Thoughts from the Early Church

Commentary by Lawrence of Brindisi

“He has made the deaf hear and the dumb speak.”
(Mk: 7:37)

Just as the divine law says that when God created the world “he saw all that he had made and it was very good,” so the Gospel, speaking of our redemption and re-creation, affirms: “He has done all things well. A good tree bears good fruit; no good tree can bear bad fruit.”

As fire can give out nothing but heat and is incapable of giving out cold; and as the sun gives out nothing but light and is incapable of giving out darkness, so God is incapable of doing anything but good, for he is infinite goodness and light. He is a sun giving out endless light, a fire producing endless warmth. “He has done all things well.”

And so today we must wholeheartedly unite with that holy throng in saying: “He has done all things well. He has made the deaf hear and the dumb speak.”

Like Balaam’s ass, this crowd certainly spoke under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Clearly it was the Holy Spirit who said through its mouth: “He has done all things well;” in other words he is truly God, because making the deaf hear and the dumb speak are things that only God can do.

There is a transition here from the particular to the general. This man has worked a miracle that only God could work; therefore he is God, who has done all things well. 

“He has done all things well.” The law says that all God did was good; the gospel says he has done all things well. Doing a good deed is not quite the same as doing it well. Many do good deeds but fail to do them well. The deeds of hypocrites, for example, are good, but they are done in the wrong spirit, with a perverse and defective intention.

Everything God does, however, is not only good but is also done well. “The Lord is just in all his ways and holy in all his deeds.” With wisdom you have done them all: that is to say, most wisely and well. So “he has done all things well,” they say.

Now if God has done all his good works and done them well for our sake, knowing that we take pleasure in goodness, why I ask do we not endeavor to make all our works good and to do them well, knowing that such works are pleasing to God?

If you ask what we should do in order to enjoy the divine blessings for ever, I will tell you in a word. Since the Church is called the bride of Christ and of God, we must do what a good wife does for her husband. Then God will treat us as a good husband treats a dearly loved wife. This is what the Lord says through Hosea: “I will betroth you to myself with justice and integrity, with tenderness and compassion; I will betroth you to myself with faithfulness, and you shall know that I am the Lord.”

So even in this present life we shall be happy, this world will be an earthly paradise for us; with the Hebrews we shall feast on heavenly manna in the desert of this life, if only we follow Christ’s example by striving to do everything well, so that “he has done all things well” may be said of each one of us.

Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost 1, 1.9.11.12:
Opera omnia, 8,124.134.136-38


Lawrence of Brindisi (1559-1619) was born at Brindisi and educated at Venice. In 1575 he entered with the Capuchins and was sent to Padua to study philosophy and theology. He had a prodigious memory and was said to know the Scriptures by heart in the original. This enabled him to convert many Jews. Raised to a high degree of contemplation himself, he evangelized much of Europe, speaking to the hearts of those who heard him. From 1602 he served a term as minister general of the Capuchins. As chaplain to the imperial troops he led them into battle and to victory against the Turks on two occasions, armed only with a crucifix. He died at Lisbon while on an embassy. His writings include eight volumes of sermons, commentaries on Genesis and Ezekiel, and other didactic or controversial works. Pope John XXIII added his name to the list of doctors of the Church.

 

**From Saint Louis University

Kristin Clauson