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To: All

From: Sirach 44:1, 9-13

Prologue


[1] Let us now praise famous men, and our fathers in their
generations. [9] And there are some who have no memorial, who
have perished as though they had not lived; they have become
as though they had not been born, and so have their children
after them. [10] But these were men of mercy, whose righteous
deeds have not been forgotten; [11] their prosperity will remain
with their descendants, and their inheritance to their children’s
children. [12] Their descendants stand by the covenants; their
children also, for their sake. [13] Their posterity will continue
for ever, and their glory will not be blotted out.

***********************************************************************
Commentary:

44:1-50:29. This eulogy of ancestors begins with a short prologue
(44:1-15), which summarizes Ben Sirach’ teachings. What it says
about them is what we have read elsewhere in the book about wise
people, people who were loyal to the Law: they “have left a name”
(44:8; cf. 41:12-13), whereas the ungodly “have no memorial” (44:9;
cf. 41:11); “their righteous deeds have not been forgotten” and they
have left an “inheritance” to their descendants (44:10-11; cf.
23:25-26); their name “lives to all generations”, in all peoples
and in the praise of the “congregation” (44:14-15; cf. 39:10-11).
But these admirable lives are, in the last analysis, further
evidence of the greatness of God (44:2). In the Church this same
teaching applies in the case of saints.. In their memory we remind
God that “You are glorified in your saints, for their glory is the
crowning of your gifts. In their lives on earth you gave us an
example. In our communion with them, you give us their friendship.
In their prayer for the Church you give us strength and protection.
This great company of witnesses spurs us on to victory, to share
their prize of lasting glory” (”Roman Missal”, Preface of the holy
men and women).

The author goes on to survey sacred history from Enoch (44:16) to
the priest Simon (50:1-21), In fact he goes right back to Adam,
because Adam stands at the very origin of man (cf. 49:16). In this
survey one can see the author’s teaching is close to the the
Deuteronomic Tradition-fidelity to the Covenant with God, adherence
to the Law, the temple as the sole place of divine worship. The only
three kings given praise in Deuteronomic history (David, Hezekiah
and Josiah) are lauded here too (cf. 49:4). Even Solomon, despite
all his wisdom, despite the fact that he built the temple, put a
stain on the honor of God (47:20) and as a consequence (in line with
Ben Sirach’s persistent message) his son Rehoboam was ample in
folly” (47:23).

The list of people praised also includes the main judges and
prophets. However, one cannot help noticing the somewhat over-
generous amount of space given to Aaron (45:6-22). In fact what
Sirach praises is not just Aaron himself; he revels in the
magnificence of Aaron’s sacred vestments, thereby emphasizing
the reverence that is due to priests and to things to do ‘with the
liturgy. The last person to be eulogized, the high priest Simon:
50:1-21 really marks the climax of all this praise: Simon in some
way embodies all the very best to be learned from these great
ancestors.

*********************************************************************************************
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.


5 posted on 06/01/2007 7:41:22 AM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: All

From: Mark 11:11-25

The Messiah Enters Jerusalem (Continuation)


[11] And He (Jesus) entered Jerusalem, and went into the temple; and
when He had looked around at everything, as it was already late, He
went out to Bethany with the Twelve.

The Barren Fig Tree. The Expulsion of the Money-Changers


[12] On the following day, when they came from Bethany, He was hungry.
[13] And seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, He went to see if
He could find anything on it. When He came to it, He found nothing but
leaves, for it was not the season for figs. [14] And He said to it,
“May no one ever eat fruit from you again.” And His disciples heard
it.

[15] And they came to Jerusalem. And He entered the temple and began
to drive out those who sold and those who bought in the temple, and He
overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who
sold pigeons; [16] and He would not allow any one to carry anything
through the temple. [17] And He taught, and said to them, “Is it not
written, `My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the
nations’? But you have made it a den of robbers.” [18] And the chief
priests and the scribes heard it and sought a way to destroy Him; for
they feared Him, because all the multitude was astonished at His
teaching. [19] And when evening came they went out of the city.

[20] As they passed by in the morning, they saw the fig tree withered
away to its roots. [21] And Peter remembered and said to Him, “Master,
look! The fig tree which You cursed has withered.” [22] And Jesus
answered them, “Have faith in God. [23] Truly, I say to you, whoever
says to this mountain, `Be taken up and cast into the sea,’ and does
not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to
pass, it will be done for him. [24] Therefore I tell you, whatever you
ask in prayer, believe that you receive it, and you will. [25] And
whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against any
one; so that your Father also who is in Heaven may forgive you your
trespasses.”

***********************************************************************
Commentary:

12. Jesus’ hunger is another sign of His being truly human. When we
contemplate Jesus we should feel Him very close to us; He is true God
and true man. His experience of hunger shows that He understands us
perfectly: He has shared our needs and limitations. “How generous our
Lord is in humbling Himself and fully accepting His human condition!
He does not use His divine power to escape from difficulties or
effort. Let’s pray that He will teach us to be tough, to love work, to
appreciate the human and divine nobility of savoring the consequences
of self-giving” ([St] J. Escriva, “Christ Is Passing By”, 161).

13-14. Jesus, of course, knew that it was not the right time for figs;
therefore, He was not looking for figs to eat. His action must have a
deeper meaning. The Fathers of the Church, whose interpretation St.
Bede reflects in his commentary on this passage, tells us that the
miracle has an allegorical purpose: Jesus had come among His own
people, the Jews, hungry to find fruit of holiness and good works, but
all He found were external practices—leaves without fruit. Similarly,
when He enters the temple, He upbraids those present for turning the
temple of God, which is a house of prayer (prayer is the fruit of
piety), into a place of commerce (mere leaves). “So you”, St. Bede
concludes, “if you do not want to be condemned by Christ, should guard
against being a barren tree, by offering to Jesus, who made Himself
poor, the fruit of piety which He expects of you” (”In Marci Evangelium
Expositio, in loc.”).

God wants both fruit and foliage; when, because the right intention is
missing, there are only leaves, only appearances, we must suspect that
there is nothing but purely human action, with no supernatural
depth—behavior which results from ambition, pride and a desire to
attract attention.

“We have to work a lot on this earth and we must do our work well,
since it is our daily task that we have to sanctify. But let us never
forget to do everything for God’s sake. If were to do it ourselves,
out of pride, we could produce nothing but leaves, and no matter how
luxuriant they were, neither God nor our fellow man would find any good
in them” ([St] J. Escriva, “Friends of God”, 202).

15-18. Our Lord does not abide lack of faith or piety in things to do
with the worship of God. If He acts so vigorously to defend the temple
of the Old Law, it indicates how we should truly conduct ourselves in
the Christian temple, where He is really and truly present in the
Blessed Eucharist. “Piety has its own good manners. Learn them. It’s
a shame to see those `pious’ people who don’t know how to attend
Mass—even though they go daily,—nor how to bless themselves (they
throw their hands about in the wierdest fashion), nor how to bend the
knee before the Tabernacle (their ridiculous genuflections seem a
mockery), nor how to bow their heads reverently before a picture of our
Lady” ([St] J. Escriva, “The Way”, 541). Cf. note on Matthew 21:12-13.

20-25. Jesus speaks to us here about the power of prayer. For prayer
to be effective, absolute faith and trust are required: “A keen and
living faith. Like Peter’s. When you have it—our Lord has said
so—you will move mountains, the humanly insuperable obstacles that
rise up against your apostolic undertakings” ([St] J. Escriva, “The Way”,
489).

For prayer to be effective, we also need to love our neighbor,
forgiving him everything: if we do, then God our Father will also
forgive us. Since we are all sinners we need to admit the fact before
God and ask His pardon (cf. Luke 18:9-14). When Christ taught us to
pray He required that we have these predispositions (cf. Matthew 6:12;
also Matthew 5:23 and notes on same). Here is how Theophylact
(”Ennaratio in Evangelium Marci, in loc.”) puts it: “When you pray, if
you have anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father who
is in Heaven may forgive you [...]. He who believes with great
affection raises his whole heart to God and, in David’s words, opens
his soul to God. If he expands his heart before God in this way, he
becomes one with Him, and his burning heart is surer of obtaining what
he desires.”

Even when he is in the state of sin, man should seek God out in prayer;
Jesus places no limitations at all: “Whatever you ask...” Therefore,
our personal unworthiness should not be an excuse for not praying
confidently to God. Nor should the fact that God already knows our
needs be an excuse for not turning to Him. St. Teresa explains this
when she prays: “O my God, can it be better to keep silent about my
necessities, hoping that Thou wilt relieve them? No, indeed, for Thou,
my Lord and my Joy, knowing how many they must be and how it will
alleviate them if we speak to Thee of them, dost bid us pray to Thee
and say that Thou will not fail to give” (St. Teresa, “Exclamations”,
5). Cf. notes on Matthew 6:5-6 and Matthew 7:7-11.

26. As the RSV note points out, many ancient manuscripts add a v. 26:
but it is clearly an addition, taken straight from Matthew 6:15. This
addition was included by the editors of the Old Vulgate.

*********************************************************************************************
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.


6 posted on 06/01/2007 7:42:14 AM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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