Monday, May 18, 2015

Navarre Bible Commetary:
Monday, 7th Week of Easter

John 16:29–33
29 His disciples said, “Ah, now you are speaking plainly, not in any figure! 30 Now we know that you know all things, and need none to question you; by this we believe that you came from God.” 31 Jesus answered them, “Do you now believe? 32 The hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, every man to his home, and will leave me alone; yet I am not alone, for the Father is with me. 33 I have said this to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”  
Catholic Exegesis:
The Second Vatican Council teaches  that if we are to derive the true meaning from the sacred texts,  attention must be devoted “not only to their content but to the unity of the whole of Scripture, the living tradition of the entire Church, and the analogy of faith. […] Everything to do with the interpretation of Scripture is ultimately subject to the judgment of the Church, which exercises the divinely conferred communion and ministry of watching over and interpreting the Word of God” (Dei Verbum, 12).
St. John Paul II, when he promulgated the Catechism of the Catholic Church,  explained that the Catechism "is a statement of the Church's faith and of catholic doctrine, attested to or illumined by Sacred Scripture, the Apostolic Tradition and the Church's Magisterium."  He went on to "declare it to be a sure norm for teaching the faith and thus a valid and legitimate instrument for ecclesial communion" (Fidei Depositum).
Cited in the Catechism:
Passages from this Gospel reading are cited in the Catechism, paragraphs 661, 1808, 2615, 2795 and 2815.
Commentary:
16:25–30. As can be seen also from other passages in the Gospels, Jesus spent time explaining his doctrine in more detail to his apostles than to the crowd (cf. Mk 4:10–12 and par.)—to train them for their mission of preaching the Gospel to the whole world (cf. Mt 28:18–20). However, our Lord also used metaphors or parables when imparting instruction to the apostles, and he does so in this discourse of the Last Supper—the vine, the woman giving birth, etc.: he stimulates their curiosity and they, because they do not understand, ask him questions (cf. vv. 17–18). Jesus now tells them that the time is coming when he will speak to them in a completely clear way so that they will know exactly what he means. This he will do after the Resurrection (cf. Acts 1:3). But even now, since he knows their thoughts, he is making it even plainer to them that he is God, for only God can know what is happening inside someone (cf. Jn 2:25). Verse 28, “I came from the Father and have come into the world; again, I am leaving the world and going to the Father” summarizes the mystery of Christ’s Person (cf. Jn 1:14; 20:31).

16:31–32. Jesus moderates the apostles’ enthusiasm, which expresses itself in a spontaneous confession of faith; he does this by asking them a question which has two dimensions. On the one hand, it is a kind of reproach for their having taken too long to believe in him: it is true that there were other occasions when they expressed faith in the Master (cf. Jn 6:68–69; etc.), but until now they have not fully realized that he is the One sent by the Father. The question also refers to the fragility of their faith: they believe, and yet very soon they will abandon him into the hands of his enemies. Jesus requires us to have a firm faith: it is not enough to show it in moments of enthusiasm, it has to stand the test of difficulties and opposition.

16:33. The Second Vatican Council teaches in connexion with this passage: “The Lord Jesus who said ‘Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world’ (Jn 16:33), did not by these words promise complete victory to his Church in this world. This sacred Council rejoices that the earth which has been sown with the seed of the Gospel is now bringing forth fruit in many places under the guidance of the Spirit of the Lord, who is filling the world” (Presbyterorum ordinis, 22).

Source: The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries. Biblical text from the Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries by members of the Faculty of Theology, University of Navarre, Spain.

Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland, and by Scepter Publishers in the United States. We encourage readers to purchase The Navarre Bible for personal study. See Scepter Publishers for details.

"Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ." St Jerome  

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Navarre Bible Commentary:
The Ascension of Our Lord

The Ascension by Brian Whelan
Mark 16:15–20
15 And he said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to the whole creation. 16 He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned. 17 And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; 18 they will pick up serpents, and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.”  
19 So then the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God. 20 And they went forth and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the message by the signs that attended it. Amen.  
Catholic Exegesis:
The Second Vatican Council teaches  that if we are to derive the true meaning from the sacred texts,  attention must be devoted “not only to their content but to the unity of the whole of Scripture, the living tradition of the entire Church, and the analogy of faith. […] Everything to do with the interpretation of Scripture is ultimately subject to the judgment of the Church, which exercises the divinely conferred communion and ministry of watching over and interpreting the Word of God” (Dei Verbum, 12).
St. John Paul II, when he promulgated the Catechism of the Catholic Church,  explained that the Catechism "is a statement of the Church's faith and of catholic doctrine, attested to or illumined by Sacred Scripture, the Apostolic Tradition and the Church's Magisterium."  He went on to "declare it to be a sure norm for teaching the faith and thus a valid and legitimate instrument for ecclesial communion" (Fidei Depositum).
Cited in the Catechism:
Passages from this Gospel reading are cited in the Catechism, paragraphs 645  and 659.
Commentary:
Jesus appears to the Eleven. The apostles’ mission
16:15. This verse contains what is called the “universal apostolic mandate” (parallelled by Mt 28:19–20 and Lk 24:46–48). This is an imperative command from Christ to his apostles to preach the Gospel to the whole world. This same apostolic mission applies, especially, to the apostles’ successors, the bishops in communion with Peter’s successor, the Pope.
But this mission extends further: the whole “Church was founded to spread the kingdom of Christ over all the earth for the glory of God the Father, to make all men partakers in redemption and salvation.… Every activity of the mystical body with this in view goes by the name of ‘apostolate’; the Church exercises it through all its members, though in various ways. In fact, the Christian vocation is, of its nature, a vocation to the apostolate as well. In the organism of a living body no member plays a purely passive part, sharing in the life of the body it shares at the same time in its activity. The same is true for the body of Christ, the Church: ‘the whole body achieves full growth in dependence on the full functioning of each part’ (Eph 4:16). Between the members of this body there exists, further, such a unity and solidarity (cf. Eph 4:16) that a member who does not work at the growth of the body to the extent of his possibilities must be considered useless both to the Church and to himself.

“In the Church there is diversity of ministry but unity of mission. To the apostles and their successors Christ has entrusted the office of teaching, sanctifying and governing in his name and by his power. But the laity are made to share in the priestly, prophetical and kingly office of Christ; they have therefore, in the Church and in the world, their own assignment in the mission of the whole people of God” (Vatican II, Apostolicam actuositatem, 2).


It is true that God acts directly on each person’s soul through grace, but it must also be said that it is Christ’s will (expressed here and elsewhere) that men should be an instrument or vehicle of salvation for others.


Vatican II also teaches this: “On all Christians, accordingly, rests the noble obligation of working to bring all men throughout the whole world to hear and accept the divine message of salvation” (ibid., 3).


16:16. This verse teaches that, as a consequence of the proclamation of the Good News, faith and Baptism are indispensable pre-requisites for attaining salvation. Conversion to the faith of Jesus Christ should lead directly to Baptism, which confers on us “the first sanctifying grace, by which original sin is forgiven, and which also forgives any actual sins there may be; it remits all punishment due for these sins; it impresses on the soul the mark of the Christian; it makes us children of God, members of the Church and heirs to heaven, and enables us to receive the other sacraments” (St Pius X, Catechism, 553).


Baptism is absolutely necessary for salvation, as we can see from these words of the Lord. But physical impossibility of receiving the rite of Baptism can be replaced either by martyrdom (called, therefore, “baptism of blood”) or by a perfect act of love of God and of contrition, together with an at least implicit desire to be baptized: this is called “baptism of desire” (cf. ibid., 567–568).


Regarding infant Baptism, St Augustine taught that “the custom of our Mother the Church of infant Baptism is in no way to be rejected or considered unnecessary; on the contrary, it is to be believed on the ground that it is a tradition from the apostles” (De Gen. ad litt., 10, 23, 39). The Code of Canon Law also stresses the need to baptize infants: “Parents are obliged to see that their infants are baptized within the first few weeks. As soon as possible after the birth, indeed even before it, they are to approach the parish priest to ask for the sacrament for their child, and to be themselves duly prepared for it” (can. 867).


Another consequence of the proclamation of the Gospel, closely linked with the previous one, is that the Church is necessary, as Vatican II declares: “Christ is the one mediator and way of salvation; he is present to us in his body which is the Church. He himself explicitly asserted the necessity of faith and baptism (cf. Mk 16:16; Jn 3:5), and thereby affirmed at the same time the necessity of the Church which men enter through baptism as through a door. Hence they could not be saved who, knowing that the Church was founded as necessary by God through Christ, would refuse to enter it, or to remain in it” (Lumen gentium, 14; cf. Presbyterorum ordinis, 4; Ad gentes, 1–3; Dignitatis humanae, 11).


16:17–18. In the early days of the Church, public miracles of this kind happened frequently. There are numerous historical records of these events in the New Testament (cf., e.g., Acts 3:1–11; 28:3–6) and in other ancient Christian writings. It was very fitting that this should be so, for it gave visible proof of the truth of Christianity. Miracles of this type still occur, but much more seldom; they are very exceptional. This, too, is fitting because, on the one hand, the truth of Christianity has been attested to enough; and, on the other, it leaves room for us to merit through faith. St Jerome comments: “Miracles were necessary at the beginning to confirm people in the faith. But, once the faith of the Church is confirmed, miracles are not necessary” (Comm. on Mark, in loc.). However, God still works miracles through saints in every generation, including our own.


The ascension of our Lord
16:19. The Lord’s ascension into heaven and his sitting at the right hand of the Father is the sixth article of faith confessed in the Creed. Jesus Christ went up into heaven body and soul, to take possession of the Kingdom he won through his death, to prepare for us a place in heaven (cf. Rev 3:21) and to send the Holy Spirit to his Church (cf. St Pius X, Catechism, 123).


To say that he “sat at the right hand of God” means that Jesus Christ, including his humanity, has taken eternal possession of heaven and that, being the equal of his Father in that he is God, he occupies the place of highest honour beside him in his human capacity (cf. ibid., 1, 7, 2–3). Already in the Old Testament the Messiah is spoken of as seated at the right hand of the Almighty, thereby showing the supreme dignity of Yahweh’s Anointed (cf. Ps 110:1). The New Testament records this truth here and also in many other passages (cf. Eph 1:20–22; Heb 1:13).


As the St Pius V Catechism adds, Jesus went up to heaven by his own power and not by any other. Nor was it only as God that he ascended, but also as man.


The apostles go forth and preach
16:20. Inspired by the Holy Spirit, the evangelist attests that the words of Christ have already begun to be fulfilled by the time of writing. The apostles, in other words, were faithfully carrying out the mission our Lord entrusted to them. They began to preach the Good News of salvation throughout the known world. Their preaching was accompanied by the signs and wonders the Lord had promised, which lent authority to their witness and their teaching. Yet, we know that their apostolic work was always hard, involving much effort, danger, misunderstanding, persecution and even martyrdom—like our Lord’s own life.


Thanks to God and also to the apostles, the strength and joy of our Lord Jesus Christ has reached as far as us. But every Christian generation, every man and woman, has to receive the preaching of the Gospel and, in turn, pass it on. The grace of God will always be available to us: “Non est abbreviata manus Domini” (Is 59:1), the power of the Lord has not diminished.


Source: The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries. Biblical text from the Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries by members of the Faculty of Theology, University of Navarre, Spain.


Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland, and by Scepter Publishers in the United States. We encourage readers to purchase The Navarre Bible for personal study. See Scepter Publishers for details.

"Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ." St Jerome  

Friday, May 15, 2015

Navarre Bible Commentary:
Friday, 6th Week of Easter

John 16:20–23
20 Truly, truly, I say to you, you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice; you will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy. 21 When a woman is in travail she has sorrow, because her hour has come; but when she is delivered of the child, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a child is born into the world. 22 So you have sorrow now, but I will see you again and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you. 23 In that day you will ask nothing of me. Truly, truly, I say to you, if you ask anything of the Father, he will give it to you in my name.  
Catholic Exegesis:
The Second Vatican Council teaches  that if we are to derive the true meaning from the sacred texts,  attention must be devoted “not only to their content but to the unity of the whole of Scripture, the living tradition of the entire Church, and the analogy of faith. […] Everything to do with the interpretation of Scripture is ultimately subject to the judgment of the Church, which exercises the divinely conferred communion and ministry of watching over and interpreting the Word of God” (Dei Verbum, 12).
St. John Paul II, when he promulgated the Catechism of the Catholic Church,  explained that the Catechism "is a statement of the Church's faith and of catholic doctrine, attested to or illumined by Sacred Scripture, the Apostolic Tradition and the Church's Magisterium."  He went on to "declare it to be a sure norm for teaching the faith and thus a valid and legitimate instrument for ecclesial communion" (Fidei Depositum).
Cited in the Catechism:
Passages from this Gospel reading are cited in the Catechism, paragraphs 2615  and 2815.
Commentary:
Fullness of joy (16:16–33)
16:16–22. Earlier our Lord consoled the disciples by assuring them that he would send them the Holy Spirit after he went away (v. 7). Now he gives them further consolation: he is not leaving them permanently, he will come back to stay with them. However, the apostles fail to grasp what he means, and they ask each other what they make of it. Our Lord does not give them a direct explanation, perhaps because they would not understand what he meant (as happened before: cf. Mt 16:21–23 and par.). But he does emphasize that though they are sad now they will soon be rejoicing: after suffering tribulation they will be filled with a joy they will never lose (cf. Jn 17:13). This is a reference primarily to the Resurrection (cf. Lk 24:41), but also to their definitive encounter with Christ in heaven. This image of the woman giving birth (frequently used in the Old Testament to express intense pain) is also often used, particularly by the prophets, to mean the birth of the new messianic people (cf. Is 21:3; 26:17; 66:7; Jer 30:6; Hos 13:13; Mic 4:9–10). The words of Jesus reported here seem to be the fulfilment of those prophecies. The birth of the messianic people—the Church of Christ—involves intense pain, not only for Jesus but also, to some degree, for the apostles. But this pain, like birth pains, will be made up for by the joy of the final coming of the Kingdom of Christ: “I consider,” says St Paul, “that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us” (Rom 8:18).

16:23–24. See the note on Jn 14:12–14.

Source: The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries. Biblical text from the Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries by members of the Faculty of Theology, University of Navarre, Spain.

Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland, and by Scepter Publishers in the United States. We encourage readers to purchase The Navarre Bible for personal study. See Scepter Publishers for details.

"Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ." St Jerome  

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Navarre Bible Commentary:
Thursday, 6th Week of Easter

John 15:9–17
9 As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you; abide in my love. 10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. 11 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.
12 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15 No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide; so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. 17 This I command you, to love one another.”
Catholic Exegesis:
The Second Vatican Council teaches  that if we are to derive the true meaning from the sacred texts,  attention must be devoted “not only to their content but to the unity of the whole of Scripture, the living tradition of the entire Church, and the analogy of faith. […] Everything to do with the interpretation of Scripture is ultimately subject to the judgment of the Church, which exercises the divinely conferred communion and ministry of watching over and interpreting the Word of God” (Dei Verbum, 12).
St. John Paul II, when he promulgated the Catechism of the Catholic Church,  explained that the Catechism "is a statement of the Church's faith and of catholic doctrine, attested to or illumined by Sacred Scripture, the Apostolic Tradition and the Church's Magisterium."  He went on to "declare it to be a sure norm for teaching the faith and thus a valid and legitimate instrument for ecclesial communion" (Fidei Depositum).
Cited in the Catechism:
Commentary:
The law of love (15:9–17)
15:9–11. Christ’s love for Christians is a reflection of the love the three divine Persons have for one another and for all men: “We love, because he first loved us” (1 Jn 4:19).
The certainty that God loves us is the source of Christian joy (v. 11), but it is also something which calls for a fruitful response on our part, which should take the form of a fervent desire to do God’s will in everything, that is, to keep his commandments, in imitation of Jesus Christ, who did the will of his Father (cf. Jn 4:34).

15:12–15. Jesus insists on the “new commandment”, which he himself keeps by giving his life for us. See the note on Jn 13:34–35.

Christ’s friendship with the Christian, which our Lord expresses in a very special way in this passage, is something very evident in St Josemaría Escrivá’s preaching: “The life of the Christian who decides to behave in accordance with the greatness of his vocation is so to speak a prolonged echo of those words of our Lord, ‘No longer do I call you my servants; a servant is one who does not understand what his master is about, whereas I have made known to you all that my Father has told me; and so I have called you my friends’ (Jn 15:15). When we decide to be docile and follow the will of God, hitherto unimagined horizons open up before us […]. There is nothing better than, recognizing that Love has made us slaves of God. From the moment we recognize this we cease being slaves and become friends, sons” (St Josemaría Escrivá, Friends of God, 35].

“Sons of God, Friends of God. […] Jesus Christ is truly God and truly Man, he is our Brother and our Friend. If we make an effort to get to know him well, ‘we will share in the joy of being God’s friends’ [ibid., 300]. If we do all we can to keep him company, from Bethlehem to Calvary, sharing his joys and sufferings, we will become worthy of entering into loving conversation with him. As the Liturgy of the Hours sings, calicem Domini biberunt, et amici Dei facti sunt, they drank the chalice of the Lord and so became friends of God.

“Being his children and being his friends are two inseparable realities for those who love God. We go to him as children, carrying on a trusting dialogue that should fill the whole of our lives; and we go to him as friends. […] In the same way our divine sonship urges us to translate the overflow of our interior life into apostolic activity, just as our friendship with God leads us to place ourselves at ‘the service of all men. We are called to use the gifts God has given us as instruments to help others discover Christ’ [ibid., 258]” (Monsignor A. del Portillo in the foreword to Escrivá, Friends of God).

15:16. There are three ideas contained in these words of our Lord. One, that the calling which the apostles received and which every Christian also receives does not originate in the individual’s good desires but in Christ’s free choice. It was not the apostles who chose the Lord as Master, in the way someone would go about choosing a rabbi: it was Christ who chose them. The second idea is that the apostles’ mission and the mission of every Christian is to follow Christ, to seek holiness and contribute to the spread of the Gospel. The third teaching refers to the effectiveness of prayer done in the name of Christ; which is why the Church usually ends the prayers of the liturgy with the invocation “Through Jesus Christ our Lord …”.

The three ideas are all interconnected: prayer is necessary if the Christian life is to prove fruitful, for it is “God who gives the growth” (1 Cor 3:7); and the obligation to seek holiness and to be apostolic derives from the fact that it is Christ himself who has given us this mission. “Bear in mind, son, that you are not just a soul who has joined other souls in order to do a good thing. That is a lot, but it’s still little. You are the apostle who is carrying out an imperative command from Christ” (St Josemaría Escrivá, The Way, 941942).

Source: The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries. Biblical text from the Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries by members of the Faculty of Theology, University of Navarre, Spain.

Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland, and by Scepter Publishers in the United States. We encourage readers to purchase The Navarre Bible for personal study. See Scepter Publishers for details.

"Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ." St Jerome