Notes & Commentary:
Ver. 1. Waters. Sow thy seed where it may produce a good crop. (Calmet) — Be charitable to all, Luke vi. 30. Indiscrete faciendum bene. (St. Jerome) — Assist those in distress, (Calmet) even though they may be ungrateful, or unable to make a return, Luke xiv. 12. (Tirinus) — In this third part we are exhorted to serve God with perseverance. Of all virtues, the works of mercy avail most, Matthew xxv. (Worthington)
Ver. 2. Eight. To as many as thou art able, (Calmet) especially to those who are of the household of faith, (Galatians vi. 10.; Haydock) whether under the old or the new Testament, signified by the numbers, seven and eight. (Worthington) (St. Jerome) — Mandatum accipis octo illis partem dare, fortasse benedictionibus, (St. Ambrose in Luke vi. n. 49.) which intimates, that we must apply ourselves to the pursuit of all virtues, as the number eight denotes perfection. (Calmet)
Ver. 3. If the tree fall, &c. The state of the soul is unchangeable, when once she comes to heaven or hell: and the soul that departs this life in the state of grace, shall never fall from grace; as on the other side, a soul that dies out of the state of grace, shall never come to it. But this does not exclude a place of temporal punishments for such souls as die in the state of grace: yet not so as to be entirely pure; and therefore they shall be saved, indeed, yet so as by fire, 1 Corinthians iii. 13, 14, 15. (Challoner) — After death, none can merit. (Worthington) — “He who shall not have cultivated his field, (the soul) shall after this life experience the fire of purgation, or eternal punishment.” (St. Augustine, de Gen. contra Man. ii. 20.) (Haydock) — The souls in purgatory have their names inscribed in heaven, like the ancient saints, who were detained in the bosom of Abraham. (Calmet) — They fall, therefore, to the south. Let people dispense their alms to all, as the clouds rain upon the just and unjust, (Haydock) upon the cultivated and the barren land, and let them do it before death. They know not how soon it may lay them low. (Calmet) — By looking at the branches of a tree, we may conclude which way it will fall; so we may form a judgment of our future state, by reflecting on our present dispositions. “Our branches are our desires, by which we stretch ourselves to the south, if they be spiritual,” &c. (St. Bernard, ser. xlix.) The liberal are not concerned where they bestow charity. People will gather up the fruit both on the north and south, and they who have given alms will find them (Abenezra; Mercer.) laid up in the heavenly tabernacles. (Haydock) — This agrees with the sequel. (Calmet)
Ver. 4. Reap. Those who are too circumspect in their alms-deeds, will often pass over such as stand in need, (St. Jerome) and people who reflect on the difficulties of a virtuous life, will never begin. (St. Gregory iii. Past. xvi., and Mor. xxvii. 5.)
Ver. 5. Spirit. In a man, or of the wind. Why then wouldst thou judge of the merit of thy petitioner? or pretend to determine why God has made thee rich and him poor?
Ver. 6. Better. Be kind to all during life, Galatians vi. 10. (Calmet) — Do good, both in youth and in old age, (Worthington) lest, if thou shouldst grow remiss, all would be lost. (St. Jerome)
Ver. 8. And the. Hebrew, “for they are many. What comes to pass is vanity.” (Montanus) — Nothing can more effectually repress the love of this world, Ecclesiasticus vii. 40. After Solomon has presented the objections of the wicked, he comes to this conclusion.
Ver. 9. Eyes. He speaks ironically, (Calmet) or exhorts to spiritual joy and moderation. (St. Gregory, Mor. xxiv.)
Ver. 10. Anger. All turbulent passions, and evil or carnal pleasures. (St. Jerome)
Bible Text & Cross-references:
Exhortation to works of mercy, while we have time, to diligence in good, and to the remembrance of death and judgment.
1 Cast thy bread upon the running waters: for after a long time thou shalt find it again.
2 Give a portion to seven, and also to eight: for thou knowest not what evil shall be upon the earth.
3 If the clouds be full, they will pour out rain upon the earth. If the tree fall to the south, or to the north, in what place soever it shall fall, there shall it be.
4 He that observeth the wind, shall not sow: and he that considereth the clouds, shall never reap.
5 As thou knowest not what is the way of the spirit, nor how the bones are joined together in the womb of her that is with child: so thou knowest not the works of God, who is the maker of all.
6 In the morning sow thy seed, and in the evening let not thy hand cease: for thou knowest not which may rather spring up, this or that: and if both together, it shall be the better.
7 The light is sweet, and it is delightful for the eyes to see the sun.
8 If a man live many years, and have rejoiced in them all, he must remember the darksome time, and the many days: which when they shall come, the things past shall be accused of vanity.
9 Rejoice, therefore, O young man, in thy youth, and let thy heart be in that which is good in the days of thy youth, and walk in the ways of thy heart, and in the sight of thy eyes: and know that for all these God will bring thee into judgment.
10 Remove anger from thy heart, and put away evil from thy flesh. For youth and pleasure are vain.