Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Wednesday, Oct 22: Some Commentaries on Today's Readings

Commentary on the First Reading: 

Fr. de Piconio's Commentary on Ephesians 3:2-12.

Update: Father Callan's Commentary on Ephesians 3:2-12. On 1-13

Navarre Bible Commentary on Ephesians 3:2-13. Off site. Will open in new window.

Commentary on the Responsorial:

 Pope John Paul II's Commentary on Isaiah 12:1-6.

Commentary on the Gospel Reading: 

Fr. Cornelius a Lapide's Commentary on Luke 12:39-48.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Luke 12:39-48. Off site. Will open in new window.

Father MacEvilly's Commentary on Luke 12:49-53

Luk 12:49  I am come to cast fire on the earth. And what will I, but that it be kindled?

“I am come,” &c. These words may have been spoken by our Lord at a different time, from the foregoing; and we need not trouble ourselves, with tracing any consecutive connexion between them; as St. Luke is wont to string together several things spoken by our Lord on different occasions. Others (Jansen. Gandav.) trace a connexion in this way: our Lord had been, in the foregoing, encouraging the Apostles to the faithful performance of their duties, from the consideration that they were His stewards, the dispensers of His goods—an office entailing the heaviest responsibility. He now points out what He expects from them, and how they are to dispense His goods, viz., in propagating the Gospel; in suffering for it; thus, producing abundant fruit.

By “fire,” some understand the Holy Ghost and His gifts; especially charity, fervour, zeal (Cant. 8:6), and to this, the Church refers, on the Saturday after Pentecost, “illo nos igne … quem Dominus noster, misit in terram et voluit vehementer accendi,” and this fire of Divine love embraces the fire of tribulation also. The Apostles inflamed with Divine love, braved and overcame all tribulations and sufferings, in the cause of the Gospel, of which our Lord forewarned them, as near at hand (A. Lapide). Others understand it, of the fire of Evangelical preaching, which the Holy Ghost inflames. Hence, He descended on the Apostles, about to enter on this duty, in the form of tongues of fire. This Evangelical preaching, unlike the Old Law, or any human doctrine, which is cold and inoperative, set in a blaze the hearts of men; pervading all places, it purged the elect, and fired the impious with an unjust hatred against the Gospel (Psalm 118) “ignitum eloquium tuum,” &c. “Sermo Domini ut ignis exestuans in cordo meo” (Jeremiah 0:9). This fire our Lord brought from heaven, and He wished His Apostles to enkindle it on throughout the earth (Jansen. Gandav.).

Others, understand it of the fire of persecution, which they say is more in accordance with the context, “I have a baptism,” &c. According to these, our Lord wishes to fortify His Apostles against the persecutions they were to be subject to. And to inspire them with greater fortitude, He says, He Himself was the first to pass through the ordeal. In the same sense, He says, He came to bring “not peace, but the sword” (Matthew 10:34); and He predicts, that, considering human depravity, the preaching of the Gospel would be the occasion of great divisions, of great sufferings and persecutions, for those who preach and for those who embrace it. It was, however, by such sufferings and persecutions, that, our Lord meant to break down the power of Satan. These alone were the means for securing heaven. This is the meaning of “fire” in many parts of Scripture (Psalm 66:12; Isaiah 43:2; Ecclesiastes 51:6). This is the interpretation of Tertullian, followed by Maldonatus, Calmet, Lucas Brugensis, &c.

“And what will I?” &c. I am anxious that these embers of charity be enkindled in the hearts of all men, or that these sufferings and persecutions—the portion of my elect—be enkindled everywhere by the preaching of the Gospel, when my Apostles shall enter the lists with the enemies of man, the world, the devil, and the flesh, and shall have to suffer in consequence, persecutions which await myself in the first instance, and await all, who wish to live piously here below (1 Tim. 3:12). But, it is by means of the sufferings which my followers bravely endure, the powers of the enemy are to be utterly defeated and destroyed.

Instead of, “what will I but that it be enkindled” (Vulgate), “quid volo nisi ut accendatur?” in the Greek it is, “what will I, since it has been already enkindled,” ει ηδη ανηφθη. This is interpreted by some, thus: Since it has been already enkindled in the hearts of my disciples and throughout Judea—“what will I,” but that it be enkindled still more, throughout the earth? According to this interpretation, adopted by St. Cyril and by Cajetan, the sentence, as it stands, is imperfect till the words, “but that it be enkindled,” &c., are added, to complete the sense. By others (Theophylact, &c.), they are interpreted thus: Since it is already enkindled, I have no other wish. In this is implied the desire that it be more and more enkindled. Of the words understood in this sense, the Vulgate “quid volo,” &c., is a clear expression. My only desire is, that this fire which I sent upon the earth be enkindled more and more by you in every place. Euthymius interprets it thus: If the fire which I came to send be enkindled, as it really is in you, what more do I desire in this world? What more am I waiting for? The time for returning to my Father is, therefore, just at hand.

Luk 12:50  And I have a baptism wherewith I am to be baptized. And how am I straitened until it be accomplished?

“And I have a baptism,” &c. For, “and,” the Greek is, δε, but, as if He said; but before this fire,—whether understood of Divine love or suffering,—can be fully scattered on the earth, I must first suffer, in order to give an example of suffering to others, and induce them to scatter the fire of persecution throughout the earth after my example—or to scatter this fire of divine love; since it is, by My blood of the cross, that the fire of Divine love and charity is to be lit up, as well by the grace which My suffering merited, as by the considerations which it suggests in the minds of all men. “Baptism” signifies suffering; because, our Lord was to be fully immersed in His own blood, as the body in baptism is immersed in water; and He was baptized in another sense; because, He was to be wholly immersed, plunged in suffering, “as the man of sorrows, and acquainted with infirmities.” Moreover, water, according to the prevalent notions, was expressive of suffering. (See Matthew 20:22, &c.)

“And how am I straitened?” &c. These words express not His fears, as is supposed by some, but His anxious, longing desire to redeem mankind by His sufferings and death of the cross. As “hope deferred afflicts the soul” (Proverbs 13:12); so also, do deferred desires. Our Lord thus anxiously wished for His own death, not for His own sake, but for ours, to save us from sin and to satisfy His Father’s justice. His fear of death at His Passion took place in the inferior part of His soul; the present desire, in the superior (see Matthew 26:38).

Luk 12:51  Think ye, that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, no; but separation.

 As the fire which our Lord came to scatter on the earth, would be the occasion of disturbances, divisions and persecutions, He forewarns His disciples of this in time, lest they should be hereafter disturbed. (See Matthew 10:34, &c.) 

Luk 12:52  For there shall be from henceforth five in one house divided: three against two, and two against three.
Luk 12:53  The father shall be divided against the son and the son against his father: the mother against the daughter and the daughter against her mother: the mother-in-law against the daughter-in-law and the daughter-in-law law against her mother-in-law.

“Henceforth,” after the promulgation of the Gospel, where union reigned, such as can exist among unbelievers. “Five shall be divided, three against two.” (53.) “Shall be divided.” When three of five embrace the faith, they shall be divided against the two unbelievers; and this will of course reciprocally provoke, or rather entail the division of two against three; or if two embrace the faith, while three remain in a state of infidelity, the result shall be the same. The “five,” are “father,” “mother,” “son,” “daughter,” “daughter-in-law.” For “mother,” includes the relation of “mother-in-law” towards her son’s wife, supposed to be living in the same house. Our Lord here predicts the most dreadful domestic divisions between those most closely united, in consequence of the spread of the Gospel, when one party would give up every earthly feeling and his natural affections sooner than abandon the faith, while unbelievers shall rage against those who, embracing the faith of Christ, have abandoned the false religion of their fathers.

St Cyril of Alexandria's Commentary on Luke 12:49-53

12:49-53. I am come to cast fire upon the earth: and what will I, if already it be kindled? And I have a baptism to be baptized with: and how am I straitened, until it be accomplished! You think that I am come to give peace upon earth: I tell you, Nay, but division. For henceforth there shall be five in one house divided; three against two, and two against three. The father shall be divided against the son, and the son against the father; the mother against the daughter, and the daughter against the mother; the mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law, and the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.

GOD the Father for the salvation of all sent down for us the Son from heaven. For to the Israelites indeed He gave the law to be their helper, according to the Scripture; and also spoke to them by the holy prophets such things as were profitable for their salvation, promising them the deliverance that is by Christ. But when the season had arrived, in which those things that had been prophesied of old were to be accomplished, He Who is God and Lord shone forth upon us. And He tells us the cause thereof in these words; “I am come to cast fire upon the earth; and what will I if already it be kindled? Come therefore, and let us examine of what nature is this fire, concerning which He here speaks. Is it useful for those upon earth? Is it for their salvation? Or does it torture men, and cause their perdition, like that which is prepared for the devil and his angels?

We affirm therefore that the fire which is sent forth by Christ is for men’s salvation and profits': God grant that all |436 our hearts may be full thereof. For the fire here is, I say, the saving message of the Gospel, and the power of its commandments; by which all of us upon earth, who were so to speak cold and dead because of sin, and in ignorance of Him Who by nature and truly is God, are kindled unto a life of piety, and made “fervent in spirit,” according to the expression of the blessed Paul. And besides this we are also made partakers of the Holy Spirit, Who is as fire within us. For we have been baptized with fire and the Holy Spirit. And we have learnt the way thereto, by what Christ says to us: for listen to His words; “Verily I say unto you, that except a man be born of water and spirit, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

It is the custom moreover of the divinely inspired Scripture to give the name of fire sometimes to the divine and sacred words, and to the efficacy and power which is by the Holy Spirit, and whereby we are made, as I said, “fervent in spirit.” For one of the holy prophets thus spoke as in the person of God respecting Christ our common Saviour: “The Lord, Whom you seek, shall suddenly come to His temple, even the Messenger of the covenant, Whom you desire: behold He comes, says the Lord. And who shall endure the day of His coming? or who shall stand at the sight of Him? For lo! He comes like the fire of a furnace, and like the sulphur of the bleacher. And He shall sit, like one that smelts and purifies as silver and as gold.” Now by the temple he here means the body, holy of a truth and undefiled, which was born of the holy virgin by the Holy Spirit in the power of the Father. For so was it said to the blessed virgin, “The Holy Spirit shall come upon you, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow you.” And he styles Him the Messenger of the covenant,” because He makes known and ministers unto us the good-will of the Father. For He has Himself said to us, “All things that I have heard of the Father, 1 have made known unto you.” And the prophet Isaiah also thus writes respecting Him; “Unto us a Child is born; yes, unto us a Son is given: and His government shall be upon His shoulder: and His name shall be called, The Messenger of the great counsel.” Just therefore as those who know how to refine gold and silver, melt out the dross contained in them by the use of fire; so also the Saviour |437 of all cleanses by the doctrines of the Gospel in the power of the Spirit, the mind of all those who have believed in Him.

And further the prophet Isaiah also said, that “He saw the Lord of Sabaoth sitting upon a throne high, and lifted up: and around Him stood the Seraphim, praising Him. Then said He to himself, Alas for me a sinner, for I repent me: in that being a man, and of unclean lips, I dwell among a people of unclean lips, and have seen with my eyes the King, the Lord of Sabaoth.” But to this he adds, that ” one of the Seraphim was sent unto me, and in his hand he had a live coal, which he had taken with the tongs from the altar, and he touched with it my mouth, and said, Lo! this has touched your lips, and it shall take away your sins, and cleanse you of your iniquities.” What interpretation then are we to put upon the coal which touched the prophet’s lips, and cleansed him from all sin? Plainly it is the message of salvation, and the confession of faith in Christ, which whosoever receives with his mouth is forthwith and altogether purified. And of this Paul thus assures us; “that if you say with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved.”

We say then that the power of the divine message resembles a live coal and fire. And the God of all somewhere said to the prophet Jeremiah, “Behold, I have made My words in your mouth to be fire, and this people to be wood, and it shall devour them.” And again, “Are not My words as burning fire, says the Lord? Rightly therefore did our Lord Jesus Christ say unto us, “I am come to throw fire upon earth; and what will I, if it be already kindled!” For already some of the Jewish crowd believed on Him, whose first-fruits were the divine disciples: and the fire being once kindled was soon to seize upon the whole world, immediately that the whole dispensation had attained to its completion: as soon, that is, as He had borne His precious passion upon the cross, and had commanded the bonds of death to cease. For He rose on the third day from the dead.

And this He teaches us by saying, “But I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how am I straitened until it be accomplished!” And by His baptism He means His death in the |438 flesh: and by being straitened because of it He means, that He was saddened and troubled until it was accomplished. For what was to happen when it was accomplished? That henceforth not in Judaea only should the saving message of the Gospel be proclaimed: comparing which to fire He said, “I am come to send fire upon earth:”—-but that now it should be published even to the whole world. For before the precious cross, and His resurrection from the dead, His commandments and the glory of His divine miracles, were spoken of in Judaea only. But because Israel sinned against Him, for they killed the Prince of Life, as far as they were concerned, even though He arose having spoiled the grave: then immediately He gave commandment to the holy apostles in these words: “Go, make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit; and teaching them to observe all those things which I have commanded you.” Behold therefore, yes see, that throughout all nations was that sacred and divine fire spread abroad by means of the holy preachers.

And of the holy apostles and evangelists Christ somewhere spoke by one of the prophets: “And it shall come to pass in that day, that I will make the heads of the thousands of Judaea like a firebrand among wood, and like a fiery lamp among reeds; and they shall devour on the right hand and on the left all the nations round about.” For, so to speak, like fire they ate up all the nations, and fed upon the whole earth, kindling all its inhabitants, who as I said were cold, and had suffered the death of ignorance and sin.

Would you like to see the effects of this divine and rational fire? hear then again His words: “Or think you that I am come to give peace upon earth? I tell you, no, but division.” And yet Christ is our peace, according to the Scriptures. “He has broken down the middle wall: He has united the two people in one now man, so making peace: and has reconciled both in one body unto the Father.” He has united the things below to them that are above: how therefore did He not come to give peace upon earth? What then say we to these things? |439

That peace is an honourable and truly excellent thing when given by God. For the prophets also say; “Lord, grant us peace: for You have given us all things.” But not every peace necessarily is free from blame: there is sometimes, so to speak, an unsafe peace, and which separates from the love of God those who, without discretion or examination, set too high a value upon it. As for instance: the determination to avoid evil men. and refuse to be at peace with them;—-by which I mean the not submitting to entertain the same sentiments as they do;—-is a thing profitable and useful to us. And in like manner the opposite course is injurious to those who have believed in Christ, and attained to the knowledge of His mystery: to such it is unprofitable to be willing to follow the same sentiments as those who wander away from the right path, and have fallen into the net of heathen error, or been caught in the snares of wicked heresies. With these it is honourable to contend, and to set the battle constantly in array against them, and to glory in holding opposite sentiments; so that even though it be a father that believes not, the son is free from blame who contradicts him, and resists his opinions. And in like manner also the father, if he be a believer, and true unto God, but his son disobedient and evilly disposed, and that opposes the glory of Christ, is also free from blame, if he disregard natural affection, and disowns him as his child. And the same reasoning holds with respect to mother and daughter: and daughter-in-law and mother-in-law. For it is right that those who are in error should follow those who are sound in mind: and not, on the contrary, that those should give way whose choice is to |440 entertain correct sentiments, and who have a sound knowledge of the glory of God.

And this Christ has also declared to us in another manner; “He that loves father or mother more than Me, is not worthy of Me: and he that loves son or daughter more than Me, is not worthy of Me.” When therefore you deny an earthly father for your piety’s sake towards Christ, then shall you gain as Father Him “Who is in heaven. And if you give up a brother because he dishonours God, by refusing to serve Him, Christ will accept you as His brother: for with His other bounties He has given us this also, saying; “I will declare Your Name unto My brethren.” Leave your mother after the flesh, and take her who is above, the heavenly Jerusalem, “which is our mother:” so will you find a glorious and mighty lineage in the family of the saints. With them you will be heir of God’s gifts, which neither the mind can comprehend, nor language tell. Of which may we too be counted worthy by the grace and loving-kindness of Christ, the Saviour of us all; by Whom and with Whom, to God the Father be praise and dominion, with the Holy Spirit, for ever and ever, Amen. |441 (source)

Father Boylan's Introduction to Psalm 33

Verse numbering for this psalm differs among various translation.


THIS is the fourth of the alphabetical psalms. As in Psalm 25,the last verse is supernumerary, and a liturgical addition; as in Psalm 24, also, the sixth or vau-verse is wanting. The poem consists of two parts. The first (Ps 33:1-10) thanks the Lord for gracious help and rescue given to a loyal and lowly worshipper; the second (Ps 33:11-20) is didactic, reminding one of the Book of Proverbs. The poem teaches generally that happiness in life is to be attained only through God-fearingness of conduct. The good may, indeed, fall into misfortune, and be overtaken by grief, but in the end, the Lord brings them help, and makes their faces radiant with gladness.

The general structure and tone of the psalm are regarded by most modern critics as indicating a late date. The title in verse 1 ascribes the origin of the poem to the period of David’s life when he fled to the court of the Philistine king, Achish of Gath. Thisfirst verse is, undoubtedly, a very ancient testimony to the Davidic origin of the psalm, and the gnomic style of the second part of the poem is no genuine indication of a postexilic date. It is true, however, that the references in the poem are strangely general if they are really due to David’s experiences in the Court of Achish. The psalm is intended to serve as an encouragement and as a consolation to the pious (Sancti), the God-fearing Israelites. The ‘rich’ and ‘evildoers’ and ‘sinners’ may be either foreigners (and, therefore, foes of the Israelite people), or godless Israelites.

Father de Piconio's Commentary on Ephesians 3:13-21

Eph 3:12. In whom we have trust and access in confidence through his faith.

The result of this eternal purpose of God, carried into effect by the mediation and propitiation of Jesus Christ, and the end and object it was intended to effect, is that we are enabled to draw near to God in full trust and confidence, as children to a Father. We have access with confidence through faith in Christ. And this was God’s purpose from eternity, that for which he created man, and redeemed him. 

Eph 3:13. Therefore I entreat that you fail not in my tribulations for you; which is your glory.

But this being so (i.e., what was said in the previous verses), and having God for your Father, I entreat you not to be downcast and afflicted on account of my sufferings and imprisoment in Judea, my being brought a captive to Rome, my detention here, my possible execution and death: as if this could cast any doubt on the ultimate success of my mission, or the genuineness and truth of what I proclaimed in my preaching among you. God’s great purpose, from eternity is not set aside by opposition or persecution from the powers and princes of this passing world. Rather it is your glory, that I, your Apostle, should be counted worthy to suffer like Christ, and with Christ, and the palm of martyrdom, when I receive it, will be the token of your triumph and victory, as well as mine. God so loved us, says St. Chrysostom, that he gave his Son to die, and his servants to suffer, for us. St. Jerome and the Syrian version read it, I pray that I may not fail, or lose courage, but all other interpreters understand it as the Vulgate.

Eph 3:14. For this thing’s sake I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
Eph 3:15. Of whom every paternity in heaven and in earth is named,
Eph 3:16. That he will give you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with power through his Spirit, into the interior man.

On account of all that depends upon the maintenance of your faith and confidence in God under discouragement, and your disappointment and alarm at my imprisonment, I throw myself on my knees in prayer before God, entreating him to strengthen you with his spirit of power. St. Augustine remarks (Serm. 7. de verbis Apostoli) that St. Paul had entreated the Ephesians themselves not to allow their faith to fail, because this was of their free will, but at the same time he earnestly implores of God the aid of his Spirit to strengthen them, because free will is not sufficient, unless aided by the grace of God, to support the soul under trial.

The language of verses 14 and 15 is directed against the error of the heretics, who held that there were two original principles, one good and the other evil, and that it was by the evil principle, and his angels, that the material world was framed. Christ was not, therefore, in their view, the Son of the creator of the world. The Apostle teaches that there is but one God, who made all things, and is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, and in a different sense the Father also of angels and of the human soul, that is by’ adoption, for these do not spring from his substance, but are the work of his hands. He is the source of all Fatherhood in heaven and earth. And he asks for God’s blessing and the grace of strength for the Ephesian Christians, according to the riches of his glory, the richness of his mercy, kindness, and charity, which is his highest glory, so far as we know, and which is lauded, praised and glorified in the Scriptures of the Old Testament. Gratias agimus tibi propter magnam gloriam tuam, for his infinite love and mercy, which is God’s great glory.

Eph 3:17. Christ to dwell by faith in your hearts, rooted and founded in charity.

The Syriac version read these verses: that God would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened by his spirit, that in your interior man Christ may dwell through faith, and in your hearts through charity, your root and foundation remaining unmoved and firm, so that you may be able to comprehend, &c. The interior man is the mind, will, or resolution, and this, according to the Greek text and the Vulgate, requires to be strengthened by the Spirit of God. Faith is said to dwell in the heart, which in ancient times was figuratively regarded as the seat of the intellectual powers, and faith is an intellectual virtue, to which reason and understanding contribute. Rooted and founded in charity. Charity is a tree which throws its branches towards the skies, in search of the smile of God, and sends its roots downwards, to soothe and alleviate the sorrows of earth. And Charity is a building of which the foundations are fixed firmly in the love of God, and faith in his love and care for us, while the upper chambers afford a refuge for the homeless and the friendless. Only the grace of charity enables the soul to understand and measure, to apprehend and realize the infinite charity of God, to which it is in its measure the response.

Eph 3:18. That you may be able to comprehend with all the saints, what is the width and length and height and depth;

That you may be able to comprehend and understand, with all other Christians, for whom also I implore the same inestimable happiness, the measurement of the divine goodness and charity shown in the mystery of man’s redemption, and the vocation of the nations to the faith and grace of Jesus Christ. Wide as the furthest limits of the inhabited world, long as the ages of eternity through which God’s love for his people will endure, deep as the abyss of misery and ruin from which he has raised us, high as the throne of Christ in the heavens, where he has placed us. The Apostle’s words are indeterminate, since he does not expressly say the breadth and length, the height and depth, of what, and there have been accordingly many interpretations of this passage, which are enumerated by Cornelius a Lapide. The above seems to be that which is most in agreement with the argument of St. Paul in this place. St. Augustine refers to the four members of the cross on which Christ was fixed, the lower end of which was buried in the ground, but it may be doubted whether this is to be regarded as a poetical or rhetorical allusion, on whether he considered this resemblance to be actually in the Apostle’s mind.

Eph 3:19. To know also the charity of Christ, which exceeds knowledge, that you may be filled to all the plenitude of God.

That you may know the charity of Christ, which exceeds all human knowledge, and cannot be fully measured and comprehended by any finite intelligence, not even in the ages of eternity. St. Paul uses the word know in the sense of learn or advance in the knowledge of. This infinite charity Christ exhibited in offering himself for us to God the Father, a sacrifice on the cross, and will exhibit farther by the manifestation of his love to the Saints in heaven.

That you may be filled to the fulness of God. The fulness of God is the complete perfection of Deity, reflected and represented to creation in Jesus Christ. The fulness of all perfection, the infinite holiness of God. It pleased the Father that in Christ all the fulness should dwell (Col 1:19). In him dwelleth all the fulness of Deity, (Col 2:9). God gives the Spirit to Christ without measure, (see John 3:34). But this fulness Christ imparts to his faithful people, as he makes them partakers of all his privileges and all his glory. Of his fulness all we have received, (John 1:16). That the Saints receive God’s grace in different degree, according to their measure and capacity, is certain; but vessels of different capacity may all be full. That you may be filled with the knowledge and love of God, and the fulness of all divine gifts. We have in this passage a complete description of the reward of the spiritual life. Strengthened with the might of the Spirit, Christ dwelling in the heart by faith, charity immovable and unfailing, a complete understanding of the full extent of the love of Christ, which exceeds all human knowledge. The Greek word πληρωμα, used in these passages by St. Paul and St. John is borrowed from the vocabulary of the heretics, who designated by it the abode of the angels or celestial spirits who presided over the destinies of man and the order of the universe. This is why St. Paul says that the whole  πληρωμα dwells in Christ.

20. And to him who is able to do all things more abundantly than we ask or understand, according to the power which operates in us;
21. To him be the glory in the Church and in Christ Jesus, to all generations of the age of ages. Amen.

The consideration of the infinite love of God prompts the Apostle to this ascription of glory and thanksgiving. God is able to do for us infinitely more than we can either ask or understand, and this, in some degree, we know by our own experience, by his grace which operates or is effectual in us. And as he is able, he is also ready, and what he does is not limited by what we ask. We may, therefore, in full confidence, leave our future to him. To him, therefore, be the glory in the Church which has been redeemed and saved by Jesus Christ; not to us, the Apostles, who are his ministers and messengers. The Greek text omits the word and before in Christ Jesus. The Syriac has: To him be glory in his Church through Jesus Christ for all the ages of the world of worlds. The Greek and the Vulgate have to all generations, which indicates that the benediction extends to the end of this world, through all generations of the Church on earth.

Thursday, Oct 23: Father Callan's Commentary on Ephesians 3:13-21

Besides Fr. Callan’s notes on verses 13-21 this post also contains his summaries of Eph 3:1-13, Eph 3:14-19, and Eph 3:20-21. These summaries will appear at the appropriate spots in the notes.


A Summary of Eph 3:1-13~Having spoken in the first Chapter of this Epistle of God’s eternal purpose to unite Jewish and non-Jewishpeoples in the one Church of Christ, and having shown in the second Chapter how this purpose has been realized in the present period of grace with its prospect of glorious consummation in the Church Triumphant hereafter, the Apostle, according to his custom after such meditations on the wondrous ways of God, begins a prayer of thanksgiving on behalf of the “Ephesians”; but he has only begun (Eph 3:1a) when he is somehow reminded of his chains and what has made him a prisoner for Christ, and this causes him to digress (Eph 3:1b-13) to consider the part he has played in the realization of God’s eternal purpose to unite all the nations of the world in the one spiritual fold of Christ, and to unfold again the unsearchable wisdom of God hidden in the purpose of that divine mystery and age-old secret. For a parallel parenthesis see Rom 5:13-18.

Eph 3:13. Wherefore I pray you not to faint at my tribulations for you, which is your glory.

Another consequence of the revelation preached by Paul is the sufferings it brought upon him; but here he prays that his readers may not grow remiss and faint-hearted as a result of the afflictions he has to endure for preaching the Gospel to them; for his sufferings are their glory, inasmuch as they are an evidence of God’s love for them, since God was willing to permit His Apostle to endure so much for their sakes: the privileges they enjoy and the afflictions Paul has undergone that they might have those privileges indicate how dear they are to God.

Wherefore, i.e., in view of your dignity and privileges, resulting from God’s eternal decree realized in Christ.

I pray. This is more probably to be understood of a real prayer to God for the Apostle’s readers, as we gather from the similar use of the verb in Eph 3:20 and Col 1:9.

Not to faint
should not be interpreted as applying to the Apostle himself, who gloried in his tribulations and declared that nothing could separate him from the love of Christ (Rom 5:3, Rom 8:38-39; 2 Cor 12:10; Col 1:24), but to his readers, to whose glory it was that he had to suffer, and who therefore should not be discouraged.


A Summary of Eph 3:14-19~Having considered his ministry among the Gentiles, St. Paul now continues his prayer interrupted in verse 1b. Prostrating himself in mind before the Father of all, from whom all fathership in heaven and on earth derives its name and its nature, he asks that his readers may be interiorly strengthened by the Divine Spirit; that Christ by faith may dwell in their hearts; that, being rooted and founded in charity, they may be able to comprehend with all the faithful the full scope and extent of His love for us, which surpasses all our understanding; and that, finally, they may come to embody in their own lives the full content of plenitude of God.

Eph 3:14. For this cause I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,

The Apostle resumes the prayer begun in Eph 3:1, but interrupted by the long parenthesis of Eph 3:2-13.

For this cause, i.e., in view of the grace given the Gentiles, which makes them equal sharers with the Jews in Messianic benefits.

I bow my knees, etc., words denoting a humble and fervent attitude of prayer, not necessarily expressed by the physical posture. The “Father” is addressed because He is the creator and source of all things. The words, “of our Lord Jesus Christ,” should be omitted, according to the evidence of the Greek MSS. and the best Patristic authority.

Eph 3:15. Of whom every paternity in heaven and earth is named,

Of whom every paternity, etc. St. Paul is stressing the common Fatherhood of God. Every paternity (πασα πατρια) is named from the father ( πατερα), and all created fatherhood is but a reflection at best of the Fatherhood of God.

In heaven and on earth, i.e., among the angels in heaven and the different nations of the earth ; every possible family derives its name and has its being from the Father above. The angels are said to be divided into different families according to their different orders (Estius).

Eph 3:16. That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory to be strengthened by his Spirit with might unto the inner man.
Eph 3:17. That Christ may dwell by faith in your hearts; that being rooted and founded in charity,
Eph 3:18. You may be able to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth, and length, and height, and depth:
Eph 3:19. To know also the charity of Christ, which surpasseth all knowledge, that you may be filled unto all the fullness of God

In verses 16-19 The Apostle comes back to the purpose for which he has figuratively bent his knees in prayer, and asks God to give his readers strength, and this “according to the riches of his glory,” I.e., in a manner beyond measure, or according to His infinite power and goodness. In Eph 1:19 St. Paul had prayed that his readers might know “what is the exceeding greatness of his power towards us who believe,” and here he prays that they may be made mighty with that power; and his prayer now is a positive supplication corresponding to the negative petition, “not to faint,” of Eph 3:13.

By his Spirit (ver. 16) etc., i.e., that they may be strengthened by the grace of the Holy Ghost in the higher or spiritual faculties of their souls, in their conscience, understanding, imagination, and will—for all of which the heart in Scripture is regarded as the seat. In further and more determinate words, he prays that (ver. 17) “Christ may dwell by faith in their hearts” (i.e., that the presence of Christ in their minds and wills may, by means of a faith which operates by charity, become ever more perfect), so that “being rooted, etc.” (i.e., being firmly fixed in love of God), they “may be able to comprehend” (i.e., mentally to perceive ver. 18) “with all the saints” (i.e., in union with the whole assembly of the faithful) “what is the breadth, etc.” (i.e., the measurement or full extent of the Messiah’s love for us Christians vers. 18-19); that is to say, that they may even know how great is the love of Christ towards us, so that, as far as it is possible for created intelligences, they may have the strength at length to grasp in Beatific Vision the fullness of the divine nature, that is, that they, the members of Christ’s mystical body, may be able to take in of the divine nature, according to their capacity, as much as their Head, in whom dwells the fullness of divinity corporally (see Eph 4:13), perceives according to His capacity.

It is obvious that the Christian perfection of his readers for which St. Paul here prays can be attained in its fullness only in the life to come beyond the grave, though the progress towards it should go on here continually; and even in that other life of Beatific Vision the soul, while perceiving and knowing in an ever-increasing measure the love of Christ for it, can never fully grasp its divine object through all the ages of eternity, simply because the object is infinite; the created knowledge can never be commensurate with the increate object; the goal is ever being attained, but is never attained or attainable; and hence the Apostle says it “surpasseth all knowledge.”

At first sight it sounds paradoxical that St. Paul should pray that his readers may “be able to comprehend” and “to know” that which he afterwards says “surpasseth all knowledge,” but his meaning is clear: he is praying for such a perception and such a knowledge of the love of Christ for them and such a grasp of the divine nature on their part as will be commensurate with their finite capacities, which can ever be increased and extended, but which, in the nature of things, can never equal and exhaust their divine and infinite object. Forever the redeemed soul will find in God more to know, more to love, more to adore; and even at the farthest stretch of the eternal years it will still be as far away from completely comprehending or exhausting the overflowing ocean of God’s infinite being as it was at its entrance into bliss. Here indeed is a revelation that provides the only philosophy of life that has a clue for the otherwise hopeless riddle of our present existence; that rescues our poor life from its littleness and miseries and links it with the tides of the Eternal; that promises an ultimate and adequate satisfaction to the endless reachings of the human mind and the boundless longings of the human heart.

A further explanation of some words in these verses (Eph 3:16-19) may be needed. Thus, “unto the inner man” (ver. 16) is paralleled by “in your hearts” in the following verse, and it means the higher spiritual faculties of the soul—the domain of reason, thought, conscience, will, etc., as said above. Fr. Callan will now give some further specific notes on verses 17 and 18 which were quoted above. I’ve reproduced those verse here for the readers convenience.
Eph 3:17. That Christ may dwell by faith in your hearts; that being rooted and founded in charity,

By faith, i.e., by means of an implicit trust in all that has been revealed, and this, not merely by a speculative adhesion of the mind to revealed truth, but by a practical exercise in works of what one believes, by a faith that lives by charity: “If any one love me, he will keep my word, etc.” (John 14:23-24).

Being rooted, like a tree of the Lord in the rich soil of the love of God, and founded, like stones of the Temple on the same love.

In charity. It is disputed whether these words should go with what precedes or with what follows; and also whether there is question of God’s love for Christians or of the love Christians have for God. As to the first point, it seems that the participles “rooted” and “founded” need determination, and therefore that the phrase “in charity” should go with them. As to the second point, since the Apostle is praying that his readers may understand Christ’s love for them, and since love is perceived by love and the more Christ is loved the better He is understood, it would seem that the words “in charity” ought to refer to the love Paul’s readers have for Christ.

Eph 3:18. You may be able to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth, and length, and height, and depth:

May be able to comprehend, as far as a finite being can comprehend.

With all the saints, may be taken disjunctively or collectively, as implying what each one of the faithful may be able to do, or what all of them together can do, the knowledge and experience of each individual soul adding to and enriching the knowledge and experience of every other soul.

What is the breadth, etc., is probably an accumulation of terms to express exhaustive measurement; the Apostle wishes his readers to perceive the love of Christ for them to the full extent of their capacity. The object is not expressed after this clause, but we have taken it to be love of Christ for the faithful, which will be named just below. See Rom 8:39 for similar terms of measurement relative to divine love: “Neither height nor depth, nor any other creature, will be able to separate us, etc.” Others, with the Greek Fathers, take the object of the foregoing dimensions to be the mystery of the salvation of all nations through Christ, treated before in this and in the preceding chapters. Such, we are told, is the meaning, because the words, “to know also,” that follow indicate an addition to the thought that precedes, and have their own object distinctly expressed, namely, “the charity of Christ.” But, we may ask, is not that great mystery of the union of all peoples in Christ the effect or the fruit of divine love, and therefore ultimately to be resolved into that love? Moreover, the phrase, “to know also,” may be correctly rendered from the Greek, “and even to know,” which intensifies the thought just previously expressed, without adding to it something new.

That you may be filled, etc. The fullness here intended may be understood of God’s own fullness, which is poured into our souls according to our capacity to receive it: “Be ye perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect, etc.” (Matt 5:48); or it may be taken, as in Eph 1:23, of the fullness which is given to God through the Church. We prefer the first meaning, which is that understood by St. Thomas, St. John Chrysostom, and many others among modern expositors.


A Summary of Eph 3:20-21~As in the Epistle to the Romans (Rom 11:33-36), so also here St. Paul terminates the Dogmatic Part of his letter with a solemn ascription of praise to God. He has considered the great mystery of the union of all nations in Christ, and his own ministry in the revelation of that mystery; he has asked much for his readers, but he has done so with all confidence, because the Almighty Father is able to do all things more abundantly than we can know or understand. It is fitting, therefore, to bring these sublime considerations to a close with words of praise to Him who has done so much for us, and who is able to do infinitely more than we an conceive or desire; neither God’s gifts nor His power can we fully comprehend.

Eph 3:20. Now to him who is able to do all things more abundantly than we desire or understand, according to the power that worketh in us;

According to the power, etc., i.e., according to the grace of the Holy Spirit within us (cf. Rom 8:26; Col 1:29).

Eph 3:21. To him be glory in the church, and in Christ Jesus, unto all generations, world without end. Amen.

To him, etc., i.e., to God all-powerful and our supreme benefactor be the external praise due to His wondrous works.

In the church, i.e., in the mystical body of Christ, which is the theatre wherein are manifested principally the grace and mercy of God.

And in Christ, the Head of the Church, from whom all graces come to us.

Unto all generations, etc. Throughout all time and all eternity the redeemed shall praise God for the graces and mercies He has bestowed upon them in Christ.

Amen, so be it.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Cornelius a Lapide's Commentary on Luke 12:39-48

Text in red are my additions.
Luk 12:39  But this know ye, that if the householder did know at what hour the thief would come, he would surely watch and would not suffer his house to be broken open.
Luk 12:40  Be you then also ready: for at what hour you think not the Son of man will come
. No commentary is provided by Lapide for these verses. I’ve posted a few notes of my own.
In chapter nine our Blessed Lord set fast (literally, “hardened”) his face towards Jerusalem (Luke 9:51). The phrase indicates a prophetic judgment (see Jer 21:10; Ezekiel 21:2, for Jerusalem’s judgement see Luke 13:31-35; Luke 19:41-44). It may also indicate his resolve to commit himself to the Passion (see the Suffering Servant Song of Isaiah 50:7). The theme of judgement and the Passion are both highlighted in Luke’s “Journey to Jerusalem” narrative (Luke 9:51-19:44). The aged Simeon had predicted that Jesus would be a sign of contradiction who would cause the rise and fall of many in Israel (Luke 2:34). His coming was one of judgement, a judgement determined by how you respond. Will you be a faithful or unfaithful servant (Luke 12:41-48)? Can you handle the opposition of those family members who will not respond favorably (Luke 12:49-53)? Can you see the impending crisis and respond (Luke 12:54-59), i.e., will you repent (Luke 13:1-5) while the time of grace and favor remains (Luke 13:6-10)? Or will you be overtaken by the thief for you lack of vigilance (Luke 12:39-40)?
Luk 12:41  And Peter said to him: Lord, dost thou speak this parable to us, or likewise to all?
To all men, especially the faithful, as well to those who are now living as to those who shall live hereafter. Peter doubted of this, because Christ was accustomed to give some doctrines to the Apostles alone, others to all the faithful, and He had here said some things which seemed fitted only to the Apostles and men of perfect lives, as verses 32-37. The rest about watching and waiting for the coming of the Lord seemed to apply to all the faithful.
Luk 12:42  And the Lord said: Who thinkest thou is the faithful and wise steward, whom his lord setteth over his family, to give them their measure of wheat in due season?
Christ replied to Peter that He spoke indeed to all the faithful, but especially to him and the Apostles. For upon them were incumbent greater watching and care, that they might save not only themselves but others of the faithful as well. And Peter was the steward whom Christ set over His household, that is, His Church, as also the other Apostles, according to the words of S. Paul, “Let a man so account of us as of ministers of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God.”
To give them their measure of wheat in due season.  (The Vulgate has mensuram tritici, on which Cornelius comments). Our, Lord alludes to the custom of the ancients, with whom slavery was common and severe. For servants had in abundance many things that Christians have now need of. They put one of the slaves over the mancipii, to distribute, every month, a measure (hence called demensus) of provisions and corn, wheat perhaps, or barley, if they were of inferior degree, as I have shown on Hos 3:2.
Secondly, wheat (tritici) may refer to time. For it is the duty of a good steward, like Joseph, when it is the season of wheat harvest, to dispense it frugally by measure to each head of a family, that it may not be sold or expended on the poor, and so there be an insufficiency for the household. I have explained the rest on Matt 24:45.
Observe the words “steward” and “portion.” For a just steward does not give the same measure to all, but to each his own and according to his age, rank, and desert. It is the proper task of a steward to distribute what is appropriate to each. One kind and proportion of food is proper for an infant, and another for a youth, a third, for a full grown man, a fourth, for the aged—one for a man, another for a woman—one for a daughter, another for a servant—one for sons, another for slaves.
From this Christ moraliter, teaches, Bishops, Pastors, Confessors, Preachers, that they ought not to set forth the same food of doctrine to all the faithful, nor (in general) speak of virtues to all only in a general way, but in particular they should instil into them such as are fit and proper to their age and position.  S. Paul, by his own example, taught the praxis of this parable and sentence when he gave one kind of monition and precept to sons, another to fathers, another to servants, Eph 6:1 and following, and when he wrote to Timothy, 1Tim 5:1-4; so to Titus 2:2, and following.
S. Gregory Thaumaturgus, Bishop of New Cæsarea, followed Christ and S. Paul, as Gregory of Nyssa writes in his life: “A mourner would bear from him what would comfort him; youth were corrected and taught moderation—medicine in fitting conversation was offered to the aged, servants were taught to be well affected to their masters, masters to be kind and gentle to those under their rule; the poor were taught to hold grace the only true riches, the possession of which was in the power of every one; he who boasted himself of his wealth was aptly reminded that he was the steward and not the lord of what he had. Profitable words were given to women, suitable ones to children, and befitting ones to fathers.” And S. Cyprian, as Pontius the deacon wrote in his life, used to urge maidens to a becoming rule of modesty and a manner of dress which was adapted to sanctity. He taught the lapsed penitence, heretics truth, schismatics unity, the sons of God peace and the law of evangelical prayer. He comforted Christians under the loss of their relatives with the hope of the future. He checked the bitterness of envy by the sweetness of befitting remedies. He incited martyrs by exhortation from the divine discourses. Confessors who were signed with the mark on their foreheads he animated by the incentive of the heavenly host. The same, especially, and before all others.
Luk 12:43  Blessed is that servant whom, when his lord shall come, he shall find so doing.
Luk 12:44  Verily I say to you, he will set him over all that he possesseth.
Luk 12:45  But if that servant shall say in his heart: My Lord is long a coming; and shall begin to strike the men-servants and maid-servants, and to eat and to drink and be drunk.

No commentary is given on these verses. Verse 44 may be intended to call to mind the patriarch Joseph (see Ps 105:21 and Gen 41:37-43.

Luk 12:46  The lord of that servant will come in the day that he hopeth not, and at the hour that he knoweth not: and shall separate him and shall appoint him his portion with unbelievers

Shall separate him (see note at end of paragraph). That is, shall separate him from Himself, and His household, the Church triumphant; from the society of the Blessed and from the Beatitude promised to the faithful servants. See St. Jerome on Matt 24: “Shall cut him asunder, that is, shall separate him from the Communion of Saints.” St. Hilary: “Shall separate him from the good promises;” Origen: “Shall cut him off from the gift of the Holy Spirit and from the society and guardianship of the Angels, for Christ will deprive him of all grace, all virtue, all help, and all hope of salvation.”

The Greek dichotomein means literally “to cut in two.”  Some see here a reference to the ancient practice of covenant making, wherein an animal would be split in two and the covenant parties would pass between the parts of the carcass while declaring that they would suffer the animal’s fate if they broke the pact.  Some see such a practice alluded to in Gen 15:7-18..

Contextually, the word should be taken in relation to what preceded (vs 42): “And the Lord said: Who thinkest thou is the faithful and wise steward, whom his lord setteth over his family, to give them  their measure (Gr. sitometron) follows in the present verse: “Shall appoint him his portion (meros) with unbelievers.” Dichotomein, sitometron, and meros all have the basic meaning of portion, division, etc.  If the steward does not portion out (sitometron) the masters food fairly to the other servants (vs 42) he will not have a portion in the master house, but will be portioned in two (dichotomein)  and assigned a portion (meros) with unbelievers (vs 46).  Seen in this way the term “cut in two” has the sense of “being halved off, separated, hence the interpretation given by Lapide.

Shall appoint his position with the unbelievers. That is, shall punish him with the other servants who were unfaithful to him, although they pretended to be the contrary. Hence Mat 24:51 has “with the hypocrites.” These unfaithful are perhaps the unbelieving—they who would not believe in Christ, and of whom it is said, “He that believeth not hath been judged already.” John 3:18.

Luk 12:47  And that servant, who knew the will of his lord and prepared not himself and did not according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes.

And that servant, who knew the will of his lord and prepared not himself. Did not prepare for the coming of his lord by distributing to his fellow-servants their portions of food in season, but by ill-treating them, and by debauchery, squandered the goods of his master, “shall be beaten with many stripes.”

Luk 12:48  But he that knew not and did things worthy of stripes shall be beaten with few stripes. And unto whomsoever much is given, of him much shall be required: and to whom they have committed much, of him they will demand the more.

But he that knew not and did things worthy of stripes shall be beaten with few stripes.  That is, with fewer than he who knew his lord’s will, according to the measure as well of his ignorance as of his act and fault. There are four degrees of ignorance, the first invincible, which is without blame; the second vincible, but hardly so, which has some fault and is subject to punishment; the third crass, which has more blame; the fourth wilful, which has the most blame and the heaviest punishment. Of this the Ps 36:4 speaks, “He deviseth mischief upon his bed; he setteth himself in a way that is not good, he abhorreth not evil.” “This man,” says Euthymius, “despised everything; that one was slothful. But contempt is worse than sloth.” For the slothful man knew not when he might have known, and, as Titus says, he neglected to learn and despised, and derided contemptuously. Hence it is plain against Jovinian and modern heretics that there are degrees even of mortal sin, and some are worse than others, and will therefore meet with more heavy punishment in hell, but one of a milder the other of a more severe punishment.

And unto whomsoever much is given.  And to whomsoever much is given—a greater knowledge that is, and recognition of his master’s will—of him shall much be required, by Christ the judge, and in the particular as well as general judgment. For, as S. Gregory (Hom. 9) says, “When gifts are increased the responsibility is increased also,” and to whom they commit much (that is, the care and superintendence of souls), of him will they ask the more. “Many things,” says Bede, “are entrusted to him, to whom is committed, with his own salvation, the salvation also of the flock of God. From such will Christ, His assessors the Apostles, and the other judges, require the more, not only their own safety and salvation as far as lies in them, but those also of the faithful committed to them. “In the pastor,” says S. Bernard, “is required the care of souls, not the cure (cura requiritur, non curatio). The latter may be impossible from the virulence or pertinacity either of the disease or of the patient.” “These things,” says Titus “clearly show the judgment of the surgeons and pastors, whilst that of the rest is not less grave and perilous. Let them not therefore show pride because of their degree and office, but discharge their duties and feed their flocks with the greater humility, zeal, and diligence.” “Each one, therefore,” says S. Gregory, “ought to be the more humble and prompt to serve God, from the office given to him, as he knows himself to be under the greater obligation of giving account.”

Again, S. Bernard (Lib. iv. de Consid.), lays down forcibly, and point by point, to Pope Eugenius III. what, and how much, God requires from Pontiffs, Bishops, and Prelates. “Consider thyself,” he says, “as the form of justice, the mirror of holiness—the exemplar of piety—the assertor of the truth, the defender of the faith, the doctor of the Gentiles, the leader of Christians, the friend of the bridegroom, the ordainer of the clergy, the pastor of the people, the governor of the unwise, the refuge of the oppressed, the advocate of the poor, the hope of the wretched, the tutor of the young, the judge of widows, the eyes of the blind, the tongue of the dumb, the staff of the aged, the avenger of crimes, the dread of the wicked, the glory of the good, the rod of the powerful, the hammer of tyrants, the father of kings, the judge of the laws, the dispenser of canonries, the salt of the earth, the light of the world, the priest of the Most High, the Vicar of Christ. Who would not be struck with fear, and tremble, when he heard this, all of which is required of your see?” Thus S. Paul to the Heb. xiii. 17, on which, says S. Chrysostom, “I wonder if any guardian of souls can be saved.” Cardinal Bellarmine said the same of Pontiffs. Hence wise and holy men have avoided prelacies, and have only accepted them by compulsion. S. Cyprian, in his Epist. 2, lib. iv., wrote thus of Cornelius the Pontiff. “He did not demand the popedom for himself, nor seize it by force, as others puffed up by their arrogance and pride have done, but quietly and modestly, and like others who have been divinely called to this office, he endured force lest he should be compelled to accept it.” In like manner, as far as they could, SS. Gregory, Chrysostom, Ambrose, Basil, Nazianzen, Nicholas, Athanasius, shunned the office of Bishops; and in our own times Pius V., when chosen Pontiff, turned pale and almost fell into a faint. When asked the reason he frankly answered, “When I was a Religious of the Order of Benedict, I had very good hope of my salvation; when I was afterwards made a Bishop I began to have a dread about it: now that I am chosen Pontiff I almost despair of it, for how am I to give account to God for so many thousands of souls as are in this whole city, when I can scarcely answer for my own soul?” So it is in his life. Finally, the Council of Trent declares the burden of a Bishop’s office to be one formidable to the shoulders of angels.

Wednesday, Oct 22: Pope John Paul II's Commentary on Isaiah 12:1-6

Draw water with joy at the fountain of salvation 

1. The hymn just proclaimed appears as a song of joy in the Liturgy of Lauds. It is a concluding seal on the sections of the Book of Isaiah known for their Messianic reading. It includes chapters 6-12, generally known as the “Book of Emmanuel”. In fact, at the centre of those prophetic sayings towers the figure of a sovereign, who while belonging to the historic Davidic dynasty, reveals transfigured features and receives glorious titles:  “Wonderful counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of peace” (Is 9:6).

The concrete figure of the king of Judah that Isaiah promises as son and successor of Achaz, the sovereign of the time, known to be far removed from the Davidic ideals, is the sign of a higher promise:  that of the Messiah-King who will bring to its fullness the name “Emmanuel”, namely, “God-with-us”, becoming the perfect presence of the divine in human history. It is easy to understand, then, how the New Testament and Christianity did intuit in the profile of the king the personal features of Jesus Christ, Son of God become man in solidarity with us.

2. Scholars now think that the hymn which we are dealing with (cf. Is 12:1-6), on account of its literary quality and its general tone, to be a composition written at a time later than that of the prophet Isaiah who lived in the eighth century before Christ. It is almost like a quotation, a text that resembles a psalm, thought out, perhaps, for liturgical use, that has been inserted here as the conclusion for the “Book of Emmanuel”. In fact, it repeats some of the themes:  salvation, trust, joy, divine action, the presence among the people of the “Holy One of Israel”, an expression that indicates both the “holy” transcendence of God, and his loving and active closeness on which the people of Israel can rely.

The singer is a person who has lived a bitter experience, felt to be an act of divine judgment. But now the trial is over, the purification has taken place; in the place of the Lord’s anger there is a smile, his readiness to save and console.

3. The hymn’s two stanzas delineate two moments. In the first (cf. Is 12:1-3), that begins with the invitation to pray:  “You will say on that day”, the word “salvation” stands out, it is repeated three times and applied to the Lord:  “God indeed is my salvation…. He has become my salvation … the wells of salvation”. Let us recall that the name Isaiah like that of Jesus contains the root of the Hebrew verb ylsa‘, which alludes to bringing about “salvation”. For this reason the one praying has the absolute certainty that divine grace is at the root of his liberation and hope.

It is important to note that he refers implicitly to the great salvific event of the exodus from the slavery of Egypt, as he quotes the words of Moses’ song of deliverance, “the Lord God is my strength and my song” (Ex 15:2).

4. The salvation granted by God, that can make joy and trust flower even on the dark day of the trial, is portrayed by the classic image in the Bible of water:  “You will draw water with joy at the fountain of salvation” (Is 12:3). It reminds us of the scene of the Samaritan woman, when Jesus offers her the possibility of having in herself a “spring of water that will well up to eternal life” (Jn 4:14).

Cyril of Alexandria commented in a marvelous way:  “Jesus calls the life-giving gift of the Spirit living water, the only one through which humanity, even though it was completely abandoned, like the tree trunks on the mountains, and dry, and deprived of every kind of virtue by the deceit of the devil, is restored to the former beauty of its nature…. The Saviour calls the grace of the Holy Spirit water, and if one participates in him, he will have in himself the source of divine teachings, so that he will no longer need the advice of others, and will be able to exhort those who are thirsting for the Word of God. Such were the holy prophets and apostles of God and their successors in the ministry while they were alive on earth. Of them it is written:  “You will draw water with joy at the fountain of salvation” (Commento al Vangelo di Giovanni [Comment on the Gospel of John], II, 4, Roma 1994, pp. 272,275).

Unfortunately, humanity often abandons this fountain that will quench the thirst of the entire being of the person, as the Prophet Jeremiah points out with sadness:  “They have abandoned me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns, that can not hold water” (Jer 2:13). Even Isaiah, a few pages before, exalted the “waters of Shiloah, that run slowly”, symbol of the Lord present in Zion, and threatened the chastisement of the flooding of the “waters of the river, namely, the Euphrates, great and mighty” (Is 8,6-7), symbol of the military and economic might and of idolatry, waters that then fascinated Judah, that would later submerge her.

5. Another invitation, “On that day you will say” the second stanza begins (cf. Is 12:4-6), that is a continual call to joyful praise in honour of the Lord. The commands to praise are multiplied:  “Praise, invoke, manifest, proclaim, sing, shout, exult”.

At the centre of the praise there is a unique profession of faith in God the Saviour who works in history and is beside his creature, sharing his up’s and down’s:  “The Lord has done great works … great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel” (Is 12:5-6). This profession of faith also has a missionary function:  “Among the nations make known his deeds … let this be known throughout all the earth” (12:4-5). The salvation that they have obtained must be witnessed to the world, so that all humanity may run to the fountain of peace, joy and freedom.

Wednesday, October 22: Father de Piconio's Commentary on Ephesians 3:2-13

Although today's first reading begins with verse 2 this post begins with verse 1. Verse 1 draws a direct connection with Eph 2:19-22 and the reader may wish to consult that passage first. Of course, one who is not well acquainted with this Epistle would do well to read the first two chapters. You may also wish to consult the following footnotes found in the NABRE: 

Text of Eph 1:3-14. Footnote to 1:3-14
Text of Eph 1:15-23. Footnote to 1:15-23.
Text of Eph 2:1-10. Footnote to 2:1-10.
Text of Eph 2:11-22. Footnote to 2:11-22
Text of Eph 3:1-13. Footnote to 3:1-13

In this post the reading will appear in full first, followed by individual verses with commentary. Text in red, if any are my additions.

Eph 3:1. For this thing’s sake I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles.
Eph 3:2. If indeed you have heard the dispensation of the grace of God, which was given me towards you.
Eph 3:3. That by revelation the mystery was made known to me, as I have briefly written above.
Eph 3:4. So that you are able, when }ou read, to understand my wisdom in the mystery of Christ
Eph 3:5. Which in other generations was not known to the sons of men, as now it is revealed to his holy Apostles and Prophets in the Spirit.
Eph 3:6. That the nations are coheirs, and united in one body, and fellow participators of his promise, in Christ Jesus, through the Gospel.
Eph 3:7. Of which I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God, which was given me according to the operation of his power.
Eph 3:8. To me of all the saints the least this grace was given, to preach among the Gentiles the untraceable riches of Christ.
Eph 3:9. And to enlighten all men what is the dispensation of the mystery hidden from the ages in God, who created all things.
Eph 3:10. That the multiform wisdom of God may become known to the principalities and powers in the heavenly regions, through the Church,
Eph 3:11. According to the purpose of the ages, which he made in Christ Jesus our Lord;
Eph 3:12. In whom we have trust and access in confidence through his faith.
Eph 1:1. For this thing’s sake I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles. 

For this thing’s sake, because you are, and in order that you may remain, fellow-citizens of the Saints, and the household and temple of God (Eph 2:19-22).  I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ. The article is prefixed to prisoner in the Greek. The prisoner of whom you have so often heard, for the captivity of the Apostle was a great political event, well known throughout the Roman empire. I Paul, who have been chosen by Jesus Christ to carry his name before nations and kings. Act 9:15. It was the indignation and anger of the Jews at his assiduous and successful accomplishment of this mission, which occasioned his imprisomnent, as appears from the narrative in the Acts of the Apostles, 20-28, and accordingly he describes himself as the prisoner, literally the bound, of Jesus Christ, for you Gentiles. It will be observed that St. Paul is not at all ashamed of his imprisonment, or of its cause, but glories in both as a high honour and distinction. This imprisonment was either that of two years at Rome, described Acts 28:30, which is most probable; or that which took place two years later, and ended in the martyrdom of the Apostle, June 29, A.D. 67.

Eph 3:2. If indeed you have heard the dispensation of the grace of God, which was given me towards you. 

You will recognize that I am a prisoner on your account, if, which is most probable, you have heard of the Apostolic mission which God has entrusted to me, towards the Gentiles.  St. Paul had resided and taught three years at Ephesus, but the Saints never, unless absolutely compelled, speak of God’s graces shown to themselves, and it was possible that some of the Ephesians, who had been converted since the visit of the Apostle to their city, might not be sufficiently aware of his claims on their attention. He calls his apostolate the dispensation, or economy, of the grace of God. Economy means the prudent management of domestic affairs, or sometimes of the administration of the government of a state. Here it is God’s prudent provision for the extension of the Gospel and the welfare of the Church. Every apostolate, prelacy, or charge of preaching is a grace of God, given gratuitously for the welfare and advantage of others. It should therefore not be sought for personal reasons, or from the favour of man, or for repose or pleasure; but only for labour.

Eph 3:3. That by revelation the mystery was made known to me, as I have briefly written above. 

You have heard that the mystery was made known to me by divine revelation. The Vulgate here uses the word sacramentum, and in the next verse mysterium, for the Greek term, which is the word last named. What the mystery is, he explains in the following verses. Here he states that God had directly revealed it to him, as is briefly recorded in the former chapters of this Epistle, especially in Eph 1:9. 

Eph 3:4. So that you are able, when }ou read, to understand my wisdom in the mystery of Christ. 

When you read what I have already said, and what I am about to say, you will at once perceive the source from which my information is drawn. The Greek has my intelligence, Theophylact, my knowledge. St. Paul does not always meticulously distinguish between prudence, wisdom, intelligence, and science. 

Eph 3:5. Which in other generations was not known to the sons of men, as now it is revealed to his holy Apostles and Prophets in the Spirit. 

The secret was absolutely unknown, in former generations, to the greater part of the nations of the earth. Neither was it known to any one of those nations, or even to their Prophets, with the same clearness and certainty with which it has now been revealed by the Holy Spirit to the holy Apostles and Prophets of the new law. The vocation of the Gentiles is, indeed, mentioned not obscurely by Isaias and other Prophets, but still there was silence as to many circumstances not then fully revealed, as, for instance, that the Gentiles were to be admitted without becoming; Jewish proselytes, without circumcision and obedience to the precepts of Moses. And to many nations the writings of these Prophets were wholly unknown. The truth was only revealed in its fulness to the Apostles and Prophets of the Christian Church. Of these Prophets there were many in the Apostolic age, as is evident from the writings of St. Paul, and particularly his first Epistle to the Corinthians.

Eph 3:6. That the nations are coheirs, and united in one body, and fellow participators of his promise, in Christ Jesus, through the Gospel. 

The Gentiles, without becoming Jewish proselytes, are heirs with the Jews of God’s heavenly kingdom, members of the holy Catholic Church, which is the mystical body of Christ, and partakers of the promised benediction of all nations, which was announced of old to the patriarch Abraham. Or else, of the Holy Spirit, which God had promised to pour forth upon mankind. And this inheritance, with all its glorious privileges in the present, and anticipations in the future, they obtain by faith in the Gospel of Christ. Those who listen to the teaching of the Apostles, have, therefore, a deeper insight into the mysteries of God, than was communicated even to the Prophets of the Old Testament.

Eph 3:7. Of which I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God, which was given me according to the operation of his power.

I was made a minister and herald of this Gospel, not for any merits of my own, for I was a persecutor of the Church of God, but by the grace of God freely given to me. But this grace was efficacious for the conversion of the nations, through the energy (ενεργειαν = energian) of the strength of God, evidenced by the miracles I was able to accomplish.

Eph 3:8. To me of all the saints the least this grace was given, to preach among the Gentiles the untraceable riches of Christ. 

In a genuine spirit of humility St. Paul is not satisfied to call himself the last and least of Christians, but coins a comparative of this superlative, ἐλαχιστότερος (elachistoteros) less than the least, behind the last (or, “the leaster”) Yet his trust in God’s power was equal to his sense of his own personal unworthiness. St. Chrysostom says that St. Paul brought three things to his preaching; a dauntless courage, an unequalled wisdom, a blameless life. We are not worthy even to remember him. In fol. gog of this Father will be found some comparisons illustrating the difficulty of imitating him. The grace, or favour, which St. Paul declares to have been conferred upon himself, was the privilege of making known to the nations the unsearchable, inexhaustible, literally the untraceable, riches of Christ. The riches of Christ is his generosity, the infinite richness, splendour, and felicity of the gifts which he has in store for those who believe in him, in the life to come, never to be exhausted or understood, and which he gives in part and in anticipation during this mortal life.

Eph 3:9. And to enlighten all men what is the dispensation of the mystery hidden from the ages in God, who created all things. 

To teach all men what is the economy of this mystery. The Economy, in the language of theologians, means the Incarnation of Christ and the work of our redemption. To let all men see how God retained through the ages this great purpose, known only to himself, and how wisely and wonderfully, in the fulness of the times, he has accomplished it, by the Incarnation and death of Christ.

This Economy was a mystery known only to God, and hidden during the ages from all other knowledge than his. Who created all things. The Greek text has: who created all things by Jesus Christ, and this is the reading of Saint Chrysostom and of Theodoret. The last-named writer has, who made all things, his Son co-operating with him.

The same statement is made also by St. John, 1:3, Thorough him (the Word) were all things made, and apart from him was nothing made; and has been incorporated, almost in the expressions of Saint John, in the Creed of Nicæ: By whom, Jesus Christ, our one Lord, per quern omnia facta sunt ("through whom all things were made"), through him, or by his instrumentality, were all things made. St. Paul’s introduction of this truth into his argument in this place, is in all probability directed against the heresy of the followers of Simon Magus, who maintained that the corporeal world was not made by Christ, nor by God the Father, but by inferior agents, or Angels of great power, but infinitely removed from the Supreme Deity. The same or similar heresies were still extant when St. John wrote his Gospel, at Ephesus, many years later, for which reason that Evangelist also repeats this wonderful truth. For it is in reality the foundation of the Christian faith, that the Creator of the world is Mary’s Son, that is, its immediate Creator, acting in concert with his Father. But as God created all things by Jesus Christ, so also by Jesus Christ he re-created, restored, and regenerated all things in the great Economy, the Incarnation and death of God the Son.

The office of Apostles, Evangelists, and preachers is to enlighten all men. They are on earth what the higher ranks of angels are among the lower in heaven. Their function is to purify, enlighten, and make perfect. This is why the Angel in Rev19:20, would not receive worship from an Apostle. See that you do it not,for I am your fellow-servant.

Eph 3:10. That the multiform wisdom of God may become known to the principalities and powers in the heavenly regions, through the Church, 

The statement of the Apostle in this verse is that God had called him to make known the Gospel of Christ to the Gentile nations of the world, in order, doubtless among other reasons, chat the multiform wisdom of God may now (this word is in the Greek text) become known, as it never was known before, to the highest spirits of creation, who bear rule, authority, and power, in God’s great empire in the heavens. This revelation is made to them through the fortunes, the history, the extension, and the wonderful permanence and preservation, of the holy Catholic Church, in all which Paul, as one of the founders of that Church, had a special share. And they will now understand, what they could not so clearly perceive before, how throughout all the history of the world in former ages God has been preparing the way for, and disposing the history and migrations of the nations, and the vicissitudes of empires, to the accomplishment of the great purpose he had all along in view, which was, one day to bring the nations to reconciliation with himself and the hope of eternal salvation, in his Son Jesus Christ, the Lord of Creation and second founder and chief of the human race. Thus, says Theophylact, God’s mercy to man teaches his
wisdom to the Angels. Paul is the Evangelist of angels, and enlightens them, says St. Chrysostom. The mysteries of God are made known to the highest orders of creation, through the Church; a consideration which adds inconceivably to the dignity and honour of the human species. The Angel in the Apocalypse, 19:1o, as before observed, would not accept the worship of the Apostle, because the function and office of the Apostle were higher than his own. The statement in the text is doubtless directed against the followers of Simon Magus, who held that the angels, especially the higher orders of the celestial hierarchy, are our mediators with God, and ought to be adored as gods. 

Eph 3:11. According to the purpose of the ages, which he made in Christ Jesus our Lord; 

The purpose of the ages which he made in Christ Jesus. There is some ambiguity in this verse, there being nothing either in the Greek or Latin phrase to show whether the antecedent to the relative pronoun which is the wisdom, or the Church, or the purpose. St. Jerome thinks it is the multiform wisdom of God, which he formed or planned in Christ. Others understand that this is made known through the Church, which God founded in Christ. More commonly it is understood of the purpose of the ages, which God from eternity, before the world was, intended to accomplish in Christ.

Eph 3:12. In whom we have trust and access in confidence through his faith. 

The result of this eternal purpose of God, carried into effect by the mediation and propitiation of Jesus Christ, and the end and object it was intended to effect, is that we are enabled to draw near to God in full trust and confidence, as children to a Father. We have access with confidence through faith in Christ. And this was God’s purpose from eternity, that for which he created man, and redeemed him.


Wednesday, Oct 22: Eph 3:1-13~The Revelation of the Mystery Through the Preaching of St Paul

Although today's first reading is on Eph 3:2-12 this post opens with Fr. Callan's summary of Ephesians 3:1-13 followed by the text and notes. Text in red, if any, are my notes.

A Summary of Ephesians 3:1-13.

Having spoken in the first Chapter of this Epistle of God's eternal purpose to unite Jewish and non-Jewish peoples in the one Church of Christ, and having shown in the second Chapter how this purpose has been realized in the present period of grace with its prospect of glorious consummation in the Church Triumphant hereafter, the Apostle, according to his custom after such meditations on the wondrous ways of God, begins a prayer of thanksgiving on behalf of the "Ephesians"; but he has only begun (Eph 3:la) when he is somehow reminded of his chains and what has made him a prisoner for Christ, and this causes him to digress (Eph 3:1b-13) to consider the part he has played in the realization of God's eternal purpose to unite all the nations of the world in the one spiritual fold of Christ, and to unfold again the unsearchable wisdom of God hidden in the purpose of that divine mystery and age-old secret. For a parallel parenthesis see Rom. 5:13-18.

Eph 3:1. For this cause, I Paul the prisoner of Jesus Christ, for you Gentiles;

For this cause, a phrase repeated again in ver. 14, where Paul resumes his prayer ; it refers back to what he has been saying in Eph 2:11-22.

I Paul is a characteristic way of introducing himself when he is about to treat matters of grave importance or defend his authority (cf. 2 Cor. 10:1; Gal. 5:2; Col. 1:23; 1 Thess. 2:18; Phlm. 9, 19). St. Chrysostom would insert "am" here after Paul, so as to read: "I Paul am the prisoner, etc." But if this were the meaning, the article before "prisoner" in Greek should be omitted. Hence, it is better with Theodoret, Theodore of Mopsuestia, and all modern interpreters to recognize the break in the sentence here and its resumption at ver. 14.

The prisoner, etc., i.e., a prisoner according to the will of his Master, and for the cause of his Master (Phlm. 1, 9; 2 Tim. 1:8).

For you Gentiles, i.e., on behalf of you Gentiles, for preaching to you the Messianic salvation and admitting you on a level with the Jews in the Church of Christ (cf. Acts 21:21 ff.).

Eph 3:2. If at least you have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me towards you:

If at least you have heard. Abbott and many others hold that these words prove that St. Paul was addressing readers personally unknown to him. Westcott thinks there is nothing in the words to sustain such a conclusion. Moule believes we have here "a phrase of almost irony, an illusion to well-known fact under the disguise of hypothesis." Alexander says the words are expressive of gentle assurance. As a compromise, Robinson holds they mean that some, at least, of the readers were personally unknown to the Apostle. Hitchcock explains that St. Paul first had the intention of writing to the Ephesians, as he had written to the Colossians, but that his outlook changed as he wrote, embracing the Churches of the Lycus Valley and other Gentiles. Voste would translate: "Since indeed you have heard, etc." If we explain the words as conditional, as in Eph. 4:21, we still may hold that they are rhetorical, not implying any real doubt.

The dispensation of the grace, etc., better, "the stewardship of the grace, etc." The Messianic Kingdom is a reign of grace, and St. Paul was designated by Christ to be His steward in dispensing the Messianic grace to the Gentiles. Cf. 1 Cor. 917; Col. 1:24-25.

Eph 3:3. How that, according to revelation, the mystery has been made known to me, as I have written above in a few words;

The Apostle now begins to explain how the mystery of grace was made known to him, that is, his apostleship among the Gentiles, as he has explained above in Eph 2:11-22. That is, the Apostle, having presented a summary of the mystery of God's gracious plan in Eph 2:11-22, now moves to tell how this revelation and his duty to make it known came to him. In the process he will remind and allude to things he has written earlier in the letter.

How. The Vulg. quoniam should be quomodo, used to indicate the object of St. Paul's ministry, namely, that the Gentiles were to be fellow-heirs, etc. (ver. 6). 

According to revelation, made to Paul directly on the road to Damascus at the time of his conversion, and elsewhere later on (Acts 9:4-18; Gal. 1:12, 2:2; 2 Cor. 12:1,, 7, etc). 

The mystery, i.e., the purpose of God to save Gentiles as well as Jews through Christ (cf. Eph 3:5-6 below).

As I have written, etc., in this letter (Eph 1:4-14, 2:4-9, 11-22).

Eph 3:4. Whereby, as you read, you may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ,

Whereby, as you read, etc. The meaning is that, as they read what he has already written in the first two Chapters of this letter, they will perceive his deep insight into God's world-purpose as revealed in the Incarnation of His Son, namely, the salvation of the world by means of the cross and the incorporation of the Gentiles with the Chosen People

Eph 3:5. Which in other generations was not known to the sons of men, as it is now revealed to his holy apostles and prophets in the Spirit;

Which eternal purpose and deep mystery was never before known to mankind as it is now revealed in the Gospel by means of a special revelation communicated to chosen Apostles and
prophets whom the Holy Ghost has inspired and set apart in order that they may make it known to the world. 

Was not known, at all to the pagan world, and was only dimly shadowed forth among the Chosen People, the most of whom did not understand it. 

Sons of men is a Hebraism meaning all men. 

Holy apostles, etc., i.e., men especially selected and consecrated for their supernatural work, but not necessarily sanctified personally. That there is question here only of New Testament prophets is clear from the phrase "now revealed."

In the Spirit, i.e., in the Holy Ghost, by whom the human mediums were inspired.

Eph 3:6. That the Gentiles should be fellow-heirs, and of the same body, and co-partners of the promise in Christ Jesus, by the gospel: (see Eph 2:13, 18-19)

St. Paul now gives a brief definition of the content of the long hidden mystery in so far as it pertained to the Gentiles, namely, that God has made the Gentiles equal to the Jews as regards salvation; they are now "fellow-heirs" with the Jews to heaven, members of the same mystical body, the Church, sharers in the same high destiny "in Christ" (i.e., in vital union with Him), which was long ago promised to Abraham and his offspring (Gen. 12:3; Gal. 3:8; 4:29 ; Rom. 4:13, 16), and is now made manifest in the preaching of the Gospel.

The promise. The correct reading according to the best Greek and Latin MSS. Lesser authorities have "His promise."

Eph 3:7. Of which I am made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God, which is given to me, according to the operation of his power.

The Apostle begins now to speak of the mission that has been entrusted to him, the dispensation spoken of above in Eph 3:2. He has been made a "minister" of the Gospel, not by his own choice or because of his merits, but by a gratuitous gift of divine grace, which made an Apostle out of a persecutor and gave him invincible strength to pursue his vocation. The grace here referred to was a gratia gratis data, a divine gift to be used for the benefit of others.

According to . . . according to. Note the parallelism: divine grace made him a minister of the Gospel, and divine grace sustains him in his work for the Gospel; his vocation was a divine gift, and his labors were the result of a divine operation, of God-given working power. Cf. Col. 1:29; Gal. 2:8.

Eph 3:8. To me, the least of all the saints, is given this grace, to preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ,

Here and in the following verse St. Paul will speak of the purpose of his preaching.

To me. The thought of the greatness of the mission confided to him by the grace of God reminds the humble Apostle of his personal unworthiness and insignificance.

The least in the Greek is a word probably coined by the Apostle himself, which literally means "leaster," or "more least."

Of all the saints, i.e., of all the Christians (cf. 1 Cor. 15:8-9). St. Paul never forgets his past life as a persecutor, and the more he realizes the greatness of the grace of God bestowed on him, the more clearly his own unworthiness appears.

To preach, etc. Behold the grace and the mission vouchsafed to Paul, to announce to the Gentile world the infinite treasures of divine truth, love and power, which God has provided for mankind through Jesus Christ.

Unsearchable, literally, "untrackable by footprints," untraceable, a word found only here and in Rom. 11:33 in all the New Testament; it means incomprehensible. So vast are the treasures of
grace hidden in the Gospel and confided to the Church that they utterly transcend our powers of understanding.

Eph 3:9. And to enlighten all men that they may see what is the dispensation of the mystery which hath been hidden from eternity in God, who created all things: 

To enlighten, etc. Such was the further effect of Paul's preaching of the Gospel, to make known to all men the divine plan, hidden from eternity, of saving the whole world by means of the human life, labors, sufferings, death, and glorious resurrection of the eternal Son of God made man. 

All men. The Greek word is omitted by some ancient MSS. and good authorities, but the weight of authority favors its retention. 

Hidden from eternity, etc. Not until the coming of Christ, the Messiah, was the divine economy relative to the salvation of men actually and completely made known; till then it was known in its fullness only to the Godhead. 

Who created all things. The Apostle adds this to remind his readers that He who was able to create all things through the Son in the beginning is now able to redeem all through the Son. Some lesser authorities add, "by means of Jesus Christ," which may be rejected as a gloss, Cf. Col. 1:25-27 for a parallel passage to verses 8 and 9 here.

Eph 3:10. That now the manifold wisdom of God may be made known to the principalities and powers in heavenly places through the church,

As it was the purpose of the preaching of Paul to make known to the nations the revelation of the mystery hidden in God from eternity (Eph 3:8-9), so in turn was it the purpose of that revelation to make known to the world the unsearchable riches of the Messiah and His stewardship, hidden from the beginning in the Creator (Eph 3:10-11), that is, "that now" (in contrast to the ages that preceded the coming of the Christ) "the manifold wisdom of God, etc." (i.e., the many-sided and infinitely varied wisdom of God in providing for the salvation of man through the Incarnation of the Son of God) might be made known through the Church to the world of angelic intelligences, including both the good and the evil angels. 

Now (Vulg. nunc), omitted in the Douai, is expressed in the Greek. 

Manifold. Literally, "much variegated." The word is found here only in the New Testament. 

Principalities and powers, i.e., good and bad angels, according to St. Chrysostom and the evidence of Eph 6:12 below (cf. also Eph 1:21 above). 

In the heavenly places. See on Eph 1:3. Here is what Fr. Callan wrote regarding the phrase in 1:3~In heavenly places (literally, In the heavenlies) . This unusual phrase occurs four more times in this Epistle (Eph 1:20, Eph 2:6, Eph 3:10, Eph 6:12), but nowhere else; and each time there is question of locality, save the last, perhaps. These blessings therefore come from heaven and lead to heaven, they are both present and future; and they are given “in Christ”—that is, through Christ, by virtue of our union with Christ, who is the way, the truth and the life that lead to the Father. Christ is the head, and we are the members of His mystical body, the Church; we share in His life. This doctrine of the union of the faithful with Christ, their mystical head, is uppermost in this section and throughout the whole Epistle. The phrase “in Christ” is found twenty-nine times in the Pauline Epistles, and only three times elsewhere, and that in 1 Peter. In forty-three other passages of St. Paul we find the enlarged phrase, “in Christ Jesus,” and four times “in the Christ.” Everywhere these phrases denote our close union with Christ as members of His mystical body.

Through the church, in which the divided human family has been united, and which contains and dispenses the treasures of grace, thus continuing the work of the Redeemer till the end of time in the sight of men and angels. "It is by no means repugnant that through the work of Christ, which the Church continues and carries out to the end of the present world, the infinite riches of the wisdom and mercy of the Redeemer should be successively manifested to the angels themselves" (St. Thomas.).

Eph 3:11. According to the eternal purpose, which he made in Christ Jesus, our Lord:

According to the eternal purpose, etc., literally, "according to the purpose of the ages, etc." The manifold wisdom of God was hidden in the eternal purpose; and that purpose, running through the whole course of the ages, has now been "made" (i.e., realized) in "Christ Jesus, our Lord," sacrificed, risen, and enthroned forever as the center and Sovereign of the universe; and with the
realization of the purpose the multifarious wisdom of God has been made known in part already, and is continually being unfolded to men and angels down to the end of the world. It is disputed whether the words, "which he made," refer to the decree which God made from eternity regarding future ages, etc., or to the execution of that decree in time; but the context seems to favor the latter

Eph 3:12. In whom we have boldness, and access with confidence by the faith of him.

St. Paul has just discussed the purpose of God's revelation made known through the preaching of that revelation, which was to disclose to heavenly intelligences the manifold wisdom of God, as realized in Christ. Now, in verses 12-13, he will treat of the consequences of that same revelation. The first of these consequences is that in Christ, that is, by reason of our mystical union with Him, "we have boldness, etc.," i.e., we now enjoy freedom of speech and communication with the Father, "and access" (i.e., introduction) to Him, not in fear, but in confidence (Rom. 8:38-39), and this through the faith we have in Christ.

The faith of him means the faith we have "in Him," as we know from similar constructions in Mark 11:22; Gal. 2:16, 3:22; Rom. 3:22, 26; Phil. 3:9.

Eph 3:13. Wherefore I pray you not to faint at my tribulations for you, which is your glory.

Another consequence of the revelation preached by Paul is the sufferings it brought upon him; but here he prays that his readers may not grow remiss and faint-hearted as a result of the afflictions he has to endure for preaching the Gospel to them; for his sufferings are their glory, inasmuch as they are an evidence of God's love for them, since God was willing to permit His Apostle to endure so much for their sakes: the privileges they enjoy and the afflictions Paul has undergone that they might have those privileges indicate how dear they are to God.

Wherefore, i.e., in view of your dignity and privileges, resulting from God's eternal decree realized in Christ.

I pray. This is more probably to be understood of a real prayer to God for the Apostle's readers, as we gather from the similar use of the verb in Eph. 3:20 and Col. 1:9.

Not to faint should not be interpreted as applying to the Apostle himself, who gloried in his tribulations and declared that nothing could separate him from the love of Christ (Rom. 5:3, 8:38-39; 2 Cor. 12:10; Col. 1:24), but to his readers, to whose glory it was that he had to suffer, and who therefore should not be discouraged.