLACT. But not only shall men be tossed about when the world shall be changed, but angels even shall stand amazed at the terrible revolutions of the universe. Hence it follows, And the powers of heaven shall be shaken.

GREGORY. (Hom. 1. in Ev.) For whom does He call the powers of heaven, but the angels, dominions, principalities, and powers? which at the coming of the strict Judge shall then appear visibly to our eyes, that they may strictly exact judgment of us, seeing that now our invisible Creator patiently bears with us.

EUSEBIUS. When also the Son of God shall come in glory, and shall crush the proud empire of the son of sin, the angels of heaven attending Him, the doors of heaven which have been shut from the foundation of the world shall be opened, that the things that are on high may be witnessed.

CHRYSOSTOM. (ad Olymp. Ep. 2.) Or the heavenly powers shall be shaken, although themselves know it not. For when they see the innumerable multitudes condemned, they shall not stand there without trembling.

BEDE. Thus it is said in Job, the pillars of heaven tremble and are afraid at his reproof. (Job 26:11.) What then do the boards do, when the pillars tremble? what does the shrub of the desert suffer, when the cedar of Paradise is shaken?

EUSEBIUS. Or the powers of heaven are those which preside over the sensible parts of the universe, which indeed shall then be shaken that they may attain to a better state. For they shall be discharged from the ministry with which they serve God toward the sensible bodies in their perishing condition.

AUGUSTINE. (ad Hes. ut sup.) But that the Lord may not seem to have foretold as extraordinary those things concerning His second coming, which were wont to happen to this world even before His first coming, and that we may not be laughed at by those who have read more and greater events than these in the history of nations, I think what has been said may be better understood to apply to the Church. For the Church is the sun, the moon, and the stars, to whom it was said, Fair as the moon, elect as the sun. (Cant. 6:10.) And she will then not be seen for the unbounded rage of the persecutors.

AMBROSE. While many also fall away from religion, clear faith will be obscured by the cloud of unbelief, for to me that Sun of righteousness is either diminished or increased according to my faith; and as the moon in its monthly wanings, or when it is opposite the sun by the interposition of the earth, suffers eclipse, so also the holy Church when the sins of the flesh oppose the heavenly light, cannot borrow the brightness of divine light from Christ’s rays. For in persecutions, the love of this world generally shuts out the light of the divine Sun; the stars also fall, that is, men who shine in glory fall when the bitterness of persecution waxes sharp and prevails. And this must be until the multitude of the Church be gathered in, for thus are the good tried and the weak made manifest.

AUGUSTINE. (ut sup.) But in the words, And upon the earth distress of nations, He would understand by nations, not those which shall be blessed in the seed of Abraham, but those which shall stand on the left hand.

AMBROSE. So severe then will be the manifold fires of our souls, that with consciences depraved through the multitude of crimes, by reason of our fear of the coming judgment, the dew of the sacred fountain will be dried upon us. But as the Lord’s coming is looked for, in order that His presence may dwell in the whole circle of mankind or the world, which now dwells in each individual who has embraced Christ with his whole heart, so the powers of heaven shall at our Lord’s coming obtain an increase of grace, and shall be moved by the fulness of the Divine nature more closely infusing itself. There are also heavenly powers which proclaim the glory of God, which shall be stirred by a fuller infusion of Christ, that they may see Christ.

AUGUSTINE. (ut sup.) Or the powers of heaven shall be stirred, because when the ungodly persecute, some of the most stout-hearted believers shall be troubled.

THEOPHYLACT. (ut sup.) It follows, And then shall they see the Son of man coming in the clouds. Both the believers and unbelievers shall see Him, for He Himself as well as His cross shall glisten brighter than the sun, and so shall be observed of all.

AUGUSTINE. (ut sup.) But the words, coming in the clouds, may be taken in two ways. Either coming in His Church as it were in a cloud, as He now ceases not to come. But then it shall be with great power and majesty, for far greater will His power and might appear to His saints, to whom He will give great virtue, that they may not be overcome in such a fearful persecution. Or in His body in which He sits at His Father’s right hand He must rightly be supposed to come, and not only in His body, but also in a cloud, for He will come even as He went away, And a cloud received him out of their sight.

CHRYSOSTOM. For God ever appears in a cloud, according to the Psalms, clouds and darkness are round about him. (Ps. 17:11.) Therefore shall the Son of man come in the clouds as God, and the Lord, not secretly, but in glory worthy of God. Therefore He adds, with great power and majesty.

CYRIL OF ALEXANDRIA. Great must be understood in like manner. For His first appearance He made in our weakness and lowliness, the second He shall celebrate in all His own power.

GREGORY. (ut sup.) For in power and majesty will men see Him, whom in lowly stations they refused to hear, that so much the more acutely they may feel His power, as they are now the less willing to bow the necks of their hearts to His sufferings.

Luke 21:34-36

34. And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares.

35. For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth.

36. Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.

COMMENTARY

THEOPHYLACT. Our Lord declared above the fearful and sensible signs of the evils which should overtake sinners, against which the only remedy is watching and prayer, as it is said, And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time, &c.

BASIL. (Hom. 1. in illud Atten de tibi.) Every animal has within itself certain instincts which it has received from God, for the preservation of its own being. Wherefore Christ has also given us this warning, that what comes to them by nature, may be ours by the aid of reason and prudence: that we may flee from sin as the brute creatures shun deadly food, but that we seek after righteousness, as they wholesome herbs. Therefore saith He, Take heed to yourselves, that is, that you may distinguish the noxious from the wholesome. But since there are two ways of taking heed to ourselves, the one with the bodily eyes, the other by the faculties of the soul, and the bodily eye does not reach to virtue; it remains that we speak of the operations of the soul. Take heed, that is, Look around you on all sides, keeping an ever watchful eye to the guardianship of your soul. He says not, Take heed to your own or to the things around, but to yourselves. For ye are mind and spirit, your body is only of sense. Around you are riches, arts, and all the appendages of life, you must not mind these, but your soul, of which you must take especial care. The same admonition tends both to the healing of the sick, and the perfecting of those that are well, namely, such as are the guardians of the present, the providers of the future, not judging the actions of others, but strictly searching their own, not suffering the mind to be the slave of their passions, but subduing the irrational part of the soul to the rational. But the reason why we should take heed He adds as follows, Lest at any time your hearts be overcharged, &c.

TITUS BOSTRENSIS. As if He says, Beware lest the eyes of your mind wax heavy. For the cares of this life, and surfeiting, and drunkenness, scare away prudence, shatter and make shipwreck of faith.

CLEMENT OF ALEXENDRIA. (Clem. Al. lib. ii. Pædag. c. 2.) Drunkenness is an excessive use of wine; crapula1 is the uneasiness, and nausea attendant on drunkenness, a Greek word so called from the motion of the head. And a little below. As then we must partake of food lest we suffer hunger, so also of drink lest we thirst, but with still greater care to avoid falling into excess. For the indulgence of wine is deceitful, and the soul when free from wine will be the wisest and best, but steeped in the fumes of wine is lost as in a cloud.

BASIL. (in Reg. Brev. ad int. 88.) But carefulness, or the care of this life, although it seems to have nothing unlawful in it, nevertheless if it conduce not to religion, must be avoided. And the reason why He said this He shews by what comes next, And so that day come upon you unawares.

THEOPHYLACT. For that day will not come when men are expecting it, but unlooked for and by stealth, taking as a snare those who are unwary. For as a snare shall it come upon all them that sit upon the face of the earth. But this we may diligently keep far from us. For that day will take those that sit on the face of the earth, as the unthinking and slothful. But as many as are prompt and active in the way of good, not sitting and loitering on the ground, but rising from it, saying to themselves, Rise up, begone, for here there is no rest for thee. To such that day is not as a perilous snare, but a day of rejoicing.

EUSEBIUS. He taught them therefore to take heed unto the things we have just before mentioned, lest they fall into the indolence resulting therefrom. Hence it follows, Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all those things that shall come to pass.

THEOPHYLACT. Namely, hunger, pestilence, and such like, which for a time only threaten the elect and others, and those things also which are hereafter the lot of the guilty for ever. For these we can in no wise escape, save by watching and prayer.

AUGUSTINE. (de Con. Ev. l. ii. c. 77.) This is supposed to be that flight which Matthew mentions; which must not be in the winter or on the sabbath day. To the winter belong the cares of this life, which are mournful as the winter, but to the sabbath surfeiting and drunkenness, which drowns and buries the heart in carnal luxury and delight, since on that day the Jews are immersed in worldly pleasure, while they are lost to a spiritual sabbath.

THEOPHYLACT. And because a Christian needs not only to flee evil, but to strive to obtain glory, He adds, And to stand before the Son of man. For this is the glory of angels, to stand before the Son of man, our God, and always to behold His face.

BEDE. Now supposing a physician should bid us beware of the juice of a certain herb, lest a sudden death overtake us, we should most earnestly attend to his command; but when our Saviour warns us to shun drunkenness and surfeiting, and the cares of this world, men have no fear of being wounded and destroyed by them; for the faith which they put in the caution of the physician, they disdain to give to the words of God.

SOURCE: eCatholic 2000 Commentary in public domain.
PHILIP SCHAFF DIGITAL COLLECTION

CCEL Early Church Fathers

RELATED REFERENCES ARE HIGHLIGHTED ORANGE

Courtesy of Catholic Cross Reference

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