COMMENTARYAGAPE BIBLE STUDYCATENA AUREALECTORS

25th Sunday of Year B

OUR SUNDAY VISITOR
OUR SUNDAY VISITOR

Key Points to the Readings

FIRST READING

Wisdom 2:12, 17-20

God will take care of him.

  • The poetry of the Book of Wisdom was written for Jews suffering persecution.
  • The just individual is persecuted by the wicked for trying to live faithfully to God’s law.
  • The first reading compliments today’s Gospel in which Jesus tells of his own suffering and death.
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

James 3:16-4:3

Where does conflict among you originate?

  • James is very clear about the qualities that we can use to judge the source of a person’s wisdom.
  • Jealousy and disorder are not in accord with God’s righteousness.
  • James describes the proper conduct of those who try to live in accord with God’s ways.
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

Mark 9:30-37

All who wish to be first must make themselves the servants of all.

  • Today’s Gospel begins with Jesus foretelling his suffering, death and resurrection. The disciples do not understand.
  • Then Jesus sits down to teach about serving others.
  • Jesus welcomes a child into his arms to teach the disciples that to rank first, one must be the last of all.
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.

Dr. Kieran J. O’Mahony, OSA

HEARERS OF THE WORD (PDF)

All notes (PDF)
Gospel notes (Audio)
Gospel notes (Portable)
Extra Gospel exploration (YouTube / Zoom)

SOURCE: Hearers of the Word
Navarre Bible

SUNDAY COMMENTARY (PDF)

SOURCE: Bible study program at St. Charles Borromeo (Picayune, MS) courtesy of Military Archdiocese.
saint louis university

Scripture in Depth

PREACHING THE LECTIONARY by Reginald Fuller

RELATED:

  1. THE WORD EMBODIED: Perils of Power
  2. HISTORICAL CULTURAL CONTEXT: Children
  3. LET THE SCRIPTURES SPEAK: Of Pablum and Passion
  4. SPIRITUALITY OF THE READINGS: Childish Behavior
  5. GLANCING THOUGHTS: Trying to be First
  6. THE PERSPECTIVE OF JUSTICE: The Law of Love
Visit liturgy.slu.edu for more resources (e.g PRAYING TOWARD SUNDAY, MUSIC OF SUNDAY, GENERAL INTERCESSIONS) to help you reflect on the spirituality of the scriptures before Mass.
Niell Donavan

Sermon Writer

SECOND READING

JAMES 3:13-18.  WISDOM AND UNDERSTANDING

JAMES 4:1-3.  WHERE DO WARS AND FIGHTINGS COME FROM?

GOSPEL

MARK 9:30-32. AND THEY WILL KILL HIM

MARK 9: 33-34. WHAT WERE YOU ARGUING AMONG YOURSELVES?

MARK 9:35-37. IF ANY MAN WANTS TO BE FIRST, HE SHALL BE LAST

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.

25th Sunday of Year B

Service and Suffering

Service and suffering are two sides of the same coin of the Christian experience in the earthly Kingdom of the Church. The Church is the sinless Bride of Christ, but the irony is that she is full of sinners in need of repentance and salvation. The faith community can be a loving family, but at the same time, it is subject to human failings like jealousy, gossip, pride, ambition, and other forms of hurtful behavior. We expect opposition and strife from those outside the faith community, but we feel betrayed when we experience hurtful behavior from our covenant brothers and sisters within the Church. Jesus experienced suffering and betrayal from many of His brethren, including one of His Apostles, Judas Iscariot.

Each of the readings should remind us that when we find disappointments within the Church caused by human failings, we should not blame God or His Church just as we should not blame Jesus for Judas’s betrayal. Instead, we should blame sin, and we should try to restore harmony and peace by praying for those in error, praying for the unity of the Church, and praying for ourselves as the psalmist prayed in today’s Responsorial Psalm: “For the haughty have raised up against me … Behold, God is my helper.”

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

FIRST READING

AGAPE BIBLE STUDY

Persecution of the Righteous

The wicked say: 12 Let us beset the just one because he is obnoxious to us; he sets himself against our doings, reproaches us for transgressions of the law, and charges us with violations of our training.  […]. 17 Let us see whether his words are true; let us find out what will happen to him. 18 For if the just one be the son of God, God will defend him and deliver him from the hand of his foes. 19 With revilement and torture, let us put the just one to the test that we may have proof of his gentleness and try his patience. 20 Let us condemn him to a shameful death, for according to his own words, God will take care of him.

In this passage, the inspired writer of the Book of Wisdom addresses what causes feelings of jealousy and acts of malice directed toward the righteous. From the earliest years of the Church, the Church Fathers saw the fulfillment of this passage in the opposition and hostility to Jesus’s ministry that resulted in His Passion. Thus, Jesus’s enemies (the Pharisees, scribes, chief priests, and the others who rejected Him) fulfilled each description of the actions of the wicked against “the just man”:

  1. Verse 12: Jesus corrected them on their interpretation of Mosaic Law and charged them with being “failed shepherds” of God’s covenant people. He accused them of not knowing the Scriptures (Mt 21:42 and Mk 12:24) and condemned them to face divine judgment for their abuses (Mt 23:1-36).
  2. Verse 18: Jesus claimed to be the “son of God” and called God His Father (Mt 27:43; Lk 10:22; Jn 5:19-27; 10:36; 14:6-21).
  3. Verse 19: His opponents were continually testing Him (Mt 16:1; 19:3; 22:18, 35).
  4. Verse 20a: They contrived to condemn Him to the shameful death of crucifixion (Mt 27:22-44; Mk 15:13; Lk 23:23; Acts 5:30; 10:29).
  5. Verse 20b: As He hung on the cross, they taunted Him to have God save Him (Mt 27:42; Mk 15:30; Lk 23:35, 37, 39).

Of all the men ever born from a woman, Jesus was the only truly “just/righteous man,” as He told the rich young man when He said, “only one is good,” referring to God/Himself (Mt 19:15).

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

RESPONSORIAL PSALM

AGAPE BIBLE STUDY

The Lord Upholds My Life

Response: The Lord uphold my Life

The title of this psalm (verses 1-2) identifies it as relating to David’s experience when he was an outlaw hiding from King Saul and sought refuge with the Ziphites who dwelled in the southern desert of the tribal lands of Judah (1 Sam 23:14-16). David went to them for protection because they were “kinsmen” as members of David’s tribe of Judah, but they betrayed him to King Saul (1 Sam 23:19-24; 26:1).

In the psalm, David pleads for his salvation from his enemies (verses 3-5). Despite his hardships, David calls upon the “name” of the Lord God. The use of the divine name, Yahweh (verse 8), infers the intimacy of a relationship with the presence of God. David has confidence that God will save his life, and in gratitude, he intends to offer sacrifice to the Lord and praise His holy name.

David’s descendant, Jesus, was also betrayed by His countrymen: His friend and Apostle, Judas Iscariot, from Jesus’s tribe of Judah, handed Him over to His enemies, and other Judeans demanded His death at His trial with the Roman governor Pilate. And, even though He suffered, God preserved His life by raising Him from the bonds of death to divine glory, fulfilling the promise to David that his heir would sit on his throne forever (2 Sam 7:16; 23:5; 2 Chr 13:5; Ps 89:2-5; Sir 45:25; Lk 1:32).

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

SECOND READING

AGAPE BIBLE STUDY

The Lack of Godly Wisdom Sows Disunity

Beloved: 16 Where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every foul practice. 17 But the wisdom from above is first of all pure, then peaceable, gentle, compliant, full of mercy and good fruits, without inconstancy or insincerity. 18 And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace for those who cultivate peace. 4:1 Where do the wars and where do the conflicts among you come from? Is it not from your passions that make war within your members? You covet but do not possess.  You kill and envy, but you cannot obtain; you fight and wage war. You do not possess because you do not ask. You ask but do not receive because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.

The “wisdom that comes down from above” in verse 17 is probably a reference to the “spirit of the Lord” in Isaiah 11:2, “On him will rest the spirit of Yahweh, the spirit of wisdom and insight, the spirit of counsel and power, the spirit of knowledge and fear of Yahweh (NJB). In his commentary on this passage, St. Bede wrote: “The wisdom from above” is pure because it thinks only pure thoughts, and it is peaceable because it does not dissociate itself from others on account of its pride. The other virtues mentioned here are the common possessions of any wise person, and they will manifest themselves in a life full of mercy and other good works” (St. Bede, Concerning the Epistle of St. James).

For the third time, James used the Greek word anothen [an’-o-then] in his letterwhich means “from above” or “again” (see Jam 1:17; 3:15 and 17). (Jn 3:3, 7). In verse 17, our “wisdom” coming “down from above,” which is “something pure,” recalls another use of the word anothen by Jesus in John 3:3-7. In that passage, Jesus told the Pharisee Nicodemus about the necessity of being re-born from “above,” saying, Amen, amen I say to you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above (anothen).” Then He continued: Amen, amen, I say to you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit. Finally, Jesus concludes: “Do not be amazed that I told you, ‘You must be born from above [anothen]'” (Jn 3:3, 5, 7). In the context of the use of the word “anothen” in the Gospel of John, and the passage concerning the gift of wisdom in Isaiah 11:1, James identifies “wisdom” as a gift of the Holy Spirit who came down from above (Heaven) to give new life to baptized believers (see CCC# 1831).

Perhaps James was thinking of the Beatitude in Matthew 5:8 when Jesus spoke of the necessity of possessing a “pure heart”: Blessed are the clean (pure) of heart, for they will see God. As we strive for Godly wisdom manifested in our works of love, the Holy Spirit continues to move more deeply within our hearts, spiritually transforming us into the image of our Savior. This image calls for a pure and holy heart as our Savior is pure and holy. We feel the need to empty ourselves of worldly attractions and concerns and fill our entire being with the love of Jesus, our Savior, becoming an imitation of Christ in our lives and in a faith that generates works of compassion. Our cry becomes the cry of David in Psalm 51:12 (verse 10 in some translations), A clean heart create for me, God; renew in me a steadfast spirit.

In his discourse On Nature and Grace, St. Augustine wrote about the wisdom from above that purifies the heart and controls our passions: “This is the wisdom which tames the tongue, descending from above, not springing from the human heart.  Would anyone dare to snatch it away from the grace of God and, with overweening pride, place it in the power of man?”

Notice how James characterizes the purity of Godly wisdom as opposed to earthly wisdom in James 3:17-18, listing the seven attributes of being peaceable, kindly, considerate, full of mercy and good deeds, no partiality, and no hypocrisy. Finally, James gives his beautiful summary statement, 18 And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace for those who cultivate peace.

That the peace sown by peacemakers brings a harvest of justice recalls Jesus’s Beatitude concerning the peacemakers in Matthew 5:9 when He said, Blessed are the peacemakers, they shall be recognized as children of God.” As children of God our Father, we follow in His footsteps of peace. We become champions of justice and righteousness in the works of charity (love in action) that we offer in His name and in which we contribute to God’s “harvest” in the conversion of souls (Mt 9:37-38; Rev 14:15). In commenting on this passage, St. Bede urged Christians to sow the earth with the best seed to yield a fruitful harvest: “Everything we do in this life contains within it the seed of future regard. Paul says the same thing when he writes: ‘Whatever a man sows, that will he also reap.’ Therefore it is rightly said that the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace. For the fruit of righteousness is eternal life, which is the reward for good works, so that those who desire peace and implement it sow the earth with the best of seed there is, and by their daily actions gain an increase which entitles them to inherit the fruits of life in Heaven. The reprobates also reap what they sow because they will also receive their just reward at the judgment. But that reward will not be the fruits of eternal life, but corruption, because they will reap the eternal punishment due to the corruption in which they passed their lives on earth”  (St. Bede, quoting St. Paul from Galatians 6:7; Concerning the Epistle of St. James, chapter 3).

Next, James contrasts the peace sown by peacemakers to the disharmony, disunity, and turmoil inflicted by others: Where do the wars and where do the conflicts among you come from? Is it not from your passions that make war within your members? You covet but do not possess.  You kill and envy, but you cannot obtain; you fight and wage war. You do not possess because you do not ask. You ask but do not receive because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions (Jam 4:1-3).

James continues the discussion he began in 3:13-18 with a rhetorical question in which he asks, from where do the “wars” and “battles” within the community come? The critical question is, who is James speaking to at this point? Is he only addressing Jewish-Christians or a mixed audience of Jewish-Christians and Old Covenant Jews? The reference to “the twelve tribes,” to “your synagogue,” and to “those who insult the honorable name (of Jesus)” in James 1:1; 2:2 and 2:7 seems to suggest the audience is a mix of Jews and Jewish-Christians who still attend the Jewish synagogue.

By using the words “wars” and “battles,” James turns the discussion to the dissension and discord within faith communities generated by the sin of “envy/jealousy” that he introduced earlier in 3:14. Now he writes in 4:2, You covet but do not possess. You kill and envy, but you cannot obtain; you fight and wage war. In Romans 11:6, St. Paul called the Jewish-Christians a holy “remnant, set aside by grace” from old Israel. And as to those Jews who “were blinded” concerning their jealousy in opposition to inviting the Gentiles into the New Covenant, Paul assures the Roman Jewish-Christians and Gentile-Christians that it is still possible to lead those dissenters to salvation: Hence I ask, did they stumble so as to fall? Of course not!  But through their transgression, salvation has come to the Gentiles so as to make them jealous. Now, if their transgression is enrichment for the world, and if their diminished number is enrichment for the Gentiles, how much more their full number (Rom 11:11-12). The discord James refers to could be the disunity and fighting between the Jewish communities torn apart over the acceptance or rejection of Jesus as the promised Redeemer-Messiah and His New Covenant Church that also admits Gentiles.

James makes three statements identifying the cause of the disunity within some faith communities:

  1. They desire what they do not have.
  2. They kill because of their envy over what they cannot obtain.
  3. They fight and wage war to get their way.

In James 4:2, James writes that envy leads to wars and battles and leads to “killings.” Bible scholars disagree what James meant by accusing the troublemakers of being responsible for deaths. The word “kill” might be used as a hyperbole to illustrate the damage such divisions can cause to the immortal souls of those caught in the grip of such unrighteous bickering. Or, as other scholars suggest, if militant Jews caused rioting in the mixed Jewish and Christian community, Christians may be dying due to the turmoil. St. Paul’s preaching caused some riots (i.e., Acts 16:19-22; 19:23-40). Even James was fearful that the controversy swirling around St. Paul would cause rioting when he visited Jerusalem in the spring of AD 58 in Acts 21:20-22. Violent Jewish anti-Christian reactions almost took Paul’s life on several occasions, and the Book Acts records the martyrdom of the Apostle James Zebedee by the Jews (Acts 12:2). The post-resurrection, glorified Christ mentions the martyrdom of His servant Antipas in Revelation 2:13.

The vices that seem to be the leading cause of divisions within the community of God’s people are pride, envy/jealousy, and the desire to control others. James identifies the struggles that begin with the petty jealousies and rivalries people feel within themselves that can erupt into conflicts within the community. These battles are initiated by those who lack “poverty of spirit” (Mt 5:2) and exhibit pride, the meanness of spirit, and a lack of self-sacrificial love. St. Jose Maria Escriva wrote that unchecked, these selfish passions can pull you away from the pull of God’s grace: “Heaven pulls you upwards; you drag yourself downward.  And don’t seek excuses—that is what you are doing. If you go on like that, you will tear yourself apart” (St. Jose Maria Escriva, Furrow, 851).

St. James wrote that what causes the covenant believer who sows discord to indulge in his wrongly directed passions is that he does not pray, or when he does, he prays without wisdom: You do not possess because you do not ask. You ask but do not receive because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. This verse recalls what James wrote in 1:5 ~ But if any of you who lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly, he will be given it.  Concerning such Christians, St. Bede wrote, “He asks wrongly who shows no regard for the Lord’s commandments and yet seeks heavenly gifts. He also asks wrongly who, having lost his taste for heavenly things, seeks only earthly things; not for sustaining his human weakness but to enable him to indulge himself” (Concerning the Epistle of St. James).

Jesus warned believers: But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given you besides. Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself.  Sufficient for a day is its own evil” (Mt 6:33-34). Obtaining the reward of eternal life should be our goal, not worldly desires and ambitions, nor are we to be consumed with earthly worries.  Bad feelings can grow into actions that bring strife to the Church and suffering to other Christians. What began as a spiritually unhealthy feeling or desire should have been rejected or taken to the Sacrament of Reconciliation before it grew into a sin. Discord leading to disunity becomes a sin against individual brothers and sisters in the covenant family and sin against Christ’s Bride the Church as a whole.

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

GOSPEL

AGAPE BIBLE STUDY

The Second Prediction of the Passion and the Greatest in the Kingdom

As the time for His Passion was drawing closer, Jesus focused His attention on preparing His disciples for the traumatic events and the test of faith that they would experience. And He was also equipping them for their mission as His emissaries in carrying the Gospel of salvation to the world.

32 But they did not understand the saying, and they were afraid to question him.
St. Mark’s Roman audience would find it inconceivable that someone divine could be killed by men, just as the Apostles and disciples found Jesus’s statement incredible. Perhaps it wasn’t so much that they did not understand, but they denied what they did not want to understand. We might compare this lack of comprehension or unwillingness to understand to someone who received the news that a loved one will die of a disease or died in an accident. The Apostles have witnessed Jesus’s acts of power in conquering the force of storms and His authority over sickness and demons. It was inconceivable to them that He would not exercise the same power and control over mere men.

Mark 9:33-37 ~ The Greatest in the Kingdom
33 They came to Capernaum, and once inside the house, he began to ask them, “What were you arguing about on the way?”  34 But they remained silent.  They had been discussing among themselves on the way who was the greatest.  35 Then he sat down, called the Twelve, and said to them, “If anyone wishes to be first, he shall be the last of all and the servant of all.”  36 Taking a child, he placed it in their midst, and putting his arms around it, he said to them, 37 “Whoever receives one child such as this in my name, receives me; and whoever receives me, receives not me but the One who sent me.”

“On the way” in verse 33 will become a repeated refrain in this section of Mark’s Gospel but may not be translated literally in our English versions; the phrase appears seven times in 8:37; 9:33, 34; 10:17, 32, and 52 twice. Jesus and the Apostles traveled to Peter’s house in Capernaum on the Sea of Galilee (verse 33). Perhaps the privilege of witnessing Jesus in His glory in the Transfiguration experience by Peter, James, and John made the others uneasy about where they stood in the Kingdom of the Messiah. Jesus knows what they were arguing about, but He wanted them to admit the nature of their dispute so He could provide a teaching moment for them. They probably did not answer in verse 34 because they were embarrassed and knew He would disapprove.

The secular world bases greatness on social rank, wealth, or unique ability. But Jesus teaches in this passage that those standards of distinction in the world are not what count in His Kingdom.  Jesus used the visible metaphor of a child from Peter’s household as His teaching point. The Greek word in the text is paidion, which refers to a child under twelve (IBGE, vol. IV, Luke 9:47-48).  He used a child to illustrate His teaching point because adults are, for the most part, self-sufficient, but little children are vulnerable and dependent on someone for their care, or they cannot survive. A little child has no rank or status concerns and only seeks to please his parent or caregiver. In Heaven, God measures greatness according to childlike humility, obedience, self-emptying, and total dependence on God. Whoever is more “childlike” in this way is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven. Humility was a teaching Jesus emphasized for His New Covenant Kingdom in His Sermon on the Plain in Luke 6:20-26. He warned those who sought status instead of humility: Woe to you when all speak well of you, for their ancestors treated the false prophets in this way. And we should also remember St. Paul’s words that we must be prepared to share in His sufferings if we want to share in His glory (Rom 8:17).

The message in today’s readings is that we should not be afraid of what is said about us so long as we demonstrate justice and righteousness in obedience to the teachings of Christ and His Church. The greatest harm to the Church comes not from her enemies outside the community of the faithful but arises from sinners within the Church who do not fear offending God. There will always be Judases. Jesus called such persons “wolves in sheep’s clothing” (Mt 7:15-16). When we suffer persecution for His sake resulting from our service in defending the dogmas (truths) of His Kingdom that is the Church, Jesus said we are to take up our cross of suffering and Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in Heaven. Thus, they persecuted the prophets who were before you (Mt 5:12). And when faced with betrayal from within by those who seek to wound the Body of Christ, do not leave Jesus because of the acts of those behaving like Judas.  Respond as St. Peter did when Jesus asked him if he would leave because of a teaching that was difficult to accept. Peter responded, “Master, to whom shall we go?  You have the words of eternal life” (Jn 6:68).

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

25th Sunday of Year B

MARK 9:30-37

30. And they departed thence, and passed through Galilee; and he would not that any man should know it.

31. For he taught his disciples, and said unto them, The Son of man is delivered into the hands of men, and they shall kill him; and after that he is killed, he shall rise the third day.

32. But they understood not that saying, and were afraid to ask him.

33. And he came to Capernaum: and being in the house he asked them, What was it that ye disputed among yourselves by the way?

34. But they held their peace: for by the way they had disputed among themselves, who should be the greatest.

35. And he sat down, and called the twelve, and saith unto them, If any man desire to be first, the same shall be last of all, and servant of all.

36. And he took a child, and set him in the midst of them: and when he had taken him in his arms, he said unto them,

37. Whosoever shall receive one of such children in my name, receiveth me: and whosoever shall receive me, receiveth not me, but him that sent me.

ANNOTATED INDEX

Third Century

  • Origen – Alexandrian biblical critic, exegete, theologian, and spiritual writer; analyzed the Scriptures on three levels: the literal, the moral, and the allegorical
  • Cyprian – pagan rhetorician converted to Christianity; acquired acquired a profound knowledge of the Scriptures and the writings of Tertullian; elected bishop of Carthage; martyred in 258

Fourth Century

  • Eusebius – Bishop of Caesarea; author of Ecclesiastical History, the principal source for the history of Christianity from the Apostolic Age till his own day; also wrote a valuable work on Biblical topography called the Onomasticon
  • Athanasius – Bishop of Alexandria; attended the Council of Nicea; opposed Arianism, in defence of the faith proclaimed at Nicaea—that is, the true deity of God the Son
  • Hilary – Bishop of Poitiers; the earliest known writer of hymns in the Western Church; defended the cause of orthodoxy against Arianism; became the leading Latin theologian of his age
  • Gregory of Nazianzus – one of the “Cappadocian Fathers”; a great influence in restoring the Nicene faith and leading to its final establishment at the Council of Constantinople in 381
  • Gregory of Nyssa – one of the “Cappadocian Fathers”; Bishop of Nyssa; took part in the Council of Constantinople
  • Ambrose – Bishop of Milan; partly responsible for the conversion of Augustine; author of Latin hymns; it was through his influence that hymns became an integral part of the liturgy of the Western Church
  • Jerome – biblical scholar; devoted to a life of asceticism and study; his greatest achievement was his translation of the Bible into Latin (the Vulgate); also wrote many biblical commentaries
  • Nemesius – Christian philosopher; Bishop of Emesa in Syria
  • Augustine – Bishop of Hippo (in northern Africa); a “Doctor of the Church”; most famous work is his Confessions; his influence on the course of subsequent theology has been immense
  • Chrysostom – Bishop of Constantinople; a “Doctor of the Church”; a gifted orator; his sermons on Gen, Ps, Isa, Matt, John, Acts, and the Pauline Epistles (including Hebrews) established him as the greatest of Christian expositors
  • Prosper of Aquitaine – theologian; supporter of Augustinian doctrines; closely associated with Pope Leo I (“the Great”)
  • Damasus – pope; active in suppressing heresy
  • Apollinaris of Laodicea – Bishop of Laodicea; close friend of Athanasias; vigorous advocate of orthodoxy against the Arians
  • Amphilochius of Iconium – Bishop of Iconium; close friend of the Cappadocian Fathers; defended the full Divinity of the Holy Spirit

Fifth Century

  • Asterius of Amasea – Arian theologian; some extant homilies on the Psalms attributed to him
  • Evagrius Ponticus – spiritual writer; noted preacher at Constantinople; spent the last third of his life living a monastic life in the desert
  • Isidore of Pelusium – an ascetic and exegete; his extant correspondence contains much of doctrinal, exegetical, and moral interest
  • Cyril of Alexandria – Patriarch of Alexandria; contested Nestorius; put into systematic form the classical Greek doctrines of the Trinity and of the Person of Christ
  • Maximus of Turin – Bishop of Turin; over 100 of his sermons survive
  • Cassion (prob. Cassian) – one of the great leaders of Eastern Christian monasticism; founded two monasteries near Marseilles; best known books the Institutes and the Conferences
  • Chrysologus – Bishop of Ravenna; a “Doctor of the Church”
  • Basil “the Great” – one of the “Cappadocian Fathers”; Bishop of Caesarea; responsible for the Arian controversy’s being put to rest at the Council of Constantinople
  • Theodotus of Ancyra – Bishop of Ancyra; wrote against the teaching of Nestorius
  • Leo the Great – Pope who significantly consolidated the influence of the Roman see; a “Doctor of the Church”; his legates defended Christological orthodoxy at the Council of Chalcedon
  • Gennadius – Patriarch of Constantinople; the author of many commentaries, notably on Genesis, Daniel, and the Pauline Epistles
  • Victor of Antioch – presbyter of Antioch; commentator and collector of earlier exegetical writings
  • Council of Ephesus – declared the teachings of Nestorious heretical, affirming instead the unity between Christ’s human and divine natures
  • Nilus – Bishop of Ancyra; disciple of St John Chrysostom; founder of a monastery; conducted a large correspondence influencing his contemporaries; his writings deal mainly with ascetic and moral subjects

Sixth Century

  • Dionysius Areopagita (aka Dionysius the Pseudo-Areopagite) – mystical theologian; combined Neoplatonism with Christianity; the aim of all his works is the union of the whole created order with God
  • Gregory the Great – Pope; a “Doctor of the Church”; very prolific writer of works on practical theology, pastoral life, expositions of Job, sermons on the Gospels, etc.
  • Isidore – Bishop of Seville; a “Doctor of the Church”; concerned with monastic discipline, clerical education, liturgical uniformity, conversion of the Jews; helped secure Western acceptance of Filioque clause
  • Eutychius (Patriarch of Constan­tinople) – consecrated the church of Hagia Sophia in Constantinople; defended the Chalcedonian faith against an unorthodox sect; became controversial later in life
  • Isaac (Bp. of Nineveh) (aka Isaac the Syrian) – monastic writer on ascetic subjects
  • Severus (Bp. of Antioch) – Syrian Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch; the leading theologian of the moderate Monophysites
  • John Climacus – ascetic and writer on the spiritual life; later Abbot of Mt. Sinai; best known for his Ladder of Divine Ascent which treats of the monastic virtues and vices
  • Fulgentius – Bishop of Ruspe in N. Africa; scholarly disposition; follower of St. Augustine; wrote many treatises against Arianism and Pelagianism

Seventh Century

  • Maximus ( of Constantinople, 645.) – Greek theologian; prolific writer on doctrinal, ascetical, exegetical, and liturgical subjects

Eighth Century

  • Bede (131CESK) – “the Venerable Bede”; a “Doctor of the Church”; pedagogue, biblical exegete, hagiographer, and historian, the most influential scholar from Anglo-Saxon England
  • John Damascene – Greek theologian; a “Doctor of the Church”; defender of images in the Iconoclastic Controversy; expounded the doctrine of the perichoresis (circumincession) of the Persons of the Trinity
  • Alcuin – Abbot of St. Martin’s (Tours); a major contributor to the Carolingian Renaissance; supervised the production of several complete editions of the Bible; responsible for full acceptance of the Vulgate in the West

Ninth Century

  • Haymo (of Halberstadt) – German Benedictine monk who became bishop of Halberstadt; prolific writer
  • Photius (of Constantinople) – Patriarch of Constantinople; a scholar of wide interests and encyclopedic knowledge; his most important work, Bibliotheca, is a description of several hundred books (many now lost), with analyses and extracts; also wrote a Lexicon
  • Rabanus Maurus – Abbot of Fulda in Hess Nassau; later Archbishop of Mainz; wrote commentaries on nearly every Book of the Bible
  • Remigius (of Auxerre) monk, scholar, and teacher
  • Paschasius Radbertus – Carolingian theologian; wrote commentaries on Lamentations and Matthew, as well as the first doctrinal monograph on the Eucharist, he maintained the real Presence of Christ

Eleventh Century

  • Theophylact – Byzantine exegete; his principal work, a series of commentaries on several OT books and on the whole of the NT except Revelation, is marked by lucidity of thought and expression and closely follows the scriptural text
  • Anselm – Archbishop of Canterbury; a “Doctor of the Church”; highly regarded teacher and spiritual director; famous ontological argument for the existence of God as “that than which nothing greater can be thought”
  • Petrus Alphonsus – Jewish Spanish writer and astronomer, a convert to Christianity; one of the most important figures in anti-Judaic polemics
  • Laufranc (prob. Lanfranc) – Archbishop of Canterbury; commented on the Psalms and Pauline Epistles; his biblical commentary passed into the Glossa Ordinaria

COMMENTARY

THEOPHYLACT. It is after miracles that the Lord inserts a discourse concerning His Passion, lest it should be thought that He suffered because He could not help it; wherefore it is said, And they departed thence, and passed through Galilee: and he would not that any man should know it. For he taught his disciples, and said unto them, The Son of man is delivered into the hands of men, and they shall kill him.

BEDE. (in Marc. 3, 39) He always mingles together sorrowful and joyful things, that sorrow should not by its suddenness frighten the Apostles, but be borne by them with prepared minds.

THEOPHYLACT. After, however, saying what was sorrowful, He adds what ought to rejoice them; wherefore it goes on: And after that he is killed, he shall rise the third day; in order that we may learn that joys come on after struggles. There follows: But they understood not that saying, and were afraid to ask him.

BEDE. (ubi sup.) This ignorance of the disciples proceeds not so much from slowness of intellect, as from love for the Saviour, for they were as yet carnal, and ignorant of the mystery of the cross, they could not therefore believe that He whom they had recognised as the true God, was about to die; being accustomed then to hear Him often talk in figures, and shrinking from the event of His death, they would have it, that something was conveyed figuratively in those things, which he spoke openly concerning His betrayal and passion. It goes on: And they came to Capernaum.

PSEUDO-JEROME. Capernaum means the city of consolation, and agrees with the former sentence, which He had spoken: And after that he is killed, he shall arise the third day. There follows: And being in the house he asked them, What was it that ye disputed among yourselves by the way? But they held their peace.

PSEUDO-CHRYSOSTOM. (Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.) Matthew however says, that the disciples came to Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? (Matt. 18:1) The reason is, that he did not begin the narrative from its commencement, but omitted our Saviour’s knowledge of the thoughts and words of His disciples; unless we understand Him to mean, that even what they thought and said, when away from Christ, was said unto Him, since it was as well known to Him as if it had been said to Him. It goes on: For by the way they had disputed among themselves, who should be the greatest. (Luke 9:46. Vulg.) But Luke says, that “the thought entered into the disciples which of them should be the greatest;” for the Lord laid open their thought and intention from their private discourse1 according to the Gospel narrative.

PSEUDO-JEROME. It was fit also that they should dispute concerning the chief place by the way; the dispute is like the place where it is held; for lofty station is only entered upon to be quitted: as long as a man keeps it, it is slippery, and it is uncertain at what stage, that is, on what day, it will end.

BEDE. (ubi sup.) The reason why the dispute concerning the chief place arose amongst the disciples seems to have been, that Peter, James, and John, were led apart from the rest into the mountain, and that something secret was there entrusted to them, also that the keys of the kingdom of heaven were promised to Peter, according to Matthew. Seeing however the thoughts of the disciples, the Lord takes care to heal the desire of glory by humility; for He first, by simply commanding humility, admonishes them that a high station was not to be aimed at. Wherefore it goes on: And he sat down, and called the twelve, and saith unto them, If any man desire to be first, the same shall be last of all, and servant of all.

JEROME. Where it is to be observed, that the disciples disputed by the way concerning the chief place, but Christ Himself sat down to teach humility; for princes toil while the humble repose.

PSEUDO-CHRYSOSTOM. (Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.) The disciples indeed wished to receive honour at the hands of the Lord; they also had a desire to be made great by Christ, for the greater a man is, the more worthy of honour he becomes, for which reason He did not throw an obstacle in the way of that desire, but brought in humility.

THEOPHYLACT. For His wish is not that we should usurp for ourselves chief places, but that we should attain to lofty heights by lowliness. He next admonishes them by the example of a child’s innocence; wherefore there follows: And he took a child, and set him in the midst of them.

CHRYSOSTOM. (Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc. Sed v. Chrys. Hom. in Matt. 58) By the very sight, persuading them to humility and simplicity; for this little one was pure from envy and vain glory, and from a desire of superiority. But He does not only say, If ye become such, ye shall receive a great reward, but also, if ye will honour others, who are such for my sake. Wherefore there follows: And when he had taken him in his arms, he said unto them, Whosoever shall receive one of such children in my name, receiveth me.

BEDE. (ubi sup.) By which, He either simply shews, that those who would become greater must receive the poor of Christ in honour of Him, or He would persuade them to be in malice children, to keep simplicity without arrogance, charity without envy, devotedness without anger. Again, by taking the child into His arms, He implies that the lowly are worthy of His embrace and love. He adds also, In my name, that they might, with the fixed purpose of reason, follow for His name’s sake that mould of virtue to which the child keeps, with nature for his guide. And because He taught that He Himself was received in children, lest it should be thought that there was nothing in Him but what was seen, he added, And whosoever shall receive me, receiveth not me, but Him that sent me; thus wishing, that we should believe Him to be of the same nature and of equal greatness with His Father.

THEOPHYLACT. See, how great is humility, for it wins for itself the indwelling of the Father, and of the Son, and also of the Holy Ghost.

SOURCE: eCatholic 2000 Commentary in public domain.

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