You who were barren, are now full of joy |
Comprehensive Catholic Commentary
Just as Sara was barren, and then gave forth life, so we were barren before Christ established His Church and the New Covenant. Now He gives life, everlasting life through the Bread of Angels for we are spiritual children of Abraham and witnesses in faith of His miracle at every Holy Mass.
Fr. George Leo Haydock
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. Today for the Fourth Sunday of Lent we can see the joy of the fulfillment of the Messias expressed from Isaias, Rejoice, O Jerusalem, hence this Sunday is better known as Laetare Sunday. This is illustrated in the Epistle where the promise of the Messias is carried out through Isaac representing the new testament which the Jews would squander and spurn. This is reminded in today's Gospel when, amidst the joy of the miracle of the loaves, Christ realized the Jews looked at Him not as the promised Messias for heavenly purposes, but a temporal king. Then as well as now they still do not realize or accept that Jerusalem is not the physical city, but the celestial city of Heaven, expressed so well by Fr. Haydock as John shows.
Epistle: Galatians 4: 22-31
22 For it is written, that Abraham had two sons; the one by a bond-woman, and the other by a free-woman.
Commentary on Verse 22-28: It is written in the law, that is, in Genesis, (c. xvi. and c. xxi.) that Abraham had two sons, &c. that his two sons, Ismael, born of his servant, Agar, and Isaac of his wife, Sara, in an allegorical sense, represent the two testaments or covenants, which God made with His people: that by Ismael was represented that covenant of the former law delivered to Moses on Mount Sina, [same as Mt. Sinai] by which the Jews were made His elect people, yet as it were His servants, to be kept to their duty by fear of punishments; but by Isaac is represented the new covenant or testament of Christ, given at Jerusalem, where He suffered, where the new law was first published; by which law, they who believe in Christ were made the spiritual children of Abraham, the sons of God, and heirs of the blessings promised to Abraham: that Sina, the mountain in Arabia, hath an affinity with Jerusalem, and with her children, which remain under the servitude of the law of Moses: we cannot understand a conjunction, or an affinity, as to place and situation, Sina and Jerusalem being near twenty days journey distant from each other; therefore it can only be an affinity in a mystical signification, inasmuch as Jerusalem was the capital of the Jews, where the children of those who received the law on Mount Sina lived still under the servitude of the same law: but Christians, who believe in Christ, must look upon themselves as belonging to Jerusalem, and not to the city of Jerusalem upon earth, but to the celestial Jerusalem in Heaven, which is our mother, now no longer servants and slaves to the former law, but free, being made the sons of God by the grace of Christ, and heirs of Heaven. And these blessings were promised to all nations, not only to the Jews, of which the much greater part remained obstinate, and refused to believe in Christ, but also particularly to the Gentiles, according to the prophecy of Isaias, (c. liv.) rejoice thou that hast been barren, like Sara, for a long time; i.e. rejoice, you Gentiles, hitherto left in idolatry, without the knowledge or worship of the true God, now you shall have more children among you than among the Jews, who were his chosen people.
23 But he that was by the bond-woman, as born according to the flesh; but he by the free-woman, according to the promise.
24 Which things are said by an allegory. For these are the two testaments. The one indeed on Mount Sina, bringing forth unto bondage, which is Agar.
25 For Sina is a mountain in Arabia, which hath an affinity with that Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children.
26 But that Jerusalem, which is above, is free; which is our mother.
27 For it is written: Rejoice, thou barren, that bearest not; break forth and cry out, thou that travailest not; for many are the children of the desolate, more than of her that hath a husband.
28 Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of the promise.
29 But as then he, who was born according to the flesh, persecuted him who was according to the spirit: so also now.
Commentary on Verse 29: St. Paul makes another observation upon this example of Ismael and Isaac: that as Ismael was troublesome to Isaac, for which he and his mother were turned out of the family, so also now the Jews insulted and persecuted the Christians, who had been Gentiles; but God will protect them as heirs of the blessings promised: they shall be accounted the spiritual children of Abraham, while the Jews, with their carnal ceremonies, shall be cast off. This says St. Austin, is a figure of heretics, (who are the children of the bond-woman) unjustly persecuting the Catholic Church.
30 But what saith the scripture? Cast out the bond-woman and her son; for the son of the bond-woman shall not be heir with the son of the free-woman.
31 Therefore, brethren, we are not the children of the bond-woman, but of the free; by the freedom where-with Christ hath made us free.
Gospel: St. John 6: 1-15
1 After this, Jesus went over the sea of Galilee, which is that of Tiberias:
Commentary on Verse 1: Galilee. St. John does not usually relate what is mentioned by the other evangelists, especially what happened in Galilee. If he does it on this occasion, it is purposely to introduce the subject of the heavenly bread, which begins in verse 37. He seems, moreover, to have had in view the description of the different passovers during Christ's public ministry. As he, therefore, remained in Galilee during the third passover, he relates pretty fully what passed during that time. We may also remark, that as the other three evangelists give in the same terms, the institution of the blessed sacrament, St. John omits the institution, but gives in detail the repeated promises of Jesus Christ, relative to this great mystery.
2 And a great multitude followed Him, because they saw the miracles which He did on them that were diseased.
3 Jesus therefore went up into a mountain, and there he sat with His disciples.
4 Now the Pasch, the festival day of the Jews, was near at hand.
Commentary on Verse 4: From the circumstance of the passover, the number that followed Jesus was greatly increased.
5 When Jesus, therefore, had lifted up his eyes, and seen that a very great multitude cometh to him, he said to Philip: Whence shall we buy bread, that these may eat?
Commentary on Verse 5:
"Our Lord first said, (Matt. xiv. 16) Give them to eat; but afterwards, accommodating Himself to the weakness of His disciples, He says: Whence shall we buy bread? So there is no contradiction.
6 And this He said to try him: for He Himself knew what he would do.
7 Philip answered Him: Two hundred penny-worth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one may take a little.
8 One of His disciples, Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, saith to Him:
9 There is a boy here that hath five barley loaves, and two fishes; but what are these among so many?
10 Then Jesus said: Make the men sit down. Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, in number about five thousand.
Commentary on Verse 10:
The text in St. Matthew adds: without counting the women and the children, who might possibly amount to an equal number.
11 And Jesus took the loaves: and when He had given thanks, He distributed to them that were sat down: In like manner also of the fishes, as much as they would.
Commentary on Verse 11:
In the Greek, there is this addition: He distributed to the disciples, and the disciples to them that were sitting. The Syriac, and some Greek copies, agree with the Vulgate.
12 And when they were filled, He said to His disciples: Gather up the fragments that remain, lest they be lost.
Commentary on Verse 12: To make the miracle still more conspicuous to the multitude, Jesus Christ shewed, that not only their present wants were supplied, but that there remained as much, or more, after they had all been filled, than there had been at first presented to Him.
13 So they gathered them up, and filled twelve baskets, with the fragments of the five barley loaves, which remained over and above to them that had eaten.
14 Then those men, when they had seen what a miracle Jesus had done, said: This is of a truth, the prophet that is to come into the world.
Commentary on Verse 14: The Prophet indeed. That is, the Messias.
15 When Jesus, therefore, perceived that they would come to take Him by force, and make Him king, He fled again into the mountain Himself alone.
Commentary on Verse 15:
St. John here corrects what relates to Jesus, and then what relates to the disciples. For if we attend to the order of time, the apostles got into the boat before Jesus went to the mountain. But, in matters of this nature, it is usual for the historians to follow their own choice.