March 30, 2008
vol 19, no. 90

A Testament of Lasting Faith

    As Catholics we go by faith, not feelings. That is why there are few lows when one goes on faith, but a constant confident high that is tempered by a steady keel provided by the sacramental life of the Church that enables us to believe and say the very same words the doubting Apostle said when he was at last convinced: My Lord, and my God. Dominus meus, et Deus meus.
Comprehensive Catholic Commentary
Fr. George Leo Haydock
provided by
John Gregory

      Editor's Note: We continue with this special feature provided by John Gregory with the Haydock Commentary found at the bottom of each page of the Douay-Rheims Bible. We publish it here in conjunction with the Epistle and Gospel for the Sunday Mass, with the cogent comprehensive Catholic Commentary penned by Father George Leo Haydock. John has urged that we put this online Saturday so readers can properly prepare for the Sunday Mass. This week we place it in the Easter Week special so readers can focus on both Easter and Low Sunday while observing the Propers of Easter Week. Though the first Sunday following Easter is called Low Sunday, in truth St. John the Evangelists leaves us with a spiritual high in both his Epistle and Gospel, emphasizing how faith conquers all and is the answer to believing in Christ the Lord. Those who believe not, are liars and in deep trouble if they do not believe the Three in One Who gave testimony and the physical testimony of Christ's two natures - Divine (the spirit) and human (water and blood) which lives on in the Sacred Deposit of the Faith through the spirit (inspired divine revelation), the water (Baptism) and the Blood (the Perpetual Holy Sacrifice of the Mass) For further discernment on this, Fr. Haydock provides more food for thought in his commentary as John shows below.

Epistle: 1 Saint John 5: 4-10

4 For whatsoever is born of God, overcometh the world: and this is the victory which overcometh the world, our faith.

    Commentary on Verse 4: This is the victory which overcometh the world, our faith. That is, a lively faith, working by charity, makes a man victorious over the greatest temptations, and over all the adversaries of his salvation. Wi. - Our faith; Not a bare speculative or dead faith, but a faith working by charity. Gal. v. 6. Ch.
5 Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?

6 This is He that came by water and blood, Jesus Christ: not by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit which testifieth, that Christ is the truth.

    Commentary on Verse 6: Came by water and blood. The sense seems to be, by water, with which He ordered every one to be baptized and made Christians; 2ndly, by His blood shed on the cross for our redemption. Wi. - Blood not only to wash away our sins by the the water of baptism, but by his own blood. Ch. - And it is the Spirit that testifieth that Christ is the truth. By the Spirit, which is not here called the Holy Spirit, or the Holy Ghost, as in the next verse, is either meant the Spirit or soul of Christ, which dying He recommended into the hands of His Father, and which shewed that He was truly man, against Cerinthus, and some heretics of those times; or else it may signify the spirit of grace, given in this world to the faithful, in the same sense as St. Paul says, (Romans 8: 16) that the Spirit Himself giveth testimony to our Spirit, that we are the sons of God: and of which may be understood what is said here, (v. 10) He that believeth is the Son of God, hath the testimony of God in himself. Wi.

7 And there are Three Who give testimony in Heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost. And these Three are One.

    Commentary on Verse 7: There are Three that give testimony in Heaven: the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost; and these Three are One: i.e. one in nature, in substance, and in all perfections, in the same sense as when Christ Himself said, (John 10: 30) I and the Father are one, or one thing. The Socinians object that this verse is wanting in many Greek manuscripts; and even Erasmus in one edition, and Mr. Simon in his Critics, have questioned it, or rejected it, as a false reading but without any sufficient proofs and grounds, as hath been shown by many learned Catholics, and also by Protestant writers, who receive in their translations this verse as canonical. It is easy to account for the omission of this verse; for as both the seventh and eighth verse begin and end with the same words, this gave occasion to the oversight and omission of the transcribers, whereas it is not credible that such a whole verse could be added. And that it was only by the mistake and oversight of transcribers may further appear, because we find part of the seventh verse, to wit, and these Three are One, cited by Tertul. 1. cont. Praxeam. C. xxiii. P. 515. Ed. Rig. And twice by Cyprian, Epist 73. ad Jubaisnum. P. 125. Ed. Rig. In the Oxford Edition, P. 310. and in his Treatise de Unit. Ecclesiae, P. 181. Ed. Rigal. And in the Oxford Ed. P. 79, where also Dr. Fell defends this verse of St. John to be genuine. Tertulian. And Cyprian wrote long before the dispute with the Arians, and also others about that time. See the Benedictines of St. Maur against Mr. Simon, in the first tome of St. Jerome, P. 1670. Both Catholics and Protestants, after a diligent examination, have received this verse, which is found in the best MSS. See Greek Test. At Amsterdam, an. 1711. The three divine Persons, who are present everywhere, though said to be in heaven, gave testimony concerning Christ. The Father by a voice from Heaven, both at His baptism (Matthew 1: 17) and at His transfiguration, (Matthew 17: 5) saying: "This is My beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased, hear ye Him;" and also by all the miracles wrought by the same power of all the three divine Persons. 2. The Son testified to the Jews on many occasions, that He was sent from God, that He was the only Son of God, that He and His Father were One, & c. as in the annot. On John iii. The Holy Ghost confirmed the same, particularly by coming down upon the disciples on the day of Pentecost, and inspiring them to teach the same doctrine concerning Jesus Christ. Wi. - An express proof of the three distinct Persons and unity of nature and essence in the blessed Trinity.

8 And there are three that give testimony on earth: the spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three are one.

    Commentary on Verse 8: And there are three that give testimony on earth: the Spirit, the water, and the blood; and these three are one. This is a repetition of what was before said, v. 6, to be expounded in the same manner. But when it is added. These three are one, the sense is, that they witness one and the same truth. Wi. - As the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost, all bear witness to Christ's divinity; so the spirit, which he yielded up, crying out with a loud voice upon the cross, and the water and blood that issued from his side, bear witness to his humanity, and are one; that is, all agree in one testimony. Ch.

9 If we receive the testimony of men, the testimony of God is greater. For this is the testimony of God, which is greater, because He hath testified of His Son.

10 He that believeth in the Son of God, hath the testimony of God in himself. He that believeth not the Son, maketh him a liar: because he believeth not in the testimony which God hath testified of His Son.

    Commentary on Verse 10: He that believeth not the Son, maketh Him (God) a liar, by refusing to believe the testimonies given by the three divine Persons, that Jesus was the Messias and the true Son of God, by Whom eternal life is obtained and promised to all that comply with His doctrine. In Him we have also this lively confidence, that we shall obtain whatever we ask, according to His will, when we ask what is for our good with perseverance and in the manner we ought. And this we know and have experience of, by having obtained the petitions that we have made. Wi.

Gospel: St. John 20: 19-31

19 Now when it was late that same day, the first of the week, and the doors were shut, where the disciples were gathered together, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst, and said to them: Peace be to you.

    Commentary on Verse 19: And the doors were shut, or being shut; and remaining still shut, His glorified body entered by penetration through the doors, as He did at His resurrection. Maldonate takes notice, that Calvin was the first that denied this, against the belief of all the ancient Fathers and interpreters, who call this a miracle of divine power. Wi. - The same power which could bring Christ's whole body, entire in all its dimensions, through the doors, can, without the least question, make the same body really present in the sacrament; though both the one and the other be above our comprehension. Ch. - Therefore it is a want of faith to limit the power of Christ, by the ordinary rules of place, and to deny that He can be in the blessed Sacrament, and on as many altars as He pleaseth. We do not still join with the Ubiquists or Brentiani, who, quite contrary to the Zuinglians, maintain, that the humanity of Jesus Christ is in every place where His divinity is. This is contrary to faith. B.

20 And when He had said this, He shewed them His hands and His side. The disciples therefore were glad, when they saw the Lord.

21 He said therefore to them again: Peace be to you. As the Father hath sent Me, I also send you.

    Commentary on Verse 21: As the Father hath sent Me. The word mission, when applied to our Saviour Christ, sometimes signifies His eternal procession from the Father, and sometimes His mission, as He was sent into the world to become man, and the Redeemer of mankind: the first mission agrees with Him, as the eternal Son of God; the second, as man, or as both God and man. The mission which Christ here gives His apostles, is like this latter mission, with this great difference, that graces and divine gifts were bestowed on Christ, even as man, without measure: and the apostles had a much lesser share in both these missions. See St. Augustine 1. iv. De Trin. C. xix. Xx. Tom. 4. p. 829. and seq. Wi. - Jesus Christ here shews His commission, and so giveth power to His apostles to forgive sins, as when He gave them commission to preach and baptize throughout the world, He made mention of His Own power. Hence, whosoever denies the apostles, and their successors, the right of preaching, baptizing, and remitting sins, must consequently deny that Christ, as man, had the power to do the same. St. Cyprian, in the 3d century Ep. lxxiii. Says: "for the Lord, in the first place, gave to St. Peter, on whom He built His Church, super quem sedificavit Ecclesiam, the power that what He loosed on earth, should be loosed also in Heaven. And after His resurrection, He speaks also to His apostles, saying, as the Father sent Me, &c. whose sins you shall forgive," & c. Why, on this occasion, passing over the other apostles, does Jesus Christ address Peter alone? Because he was the mouth, and chief of the apostles. St. John Chrysostom. De Saerd. L. ii. C. 1.

22 When He had said this, He breathed on them; and He said to them: Receive ye the Holy Ghost.

    Commentary on Verse 22: Receive ye the Holy Ghost. It was said, (John vii. 39) that the Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not glorified. The sense must needs be, that the holy Spirit was not given in that solemn manner, nor with so large an effusion of spiritual gifts and graces, till the day of Pentecost, after Christ's ascension: but the just, at all times, from the beginning of the world, were sanctified by the grace of the Holy Ghost, as no doubt the apostles were, before this time. Now at this present, he gave them the power of forgiving sins. Wi. - Some say, that our Saviour did not then confer the Holy Ghost on his disciples, but only prepared them for the receiving of the Holy Ghost. But surely we may understand, that even then they received some portion of spiritual grace, the power, not indeed of raising the dead, and working other miracles, but of forgiving sins. St. John Chrysoston Hom. lxxxv. In Joan. - St. Cyril of Alexandria, speaking of the remission of sins, promised in this text, asks, "How then, or why, did Christ impart to His disciples a power, which belongs to the divinity alone? It seemed good to Him, that they, who had within themselves His divine Spirit, should likewise possess the power of forgiving sins, and of retaining such as they judged expedient; that Holy Spirit, according to His good pleasure, forgiving and retaining through the ministry of men." In Joan. L. xii. C. 1.

23 Whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them; and whose sins you shall retain, they are retained.

    Commentary on Verse 23: Whose sins you shall forgive, & c. These words clearly express the power of forgiving sins, which, as God, He gave to His apostles, and to their successors, bishops and priests, to forgive sins in His name, as His ministers, and instruments, even though they are sinners themselves. For in this, they set not by their own power, nor in their own name, but in the name of God, who as the principal cause, always remitteth sins. This is generally allowed to be done by God's ministers in the sacrament of baptism, as to the remission of original sin; and the Catholic Church has always held the same of God's ministers, in the sacrament of penance. (See the Protestant Common Prayer Book, in the Visitation of the Sick.) - Whose sins you shall retain, they are retained: by which we see, that to priests is given a power to be exercised, not only by forgiving, but also by retaining; not only by absolving and loosing, but also by binding, by refusing, or deferring absolution, according to the dispositions that are found in sinners, when they secure themselves of their sins. From hence must needs follow an obligation on the sinner's part, to declare, and confess their sins in particular, to the ministers of God, who are appointed the spiritual judge, and physicians of their souls. A judge must know the cause, and a physician the distemper: the one to pronounce a just sentence, the other to prescribe suitable remedies. Wi. - See here the commission, stamped by the broad seal of Heaven, by virtue of which, the pastors of Christ's Church absolve repenting sinners upon their confession. Ch.

24 Now Thomas, one of the twelve, who is called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came.

    Commentary on Verse 24: Thomas . . . was not with them. Yet no doubt the like power of forgiving sins was given to him, either at this time or afterwards. See St. Cyril. Wi.

25 The other disciples therefore said to him: We have seen the Lord. But he said to them: Except I shall see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the place of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.

    Commentary on Verse 25: I will not believe. St. Cyril thinks, that the grief and trouble St. Thomas was under, might partly excuse his want of belief: however, we may take notice with St. Gregory, that his backwardness in believing, was permitted for the good of Christians in general, that thereby they might be more convinced of Christ's resurrection. Wi. - The doubts of St. Thomas are of greater advantage to the strengthening of our faith, than the ready belief of the rest of the apostles. For when he proceeded to touch, to assure his faith, our minds, laying aside every, even the least doubt, are firmly established in faith. St. Gregory the Great.

26 And after eight days again His disciples were within, and Thomas with them. Jesus cometh, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said: Peace be to you.

27 Then He saith to Thomas: Put in thy finger hither, and see My hands; and bring hither thy hand, and put it into My side; and be not faithless, but believing.

    Commentary on Verse 27: Put in thy finger hither. Christ, to shew He knew all things, made use of the very same words in which St. Thomas had expressed his incredulous dispositions. Our blessed Redeemer would have the mark of the spear, and the print of the nails to remain in His glorified body, to convince them it was the same body: and that they might be forever marks of His victory and triumph over sin and the devil. The evangelist does not say, that St. Thomas went and touched Christ's body, though it is very probable he did as he was ordered. But how could a body that entered in, when the doors were shut, be felt, or be palpable? St. John Chrysostom answers, that Christ at that time permitted His body to be palpable, and to resist another body, to induce St. Thomas to believe the resurrection; and that when He pleased, His body could not be felt. In like manner, His body was either visable or invisible, as He had a will it should be. In fine, He could eat in their sight, though He stood not in need of any nourishment. See St. Augustine.

    Be not incredulous, but faithful. In the Greek, be not an unbeliever, but a believer. - My Lord, and my God; that is, I confess Thee to be my Lord, and my God; and with the Greek article, to be Him, that is, the Lord, and the God. Wi.

28 Thomas answered, and said to him: My Lord, and my God.

29 Jesus saith to him: Because thou hast seen Me, Thomas, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and have believed.

30 Many other signs also did Jesus in the sight of His disciples, which are not written in this book.

31 But these are written, that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God: and that believing, you may have life in His name.

    Low Sunday
    March 30, 2008
    vol 19, no. 90