Ver. 1. To the temple. Though the Jewish ceremonies were shortly to cease, yet it was not unlawful to follow them; and they went to the temple as a proper place for prayer. Wi.
--- The ninth hour, that is, about three in the afternoon. But we must here observe, that the Hebrews divided the light into twelve hours, and the dark into twelve hours; so that their hours would be of unequal length: longer in summer, shorter in winter. Menochius.
--- The custom of praying three times in the day, is ancient among the Jews. Daniel at Babylon opened his window on the side which looked towards the temple of Jerusalem, and three times a day bent his knees before the Lord. The ancient Fathers of the Church have strongly recommended this established custom of praying three times in the day, morning, noon, and evening. It is indeed not a precept, but a religious observation, to which she invites all her children. See S. Clem. of Alex. Constit. lib. vii. c. 24. Tertullian de Jejuniis, &c.
--- In Catholic countries, the toll of a bell at morning, noon, and evening, announces the time for the recital of the Angelus Domini, a short prayer, in honour of the incarnation. At these moments, all, however employed, whether at labour in the field, or at home, all cease from their employment, till they have recited the prayer. The repetition of this, and similar practices, cannot be too strongly recommended to Catholics of the present day. They are of singular advantage in recalling the soul, which is too easily dissipated and distracted, to God, her first beginning, and her last end. A.
Ver. 4. Look upon us. S. Peter said this to raise his attention and expectation, but the poor man thought of nothing but an alms. Wi.
Ver. 6. But what I have, I give thee. Though S. Luke told us, (c. ii. 43.) that the apostles did many miracles and prodigies, yet this is the first specified. In the name of Jesus of Nazareth, (known by that name, though of Bethlehem) arise, and walk. In the name of Jesus, lately nailed to a cross. Wi.
--- This is not the shadow of a great name, magni nominis umbra, but the truth of what it signifies, a Saviour. Not without reason is this name in the Canticles compared to oil, in its three-fold properties, of affording light, food, and medicine. When preached, it enlightens; thought on, it feeds us; and called on, it assuages our grief. Whence has such a sudden light of faith spread over the world, but in preaching the name of Jesus? How did this light shine, and attract the eyes of all, when proceeding like lightning from the mouth of Peter, it strengthened the weakness of the lame man's feet, and enlightened the minds of many spiritually blind? Did he not then scatter fire, when he exclaimed, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, arise and walk? This name is food too. Are you not refreshed, as often as you recall it to your mind? What is as powerful in consoling the mind? What so soon repairs our wearied senses, and gives new vigour to our strength; encourages virtues, cherishes chaste affections? All food is dry to me, if not seasoned with this oil; insipid, unless sprinkled with this salt. If you write, I relish it not, unless I read the name of Jesus. If your read, or speak, I take no pleasure in it, unless I hear the name of Jesus. Jesus is honey in the mouth, music to the ear, but ecstasy to the heart. This is also my medicine. Are you sad? let Jesus enter your heart, and thence ascend upon your tongue. And behold, at the rising of this star, every cloud will retire, and serenity return. Do you fall into a crime, or run on the brink of despair: call on this name of life, and you shall be restored to life, &c. S. Bernard, Serm. xv. super Cant. propè medium.
Ver. 11. As he held Peter and John. That is, kept close by them, and with them, out of joy and gratitude. Wi.
Ver. 12. Peter seeing, made answer to the people. This is the second sermon, that is related, which, as S. Chrys. observes, was spoken publicly in the temple.
--- Why look you upon us? S. Peter, at the beginning takes care to give the glory to God. Wi.
Ver. 13. Who does not admire, in this second discourse of S. Peter, as well as in his first, the prudence and discretion, with which he blames the Jews? He reproaches them, but with such mildness, as not to offend them, and dispenses to them truths in proportion to their capacity to bear them; after the example of his master and Saviour, he sweetens the bitterness of the truth, by furnishing them with an excuse. They sinned through ignorance. Calmet.
Ver. 14-15. The just one, and the holy one, even the author of life you killed: he that is the just one promised, the Messias, the Son of God, and true God. Wi.
Ver. 17. You did it through ignorance, but such as could not excuse the chief of you. Wi.
Ver. 20. The times of refreshment. The time of eternal rest and happiness, &c.
--- These words, you may be saved, must be understood, to make the sense complete. Wi.
Ver. 21. Whom heaven indeed must receive, as also in the Prot. translation not contain: nor can any argument be drawn from hence, that Christ's body cannot be truly at the same time in the holy Sacrament, especially after a different manner. The true sense of these words is, that heaven is the place of Christ's abode, till the day of judgment, and that it was in vain for them to think that he would come to take possession of any temporal kingdom. Wi.
--- The restitution of all things. Jesus remains in heaven, till his second coming to judge the living and the dead. That is the great day, when every thing shall be finally settled, and restored to its proper order. He shall avenge the injuries done to God; restore peace to the afflicted just men of the earth, and justice to their persecutors. He shall exalt his Church, and himself receive the homage of adoration, from every tribe of men. Calmet.
--- See 2 Peter iii. 13. which text, together with what we read in this place, joins inseparably the last coming of Jesus Christ, with the universal re-establishment promised in both these passages, and completely excludes the Millennium, which some erroneously expect to take place between the accomplishment of the first and second of these events. See Bossuet's reflexions on the 20th ch. of the Apocalypse, where the errors of many Protestant writers, especially of Dodwell, are refuted. To shew that the error of the Millennium cannot be assigned as a general cause which impelled the primitive Christians to martyrdom, it will suffice to produce this decisive passage of S. Justin, who after Papias, was the first supporter of that system: speaking to Tryphon concerning this temporal kingdom, which Christ was to enjoy here below, in the re-established Jerusalem with the saints risen from the dead, for a thousand years, he says: "I have already confessed that many others, with myself, were of this opinion; . . . but there are many others, and persons of sound faith, and exemplary conduct, who reject this opinion." In dialog. cum Tryph. n. 84.
--- Clement of Alexandria, S. Cyprian, and Origen, lay down principles diametrically opposite to this system. It has also been expressly combated by Caius, and S. Denis of Alexandria, one of the greatest luminaries of the third century, as we learn from Eusebius, and S. Jerom.
Ver. 22. Moses said. He brings them this testimony of Moses concerning the Messias, to shew the punishment they deserve for not receiving him. Wi.
Ver. 23. Which will not hear that prophet. S. Peter's argument is this. If disobedience to the ordinances of God by the voice of Moses, was punishable with death, how much more severe will be the punishment of those, who refuse obedience to the doctrines of Jesus, to whom all the prophets bore testimony, and whom the apostles then preached. How different is this system of submission to the teaching of the prophets, and apostles, from that libertinism, which undermines the whole fabric of religion, by taking away from the Church the power of commanding, and from the disciple the necessity of obeying. By what wonderful and progressive shades of light was the prediction of this great prophet made to man! From the fall of Adam, it was predicted, that the seed of the woman would crush the serpent's head. Many ages after, God manifested that from Abraham's loins the Redeemer should spring, "in whom all nations should be blessed." The promise is renewed to Isaac, and that he is to spring from his son, but not from Esau, but from Jacob; and of the twelve sons of Jacob, the posterity of Juda is to have the privilege of bestowing a Messias to the world, and the token of its accomplishment is, "the failure of the sceptre in the posterity of Juda." After a long series of events, and of ages, an humble shepherd is chosen in the tribe of Juda: he is led to the throne; and to this man, David, it is repeated, that from him the Messias shall spring, and that his kingdom shall have no end. The oracle is so explicit in the psalms of that king, and in the writings of successive prophets, that it not only expresses the race, the tribe, the family, but also the character of the mother, the place of his birth, the precise period of the event, the ministry, the power, the dignity, the circumstances of his death, the change of the covenant, and conversion of the world. The particular prophecies, in their accomplishment, were a visible earnest to the Jews of the accomplishment of the prophecies relative to the Messias. Hence Pascal very justly remarks: "The prophets mingle particular prophecies with those of the Messias; that the prophecies regarding the Messias may not be without proof, and that the particular prophecies may not be without effect." Pensées. xv.
--- These oracles, which during a period of four thousand years, have been delivered to the world, and which have been completely and visibly fulfilled, still exist in books, scrupulously preserved by the greatest enemies of Christ, and of his holy religion, and satisfactorily demonstrate Jesus Christ to be the great prophet, and the Christian religion to be the new covenant, which had been announced so many ages before, in so many different manners.
Ver. 25-26. You are the children . . . to you first God raising up his Son. He gives them encouragement, that not only the promise of sending the Messias was made to them, but that he came, and is to be preached to them: and that the blessings of his coming are first offered to them. Wi.