Personal Notes for this Sunday is about the “Doggy in the Gospel,” for those old enough to know the song of similar name, “The Doggie in the Window.”  Personal Notes considers how different theologians use the reality and concept of a dog to find God.  Scripture Study at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish in Newport News, Virginia this Fall, promises to be about a related topic, “Stewardship of the Earth.”  I wonder what, if anything, that study will have about this dog.

Saint Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274),[1] the great theologian, takes a top-down hierarchical approach to reality.  Aquinas moves from creation, about which humans know directly, to the Creator, about whom humans learn indirectly.  Aquinas looks at an animal, such as a dog, and moves directly to God.  Aquinas might point out that some dogs, for example, can smell cancer in people, helping with a quicker diagnosis.  Such animals have a God-given gift.  Saint Anthony Padua (1195-1231), the saint for finding things, moves from creation to other creatures, in order to lead all people to the Creator.

Anthony takes a pastoral approach, looking at a dog, for example, and seeing not an animal so much as a metaphor for a preacher healing sinners.  The passage in the readings is from Luke 16:21, with the dogs licking the wounds of Lazarus.  Anthony was a Franciscan, a contemporary of Saint Francis of Assisi (1181/1182-1226).[2]

While Anthony made his reputation in Padua, Italy, he was born in Lisbon, Spain, later Portugal.  Anthony was well educated in Augustinian theology by Augustinian priests.[3]  Martin Luther (1483-1546)[4] was also an Augustinian priest.  The philosophic basis, for how Anthony thought, was Platonic, whereas the Thomistic philosophy of Aquinas is Aristotelian.  The differences are between Plato and Aristotle.

Plato is more acceptable to Protestant Puritanism; Aristotle to Roman Catholicism.  Plato thought that what the senses reach was a shadow of non-material reality.  Aristotle thought that what the senses reach had the same level of reality as non-material reality.  Both non-material and material reality were real.  Material was not simply a reflection of non-material reality.

With that as background, the dog for Anthony was more a metaphor of something greater, such as a preacher.  Aquinas was not as engaged in the symbolic value of material reality.  Anthony was more of a medieval dreamer.  Anthony was present when the first Franciscan martyrs were returned to Spain for burial.  Wanting to imitate those martyrs, taking the name “Anthony,” he became a Franciscan.  Anthony was born Fernando Bulhom.

Before Anthony could be martyred, he became sick, and wound up in Sicily, his ship having been blown off course.  Eventually, his preaching gifts became evident.  Like Francis, he lived what he preached.  In other words, Anthony did not live in a palace, all the while preaching a life-style of voluntary poverty.  Anthony died when he was thirty-three years old.  His friend, Pope Gregory IX (born 1155, ruled 1227-1241), declared Anthony a Saint the next year.

The readings for this Sunday show a preference for the poor in the Spirit of Saint Anthony.  One of the themes of the Gospel of Luke is that life in the next world will offer a reversal of fortunes, such as between Lazarus and the rich man.  The Prophet Amos proclaimed much the same point, so much so that one may wonder how much Luke drew from the Book of the Prophet Amos.  Psalm 146:7 proclaims as blessed he who “gives food to the hungry.”  1 Timothy 6:16 is about the Poor Clare “unapproachable light” in which God lives and which humans cannot see, but which can make it easy to forget God and those poor people, like Lazarus.

Annotated Bibliography

Material above the double line draws from material below the double line.  Those uninterested in scholarly details should stop reading here.  If they do, however, they may miss some of the fun stuff scholars are digging up.


First Reading: Amos 6:1a, 4-7


          E. Theodore Mullen, Jr., review of Karl Moller, A Prophet in Debate: The Rhetoric of Persuasion in the Book of Amos[5]

Moller neglects Amos 5—7 as a disservice to his argument that Amos is debating with his hearers about high living.


Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 146:7, 8-9, 9-10

          This Psalm is available for funerals.[6]


Second Reading: 1 Timothy 6:11-16

1 Timothy 16 :11, mentions the love, which is agape in Greek.  At Paragraph 3, Benedict XVI begins his encyclical, “God is Love,” distinguishing love, which is charity, from love, which is sexual, and from love, which is friendship.  The love required between the rich man and Lazarus is agape or true charity.


          1 Tim 6:12-13

          Patrick Gray, “The Liar Paradox and the Letter to Titus[7]

          Gray uses 1 Timothy 6:12, the noble confession to write, “But now he [the author of 1 Timothy] has made the `good confession,’ as have Timothy and Jesus (6:12-13.)”  This is not a confession of sins but a witness of dedication to the Lord.


          1 Tim 6:13

          Joseph A. Fitzmyer, S.J., “The Structured Ministry of the Church in the Pastoral Epistles”[8]

          Fitzmyer understands 1 Timothy 6:13, to keep the commandment without stain or reproach not only in a personal sense, but also in a communal sense.  Timothy is to keep the community within the commandment and without stain or reproach.


          1 Tim 6:14

          David J. Downs, "`Early Catholicism’ and Apocalypticism in the Pastoral Epistles”[9]

Downs quotes J. Christiaan Beker to note that in 1 Timothy 6:14, the Early Catholics are still looking for the immanent return of Jesus, though in other verses (1 Timothy 2:1-12; Titus 1:5—2:10) there is “fading interest in the imminent coming of the end of time.”  The interest is turning to institutionalizing the structure required to pass down the Gospel from one generation to the next.  This, in turn, risks getting caught up in the trappings of power and glory.


1 Timothy 6:16

Margaret Barker, The Great High Priest: The Temple Roots of Christian Liturgy[10]

Barker points out that the interior of the Holy of Holies would have been dark, only lighted by God.


1 Timothy 6:16

United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, United States Catholic Catechism for Adults[11]

The Bishops use this verse in their section “I Believe in God” to write that “God is Holy Mystery.”  The Bishops make no mention of Saint Anthony of Padua.


Alleluia: cf. 2 Corinthians 8:9


Gospel: Luke 16:19-31

Luke 16:19-31

Benedict XVI, “Encyclical Letter: Deus Caritas Est of the Supreme Pontiff Benedict XVI to the Bishops, Priests and Deacons, Men and Women Religious and All the Lay Faithful on Christian Love”[12]

Benedict writes, “This principle [of love] is the starting-point for understanding the great parables of Jesus.  The rich man (Cf. Lk 16:19-31) begs from his place of torment that his brothers be informed about what happens to those who simply ignore the poor man in need.  Jesus takes up this cry for help as a warning to help us return to the right path.”


          Luke 16:19-31

          Craig L. Blomberg, "Interpreting the Parables of Jesus: Where Are We and Where Do We Go from Here?"[13]

          Blomberg writes, “… paraphrase can never exhaust a metaphor’s meaning but it can partially encapsulate it.”  This means that the common practice of paraphrasing the Gospels on Sundays may have a proper place (to my personal annoyance).


          Luke 16:19-31

          Tony Chartrand-Burke, review of Thomas L. Brodie, The Birthing of the New Testament: The Intertextual Development of the New Testament Writings[14]

          Brodie writes that “the canonical Luke-Acts reproduces PL [Proto-Luke] unchanged and incorporates material from Mark, Matthew, and John.”  This means that there is no lost “Q” document from which the Evangelists draw.  Brodie goes on to argue that the history of what happened is lost in the literary genre, or manner of writing, of that day.  This means that Luke may have been borrowing from Amos.  If Brodie is correct, history according to the canons of the historical profession, is not present in the Evangelical Gospels.  Scholars are not paying much attention to Brodie, therefore.  Brodie, nonetheless, deserves better, even if he is wrong.


          Luke 16:21

          Fernando Uribe, “Nature in the Sermons of Saint Anthony,” Edward Hagman, O.F.M. Cap.  (tr.)[15]

          Greyfriars Review has been out of print for several years.  My Vol. 18, Issue 1 (2004) only arrived April 6, 2007.  The journal is dedicated to a scholarly presentation of spirituality.  I look forward to the next issue.

          In the 1930’s Saint Anthony was declared a Doctor of the Church.  Uribe writes, “Anthony explains the book of scripture by means of the book of Nature.”  Uribe goes on, “… the saint is entirely faithful to the Christian and medieval idea that nature is a sign or symbol of divine realities, a mirror of God, a book written in his own hand.”  The material above the double line draws from this article.


          Luke 1:25

          Basil S. Davis, "Severianus of Gabala and Galatians 6:6-10"[16]

… you received what was good during your lifetime … the Greek for good is similar to the Greek for love or charity.  The former is a six-letter adjective, beginning with the same three letters (aga) as the latter five-letter noun.  Good things, as here, can mean material goods.


The JustFaith topics, Immigration, Climate change, The UN Millennium Development Goals, Federal Budget Priorities, and Prison Reform, feed into these readings.



For more on sources see the Appendix file, included with the hard copy.  Personal Notes are on the web site at




After-action Report


Lisbon, Spain, later Portugal.”  Means that when St. Anthony was born in 1195, Lisbon was still part of Spain.  Further research indicates that Portugal became independent in 1179.[17]  I do not know what to make of what I found in footnote 3.


Trying to explain the difference between Plato and Aristotle, may be a lost cause.  To illustrate, there is a difference between chair as something reached with the hand and as reached with the mind.  What is reached by the mind, I call chair-ness.  Plato regarded what is reached with the hand as only a reflection of what is reached by the mind.  Aristotle regarded both what is reached by the mind and what is reached by the hand as real.

[5] the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 66, No. 4 (April 2004) 625.


[6] N.a., International Commission on English in the Liturgy: A Joint Commission of Catholic Bishops’ Conferences, The Roman Ritual: Revised by Decree of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council and published by Authority of Pope Paul IV: Order of Christian Funerals: Including Appendix 2: Cremation: Approved for use in the Dioceses of the United States of America by the National Conference of Catholic Bishops and Confirmed by the Apostolic See (New Jersey: Catholic Book Publishing Co., 1998) 307.


[7] the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 69, No. 2 (April 2007) 312.


[8] the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 66, No. 4 (April 2004) 584.


[9] the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 67, No. 4 (October 2005) 646, 652, 653, 659.


[10] London: T & T Clark International: A Continuum imprint, 2003 186.


[11] Washington, D.C.: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, 2006 50.


[13] the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 53, No. 1 (July 1991) 55.  66-67.


[14] the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 68, No. 4 (October 2006) 756.


[15] Greyfriars Review, Vol. 18, No. 1 (2004) 56, 66, 70.


[16] the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 69, No. 2 (April 2007) 296.