"Glory to God in the highest"|
Solemnity of the Nativity of Our Lord
Comprehensive Catholic Commentary
Fr. George Leo Haydock
Editor's Note: This special feature, provided by John Gregory with the Haydock Commentary found at the bottom of each page of the Douay-Rheims Bible, With the type so small in most bibles, we publish it here in larger type in conjunction with the Epistle and Gospel for the Sunday Mass provided by John Gregory with the cogent comprehensive Catholic Commentary penned by Father George Leo Haydock on the Douay-Rheims version of the New Testament. The commentary for the three Holy Masses for the Double of the First Class Solemnity of the Nativity of Our Lord is below. Probably the most interesting of these commentaries comes in the Gospel for the Third Mass of the day which is the same Gospel we hear practically every day of the year, the "Last Gospel" of St. John which is his first gospel.
First Mass: Midnight Mass
Epistle: Titus 2: 11-15
For the grace of God our Savior hath appeared to all men;
Commentary on Verse l1 For the grace of God, our Savior, hath appeared to all men. In the Greek: For the saving grace of God, & c. (Wi.)
Instructing us, that, denying ungodliness and worldly desires, we should live soberly, and justly, and godly in this world,
Commentary on Verse 12 We should live soberly, justly, and piously. Saint Jerome puts (as in other places for the same Greek word) chastely, justly, and piously. The words comprehend man’s duty to himself, to his neighbour, and towards God. (Wi.)
Looking for the blessed hope and coming of the glory of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ,
Commentary on Verse 13 Waiting for the blessed hope; for the happiness of the blessed in Heaven, promised and hoped for. – And coming of the glory of the great God, and our Savior Jesus Christ. The title of great God, says Dr. Wells, is here referred to our Savior Jesus Christ, by Clement of Alexandria in protreptico, chapter 6. He might have added, and by the general consent of the Greek and Latin Fathers. Saint Chrysostom cries out: “where are now they who say that the Son is less than the Father?” Saint Jerome in like manner: “where is the serpent Arius? Where is the snake Eunomius?” And that this title of great God is here given to Jesus Christ, may be shewn from the text itself, especially in the Greek; for the glorious coming, and appearance, in other places of Saint Paul, is always used to signify Christ’s coming to judge the world. Secondly, inasmuch as one and the same Greek article falls upon the great God, and our Savior Christ; so that even M. Simon, in a note on these words, says the construction is, and the coming of Jesus Christ, the great God, our Savior, and blames Erasmus and Grotius for pretending that this place is not a confutation of the Arians. (Wi.)
Who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from all iniquity, and might cleanse to Himself a people acceptable, a pursuer of good works.
Commentary on Verse 14 A people, particularly acceptable. Saint Jerome translates an egregious or eminent people. He says in the Septuagint it corresponds to segula, which signifies a man’s proper possessions, which he has purchased or chosen for himself. Budeus says it signifies what is rare and uncommon; and it is well translated by the Protestants, a particular people. (Wi.)
These things speak and exhort: in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Gospel: St. Luke 2: 1-14
At that time, there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that the whole world should be enrolled.
Commentary on Verse 1 By the whole world, is understood the Roman empire. (Wi.) – This decree was promulgated in the 752nd year of Rome, in the 3970th year of the world, and the 42nd year of the reign of Augustus, when there was universal peace, and the temple of Janus remained shut for 12 years. (Jans. concord. Evan.) – It was the custom among the Jews to be numbered according to their tribes and families. Hence arose the necessity of the journey of the Holy Family to Nazareth. This enrolment probably included the number, as well as the property of each family, that the taxes might be proportioned. (Idem ibid.)
This enrolling was first made by Cyrinus, the governor of Syria.
Commentary on Verse 2 By Cyrinus, or Publius Sulp. Quirinus. (Wi.) – This was the first census made by Quirinus, governor of Syria: nine years after the birth of Christ, this same Quirinus was charged to make a second, when Judea was reduced to a Roman province, by the deposition and exile of Archelaus. (V.)
And all went to be enrolled, every one into his own city.
Commentary on Verse 3 Into his own city, i.e. the city of every one’s family. Now Joseph and Mary, being both of the family of David, were obliged to go to Bethlehem, the city of David, where by Providence, according to the predictions of the prophets, the Messias was to be born. (Wi.) – This decree took place by a special providence of the Almighty, that every one might be compelled to go to his own country; and that thereby the Saviour of Israel might more easily escape the snares of the treacherous Herod. (Ven. Bede) – This circumstance, moreover, was a public testimony, to be kept in the archives of the country, of the birth and descent of the Messias. Augustus only meant to enumerate his subjects, but among them was numbered his God.
And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem: because he was of the house and family of David,
Commentary on Verse 4 The evangelist here mentions the city of David, to remind us how exactly that was fulfilled, which God promised to David, that an everlasting king should be born of him: and the reason why the inspired writer was content to mention the relationship between Joseph and David, omitting that of the Blessed Virgin and they royal prophet, was, because in the law it was commanded that persons of the same family should intermarry; hence it is added in the subsequent verse, with his espoused wife. (Saint Irenaeus, haer. lib. 3 chapter 11)
To be enrolled with Mary his espoused wife, who was with child.
And it came to pass, that when they were there, her days were accomplished, that she should be delivered.
And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him up in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.
Commentary on Verse 7 In a manger within a stable, or place where beasts were sheltered. And it is the common opinion that an ox and an ass were there at that time. See Baronius, Tillemont, & c. (Wi.) – O wonderful mystery! O astonishing condescension of a God-man! From His birth He takes upon Himself poverty. Had such been His pleasure, Christ might, at His birth, have shaken the heavens by His power, and terrified all nature by His majesty. But these were not the attendants of His coming; for He came not to destroy, but to save; not to display riches, but to teach us a contempt of human grandeur. He therefore condescended not only to become man, but even the vilest of men. (Metaphrastes)
And there were in the same country shepherds watching, and keeping the night watches over their flock.
And behold an angel of the Lord stood by them, and the brightness of God shone round about them; and they feared with a great fear.
And the angel said to them: Fear not; for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, that shall be to all the people:
For, this day, is born to you a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord, in the city of David.
Commentary on Verse 11 Because the light of life is risen to us, dwelling in the region of the shadow of death. (Ven. Bede)
And this shall be a sign unto you. You shall find the infant wrapped in swaddling clothes, and laid in a manger.
Commentary on Verse 12 On the eastern side of the town of Bethlehem, say Saint Justin, Saint Jerome, & c. there was a cave cut in the side of a rock, in which was a manger used by the people of those environs; so that these shepherds easily understood the angel, who told them they should find Him laid in a manger. Saints Jerome, Gregory of Nazianzus, Cyril, say that they found the child between an ox and an ass, according to the version of the Septuagint. Habacuc 3: 2 – You shall find Him laid between two beasts. In the place where this crib was, Saint Helen built a magnificent church in honour of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Ven. Bede says that she built another in honour of the three shepherds; whence Saint Bernard concludes, that there were only three shepherds that came to adore the divine infant in the manager. (Tirinus) – It might be necessary to give them notice of this humble appearance of the Messias, to encourage them to go and pay Him their homage. (Barradius)
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly army, praising God, and saying:
Glory to God in the highest; and on earth peace to men of good will.
Commentary on Verse 14 And on earth, peace to men of good will. I had translated, peace to men of His good will, looking upon the sense to be, that a peace and reconciliation were offered, and given to men from the good will and mercy of God. The ordinary Greek copies altogether favor this exposition. And Bellarmine (l. 2, de Verb. D. chapter 11) is so convinced of this sense, that he brings it for an instance of one of those places, in which the true sense of the Latin is to be found by the Greek text; which is many times true: but Bellarmine might not take notice, that several of the best Greek manuscripts are conformable to the Latin Vulgate, and have peace to men of good will; as it is also expounded by divers of the ancient Fathers, that peace is offered to men of good will, to those who by the grace of God are disposed to believe and obey the Gospel-doctrine. And upon this, having advised with others, I did not think fit to change the former Rheimish translation. (Wi.) – The reason why the will is designated in preference to any other power of the soul, is, because the will moves the rest; consequently the goodness or badness of an action depends chiefly on the will. By this also the angels wished to show, that the peace which Christ came to bring into the world, was the internal peace of our souls, of which the external peace that subsisted under Augustus, was a figure. (Ni. de Lyra) – Peace is made on earth, since human nature, before an enemy of God, is now reconciled and united to Him by His incarnation. (Theophy.) – In this hymn of the angels there is a remarkable difference observable in some of the Greek and Latin copies. The latter have it according to this text, men of good will; the former, good will among men, or to men. (Greek word?), signifies the gratuitous benevolence of God towards man. So that this sentence seems divided into three parts: glory to God, peace on earth, and good will to men. (Jans. conc. Evang.) – The birth of Christ giveth not peace of mind, or salvation, but to such as are of good will, because He worketh not our good against our wills, but with the concurrence of our will. (Saint Augustine, quaest. Ad Simplic. l. 1. q. 2. t. 4.)
Second Mass: Mass at Dawn
Epistle: Titus 3: 4-7
But when the goodness and kindness of God our Savior appeared:
Commentary on Verse 4 The goodness and kindness. Literally, humanity of our Savior. By humanity some expound Christ’s appearing in His human nature, but by the Greek is meant the love of God towards mankind. (Wi.)
Not by the works of justice, which we have done, but according to His mercy, He saved us, by the laver of regeneration, and renovation of the Holy Ghost;
Commentary on Verse 5 Not by the works, & c. Saint Paul in this verse alludes to the sacrament of baptism. This text is brought by divines to prove that baptism, like every other sacrament, produces its effect by its own power, (or, as it is termed in the schools, ex opera operato) independently of any disposition on the part of the receiver. We are saved, says the apostle, not by the works of justice, or any good works we have performed, but our salvation must be attributed solely to the mercy of our Savior, God, manifested to us by the washing itself of regeneration and renovation of the Holy Ghost. – by the laver of regeneration, & c. That is, baptism, by which we are born anew the adoptive children of God, by the grace of the Holy Ghost, whom He hath poured, & c. (Wi.)
Whom He hath poured forth upon us abundantly, through Jesus Christ our Savior:
Commentary on Verse 6 All presumption of human merits, which have not the grace of Jesus Christ for their principle, is here completely confounded; and the whole glory of our salvation is justly attributed to the mercy of God, through Jesus Christ. A new birth, new creature, new spirit. The effusion of the water upon the body in baptism, is a figure of the salutary effusion of the holy Spirit in the soul to renew it, and to make it a child of God.
That, being justified by his grace, we may be heirs, according to hope of life everlasting.
Commentary on Verse 7 This admirable, and I may say divine adoption, is the sole foundation of a Christian’s hope, as the eternal life of the blessed is the sole end of the adoption.
Gospel: St. Luke 2: 15-20
And it came to pass, after the angels departed from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another: Let us go over to Bethlehem, and let us see this word that is come to pass, which the Lord hath shewed to us.
Commentary on Verse 15 The word which always was, let us see how it is made for us; that which we could not see, when it was the word, let us see because it is made flesh. (V. Bede) – See how particularly the Scripture weighs the meaning of every word. The shepherds hastened to see the word, for when the flesh of the Lord is seen, the word is seen, which is the Son. (Saint Ambrose)
And they came with haste; and they found Mary and Joseph, and the Infant lying in the manger.
And seeing, they understood of the word that had been spoken to them concerning this child.
Commentary on Verse 17 They saw this with the eyes of their body, but with their internal eyes they discovered other wonders, viz. that He, Who lay there in such great poverty, was their Messias, their great King, and the Son of God. (Barradius)
And all that heard, wondered; and at those things that were told them by the shepherds.
But Mary kept all these words, pondering them in her heart.
Commentary on Verse 19 Mary kept all these things, and compared what was accomplished in her, concerning the Lord, with what had been written of Him by the prophets. (V. Bede) – She considered in her heart the arguments of faith. (Saint Ambrose)
And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God, for all the things they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.
Third Mass: During the Day
Epistle: Hebrews 1: 1-12
God, Who, at sundry times and in divers manners, spoke in times past to the fathers by the prophets, last of all,
Commentary on Verse l At different times, and in many ways. The first word signifies that God revealed the incarnation of His Son, as it were, by parcels, and by degrees, at different times, and to different persons, to Adam, to Abraham, to Moses, to David, & c. The latter word expresseth the different ways and manners, as by angels, by immediate inspirations, and revelations, by types, figures, and ceremonies. – Last of all, by His Son, this true, natural, eternal Son, of whom we must always take notice, that being both true God, and true man, by the union of the divine and human nature to one and the same divine person, Saint Paul speaks of him sometimes as God, sometimes mentions what applies to Him as man, sometimes as our Redeemer, both God and man. This must necessarily happen in speaking of Christ; but when we find things that cannot be understood of one that is a pure or mere man only, or that cannot be true but of Him, who is truly God, these are undeniable proofs against the errors of the Arians and Socinians. (Wi.)
In these days hath spoken to us by His Son, Whom He hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also He made the world.
Commentary on Verse 2 Whom He hath appointed heir of all things. Heir is here not taken for one that succeeds another at his death, but for the same as Master or Lord. And though Christ be inseparably God and man, yet this applies to Him, as man, because, as God, He was not constituted in time, but was always from eternity, Lord of all things, with the Father and the Holy Ghost: by Whom also He made the world. That is, all created beings, and in such a manner, that all creatures were equally produced by the three divine persons. See John 1: 3 and the annotations on that place. (Wi.)
Who being the brightness of His glory, and the figure of His substance, and upholding all things by the word of His power, making purgation of sins, sitteth on the right hand of the majesty on high.
Commentary on Verse 3 Who being the splendor, or brightness of His glory, not as beams or rays are derived from a lightsome body, but by a necessary and eternal communication of the same substance, and of the whole light; in which sense the council of Nice understood the eternal Son of God to be light from light. This partly helps us to conceive the eternal generation of the Son from the Father, because the brightness is at the same time with the sun, though all comparisons fall short of this mystery. (Wi.) – We may here observe the two natures of Christ. As God, He is the Creator of all things; as man, He is constituted heir of the goods of God. Not content to possess the inheritance of His Father in His own person, He will have us as coheirs to share it also with Him. May we so live as to hear one day that happy sentence: Come, ye blessed of My Father, & c. – And the figure of His substance. In the Greek is the character of His substance; which might be translated, the express image. There are different ways by which a thing may be said to be a figure or image of another: here it is taken for such a representation of the substance of the Father, that though the Father and the Son be distinct persons, and the Son proceed from the Father, yet He is such a figure and image, as to have the same nature and substance with the Father, as the Catholic Church always believed and declared against the ancient heretics, and particularly against the Arians. Their words may be partly seen in Petavius, l. 2. de Trin. Chapter 11 l. 4 chapter 6; l. 6 chapter 6 being too prolix for these short notes. And this may be understood by the following words concerning the Son: and upholding or preserving all things by the word of His power. As He had said before, that all things were made by Him, so all things are preserved by Him, equally with the Father. See Colossians 1: 16-17. See also verse 10 of this chapter, and the annotations of John 1:3. (Wi.) – Figure. This does not exclude the reality. So Christ’s body in the Eucharist, and His mystical death in the Mass, though called a figure, image, or representation of Christ’s visible body and sacrifice upon the cross, yet may be and is the self-same substance. (B.) – Sitteth on the right hand of God, both here, in Saint Mark, chapter 16 and in the apostles’ creed, express what agrees with Christ, as our Redeemer, God made man by His incarnation, and who as man is made the head of His Church, the judge of the living and the dead; and so Saint Stephen said, (Acts 7) I see the heavens open, and the Son of man standing at the right hand of God. (W.)
Being made so much better than the angels, as He hath inherited a more excellent name than they.
Commentary on Verse 4 Being made so much better, & c. The Arians pretended from hence that Christ was made, or created. But the apostle speaks of Christ as man, and tells us that Christ, even as man, by His ascension was exalted above the Angels. – As He hath inherited a more excellent name. That is, both the dignity and name of the Son of God, of His only Son, and of His true Son. See 1 John 5:20. (Wi.)
For to which of the angels hath He said at any time, Thou art My Son, to day have I begotten thee? And again, I will be to Him a Father, and He shall be to Me a Son?
Commentary on Verse 5 Thou art My Son, this day have I begotten thee. These words, though commonly expounded of the eternal generation of the Son of God in the day or moment of eternity, yet may be truly applied either to Christ made man by His incarnation, or to Christ risen from the dead, as they are used by Saint Paul, (Acts 13: 33) because the same Christ both these ways is the Son of God. It was the only true and natural Son of God, who was made flesh, who was made man, who rose from the dead; and the eternal Father manifested His eternal Son by His incarnation, and shewed Him triumphing over death by His resurrection. – I will be to him a father, & c. Although these words might be literally spoken of Solomon, yet in the mystical sense (chiefly intended by the Holy Ghost) they are to be understood of Christ, who in a much more proper sense is the Son of God. (Wi.)
And again, when He bringeth in the first begotten into the world, He saith: And let all the angels of God adore Him.
Commentary on Verse 6 Let all the Angels of God adore Him. These words seem to be cited out of Psalm 96: 7 according to the Septuagint. And they seem to be an invitation, and a command to the Angels to adore Jesus Christ, when at the end of the world He shall come to judgment. This is one of the proofs which Saint Paul here brings, to shew that the Angels are inferior to Christ, because they are commanded to adore Him. (Wi.) – God shews the superiority of His divine Son over the Angels, in ordering the latter to adore Him. Wherever the person of Christ is, there it ought to be adored by both men and Angels, therefore in the blessed sacrament.
And to the angels indeed He saith: He that maketh His angels spirits, and His ministers a flame of fire.
Commentary on Verse 7 Maketh His Angels, spirits: and His ministers, a flame of fire. Saint Augustine, on Psalm 103 and Saint Gregory, homily 34 in Evang., would have the sense and construction of the words to be, who maketh the blessed spirits to be also His Angels, or messengers to announce and executed His will: (messengers and Angels signify the same in the Greek) Calvin and Beza by spirits, here understand the winds, as if the sense was only, who maketh the winds and flames of fire, that is, thunder and lightning, the messengers and instruments of His divine will, in regard of men, whom He punisheth. But this exposition agrees not with the rest of the text, nor with the design of Saint Paul, which is to shew Christ above all the Angels, and above all creatures. Saint Paul therefore is to be understood of Angels or angelic spirits: but then the sense may be, who maketh His Angels like the winds, or like a flame of fire, inasmuch as they execute His divine will with incredible swiftness, like the winds, and with a force and activity not unlike that of fire. (Wi.)
But to the Son: Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of justice is the sceptre of Thy kingdom.
Thou hast loved justice, and hated iniquity: therefore God, thy God, hath anointed Thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.
Commentary on Verse 8-9 But the Son. That is, to His Son Jesus Christ, He saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever, and lasts for eternity. – A scepter, or rod of equity, is the scepter of Thy kingdom. That is, O Christ, God and man, head of thy Church, judge of all mankind, thou shalt reward and punish all under thee with justice and equity, as thou hast loved justice, and hated iniquity: therefore God, thy God, hath anointed thee. Many here understand God first named, to be in the vocative case, and that the sense is: therefore thee, O God, thy God, hath anointed: thus Christ is called God. Others take God in both places to be in the nominative case, and to be only a repetition of God the Father; and the sense to be, the Christ, God, thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above them that are partakers with thee: by which spiritual unction, some understand graces infused into Christ’s soul at His incarnation, by a greater plenitude of graces than was ever given to any saints whom He made partakers of his glory in heaven; others expound it of an unction of greater glory given to Christ in heaven as man, because by His sufferings and merits He had destroyed and triumphed over sin. See Estius A. Lapide, & c. (Wi.)
And: Thou in the beginning, O Lord, didst found the earth: and the works of Thy hands are the heavens.
Commentary on Verse 10 And again: thou in the beginning, O Lord, hast founded the earth, & c. The text, as well as the authority of interpreters, shew these words to be still spoken of the Son of God, of Christ, who was both true God and man. And thought part of Psalm 101 from which these words are taken, contain a prayer to God for the restoring of the city of Jerusalem, yet in this psalm is chiefly signified the glory of Christ, and of His Church, which will be spread over all nations. See Saint Chrysostom, Estius, A. Lapide, & c. – As a vesture shalt thou change them, & c. The apostle, in the second verse of chapter, had said that the world was made by the Son of God: now he tells us that all created things shall wax old like a garment, shall decay and perish, (at least from their present state and condition) shall be changed; but thou, who art both God and man, art always the same, without decay or change. (Wi.) – The apostle here applies the work of the creation to the Son of God, and thus furnishes a clear and striking proof of His divinity, against the Unitarians. To elude this proof, some of them pretend that these verses have been fraudulently added; but they are found in all the Greek copies, and in all ancient versions of this epistle. Others try to give forced interpretations to these verses, but the words are convincingly clear to all who do not purposely shut their eyes.
They shall perish, but Thou shalt continue: and they shall all grow old as a garment.
And as a vesture shalt Thou change them, and they shall be changed: but Thou art the selfsame, and Thy years shall not fail.
Gospel: St. John 1: 1-14
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
Commentary on Verse 1 In the beginning was the Word: or rather, the Word was in the beginning. The eternal Word, the increated Wisdom, the second Person of the blessed Trinity, the only begotten Son of the Father, as He is here called (verse 14) of the same nature and substance, and the same God, with the Father and Holy Ghost. This Word was always; so that it was never true to say, He was not, as the Arians blasphemed. This Word was in the beginning. Some, by the beginning, expound the Father Himself, in Whom He was always. Others give this plain and obvious sense, that the word, or the Son of God, was, when all other things began to have a being; He never began, but was from all eternity. – And the Word was with God; i.e. was with the Father; and as it is said, (verse 18) in the bosom of the Father; which implies, that He is indeed a distinct Person, but the same in nature and substance with the Father and the Holy Ghost. This is repeated again in the second verse, as repetitions are very frequent in Saint John. – And the Word was God. This without question is the construction; where, according to the letter we read, and God was the Word. (Wi.) – The Greek for the Word is (?) which signifies not only the exterior word, but also the interior word, or thought; and in this latter sense it is taken here. (V.) – Philo Judaeus, in the apostolic age, uses the word (?), page 823, to personify the wisdom and the power of God. By a similar metonymy, Jesus Christ is called the way, the truth, the life, the resurrection. – And the Word was God. Here the eternity and the divinity of the second Person are incontrovertibly established; or, we must say that language has no longer a fixed meaning, and that it is impossible to establish any point whatever from the words of Scripture. (A.)
The same was in the beginning with God.
Commentary on Verse 2 The same was in the beginning with God. In the text is only, “this was in the beginning;” but the sense and construction certainly is, this Word was in the beginning. (Wi.)
All things were made by Him: and without Him was made nothing that was made.
Commentary on Verse 3 All things were made by Him, and without
Him was made nothing that was made. These words teach us, that all created being, visible, or
invisible on earth, every thing that ever was made, or began to
be, were made, produced, and created by this eternal word, or by the Son
of God. The same is truly said of the Holy Ghost; all creatures being
equally produced, created, and preserved by the three divine
Persons as, by their proper, principal, and efficient cause, in
the same manner, and by the same action: not by the Son, in any manner
inferior to the Father; nor as if the Son produced things only ministerially,
and acted only as the minister, and instrument of the Father,
as the Arians pretended. In this sublime mystery of one God and three
distinct Persons, if we consider the eternal processions, and personal
proprieties, the Father is the first Person, but not by any priority
of time, or of dignity; all the three divine Persons being eternal,
or co-eternal, equal in all perfections, being one in nature, in
substance, in power, in majesty: in a word, one and the same God.
The Father in no other sense is called the first Person, but
because He proceeds from none, or from no other person: and eternal Son
is the second Person begotten, and proceeding from Him, the Father, from all
eternity, proceeds now, and shall proceed from Him for all eternity; as we
believe that the third divine Person, the Holy Ghost, always proceeded
without any beginning, doth now proceed, and shall proceed
for ever, both from the Father and the Son. But when we consider and
speak of any creatures, of any thing that was made, or had a beginning, all
things were equally created in time, and are equally preserved, no
less by the Son, and by the Holy Ghost, than by the Father.
For this reason Saint John tells us again in this chapter, (verse 10) that the
world was made by the word. And our Saviour Himself (John 5: 19)
tells us, that what soever the Father doth, these things also in like
manner, or in the same manner, the Son doth. Again the
apostle, (Hebrews 1: 2) speaking of the Son, says, the world was made
by Him: and in the same chapter, (verse 10) he applies to the Son
these words, (Psalm 101: 26) And thou, O Lord, in the beginning didst
found the earth: and the heavens are the works of thy hands, &
c. To omit other places, Saint Paul again, writing to the Colossians,
(Chapter 1: 16-17) and speaking of God’s beloved Son, as may be seen in
that chapter, says, that in Him all things were created, visible and
invisible-all things were created in Him, and by Him, or, as it is in the
Greek, unto Him, and for Him; to shew that the Son was not only
the efficient cause, the Maker and Creator of all things, but
also the last end of all. Which is also confirmed by the following
words: And He is before all, and all things subsist in Him, or consist
in Him; as in the Rheims and Protestant translations. I have,
therefore, in this third verse, translated, all things were made by him, with
all English translations and paraphrases, whether made by Catholics or
Protestants; and not all things were made through him, lest through should
seem to carry with it a different and a diminishing signification; or as
if, in the creation of the world, the eternal word, or the Son of
God, produced things only ministerially, and, in a manner, inferior
to the Father, as the Arians and Eunomians pretended; against whom, on this
very account, wrote Saint Basil, lib. de spirtu Sto. Saint Chrysostom,
and Saint Cyril, on this very verse; where they expressly undertake to shew
that the Greek text in this verse no ways favours these heretics. The Arians,
and now the Socinians, who deny the Son to be true God, or
that the word God applies as properly to Him as to the Father, but would
have Him called God, that is, a nominal god, in an inferior and
improper sense; as when Moses called the god of Pharao; (Exodus 7: 1) or
as men in authority are called gods; (Psalm 81: 6) pretend, after
Origen, to find another difference in the Greek text; as if, when mention is
made of the Father, He is styled the God; but that the Son is only
called God, or a God. This objection Saint Chrysostom,
Saint Cyril, and others, have shewn to be groundless: that pretended
significant Greek article being several times omitted, when the word God
is applied to God the Father; and being found in other places, when the Son
of God is called God. So this objection fully and clearly answered by the
author of a short book published in the year 1729, against Dr. Clark and Mr.
Whiston, P. 64, and seq. (Wi.) – Were made, & c. Mauduit here
represents the word: - “1. As a cause, or principle, acting extraneously from
Himself upon the void space, in order to give a being to all creatures:”
whereas there was no void space before the creation. Ante omnia Deus erat
solus, ipse sibi et mundus et locus, et omnia. (Tert. l. cont. Prax.
Chapter 5 And Saint Augustine in Psalm 122 says: antequam faceret Deus
Sanctos, ubi habitabat? In se habitabat, apud se habitabat. – The
creation of all things, visible and invisible, was the work of the whole
blessed Trinity; but the Scriptures generally attribute it to the word; because
wisdom, reason, and intelligence, which are the attributes of the Son, are
displayed most in it. (Calmet) – What wonderful tergiversations the
Arians used to avoid the evidence of this text, we see in Saint Augustine, lib.
3 de doct. Christ. Chapter 2; even such as modern dissenters do, to avoid the
evidence of This is my Body, concerning the blessed Eucharist.
In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.
Commentary on Verse 4 i.e. in this word, or Son of
God, was life; because He gives life to every living creature. Or, as
Maldonatus expounds it, because He is the author of grace, which is the
spiritual life of our souls. – And the life was the light of men, whether
we expound it of a rational soul and understanding, which He gives to all men;
or of the spiritual life, and those lights of graces, which He gives to
And the light shineth in darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.
Commentary on Verse 5 And the light shineth, or did shine, in darkness. Many understand this, that the light of reason, which God gave to every one, might have brought them to the knowledge of God by the visible effects of His Providence in this world: but the darkness did not comprehend it, because men, blinded by their passions, would not attend to the light of reason. Or we may again understand it, with Maldonatus, of the lights of grace, against which obstinate sinners willfully shut their eyes. (Wi.)
There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.
This man came for a witness, to give testimony of the light, that all men might believe through him.
Commentary on Verse 7 That all men might believe through Him; i.e. by John the Baptist’s preaching, who was God’s instrument to induce them to believe in Jesus the Christ, or the Messias, their only Redeemer. (Wi.)
He was not the light, but was to give testimony of the light.
That was the true light, which enlighteneth every man that cometh into this world.
Commentary on Verse 8-9 He; that is John the Baptist, was not the true light: but the word was the true light. In the translation, it is necessary to express that the word was the true light, lest any one should think that John the Baptist was this light. (Wi.)
He was in the world, and the world was made by Him, and the world knew Him not.
Commentary on Verse 10 He was in the world, & c. Many of the ancient interpreters understand this verse of Christ as God, who was in the world from its first creation, producing and governing all things: but the blind sinful world did not know and worship Him. Others apply these words to the Son of God made man; whom even God’s own chosen people, the Jews, at His coming, refused to receive and believe in Him. (Wi.)
He came unto His own, and His own received Him not.
Commentary on Verse 11 His own. This regards principally the Jews. Jesus came to them as into His own family, but they did not receive Him. It may likewise be extended to the Gentiles, who had groaned so long a time in darkness, and only seemed to wait for the rising sun of justice to run to its light. They likewise did not receive Him. These words, though apparently general, must be understood with restriction; as there were some, though comparatively few, of both Jews and Gentiles, who embraced the faith. (Calmet)
But as many as received Him, He gave them power to be made the sons of God, to them that believe in His name.
Commentary on Verse 12 He gave to them power to be made the adoptive sons of God, and heirs of the kingdom of Heaven. They are made the children of God by believing and by new spiritual birth in the sacrament of baptism, not of blood; (literally, not of bloods) not by the will, and desires of the flesh, not by the will of men, nor by human generation, as children are first born of their natural parents, but of God, by faith and divine grace. (Wi.)
Who are born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.
And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we saw His glory, the glory as it were of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.
Commentary on Verse 14 And the word was made flesh. This word, or
Son of God, who was in the beginning, from all eternity, at the
time appointed by the divine decrees, was made flesh, i.e. became man,
by a true and physical union of His divine person, (from which the divine
nature was inseparable) to our human nature, to a human soul, and a human
body, in the womb, and of the substance, of His virgin Mother. From the
moment of Christ’s incarnation, as all Christians are taught to believe, He
that was God from eternity, became also true man. In Jesus Christ, our
blessed Redeemer, we believe one divine Person with two natures, and
two wills; the one divine, the other human: by which
substantial union, one and the same Person became truly both God and
man; not two persons, or two sons, as Nestorius, the heretic, pretended.
By this union, and a mutual communication of the proprieties of each nature, it
is true to say, that the Son of God, remaining unchangeably God, was made man;
and therefore that God was truly conceived and born of the virgin Mary, who, on
this account, was truly the Mother of God: that God was born, suffered,
and died on the cross, to redeem and save us. The word, in this
manner made man, dwelt in us, or among us, by this substantial union
with our human nature, not morally only, nor after such a manner, as God
is said to dwell in a temple; nor as He is in His faithful servants, by a
spiritual union, and communication of His divine graces; but by such a real
union, that the same person is truly both God and man. – And we saw
His glory, manifested to the world by many signs and miracles; we in
particular, who were present at His transfiguration. (Matthew 17) – Full
of grace and truth. These words, in the construction, are to be
joined in this manner: the word dwelt in us, full of grace and truth; and
we have seen His glory, & c. This fullness of grace in Christ
Jesus, infinitely surpassed the limited fullness, which the Scripture
attributes to Saint Stephen, (Acts 6: 8) or to the blessed virgin Mother:
(Luke 1: 28) they are said to be full of grace, only because of an
extraordinary communication and greater share of graces than was given to other
saints. But Christ, even as man, had a greater abundance of divine
graces: and being truly God as well as man, His grace and sanctity were
infinite, as was His person. – As of the only begotten of the
Father. If we consider Christ in Himself, and not only as He was made
known to men by outward signs and miracles, Saint Chrysostom and others take
notice that the word as, no ways diminisheth the signification; and that
the sense is, we have seen the glory of Him, who is truly from all eternity the
only begotten Son of the Father: who, as the Scriptures assure us,
is His true, His proper Son, His only begotten, who was sent
into the world, who descended from heaven, and came from the
Father, and leaving the world, returned where He was before,
returned to His Father. We shall meet with many such Scripture texts,
to shew Him to be the eternal Son of His eternal Father; or to shew that the
Father was always His Father, and the Son always His Son: as it was the
constant doctrine of the Catholic Church, and as such declared in the general
council of Nice, that this, His only Son, was born or begotten of the Father
before all ages … God from God, the true God from the true God. It
was by denying this truth, “that the Son was the Son always, and the Father
always, and from all eternity, the Father;” that the blaspheming Arius began
his heresy in his letter to Eusebius of Nicomedia, against his bishop of, Saint Alexander. See the letter copied by Saint Epiphan.
Haer. 69. p. 731. Ed. Petavii. (Wi.) – Dwelt among us. In a
material body, like ours, clothed with our nature. He is become mortal,
and like us in every thing, but sin and concupiscence. The Greek
literally translated, is, He has pitched His tent amongst us, like a
stranger and passenger, who makes no long stay in one place. The body in
Scripture, is sometimes called a tent or tabernacle, in which the soul dwells,
as 2 Peter 1: 14. (Calmet)
Haydock Commentary for Christmas