HAYDOCK CATHOLIC BIBLE COMMENTARY – NEW TESTAMENT

HAYDOCK CATHOLIC BIBLE COMMENTARY

 

This Catholic commentary on the New Testament, following the Douay-Rheims Bible text, was originally compiled by Catholic priest and biblical scholar Rev. George Leo Haydock (1774-1849). This transcription is based on Haydock’s notes as they appear in the 1859 edition of Haydock’s Catholic Family Bible and Commentary printed by Edward Dunigan and Brother, New York, New York.

 

THE NEW TESTAMENT

OF OUR LORD AND SAVIOUR JESUS CHRIST

 

 

The books of the New Testament:

MATTHEW

MARK

LUKE

JOHN

ACTS

ROMANS

1 CORINTHIANS

2 CORINTHIANS

GALATIANS

EPHESIANS

PHILIPPIANS

COLOSSIANS

1 THESSALONIANS

2 THESSALONIANS

1 TIMOTHY

2 TIMOTHY

TITUS

PHILEMON

HEBREWS

JAMES

1 PETER

2 PETER

1 JOHN

2 JOHN

3 JOHN

JUDE

APOCALYPSE

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The additional Notes in this Edition of the New Testament will be marked with the letter A.  Such as are taken from various Interpreters and Commentators, will be marked as in the Old Testament.  B. Bristow, C. Calmet, Ch. Challoner, D. Du Hamel, E. Estius, J. Jansenius, M. Menochius, Po. Polus, P. Pastorini, T. Tirinus, V. Bible de Vence, W. Worthington, Wi. Witham. The names of other authors, who may be occasionally consulted, will be given at full length.

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MATTHEW

 

THE

HOLY GOSPEL OF JESUS CHRIST,

ACCORDING TO S. MATTHEW.

PREFACE.

This and other titles, with the names of those that wrote the Gospels, are not the words of the Evangelists themselves.  The Scripture itself nowhere teacheth us, which books or writings are to be received as true and canonical Scriptures.  It is only by the channel of the headings on the original inscribed autographs and supported by the written traditions of the Church Fathers that the unwritten traditions testify to the truth, and therefore by the testimony and authority of the Catholic Church (which has no part with Vatican II), it is that we know and believe that this gospel, for example of S. Matthew, with all contained in it, and that the other books and parts of the Old or New Testament, are of divine authority, and written by divine inspiration; which made S. Augustine say, I should not believe the gospel, were I not moved thereunto by the authority of the Catholic Church: Ego evangelio non crederem, nisi me Ecclesiæ Catholicæ commoveret auctoritas.  Lib. con. Epist. Manichæi, quam vocant fundamenti. tom. viii. c. 5, p. 154.  A. Ed. Ben.  Wi.

S. Matthew, author of the gospel that we have under his name, was a Galilean, the son of Alpheus, a Jew, and a tax-gatherer; he was known also by the name of Levi.  His vocation happened in the second year of the public ministry of Christ; who, soon after forming the college of his apostles, adopted him into that holy family of the spiritual princes and founders of his Church.  Before his departure from Judea, to preach the gospel to distant countries, he yielded to the solicitations of the faithful; and about the eighth year after our Saviour’s resurrection, the forty-first of the vulgar era, he began to write his gospel: i.e., the good tidings of salvation to man, through Christ Jesus, our Lord.  Of the hagiographers, S. Matthew was the first in the New, as Moses was the first in the Old Testament.  And as Moses opened his work with the generation of the heavens and the earth, so S. Matthew begins with the generation of Him, who, in the fulness of time, took upon himself our human nature, to free us from the curse we had brought upon ourselves, and under which the whole creation was groaning.  A. — This holy apostle, after having reaped a great harvest of souls in Judea, preached the faith to the barbarous nations of the East.  He was much devoted to heavenly contemplation, and led an austere life; for he eat no flesh, satisfying nature with herbs, roots, seeds, and berries, as Clement of Alexanderia assures us, Pædag. l. ii. c. 1.  S. Ambrose says, that God opened to him the country of the Persians.  Rufinus and Socrates tell us, that he carried the gospel into Ethiopia, meaning probably the southern or eastern parts of Asia.  S. Paulinus informs us, that he ended his course in Parthia; and Venantius Fortunatus says, by martyrdom. — See Butler’s Saints’ Lives, Sept. 21st.

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MATTHEW 1

CHAPTER I.

Ver. 1.  The first English Testament, divided into verses, was that printed at Geneva, by Conrad Badius, in the year 1557.  A. — “The book of the Generation,” is not referred to the whole gospel, but to the beginning, as in Gen. v.  “This is the book of the generation of Adam.”  E. — The book of the[1] Generation, i.e. the genealogy or pedigree, which is here set down in the first sixteen verses.  In the style of the Scriptures any short schedule or roll is called a book, as the bill or short writing of a divorce, is called a little book.  Matt. v. 31.  Wi. — Jesus, in Hebrew Jesuah, is the proper name of Him, who was born of the Virgin Mary, who was also the Son of God, “a name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb.”  Luke ii.  It signifies Saviour, “because he was to save his people from their sins.”  He was also called Christ, which signifies anointed; for though in the Old Testament kings, priests, and prophets were anointed, and though many were then designated by the name of Jesus, properly, and by an invariable custom of the New Testament, that person is exclusively signified, who, on account of the union of the divine and human nature, was anointed by the Holy Ghost above all his fellows.  Ps. xliv. and Heb. i. 9.  Whence in this turn the hypostasis is understood, in which the two natures, the divine and human, meet.  E.

 

Ver. 2.  He begins with Abraham, the father of the faithful, because to him the promise was made, that all generations should be blessed in his seed.  Theophylactus.

 

Ver. 3.  See Gen. xxxviii, v. 6. & dein. and Zara of Thamar, her daughter-in-law.  A.

 

Ver. 5.  See Josue. c. ii. & dein. We nowhere else find the marriage of Salmon with Rahab; but this event might have been known by tradition, the truth of which the divinely inspired evangelist here confirms.  Bible de Vence.  Rahab was a debauched woman, preserved in the pillage of Jericho, where she had been born.  In this genealogy only four women are mentioned, of which two are Gentiles, and two adulteresses.  Here the greatest sinners may find grounds for confidence in the mercies of Jesus Christ, and hopes of pardon, when they observed how the Lord of life and glory, to cure our pride, not only humbled himself by taking upon himself the likeness of sinful flesh, but by deriving his descent from sinners, and inspiring the holy evangelist to record the same to all posterity.  A.

 

Ver. 6.  Extract from S. Chrysostom’s first Homil. upon the first chapter of S. Matthew: “How, you say, does it appear that Christ descended from David?  For if he be born not of man, but of a virgin, concerning whose genealogy nothing is said, how shall we know that he is of the family of David?  We have here two difficulties to explain.  Why is the genealogy of the Virgin passed over in silence, and why is Joseph’s mentioned, as Christ did not descend from him? . . . How shall we know that the Virgin is descended from David?  Hear the words of the Almighty addressed to the archangel Gabriel: ‘Go to a virgin espoused to a man, whose name is Joseph, of the house and family of David.’  What could you wish plainer that this, when you hear that the Virgin is of the family of David?  Hence it also appears that Joseph was of the same house, for there was a law which commanded them not to marry any one but of the same tribe. . . . But whether these words, of the house and family of David, be applied to the Virgin or to Joseph, the argument is equally strong.  For if he was of the family of David, he did not take a wife but out of the same tribe, from which he had descended.  Perhaps you will say he transgressed this law.  But the evangelist has prevented such a suspicion, by testifying beforehand that Joseph was a just man.  Beware how you attach crime to him, whose virtue is thus publicly acknowledged. . . . It was not the custom among the Hebrews to keep the genealogies of women.  The evangelist conformed to this custom, that he might not at the very beginning of the gospel offend by transgressing ancient rites, and introducing novelty.”

 

Ver. 8. Joram begot Ozias, three generations are omitted, as we find 2 Paralip. xxii; for there, Joram begot Ochozias, and Ochozias begot Joas, and Joas begot Amazias, and Amazias begot Ozias.  This omission is not material, the design of S. Matthew being only to shew the Jews that Jesus, their Messias, was of the family of David; and he is equally the son, or the descendent of David, though the said three generations be left out: for Ozias may be called the son of Joram, though Joram was his great-grandfather.  Wi. — It is thought that S. Matt. omitted these three kings, Ochozias, Joas, and Amazias, to preserve the distribution of his genealogy into three parts, each of fourteen generations; and, perhaps, also on account of their impiety, or rather on account of the sentence pronounced against the house of Achab, from which they were descended by their mother Athalia.  3 Kings xxi. 21.  C.

 

Ver. 11.  Josias begot[2] Jechonias, &c.  The genealogy of Christ, as it appears by the 17th verse, is divided by the evangelist into thrice fourteen generations, and so it is to contain 42 persons.  The first class of fourteen begins with Abraham, and ends with David.  The second class begins with Solomon, and ends with Jechonias.  The third class is supposed to begin with Salathiel, and to end, says S. Jerom, with our Saviour Christ.  But thus we shall only find in the third class thirteen generations, and in all only forty-one, instead of forty-two.  Not to mention in these short notes other interpretations, the conjecture of S. Epiphanius seems the most probable, that we are to understand two Jechonias’s, the father and the son, who had the same name.  So that the true reading should be, Josias begot Jechonias and his brethren, and Jechonias begot Jechonias, and Jechonias begot Salathiel.  Thus Jechonias named in the 12th verse is not the same, but the son of him that was named in the 11th verse; and from Jechonias the son, begins the third class, and so Christ himself will be the last or 14th person in that last series or class.  There are several difficulties about reconciling this genealogy in S. Matthew with that in S. Luke, c. iii.  But without insisting on all the particulars in these short notes, I hope it may suffice to take notice, that no one can reasonably doubt but that both the evangelists copied out the genealogical tables, as they were then extant, and carefully preserved by the Jews, and especially by those families that were of the tribe of Juda, and of the family of David, of which the Messias was to be born.  For if the evangelists had either falsified, or made any mistake as to these genealogies, the Jews undoubtedly would have objected this against their gospels, which they never did.  Wi. — The difficulties here are: 1. Why does S. Matt. give the genealogy of Joseph and not of Mary?  2. How is it inferred that Jesus is descended from David and Solomon, because Joseph is the son of David?  3. How can Joseph have two men for his father, Jacob of the race of Solomon, and Heli of the race of Nathan?  To the 1st it is generally answered, that it was not customary with the Jews to draw out the genealogies of women; to the 2nd, that Jesus being the son of Joseph, either by adoption, or simply as the son of Mary his wife, he entered by that circumstance into all the rights of the family of Joseph; moreover, Mary was of the same tribe and family of Joseph, and thus the heir of the branch of Solomon marrying with the heiress of the branch of Nathan, the rights of the two families united in Joseph and Mary, were transmitted through them to Jesus, their son and heir; to the 3rd, that Jacob was the father of Joseph according to nature, and Heli his father according to law; or that Joseph was the son of the latter by adoption, and of the former by nature.  A. — In the transmigration,[3] or transportation to Babylon; i.e. about the time the Jews were carried away captives to Babylon.  For Josias died before their transportation.  See 4 K. xxiv.  Wi. — Some think we are to read: Josias begot Joakim and his brethren; and Joakim begot Joachim, or Jechonias. Jechonias was son to Joakim, and grandson to Josias.  The brothers of Jechonias are not known, but those of Joakim are known.  1 Par. iii. 15, 16.  Besides this reading gives the number 14.  A. — S. Jerom says that Jechonias, the son of Josias, is a different person from Jechonias who begot Salathiel, for the latter was son of the former; see Paralip. iii. where it is said that Zorobabel was son of Phadaia; but Phadaia is the same as Salatheil.  E. — Mat. Polus affirms that every one the least conversant in Jewish story, must know that several genealogies which appear to contradict each other, do not in reality.  Synop. Crit. v. 4, p. 12.

 

Ver. 12.  By the text of the first book of Paral. iii. 17, 19. it appears that Zorobabel was grandson to Salathiel.  In comparing the present genealogy with that of S. Luke, (C. iii.) we find that in this last part S. Matthew has suppressed many generations, to bring the list to the number 14; for there are a greater number from Zorobabel to Jesus Christ in S. Luke, but in a different branch.  V. — The evangelist was well aware that the suppressed names could be easily supplied from the Jewish records; and that every person could reply most satisfactorily to any objection on that head, who was the least acquainted with the Jewish tables.  In the first fourteen of these generations, we see the family of David rising to the throne; in the second, a race of kings descending from him; in the last, the royal family descending to a poor carpenter.  Yet, when every human appearance of restoring the kingdom to David’s house was at an end, Jesus arose to sit on his father’s throne, (Luke i. 32.) and of his kingdom there shall be no end.  A.

 

Ver. 16.  The husband of Mary.  The evangelist gives us rather the pedigree of S. Joseph, than that of the blessed Virgin, to conform to the custom of the Hebrews, who in their genealogies took no notice of women: but as they were near akin, the pedigree of the one sheweth that of the other.  Ch. — Joseph the husband of Mary.[3]  So he is again called, v. 19: but in v. 18, we read, when Mary his mother was espoused to Joseph.  These different expressions of being husband, and being espoused, have occasioned different interpretations.  Some think that Joseph and the blessed Virgin were truly married at the time of Christ’s conception: others, that they were only then espoused, or engaged by a promise to marry afterwards.  S. Jerom says, when you hear the name of husband, do not from thence imagine them to be married, but remember the custom of the Scriptures, according to which, they who are espoused only, are called husbands and wives.  Wi. — That Jesus, who is called Christ, was of the seed of David, is also evident, as S. Augustine affirms from various texts of the holy Scriptures, as in the epistle to the Romans, where S. Paul, (c. i.) speaking of the Son of God, says, who was made to Him of the seed of David, according to the flesh.  See also the promises made to David, 2 K. vii.  Ps. lxxxviii. and cxxxi. and spoken of Solomon, as a figure of Jesus Christ.  E.

 

Ver. 18.  The account of the birth of Jesus Christ follows his genealogy.  From these words, “before they came together,” Helvidius and others have started objections, which have been answered long ago by S. Jerom, where he shews in many examples from Scripture, that the words before and until do not signify what happened afterwards; for that point is left indefinite, but only what was done before, or not done.  Thus when it is said, Sit thou at my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool, Ps. cix, by no means signifies, that after the subjection of his enemies, the Son of God is no longer to sit at the right hand of his Father.  In common conversation, when we say that a man died before he reached his 30th year, we do not mean that he afterwards attained it.  Or, should we say that Helvidius died before he did penance, we cannot mean that he afterwards did penance: the same conclusion should be deduced from the words, “before they came together,” the end being accomplished by the power of the operation of the Holy Ghost, without their going together.  If we should advance, that such a man was cured before he went to a physician, the natural inference would be, that he did not go to a physician at all.  Thus also in the language of Scripture, the word first-begotten does not mean after whom others were born, but before whom no one was born, whether there were further issue or not.  And the reason is, because the law required that a sacrifice should be offered for the first-born, and that he should be redeemed very soon after his birth; nor did it allow the parents to wait and see if any other son should be born.  E. — True and perfect marriage, and continual living in the same, without knowing each other.  S. Aug. l. ii. Consen. Evang. c. i.  B.

 

Ver. 19.  And Joseph her husband, knowing her strict virtue, was surprised at this her pregnancy, but “being a just man,” and not willing to expose her, by denouncing her, or giving her a bill of divorce, he had a mind to dismiss her privately, committing the whole cause to God.  Let us learn from Joseph to be ever tender of our neighbour’s reputation, and never to entertain any injurious thoughts, or any suspicions to his prejudice.  A.

 

Ver. 20.  Fear not to take, &c. i.e., fear not to marry her, if we suppose them not yet married, or if married already, the sense is, fear not to keep and remain with thy chaste wife; lay aside all thoughts of dismissing and leaving her.  Wi. — As the incarnation of the Son of God was effected by the whole blessed Trinity, it may be asked why this operation is peculiarly attributed to the Holy Ghost, not only here, but in Luke ii, and in the apostles’ creed?  The answer is, because as power is attributed to the Father, wisdom to the Son, so goodness is attributed to the Holy Ghost, and the gifts of grace which proceed from it.  Estius in diff. loca.

 

Ver. 21.  Jesus . . . he shall save, &c.  The characteristic name of Saviour was peculiar to the Messias, by which he was distinguished, as well as by the adorable name of Jesus.  The expectations of both Jew and Gentile looked forward to a saviour.  S. Augustine, in the 18th book, 23d chapter, de Civitate Dei, introduces a curious anecdote.  He mentions there, that he received from the eloquent and learned Proconsul Flactianus, a book containing in Greek the verses of one of the Sybils, which related to the coming of Christ.  The substance of them is much the same as occurs in the prophecies of Isaiah, from which Virgil has likewise copied into his Pollio, many of the sublime thoughts which we find in that beautiful eclogue.  It is remarkable that of the initials of these verses, S. Augustine had formed an acrostic to the following import, IhsouV CristoV Qeou uioV swthr; that is, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, Saviour.  A.

 

Ver. 22.  The Greeks in general, after S. John Chrysostom, look upon this as a continuation of the angel’s speech to S. Joseph.  The other Fathers and commentators think it a reflection of the evangelist.

 

Ver. 23.  Behold a virgin,[5] &c.  The Jews sometimes objected, as we see in S. Justin’s dialogue with Tryphon, that the Hebrew word alma, in the prophet Isaias, signified no more than a young woman.  But S. Jerom tells us that alma signifies a virgin kept close up.  Let the Jews, says he, shew me any place in which the Hebrew word alma, is applied to any one that is not a virgin, and I will own my ignorance.  Besides the very circumstances in the text of the prophet, are more than a sufficient confutation of this Jewish exposition; for there a sign, or miracle, is promised to Achaz; and what miracle would it be for a young woman to have a child, when she had ceased to be a virgin?  Wi. — How happens it that nowhere in the gospels, or in any other part, do we find Christ called Emmanuel?  I answer, that in the Greek expression the name is given for the thing signified; and the meaning is: He shall be a true Emmanuel, i.e. a God with us, true God and true man.  E. — The text says, they shall call, i.e. all men shall look upon Him as an Emmanuel.  Again, his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, the mighty, the Prince of peace, &c. i.e. He shall be all these, not so much nominally, as really and in effect.  A.

 

Ver. 24. The heretic Helvidius argues from this text, and from what we read in the gospel of Christ’s brethren, that Christ had brothers, and Mary other sons.  But it is evident that in the style of the Scriptures, they who were no more than cousins were called brothers and sisters.  A.

 

Ver. 25.  See note on ver. 18. — S. Jerom assures us, that S. Joseph always preserved his virginal chastity.  It is “of faith” that nothing contrary thereto ever took place with his chaste spouse, the blessed Virgin Mary.  S. Joseph was given her by heaven to be the protector of her chastity, to secure her from calumnies in the birth of the Son of God, to assist her in her flight into Egypt, &c. &c.  We cannot sufficiently admire the modest reserve of both parties.  Mary does not venture to explain to her troubled husband the mystery of her pregnancy; and Joseph is afraid of mentioning his uneasiness and doubts, for fear of troubling her delicate mind and wounding her exquisite feelings.  So great modesty, reserve and silence, are sure to be approved by heaven; and God sends an angel to Joseph in his sleep, to dissipate his doubts, and to expound to him the mystery of the incarnation.  A.

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[1] V. 1.  Liber Generationis.  BibloV genesewV.  So Gen. v. 1.  Hic est liber generationis Adam, BibloV, &c.

[2] V. 11.  See S. Epiphan. hær. vi. pag. 21.  Edit. Petav. epeidh tineV &c.

[3] V. 11.  In transmigratione, epi thV metoikesiaV, i.e. circa tempus transmigrationis.

[4] V. 16.  Joseph virum Mariæ, ton andra MariaV.  And V. 19, vir ejus, anhr authV.  But V. 18, mnhsteuqeishV, desponsata, mnhsteuomai, is not properly the same as gamein.

[5] V 23.  Ecce Virgo, idou h parqenoV.  So is it read, not only here in S. Matt. but in the Sept.  Isai. vii.  S. Hier. l. 1.  Cont. Jovin. tom. iv. parte 2. pag. 174.  Ostendant mihi, ubi hoc Verbo (Alma) appellentur et nuptæ, et imperitiam confitebor.

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MATTHEW 2

CHAPTER II.

 

Ver. 1.  King Herod the Great, surnamed Ascalonite, was a foreigner, but a proselyte to the Jewish religion.  S. Jerom. — This city is called Bethlehem of Juda, to distinguish it from another Bethlehem, which was situated in the division of the tribe of Zabulon.  A. — Wise men.[1]  Both the Latin and Greek text may signify wise philosophers and astronomers, which is the common exposition.  The same word is also many times taken for a magician or soothsayer, as it is applied to Simon, (Acts viii. 9,) and to Elymas, Acts xiii, v. 6. and 8.  Some ancient interpreters think these very men might have been magicians before their conversion.  See a Lapide, &c. — From the east.  Some say from Arabia, others from Chaldea, others from Persia.  Divers interpreters speak of them as if they had been kings, princes, or lords of some small territories.  See Baron. an. i. sect. 29.  Tillemont, note 12. on Jesus Christ.  The number of these wise men is uncertain.  S. Leo, in his sermons on the Epiphany, speaks of them as if they had been three, perhaps on account of their three-fold offerings.  What is mentioned in later writers as their names, is still of less authority, as Bollandus observed.  There are also very different opinions as to the time that the star appeared to these wise men, whether before Christ’s birth, or about the very time he was born, which seems more probable.  The interpreters are again divided as to the year, and day of the year, when they arrived at Bethlehem, and adored the Saviour of the world.  Some think not till two years after Christ’s birth.  See S. Epiphan. hær. xxx. num. 29. p. 134.  And S. Jerom puts the massacre of the Holy Innocents about that time in his chronicle.  But taking it for granted that the wise men came to Jerusalem and to Bethlehem the same year that Christ was born, it is not certain on what day of the year they adored him at Bethlehem.  It is true the Latin Church, ever since the 4th or 5th age, has kept the feast of the Epiphany on the 6th day of January.  But when it is said in that day’s office, This day a star led the wise men to the manger, it may bear this sense only, this day we keep the remembrance of it; especially since we read in a sermon of S. Maximus (appointed to be read in the Roman Breviary on the 5th day within the octave of the Epiphany) these words: What happened on this day, he knows that wrought it; whatever it was, we cannot doubt it was done in favour of us.  The wise men, by the 11th verse, found Jesus at Bethlehem, where his blessed mother was to remain forty days, till the time of her purification was expired.  And it seems most probable that the wise men came to Bethlehem about that time, rather than within thirteen days after Christ’s birth: for had they come so soon after Christ was born, and been directed to go, and make diligent inquiry at Bethlehem, which was not above five miles from Jerusalem, it can scarcely be imagined that so suspicious and jealous a prince as Herod was, would have waited almost a month for their return without searching for the new-born king.  But it is likely, being again alarmed by what happened when Jesus was presented in the temple at his mother’s purification, he thereupon gave those cruel and barbarous orders for the massacre of those innocent infants.  Wi.

Ver. 2.  We have seen his star.  They knew it to be his star, either by some prophecy among them, or by divine revelation.  This star was some lightsome body in the air, which at last seemed to point to them the very place where the world’s Redeemer lay.  We know not whether it guided them during the whole course of their journey from the East to Jerusalem.  We read nothing more in the gospel, but that it appeared to them in the East, and that they saw it again, upon their leaving Jerusalem to go to Bethlehem.  Wi. — The wise men, in the Syrian tongue maguscha, are supposed to have come from Stony Arabia, near the Euphrates.  They might have preserved in this country the remembrance of the prophecy of Balaam, which had announced the coming of the Messias by the emblem of a star, (Num. xxiv. 17.) which was to arise from Jacob.  The star which appeared then, was the symbol of the star which Balaam had predicted.  A.

Ver. 3.  Through fear of losing his kingdom, he being a foreigner, and had obtained the sovereignty by violence.  But why was all Jerusalem to be alarmed at the news of a king so long and so ardently expected?  1. Because the people, well acquainted with the cruelty of Herod, feared a more galling slavery.  2. Through apprehension of riots, and of a revolution, which could not be effected without bloodshed, as the Romans had such strong hold.  They had also been so worn down with perpetual wars, that the most miserable servitude, with peace, was to the Jews an object rather of envy than deprecation.  A.

Ver. 6.  And thou Bethlehem, &c.  This was a clear prophecy concerning the Messias, foretold by Micheas; (c. v. 2,) yet the words which we read in the evangelist are not quite the same as we find in the prophet, either according to the Hebrew or to the Greek text of the Sept.  The chief difference is, that in the prophet we read: And thou Bethlehem art little; but in the evangelist, thou art not the least.  Some answer that the words of the prophet are to be expounded by way of an interrogation, art thou little?  It is certain the following words, both in the prophet and in the gospel, out of thee shall come forth a leader or a captain, &c. shew that the meaning is, thou art not little.  S. Jerom’s observation seems to clear this point:  he tells us, that the Jewish priests, who were consulted, gave Herod the sense, and not the very words of the prophet; and the evangelist, as an historian, relates to us the words of these priests to Herod, no the very words of the prophet.  Wi. — The testimony of the chief priests proves that this text of Micheas was even then generally applied to the Messias, and that to Him alone it must be referred according to the letter.  V.

Ver. 11.  And going into the house.  Several of the Fathers in their homilies, represent the wise men adoring Jesus in the stable, and in the manger.  yet others, with S. Chrys. take notice, that before their arrival, Jesus might be removed into some little house in Bethlehem. — Prostrating themselves, or falling down, they adored him, not with a civil worship only, but enlightened by divine inspiration, they worshipped and adored him as their Saviour and their God. — Gold, frankincense, and myrrh.[2]  Divers of the ancient Fathers take notice of the mystical signification of these offerings; that by gold was signified the tribute they paid to him, as to their king; by incense, that he was God; and by myrrh, (with which dead bodies used to be embalmed) that now he was also become a mortal man.  See S. Amb. l. 2. in Luc. c. ii.  S. Greg. &c.  Wi. — The Church sings, “hodie stella Magos duxit ad præsepium,” but it is not probable that the blessed Virgin should remain so long in the open stable, and the less so, because the multitude, who hindered Joseph from finding accommodations either among his relatives or in the public caravansaries, had returned to their own homes.  E. — They adored Him.  Therefore, in the eucharist also, Christ is to be adored.  For it is of no consequence under what appearance he is pleased to give himself to us, whether that of a perfect man, a speechless child as here, or under the appearance of bread and wine, provided it is evident that he is there; for in whatever manner or place he appears, he is true God, and for that alone he is to be adored.  Frivolous is the objection of certain sectarists, that Christ does not give himself to us in the blessed eucharist to be adored, but to be eaten.  For Christ was not in Bethlehem, nor did he descend from heaven to be adored: He tells us in the xxth chap. of Matthew, v. 28, that the Son of Man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister; yet he was adored on earth, even while he was in his mortal state, by the magi, by his disciples, by the blind man that was cured of his blindness, &c. &c.  “Let us imitate the magi.  Thou seest him not now in the crib, but on the altar; not a woman holding him, but the priest present, and the Holy Ghost poured out abundantly upon the sacrifice.”  S. Chrys. hom. xxiv. in 1 Cor.  Hom. vii. de Sancto Philog.

Ver. 14.  It is very probable that Joseph, with Jesus and his Mother, remained in some part of Egypt, where the Jews were settled, as at Alexandria.  That many Jews dwelt in Egypt, particularly from the time of the prophet Jeremy, is evident from Josephus, and also from the first chapter of the second book of Machab.  Mention is also made of them in Acts ii. and Act. iv. under the name of Alexandrines.

Ver. 15.  Out of Egypt have I called my son.[3]  S. Jerom understands these words to be taken out of the prophet Osee, (C. xi. 2.) and granted they might be literally spoken of the people of Israel: yet as their captivity in Egypt was a figure of the slavery of sin, under which all mankind groaned, and as their delivery by Moses was a figure of man’s redemption by our Saviour Christ, so these words in a mystical and spiritual sense apply to our Saviour, who in a more proper sense was the Son of God, than was the people of Israel.  Wi. — The application of this passage of the prophet to Christ, whereas in the simple letter it might appear otherwise, teaches us how to interpret the Old Testament; and that the principal sense is of Christ and his Church.  B.

Ver. 16.  By this example, we learn how great credit we owe to the Church in canonizing saints, and celebrating their holydays: by whose only warrant, without any word of Scripture, these holy Innocents have been honoured as martyrs, and their holyday kept ever since the apostles’ time, although they died not voluntarily, nor all, perhaps, circumcised, and some even children of pagans.  Aug. ep. 28.  Orig. hom. iii. in diversos.  B.

Ver. 18.  A voice was heard in Rama.[4]  S. Jerom takes Rama, not for the name of any city, but for a high place, as appears by his Latin translation.  Jerem. xxxi. 15.  But in all Greek copies here in S. Matthew, and in the Sept. in Jeremy, we find the word itself Rama, so that it must signify a particular city.  Rachel, who was buried at Bethlehem, is represented weeping (as it were in the person of those desolate mothers) the murder, and loss of so many children: and Rama being a city not far from Bethlehem, in the tribe of Benjamin, built on a high place, it is said that the cries and lamentations of these children, and their mothers, reached even to Rama.  Cornel. a Lapide on Jerem. xxxi. thinks that these words were not only applied by the evangelist in a figurative sense, but that the prophet in the literal sense foretold these lamentations.  Wi.

Ver. 23.  He shall be called a Nazarite, or a Nazarene.[5]  Jesus was called a Nazarite, from the place where he was bred up in Galilee; and the Christians by the Jews were sometimes called Nazarenes, from Jesus of Nazareth.  The evangelist would shew that this name, which the Jews through contempt gave to Christ and his disciples, had an honourable signification: and that this title was given in the predictions of the prophets to the Messias.  But where, or in what prophet?  For we find not the words exactly in any of the prophets.  To this S. Chrysostom answers, that S. Matthew took it from some prophetical writings that have been lost.  S. Jerom gives two other answers: first, that the word Nazarene, from the Hebrew Nezer, signifies separated, and distinguished from others by virtue and sanctity: and so some that were particularly consecrated, and devoted to the service of God, were called Nazareans, as Joseph, (Deut. xxxiii. 16,) Sampson, Judges xvi. 17, &c.  Thus a Nazarene signifies one that is holy: and all the prophets, says S. Jerom, foretold that Christ should be holy.  Therefore also it was that S. Matthew did not cite any one prophet, but the prophets in general.  The second answer is, that a Nazarean (if derived from the Hebrew Netser) signifies a flower, or bud; and so in the prophet Isaias, c. xi. ver. 1) it is foretold of the Messias, that a flower shall ascend from the root of David.  Wi. — The reason why Jesus is called of Nazareth, and not of Bethlehem, is, because he was educated there, and was generally supposed to have been born there.  Hence he was called the Galilean; and the people argued from that circumstance, that he was not the Messias, nor even a prophet, saying, Can the Christ come from Galilee?  Search the Scriptures, and see that out of Galilee a prophet riseth not.  John vii. 52.  Again, in Nazareth the word was made flesh, though in Bethlehem he was produced to the world; and our Lord gives himself the same title, when he addressed Saul.  I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom thou persecutest.  Act. xxii.  He remained at Nazareth till he was about 30 years of age.  A.

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[1]  V. 1.  Magi, oi Magoi.

[2]  V. 11.  Aurum, &c. Pulcherrimè, says S. Jerom on this place, Juvencus Munerum Sacramenta comprehendit,

Thus, Aurum, Myrrham, Regique, Hominique, Deoque,

Dona ferunt.  See S. Amb. in Luc. l. ii. c. ii.  S. Greg. hom. x. in Evang. &c.

[3]  V. 15.  Ex Ægypto vocai filium meum.  In the Sept.  ta tekna autou, filios ejus.

[4]  V. 18.  Vox in Excelso audita est.  Jerem. xxxi. 15.

[5]  V. 23.  Nazaræus, nazwraioV.  S. Chrys. hom. ix. in Matt. p. 66. Ed. Latinæ, Multa ex Propheticis periere monumenta. — S. Hieron. in Matt. pluraliter Prophetas vocans, ostendit se non verba de Scripturis sumpsisse, sed sensum: Nazaræus Sanctus interpretatur, Sanctum autem Dominum futurum, omnis Scriptura commemorat.  Possumus et aliter dicere, quod etiam iisdem verbis juxta Hebraicam veritatem in Isaia Scriptum sit. c. xi. v. 1.  Exiet Virgo de radice Jesse, et Nazaræus de radice ejus conscendet.

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MATTHEW 3

CHAPTER III.

Ver. 1.  “In those days,” i.e. at the time of Jesus Christ, whose history this book contains.  This expression does not always mean that what is going to be narrated, happened immediately after that which precedes.  V. — ‘Tis a way of speaking used by the Hebrews, even when there is no connection of time, as here are passed over 30 years of Christ’s life.  John the Baptist was so called from his baptizing the people in water.  The Jews took this for some token of their Messias: for they said to him, (Jo. i. 25,) why dost thou baptize if thou art not the Christ?In the desert, not in the house of his Father Zachary, as some pretend, but in a true wilderness, as appears by the circumstances of his food, apparel, &c.  Wi. — The Baptist was about 30 years of age.  He, as well as our Lord, in conformity with the Jewish law, did not enter upon his public ministry before that age.  A.

Ver. 2.  “Desert,” in Greek erhmoV, hence hermit.  S. John the Baptist is praised by S. John Chrysostom, as a perfect model, and the prince of an Eremitical life.  Hom. i. in Mar. and hom. i. in J. Bap.  Several sectarists do not approve of what S. Chrysostom advances in favour of an ascetic life, and doing penance for past sins.  B. — Do penance.[1]  Beza would have it translated repent.  We retain the ancient expression, consecrated in a manner by the use of the Church; especially since a true conversion comprehends not only a change of mind, and a new life, but also a sorrow for past offences, accompanied with self-denials, and some severities of a penitential life. — The kingdom of heaven, which many times signifies the present condition of Christ’s Church.  Wi. — In this and other places of holy writ, instead of “do penance,” Protestants give “repent ye;” but general use has rendered metanoia, by pœnitentia, or penance; and in this text, not any kind of penance, or grief for sins committed, but that which is joined with a desire of appeasing Him who has been offended by sin; and this also by some external signs and works.  For as many as heard this metanoeite, obeyed the voice, received from him the baptism of penance, confessed their sins, and it was said to them: Bring forth fruit worthy of repentance, v. 8.  Therefore, all this was contained in the penance preached by the baptist.  And here we must not omit, that while sectarists preach faith alone, both the baptist and Jesus Christ begin their ministry with practising and preaching penance.  T. — Pœnitentiam agite, metanoeite.  Which word, according to the use of the Scriptures and the holy fathers, does not only signify repentance and amendment of life, but also punishing past sins by fasting, and such like penitential exercises.  Ch.

Ver. 3.  Isaias spoke these words of the deliverance of the Jews from Babylon; but this was a figure of the freedom of mankind through Jesus Christ.  The Jews expected Elias would come in person to prepare the ways of the Messias; but John the Baptist was raised up by God in the spirit and power of Elias, to precede the first coming of Jesus Christ, as Elias in person was to precede the second coming of this divine Saviour.  V.

Ver. 4.  His garment of camels’ hair,[2] not wrought camlet as some would have it, but made of the skin of a camel, with the hair on it.  Thus Elias (4 Kings, i. 8,) is called an hairy man, with a leathern girdle about him. — Locusts, not sea-crabs, as others again expound it; but a sort of flies, or grasshoppers, frequent in hot countries.  They are numbered among eatables.  Lev. xi. 22.  S. Jerom and others mention them as a food of the common people, when dried with smoke and salt.  Theophylactus, by the Greek word, understands the tops of trees or buds.  Wi.

Ver. 5.  So great was the celebrity of S. John’s sanctity, so much did his mortified life, and powerful preaching, weigh upon the minds of the people, that all wished to receive baptism at his hands.  A.

Ver. 6.  Baptized.  The word baptism signifies a washing, particularly when it is done by immersion, or by dipping, or plunging a thing under water, which was formerly the ordinary way of administering the sacrament of baptism.  But the Church, which cannot change the least article of the Christian faith, is not so tied up in matters of discipline and ceremonies.  Not only the Catholic Church, but also the pretended reformed churches, have altered this primitive custom in giving the sacrament of baptism, and now allow of baptism by pouring or sprinkling water on the person baptized; nay may of their ministers do it now-a-days, by filliping a wet finger and thumb over the child’s head, or by shaking a wet finger or two over the child, which it is hard enough to call a baptizing in any sense. — Confessing their sins.[3]  We bring not this as a proof for sacramental auricular confession; yet we may take notice, with Grotius, that it is a different thing for men to confess their sins, and to confess themselves sinners.  And here is expressed a declaring of particular sins, (as also Acts xix. 18,) such as is recommended in the Protestant Common Prayer Book, in the visitation of the sick.  Wi. — As the baptism of John was an external profession of penance, to this it was meet to add an external or oral confession of sins; and the more so, because such as were baptized by John, sought of him also, as we read in S. Luke, instructions how they were to amend their lives; now it is naturally expected of whoever asks for similar advice, that he should expose the defects of his past life.  It is thus patients act with their physicians.  A.

Ver. 7.  Pharisees and Sadducees.  These are the names of two sects at that time among the Jews.  There are different conjectures about the name of the Sadducees.  This at least we find by the Gospels, and by the Acts of the Apostles, that they were a profane sort of men, that made a jest of the resurrection, and of the existence of spirits, and of the immortality of souls.  To these the Pharisees were declared adversaries, as being a more religious sect, who pretended to be exact observers of the law, and also of a great many traditions, which they had, or pretended to have, from their forefathers.  S. Epiphan. (hær. 16, p. 34,) derives their name from the Hebrew word Pharas, signifying separated, divided, or distinguished from others by a more holy way of living.  So the proud Pharisee (Luke xviii.) said of himself, I am not like the rest of men, &c. — Brood of vipers.  S. John the Baptist, and also our Saviour himself, (Matt. xxii. 33,) made use of this sharp reprehension to such as come to them full of hypocrisy. — The wrath to come: meaning punishments for the wicked after death.  Or as some expound it, the destruction that was shortly to fall on the city of Jerusalem, on the temple, and the whole nation of the Jews.  Wi.

Ver. 8.  See note for v. 2.

Ver. 9.  Do not, therefore, wantonly imagine, that the fear of destroying the posterity of this patriarch, and of annulling the promises which God had made to him and to his seed, will hinder Him from punishing you.  V.

Ver. 10.  Without the least attention to its origin, or other advantages.  Hence you must not rest your hopes of salvation on your birth alone, nor on the baptism alone you receive at my hands.  V.

Ver. 11.  My baptism is only calculated to lead you to a penitential life, and not to give you true justice; but he who comes after me, is stronger than I, and whose shoes I am not worthy to carry: (it was customary with the attendant slave to carry a change of shoes for his master) he will baptize you in the Holy Ghost, and in the fire of his divine charity, which he will infuse into your hearts, to purify you from all your sins.  V. — Here S. John tacitly insinuates the divinity of Jesus Christ.  He acknowledges his unworthiness, and it is this his humility that makes him the more acceptable to God, “I ought to be baptized by thee, and comest thou to me?”  T. — Whose shoes I am not worthy to carry.  In S. Mark, (c. i. 7.) and in S. Luke, (iii. 21.) we read, the latchet of whose shoes . . I am not worthy to untie.  The sense is the same, and S. John might use both these expressions.  His meaning is, that he was not worthy to do him the least, or the lowest service. — He shall baptize you in, or with the Holy Ghost, i.e. by his baptism, he will give you the remission of your sins, and the graces of the Holy Ghost, signified also by fire, which may allude to the coming of the Holy Ghost at Pentecost, in the shape of fiery tongues.  Wi.

Ver. 12.  Address yourselves then to Him, and prevent, by a prompt and sincere conversion, that dreadful judgment which the just and severe Judge, whom I now announce to you, will most undoubtedly pass upon sinners, when he shall remove the chaff from the good grain, i.e. the bad from the good, calling the latter with him to his heavenly kingdom, and sending the former to burn in unquenchable fire.  A.

Ver. 16.  He . . . went up, &c.  Christ was in the river when he was baptized.  As soon as he went out, and was praying, says S. Luke, (iii. 21,) the heavens were opened to him, or in favour of him; and he saw the Spirit of God descending: i.e. Christ himself saw the shape of the dove, which was also seen by the Baptist, as we find, Jo. i. 33.  And it was perhaps seen by all that were present. — As a dove, or like a dove in a bodily shape.  The dove was an emblem of Christ’s meekness and innocence.  Wi. — Calmet supposes that it was S. John that saw the Spirit of God descend thus upon Jesus Christ.  The Greek text is favourable to this interpretation.  But the Vulgate supposes it was Jesus Christ himself.  S. John declares that he saw the Spirit; (John i. 32,) but this apparent disagreement is easily cleared, by supposing that both saw the shape of the dove, and also the surrounding crowd, and that they all heard the voice of the Father, as it was heard by the disciples in the transfiguration on Mount Thabor, (c. xvii,) and by the crowd in the temple.  John xii.  T.

Ver. 17.  This most solemn testimony of God the Father, relative to his own beloved Son, is repeated below in c. xvii; and is of such great moment, that the Holy Ghost would have it repeated not only by three evangelists, Matthew, Mark and Luke, but also by S. Peter, as a fourth evangelist, 2 ep. c. i.  T. — In Greek, the emphatic article  o uioV mou o agaphtoV, strengthens the proof that Jesus Christ, upon whom the Spirit of God descended in the shape of a dove, was not the adoptive, but natural Son of God, born of Him before all ages, and should silence every blasphemous tongue and pen that can attempt to rob Jesus Christ of his divinity, and poor man of all hopes of salvation, through this God-man, Christ the Lord.  But if it here be asked, why Jesus Christ, who was innocence itself, yes, and the very essence of sanctity, condescended so far as to be baptized with sinners, we answer, with the Holy Fathers, that it was, 1. to sanction the baptism and ministry of his precursor; 2. not to lose this opportunity of teaching humility, by placing himself among sinners, as if he had stood in need of the baptism of penance for the remission of sins; and lastly, with S. Ambrose, that it was to sanctify the waters, and to give to them the virtue of cleansing men from their sins by the laver of baptism.  A.

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[1]  V. 2.  Pœnitentiam agite.  metanoeite.  There is no need of translating in Latin, recipiscite, though more according to the etymology of the word.  The judicious Mr. Bois, prebend. of Ely, in his book entitled, Veteris Interpretis cum Beza, &c. Collatio. Londini. an. 1655, commended by Walton in his Polyglot, declares he would not have this common translation of pœnitentiam agite changed: and brings these words of Melancthon, Let us not be ashamed of our mother tongue; the Church is our Mother, and so speaks the Church.

[2]  V. 4.  S. Hierom. lib. 2. cont. Jovin. tom. 4. part. 2. p. 201.  Orientales, et Libyæ populos . . . locustis vesci, moris est.  Theophylactus by  akrideV, understands buds of trees.

[3]  V. 6.  Confitentes peccata sua.  exomologoumenoi taV amartiaV autwn.

 

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MATTHEW 4

CHAPTER IV.

Ver. 1.  Jesus Christ was led by the Holy Ghost, immediately after his baptism, into the desert,[1] to prepare, by fasting and prayer, for his public ministry, and to merit for us by his victory over the enemy of our salvation, force to conquer him also ourselves.  By this conduct, he teaches all that were to be in future times called to his ministry, how they are to retire into solitude, in order to converse with God in prayer, and draw down the blessing of heaven upon themselves and their undertaking.  What treasures of grace might we expect, if, as often as we receive any of the sacraments, we were to retire within ourselves, and shut out, for a time, the world and its cares.  Then should we come prepared to withstand temptation, and should experience the divine assistance in every difficulty through life.  The life of man is a warfare on earth.  It was not given us, says S. Hilary, to spend it in indolence, but to wage a continual war against our spiritual enemies.  In the greatest sanctity there are often the greatest and most incessant trials; for Satan wishes nothing so much as the fall of the saints.  A. — By these trials, we learn the strength we have received from above, we are preserved from self-complacency and pride in the gifts of heaven; we confirm the renunciation we made in baptism of the devil, and all his works and pomps; we become stronger, and better prepared for future attacks, and are feelingly convinced of the dignity to which we have been raised, and of which the enemy of souls endeavours all he can to deprive us.  S. Chry. hom. xiii.  Both S. John the Baptist and our divine Master, by retiring into the wilderness for contemplation, prayer, fasting and suffering, have given a sanction and an example to those holy men called hermits, who have taken shelter in their sanctified retreats against the dangers of the world.  B.

Ver. 2.  Jesus wished to manifest a certain corporeal weakness, arising from his continued fast, that the devil might venture to tempt him; and after a fast of 40 days and 40 nights he was hungry.  A. — Christ was well acquainted with the thoughts of the wicked fiend, and his great desire of tempting or trying him.  The devil had learnt that he was come into the world from the songs of the angels at his birth, and from the mouth of the shepherds and of S. John the Baptist.  To fast 40 days without being hungry, was certainly far above the strength of man, but to be hungry at any time is inconsistent with God; for which reason our blessed Saviour, that he might not manifestly declare his divinity, was afterwards hungry.  S. Hil. — On this example, as well as that of Moses and Elias, who also fasted 40 days, the fast of Lent was instituted by the apostles, and is of necessity to be observed according to the general consent of the ancient Fathers.  S. Jerom (ep. liv. ad Marcel.) says, we fast 40 days, or make one Lent in a year, according to the tradition of the apostles.  S. Aug. (serm. lxix.) says, by the due observance of Lent, the wicked are separated from the good, infidels from Christians, heretics from Catholics.  Our Saviour fasted 40 days, not because he stood in need of it, as we do, to subject the unruly members of the body, which lust against the spirit, but to set an example for our imitation.  A. — Another reason might be, to prevent the captious remarks of the Jews, who might object that he had not yet done what the founder of their law, Moses, and after him Elias, had done.  Palacius in Mat.

Ver. 3.  “And the tempter coming,” O peirazwn, who looked upon this hunger as a favourable moment to tempt him, and to discover if he were truly the Son of God, as was declared at his baptism, desired Jesus to change by a miracle the stones into bread, to appease his hunger and to recover his strength.  A. — By this we are taught, that amidst our greatest austerities and fasts, we are never free from temptation.  But if your fasts, says S. Gregory, do not free you entirely from temptations, they will at least give you strength not to be overcome by them.  S. Thos. Aquin.  The tempter is supposed to have appeared in a human form, and the whole temptation to have been merely external, like that which took place with our first parents in Paradise.  It would have been beneath the perfection of Christ, to have allowed the devil the power of suggesting wicked thoughts to his mind.  Jan. p. 107.  Had Jesus Christ converted the stones into bread, the devil, according to S. Jerom, would have thence inferred that he was God.  But it was Christ’s intention to overcome the proud fiend rather by humility than power.  S. Thos. Aquin.  Thus, if the first Adam fell from God by pride, the second Adam has effectually taught us how to overcome the devil by humility.  A.

Ver. 4.  Man liveth not by bread only.  The words were spoken of the manna.  Deut. viii. 3.  The sense in this place is, that man’s life may be supported by any thing, or in any manner, as it pleaseth God.  Wi. — S. Gregory upon this passage says: if our divine Redeemer, when tempted by the devil, answered in so mild a manner, when he could have buried the wicked tempter in the bottom of hell, out not man, when he suffers any thing from his fellow man, rather to improve it to his advantage, than to resent it to his own ruin.  Man consists of soul and body; his body is supported by bread, his soul by the word of God; hence the saying, “Lex est cibus animæ.”  Mat. Polus.

Ver. 5.  In the text of S. Luke this temptation is the third: but most commentators follow the order of S. Mat.  In Palestine, all buildings had a flat roof, with a balustrade or a parapet.  It was probably upon the parapet that the devil conveyed Jesus.  The three temptations comprise the three principal sources of sin:  1. sensuality; 2. pride; and 3. concupiscence.  1 ep. John ii. 16.  We may hope to conquer the first by fasting and confidence in divine Providence; the second by humility; the third by despising all sublunary things, as unworthy a Christian’s solicitude.  A. — the devil took him, &c.[2]  If we ask in what manner this was done, S. Gregory answers, that Christ might permit himself to be taken up, and transported in the air by the devil, he that afterwards permitted himself to be tormented, and nailed to a cross by wicked men, who are members of the devil.  Others think the devil only conducted him from place to place.  The text of S. Luke favours this exposition, when it is said, the devil led him to Jerusalem, to a high mountain, &c.  Wi.

Ver. 6.  Heretics, says S. Augustine, quote Scriptures, as the devil does here, in a wrong and forced sense; the Church cites them, like Jesus Christ, in their true sense, and to confute their falsehood.  Cont. lit. Petil. l. ii. c. 51.  It is on this account, that the Catholic Church wishes persons who come to the study of the most mysterious and difficult book ever published, should bring with them some preparation of mind and heart; convinced that the abuse of the strongest and best food may be converted into deadly poison.  The promoters of Bible societies have published in Ireland a tract to encourage the universal perusal of the Scriptures, as the sole rule of faith.  In this they give not only a mutilated and corrupt version of the letter of his late Holiness Pius VI. to the now archbishop of Florence, (to be seen at the head of this edition of the Bible) but certain letters from German Jansenists, who are described as being good Catholics.  A.

Ver. 8.  Shewed him all the kingdoms of the world, and their glory; and as S. Luke says, in a moment of time.  We cannot comprehend how this could be done from any mountain, or seen with human eyes.  Therefore many think it was by some kind of representation; or that the devil shewing a part, by words set forth the rest.  Wi. — He shewed him the different climates in which each country was situated.  S. Chry.

Ver. 9.  All these will I give thee.  The father of lies here promised what was not his to give.  For though he be called the prince of this world, (Jo. xii. 31,) meaning of the wicked, who wilfully make themselves his slaves; yet so restrained is the devil’s power, that he could not go into the swine till Christ permitted it.  Matt. viii. 31.  Wi. — What arrogance!  what pride!  The devil promises earthly kingdoms, whilst Jesus promises a heavenly kingdom to his followers.  S. Remigius.  Behold the pride of his heart; as he formerly wished to make himself God, so now he wishes to assume to himself divine honours.  Aquin.

Ver. 10.  Jesus Christ does not here cite the words, but the substance of the text.  Deut. v. 7. and 9; vi. 13; x. 20. — It is remarkable that our Lord bore with the pride and insolence of the devil, till he assumed to himself the honour due to God alone.  S. Chry.

Ver. 11.  Then the devil having exhausted all his artifices, left him for a time, as S. Luke remarks; whence we are to learn, that after we have resisted with success, we are not to think ourselves secure, but avail ourselves of the truce to return thanks to God for the victory, and to prepare for fresh combats, especially by fortifying ourselves with the bread of angels in the holy communion.  The temptations of Jesus Christ are to us a subject both of consolation and instruction.  By example he has taught us how to fight and to conquer.  The struggle may be painful; but angels, as well as God, witness our struggle, ready to crown our victory.  A.

Ver. 12.  Jesus then left the wilderness, and passed a few day on the banks of the Jordan, affording his holy precursor an opportunity of bearing repeated testimony of him and of his divine mission, as we read in the first chap. of S. John, and then retired into Upper Galilee to avoid the fury of the Jews.  There were two Galilees, that of the Jews and that of the Gentiles; this latter was given by the king of Tyre to king Solomon.  S. Jer.  This conduct of Jesus Christ, shews that on some occasions it is not only lawful, but advisable, to flee from persecution.  S. Chry. — Jesus Christ enters more publicly on his mission, and about to occupy the place of his precursor, the baptist, he chooses Galilee for the first theatre of his ministry, the place assigned by the ancient prophets.  The Pharisees had prevailed upon Herod to arrest the baptist, nor could their hatred be less to Jesus Christ, who drew a still greater concourse of disciples after him.

Ver. 13.Nazareth was situated in Lower Galilee; and Capharnaum, a maritime town, in Higher Galilee.  According to the historian, Josephus, it did not belong to Herod, the tetrarch, who sent the baptist to confinement, but to Philip, the tetrarch, his brother.  C. — He leaves Nazareth for good and all, and retires to Capharnaum, a very flourishing and much frequented emporium, both for the Jews and Gentiles.  Here he makes his chief residence, a place well calculated for his preaching, being on the limits of both Galilees, although he made frequent excursions through Galilee to disseminate his doctrines.  Syn. crit.

Ver. 15.  S. Mat. has omitted in this place part of the prophecy, (Isaiah ix.) because it was not to his purpose.  He has likewise given us the mystical, though still true, interpretation of the prophecy, which was written in the first instance to foretell the deliverance of Jerusalem from Senacherib, in the time of Ezechias.  1 Kings, xix.  Jan.

Ver. 16.  And a light is risen, &c.  This light, foretold by the prophet Isaias, (c. ix, v. 1,) was our Saviour Christ, the light of the world, who now enlightened them by his instructions, and by his grace.  Wi. — Thus when the morning star has gone by and disappeared, the sun rises and diffuses its light to mortals, who rejoice that the darkness of night is removed from the earth.  Jan.

Ver. 17.  Jesus began not to preach till S. John had announced his coming to the world, that the dignity of his sacred person might thus be manifested, and the incredulous Jews be without excuse.  If after the preaching of S. John, and his express testimony of the divinity of our Redeemer, they could still say: thou givest testimony of thyself; thy testimony is not true: what would they not have said, if, without any precursor, he had, all on a sudden, appeared amongst them.  He did not begin to preach till S. John was cast into prison, that the people might not be divided.  On this account also S. John wrought no miracle, that the people might be struck with the miracles of our Saviour, and yield their assent to him.  S. Chry. hom. 14. — It may here be remarked, how different were the motives of the prophets from those which the baptist and Christ made use of to exhort to repentance.  The former menaced evil, and held out a promise of good, but the good or evil was temporal.  S. John begins his exhortations with the threat of eternal punishmentsbut Christ sweetens the hardships of penance by reminding us of the reward.  “The kingdom of heaven is at hand.”  Jan.

Ver. 18.  Jesus wished not only to prove that the establishment of his religion was heavenly, but also to humble the pride of man; and therefore he did not choose orators and philosophers, but fishermen, says S. Jerom.  Cyprian, the eloquent orator, was called to the priesthood; but before him was Peter, the fisherman.  S. Chry. — Jesus saw two brothers, &c.  If we compare what is related by the evangelists, as to the time that S. Peter and S. Andrew became Christ’s disciples, we shall find Andrew, who had been a disciple of S. John Baptist, to have brought to Christ his brother Simon.  Jo. i, v. 40.  But at that time they staid not with him, so as to become his disciples, and to remain with him as they afterwards did, by quitting their boat, their nets, their fishing, and all they had in the world, which is here related; and by S. Mark, (c. i,) and by S. Luke, c. v.  Wi.

Ver. 19.  Jesus Christ here makes an allusion to the prior occupation of his apostles.  David, in his Psalms, makes similar allusions to his former occupation of shepherd: “He took him from the flocks of sheep, he brought him from following the ewes big with young, to feed Jacob, his servant, and Israel, his inheritance.”  Ps. lxxvii. v. 70.  M.

Ver. 21.  It was objected by the ancient enemies of Christianity, Porphyrius, Julian the apostate, and others, that Christ chose for his apostles simple and ignorant men, easy to be imposed upon, and not such as would have been on their guard against deception; thus converting that into an argument against the doctrine of Jesus Christ, which of all other circumstances most solidly and forcibly establishes its divinity and authority.  Salmeron, trac. 25. — If Christ had persuaded the ignorant apostles only, there might be some room for such an argument.  But if these 12 ignorant men triumphed over the learning, the eloquence, the sophisms of the philosophers themselves, over the strong arm of power in the hands of tyrants, and finally over the devils and passions of men, which were the last to give up the combat against a doctrine that established itself on their ruin, then we may conclude, with S. Paul, that it was wisdom in God to choose the weak things of this world to confound the strongthe foolish and the things that are not, to confound those which are.  A.

Ver. 23.  The synagogues were religious assemblies with the Jews, wherein they met on the sabbath and festival days, to pray, to read and hear expounded the word of God, and to exercise the other practices of their law.  C.

Ver. 24.  Many came to Christ to beg to be cured of their corporal infirmities; nor do we read of a single one here, who came to be delivered from spiritual sickness.  Our blessed Savior nevertheless, bearing with their imperfection, condescends to heal them, that he might thence take occasion of exciting their faith, and preparing them for their spiritual cure.  Jan. — It is much to be regretted, that the conduct of Christians at the present day, is not more reasonable than that of the Jews here mentioned.  If the Almighty, says the eloquent Masillon, had not the power or will of dispensing goods and evils, how small would be the number of those who would ever retire to the temple to present their petition to Him.  A. — Our Saviour asks not, if they believed, as he did on other occasions; they had given him sufficient proof, by bringing their sick from distant parts.  Chry. hom. xiv.

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[1]  V. 1.  S. Mark (c. i, v. 13) tells us, Christ was with wild beasts, eratque cum bestiis, meta twn qhriwn.

[2]  V. 5.  Assumpsit, paralambanei.  statuit eum, isthsin.  S. Greg. hom. 16. in Evang. t. 1. pag. 1492.  Ed. Ben.  Quid mirum si se ab illo permisit in montem duci, qui se pertulit etiam a membris illius crucifigi?

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MATTHEW 5

CHAPTER V.

Ver. 1.  What is said here, does not follow immediately what was said in the preceding chapter.  See Luke vi.

Ver. 2.  Opening his mouth.  It is a Hebraism, to signify he began to speak.  Wi. — This is a common expression in Scripture, to signify something important is about to be spoken.  Thus it is used in various other places, as “Job opening his mouth cursed his day, and said,” &c.  Daniel, c. x. et alibi.  Jan. — And why is it added, says S. Chry. “and opening his mouth,” without doubt that we might know, that not only when he spoke, but even when silent, he gave instruction: sometimes, therefore, he opened his mouth; at other times he spoke by his very actions.  Hom. xv.

Ver. 3.  The poor in spirit;[1] which, according to the common exposition, signifies the humble of mind and heart.  Yet some understand it of such as are truly in poverty and want, and who bear their indigent condition with patience and resignation.  Wi. — That is, the humble; and they whose spirit is not set upon riches.  Ch. — It is not without reason that the beatitudes are disposed of in this order.  Each preceding one prepares the way for what immediately follows, furnishing us in particular with spiritual arms of such graces as are necessary for obtaining the virtue of the subsequent beatitude.  Thus the poor in spirit, i.e. the truly humble, will mourn for their transgressions, and whoever is filled with sorrow and confusion for his own sins, cannot but be just, and behave to others with meekness and clemency; when possessed of these virtues, he then becomes pure and clean of heart.  Peace of conscience reigns in this assemblage of virtues, and cannot be expelled the soul by any tribulations, persecutions, or injustices of men.  Chry. hom. xv.  What is this poverty of spirit, but humility and contrition?  This virtue of humility is placed in the first place, because it is the parent of every other virtue, as pride is the mother of every vice.  Pride deprived our first parents of their original innocence, and nothing but humility can restore us to our former purity.  We may pray and fast, we may be possessed of mercy, chastity, or any virtues, if humility do not accompany them, they will be like the virtue of the Pharisee, without foundation, without fruit.  Hom. xv.

Ver. 4.  The land of the living, or the kingdom of heaven.  The evangelist prefers calling it the land of the living in this place, to shew that the meek, the humble, and the oppressed, who are spoiled of the possession of this earth by the powerful and the proud, shall obtain the inheritance of a better land.  M. — “They shall possess the land,” is the reward annexed by our Saviour to meekness, that he might not differ in any point from the old law, so well known to the persons he was addressing.  David, in psalm xxxvi, had made the same promise to the meek.  If temporal blessings are promised to some of the virtues in the beatitudes, it is that temporal blessings might always accompany the more solid rewards of grace.  But spiritual rewards are always the principal, always ranked in the first place, all who practice these virtues are pronounced blessed.  Hom. xv.

Ver. 5.  Not those that mourn for worldly motives, but such as mourn for their sins, are blessed.  The sorrow that is according to God, says S. Paul, worketh penance steadfast unto salvation, but the sorrow of the world worketh death.  2 Cor. vii. 10.  The same is promised in S. John; (xvi. 20,) you shall weep and lament, but the world shall rejoice; and you shall be sorrowful, but your sorrow shall be turned into joy.  M.

Ver. 6.  Hunger and thirst; i.e. spiritually, with an earnest desire of being just and holy.  But others again understand such as endure with patience the hardships of hunger and thirst.  Wi. — Rupertus understands those to whom justice is denied, such as poor widows and orphans.  Maldonatus those who from poverty really suffer hunger and thirst, because justice is not done them.  M. — They shall be filled with every kind of good in their heavenly country.  I shall be filled when thy glory shall appear.  Psalm xvi.

Ver. 7.  Not only the giving of alms, but the practice of all works of mercy, both corporal and spiritual, are recommended here, and the reward will be given on that day when God will repay every one according to his works, and will do by us, as we have done by our brethren.  A.

Ver. 8.  The clean of heart are either those who give themselves to the practice of every virtue, and are conscious to themselves of no evil, or those who are adorned with the virtue of chastity.  For nothing is so necessary as this purity in such as desire to see God.  Keep peace with all and chastity, says S. Paul, for without this none can see God.  Many are merciful to the poor and just in their dealings, but abstain not from luxury and lust.  Therefore our Saviour, wishing to shew that mercy was not sufficient, adds, that if we would see God, we must also be possessed of the virtue of purity.  S. Chry. hom. xv.  By this, we shall have our heart exempt from all disordinate love of creatures, and shall be exclusively attached to God.  A. — The clean of heart, i.e. they who are clean from sin: who are pure in body and mind, says S. Chrysostom.  It seems to be a particular admonition to the Jews, who were mostly solicitous about an outward and legal cleanness.  Wi.

Ver. 9.  To be peaceful ourselves and with others, and to bring such as are at variance together, will entitle us to be children of God.  Thus we shall be raised to a participation in the honour of the only begotten Son of God, who descended from heaven to bring peace to man, and to reconcile him with his offended Creator.  Chry. hom. xv.

Ver. 10.  Heretics and malefactors suffer occasionally, but they are not on this account blessed, because they suffer not for justice.  For, says S. Aug. they cannot suffer for justice, who have divided the Church; and where sound faith or charity is wanting, there cannot be justice.  Cont. epis. Parm. l. i. c. 9. ep. 50. ps. 4. conc. 2.  B. — By justice here we understand virtue, piety, and the defence of our neighbour.  To all who suffer on this account, he promises a seat in his heavenly kingdom.  We must not think that suffering persecution only, will suffice to entitle us to the greatest promises.  The persecutions we suffer must be inflicted on us on his account, and the evils spoken of us must be false and contradicted by our lives.  If these are not the causes of our sufferings, so far from being happy, we shall be truly miserable, because then our irregular lives would be the occasion of the persecutions we suffer.  Chry. hom. xv.

Ver. 12.  Reward, in Latin merces, in Greek misqoV, signifies wages done for hire, and due for work, and presupposes merit.  B. — If you participate in the sufferings of the prophets, you will equally participate in their glory, their reward.  A.

Ver. 13.  The former instructions Jesus Christ gave to the multitude.  Now he addresses his apostles, styling them the salt of the earth, meant to preserve men from the corruption of sin, and to make them relish the truths of salvation.  He tells them not to suffer their faith or their charity to slacken, in which all their power consists, lest they come to be rejected by God, and despised by man.  C. — I send you, says Jesus Christ, not to two, ten, or twenty cities, not to one single nation, as the prophets were sent, but to the whole world, a world oppressed with numberless iniquities.  It is not the property of salt to restore what is already corrupted, but to preserve from corruption.  Therefore the virtue of the merits of Christ delivers us from the corruption of sin; but the care and labour of the apostles preserves us from again returning to it.  Chry. hom. xv. — It appears from Luke xiv. 34, that this comparison is taken from agriculture.  We observe these properties of salt in the different manures that fertilize the soil, but suffer the salts to evaporate, and all their virtue is lost.  A.

Ver. 15.  This light of the world, city on a mountain, and candle upon a candlestick, signify the Catholic Church, so built upon Christ, the mountain, that it must be visible, and cannot be hidden or unknown.  S. Aug. cont. Fulg.  Therefore the Church being a candle not under a bushel, but shining to all in the house, i.e. in the world, what shall I say more, saith S. Aug. than that all are blind, who shut their eyes against the candle which is set on the candlestick?  Tract ii. in ep. Jo.

Ver. 17.  Not to destroy the law, &c.  It is true, by Christ’s coming, a multitude of ceremonies and sacrifices, and circumcision, were to cease; but the moral precepts were to continue, and to be complied with, even with greater perfection.  Wi. — To fulfil.  By accomplishing all the figures and prophecies, and perfecting all that was imperfect.  Ch. — Our Saviour speaks in this manner, to prepare the minds of the Jews for his new instructions.  For although they were not very solicitous about fulfilling the law, still they were extremely jealous of any change being made in the letter of the law; more particularly, if the proposed change exacted a more perfect morality.  Our Lord fulfilled the law three several ways: 1. By his obedience to the prescribed rites; therefore he says, it behoveth us to fulfil all justice: and who shall accuse me of sin?  2. He observes the law, not only by his own observance of it, but likewise by enabling us to fulfil it.  It was the wish of the law to make man just, but found itself too weak; Christ therefore came justifying man, and accomplished the will of the law.  3. He fulfilled the law, by reducing all the precepts of the old law to a more strict and powerful morality.  Chry. hom. xvi.

Ver. 18.  Amen.  That is, assuredly, of a truth.  This Hebrew word Amen, is here retained by the example and authority of all the four evangelists, who have retained it.  It is used by our Lord as a strong asseveration, and affirmation of the truth.  Ch. — Not one jot (or not one jota), nor one tittle, i.e. not the least letter, nor stroke of a letter; that is, not the least moral precept.  Besides every type and figure of the former law, now by my coming shall be fulfilled.  Wi. — Amhn, is retained in the Hebrew, Greek, Syriac, and Armenian languages, as well as in all vulgar idioms.  It is a term of asseveration, and equivalent to an oath; and in many places, to make the asseveration still stronger, it is repeated.  S. Luke very accurately translates it into nai.  S. Paul and S. John unite them nai and amhn.  A.

Ver. 19.  He shall be called; i.e. (by a frequent Hebrew idiom) he shall be the least in the kingdom of heaven; that is, according to S. Aug. he shall not be there at all; for none but the great in sanctity and virtue shall find admittance into heaven.  Wi. — Do not then imitate the Scribes and Pharisees, who content themselves with instructing other in the precepts of the law, without practising them themselves, or if they observe the letter, neglect the spirit of the law, performing what it ordains, not to please God, but to satisfy their vanity.  C.

Ver. 20.  Of the Scribes and of the  Pharisees.  The Scribes were the doctors of the law of Moses; the Pharisees were a precise set of men, making profession of a more exact observance of the law: and upon that account greatly esteemed among the people.  Ch. — See how necessary it is, not only to believe, but to keep all the commandments, even the very least.  B. — Our Saviour makes this solemn declaration at the opening of his mission, to shew to what a height of perfection he calls us.  Aquin. — “Your justice.”  It is our justice when given us by God.  Aug. in Ps. xxx. l. de. spir. & lit. c. ix.  So that Christians are truly just, and have in themselves inherent justice, by observing God’s commandments, without which justice of works, no man can be saved.  Aug. de fide & oper. c. xvi.  Whereby we see salvation, justice and justification, do not come by faith only, or imputation of Christ’s justice.  B.

Ver. 21.  Shall be liable to the judgment.  That is, shall deserve to be punished by that lesser tribunal among the Jews, called the judgment, which took cognizance of such crimes.  Ch. — Among the Jews at the time of Christ, there were three sorts of tribunals: the first composed of three judges to try smaller causes, as theft; there was one in each town: the second of twenty-three judges, who judged criminal causes, and had the power of condemning to death.  This was called the Little Sanhedrim, and of this it is supposed Jesus Christ speaks: the third, or Great Sanhedrim of seventy-two judges, who decided on the most momentous affairs, relating to religion, the king, the high priest, and the state in general.  It is this last that is designated under the name of council in the next verse.  A.

Ver. 22.  Whosoever is angry[2] with his brother.  In almost all Greek copies and MSS. we now read angry without a cause: yet S. Jerom, who corrected the Latin of the New Testament from the best copies in his time, tells us that these words, without a cause, were only found in some Greek copies, and not in the true ones.  It seems at first to have been placed in the margin for an interpretation only, and by some transcribers afterwards taken into the text.  This as well as many other places may convince us, that the Latin Vulgate is many times to be preferred to our present Greek copies. — Raca.[3]  S. Augustin thinks this was no significant word, but only a kind of interjection expressing a motion of anger.  Others take it for a Syro-Chaldaic word, signifying a light, foolish man, though not so injurious as to call another a fool. — Shall be guilty of the council:[4] that is, shall deserve to be punished by the highest court of judicature, called the council, or sanhedrim, consisting of seventy-two persons, where the highest causes were tried and judged, and which was at Jerusalem. — Thou fool; this was a most provoking injury, when uttered with contempt, spite, or malice. — Shall be in danger of hell fire.[5]  Lit. according to the Greek, shall deserve to be cast into the Gehennom of fire.  Gehennom was the valley of Hinnom, near to Jerusalem, where the worshippers of the idol Moloch used to burn their children, sacrificed to that idol.  In that place was a perpetual fire, on which account it is made use of by our Saviour (as it hath been ever since), to express the fire and punishments of hell.  Wi. — Here is a plain difference between sin and sin; some mortal, that lead to hell; some venial, and less punished.  B.

Ver. 23.  He commands us to leave unfinished any work we may have begun, though in its own nature most acceptable to God, in order to go and be reconciled to our brother; because God will have mercy and not sacrifice.  Thus he in a manner seems to prefer the love of our neighbour to the love of himself.  M.

Ver. 24.  Leave thy offering.  This is not to be understood, as if a man were always bound to go to the person offended; but it is to signify, that a man is bound in his heart and mind to be reconciled, to forgive every one, and seek peace with all men.  Wi. — Beware of coming to the holy table, or to any sacrament, without charity.  Be first reconciled to your brother, and much more to the Catholic Church, which is the whole brotherhood of Christian men.  Heb. xiii. 1.  B.

Ver. 25. & 26.  Agree whilst you are in the way, or wayfaring men, i.e. in this life, lest you be cast into prison, i.e. according to SS. Cyprian, Ambrose, and Origen, into purgatory; according to S. Augustin, into hell, in which, as the debt is to be paid to inflexible justice, it can never be acquitted, and of course no release can be hoped for from that prison.  A.

Ver. 27.  Jesus Christ here perfects the old law, which makes no mention of the acts of the mind and will.  M.

Ver. 29.  Whatever is an immediate occasion of sin, however near or dear it may be, must be abandoned (M.), though it prove as dear to us, or as necessary as a hand, or an eye, and without delay or demur.  A.

Ver. 32.  Excepting the cause of fornication.  A divorce or separation as to bed and board, may be permitted for some weighty causes in Christian marriages; but even then, he that marrieth her that is dismissed, commits adultery.  As to this, there is no exception.  The bond of marriage is perpetual; and what God hath joined, no power on earth can separate.  See again Matt. xix. 9.  Wi. — The knot of marriage is so sacred a tie, that the separation of the parties cannot loosen it, it being not lawful for either of the parties to marry again upon a divorce.  Aug. de bon. conjug. c. vii.  B.

Ver. 34.  Swear not at all.  We must not imagine that here are forbidden all oaths, where there is a just and necessary cause of calling God to witness.  An oath on such an occasion is an act of justice and religion.  Here are forbidden unnecessary oaths in common discourse, by which the sacred name of God, which never ought to be pronounced without reverence and respect, is so frequently and scandalously profaned.  Wi. — ‘Tis not forbidden to swear in truth, justice and judgment; to the honour of God, or our own or neighbours’ just defence; but only to swear rashly, or profanely, in common discourse, and without necessity.  Ch.

Ver. 35.  The Anabaptists and other sectarists, following the letter, and not the spirit of the Scripture, and walking in the footsteps of their predecessors, the Waldenses, and the Pelagians, will allow of no oath to be lawful, not even before a judge.  B.

Ver. 38.  Hence your doctors have concluded that revenge, equal to the injury, was permitted.

Ver. 39.  Not to resist evil;[6] i.e. not to resist or revenge thyself of him that hath done evil to thee. — Turn him the other cheek.  Let him have also thy cloak.  These are to be understood as admonitions to Christians, to forgive every one, and to bear patiently all manner of private injuries.  But we must not from hence conclude it unlawful for any one to have recourse to the laws, when a man is injured, and cannot have justice by any other means.  Wi. — What is here commanded, is a Christian patience under injuries and affronts, and to be willing even to suffer still more, rather than to indulge the desire of revenge; but what is further added does not strictly oblige according to the letter, for neither did Christ, nor S. Paul, turn the other cheek.  S. John xviii. and Acts xxiii.  Ch. — Hence also the Anabaptists infer, that it is not lawful to go to law even for our just rights; and Luther, that Christians ought not to resist the Turks.  B.

Ver. 41.  Go with him other two.[7]  I know many interpreters would have it to signify no more than two in all.  But the literal sense of the Latin, and also of the best Greek MSS. (as Dr. Wells takes notice in his amendments to the Prot. translation) express two more, i.e. not only as far again, but twice as far.  And thus it is expounded by S. Aug. Serm. Domini in monte. t. iii. p. 193.  Ed Ben.  Wi. — Continue to be his guide sooner than lose patience, or be wanting in charity.  A.

Ver. 43And hate thy enemy.  The words of the law (Levit. xix. 18.) are only these: thou shalt love thy friend as thyself; but by a false gloss and inference, these words, and hate thy enemy, were added by the Jewish doctors.  Wi.

Ver. 44.  I come to establish the purity of the law, which they have corrupted.  A.

Ver. 46.  The publicans.  These were the gatherers of the public taxes: a set of men, odious and infamous among the Jews, for their extortions and injustice.  Ch.

Ver. 48.  Jesus Christ here sums up his instructions by ordering us to be perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect; i.e. to imitate, as far as our exertions, assisted by divine grace, can reach, the divine perfection.  Wi. — See here the great superiority of the new over the old law.  But let no one hence take occasion to despise the old.  Let him examine attentively, says S. Chrysostom, the different periods of time, and the persons to whom it was given; and he will admire the wisdom of the divine Legislator, and clearly perceive that it is one and the same Lord, and that each law was to the great advantage of mankind, and wisely adapted to the times of their promulgation.  For, if among the first principles of rectitude, these sublime and eminent truths had been found, perhaps neither these, nor the less perfect rules of mortality would have been observed; whereas, by disposing of both in their proper time, the divine wisdom has employed both for the correction of the world.  Hom. xviii.  Seeing then that we are thus blessed as to be called, and to be the children of so excellent a Father, we should endeavour, like Him, to excel in goodness, meekness, and charity; but above all in humility, which will secure to us the merit of good works, through the infinite merits of our divine Redeemer, Master, and model, Christ Jesus the Lord.  A.

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[1]  V. 3.  The humble.  See S. Chrys. hom. xv. in Matt.  S. Jerom on this place in his Commentary on S. Matt.  S. Aug. Serm. Domini in Monte. tom. iii, part 2. p. 166, &c.

[2]  V. 22.  eikh, sine causa, is in most Greek copies at present, as also in S. Chrys.; and so it is in the Prot. translation.  But S. Jerom, who examined this reading, says positively that eikh was wanting in the true copies.  In quibusdam Codicibus additur sine causa, Cæterum in veris definita sententia est, et ira penitus tollitur.

[3]  Ibid.  Raca.  S. Aug. (Serm. Domini in Monte. p. 174.) affirms it to be, non vocem significantem aliquid, sed indignantis animi motum, &c.

[4]  Ibid.  reus erit Concilii, tw sunedriw.

[5]  Ibid.  gehennæ ignis, enocoV estai eiV thn geennan tou puroV.

[6]  V. 39.  Non resistere malo, tw ponhrw, as before, a malo est.  ek tou ponhrou estin.  In both places o ponhroV, seems to signify an evil spirit, or an evil man.

[7]  V. 41.  Vade cum eo et alia duo.  In the ordinary Greek copies, we only read upage met autou duo.  But in other MSS. upage met autou eti alla duo.

 

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MATTHEW 6

CHAPTER VI.

Ver. 1.  Your justice;[1] in the common Greek copies, your alms, which seems to be the sense in this place.  Wi. — Hereby it is plain that good works are justice, and that man doing them doth justice, and is thereby just and justified, and not by faith only.  All which justice of a christian man, our Saviour here compriseth in the three eminent good works, alms deeds, prayer, and fasting.  Aug. l. perf. just. c. viii.  So that to give alms is to do justice, and the works of mercy are justice.  Aug. in ps. xlix, v. 5.  B. — S. Gregory says, that the man who by his virtuous actions would gain the applause of men, quits at an easy rate a treasure of immense value; for, with what he might purchase the kingdom of heaven, he only seeks to acquire the transitory applause of mortals.  This precept of Christ, says S. Chrysostom, beautifully evinces the solicitude and unspeakable goodness of God, lest we should have the labour of performing good works, and on account of evil motives be deprived of our reward.  Hom. xix.  “Shut up alms in the heart of the poor.”  Eccles. xxix. 15.

Ver. 2.  This must be understood figuratively, that we must avoid all ostentation in the performance of our good works.  Many respectable authors are of opinion, that it was customary with the Pharisees and other hypocrites, to assemble the poor they designed to relieve by sound of trumpet.  M. — Let us avoid vain glory, the agreeable plunderer of our good works, the pleasant enemy of our souls, which presents its poison to us under the appearance of honey.  S. Bas.

Ver. 3.  Be content to have God for witness to your good works, who alone has power to reward you for them.  They will be disclosed soon enough to man, when at the day of general retribution the good and the evil will be brought to light, and every one shall be rewarded according to his works.  A.

Ver. 4.  This repaying or rewarding of good works, so often mentioned here by Jesus Christ, clearly evinces that good works are meritorious, and that we may do them with a view to a reward, as David did, propter retributionem.  A.

Ver. 5.  Hypocrisy is forbidden in all these three good works of justice, but not the doing of them openly for the glory of God, the edification of our neighbour, and our own salvation.  Let your light so shine before men, i.e. let your work be so done in public, that the intention remain in secret.  S. Greg.

Ver. 6.  Because he who should pray in his chamber, and at the same time desire it to be known by men, that he might thence receive vain glory, might truly be said to pray in the street, and sound a trumpet before him: whilst he, who though he pray in public, seeks not thence any vain glory, acts the same as if he prayed in his chamber.  M. — Jesus Christ went up to the temple, to attend public worship on the festival days.

Ver. 7.  Long prayer is not here forbidden; for Christ himself spent whole nights in prayer: and he sayeth, we must pray always; and the apostle, that we must pray without intermission, 1 Thess. v.; and the holy Church hath had from the beginning her canonical hours for prayer, but rhetorical and elaborate prayer, as if we thought to persuade God by our eloquence, is forbidden; the collects of the Church are most brief and most effectual.  Aug. ep. 121. c. viii, ix, x.  B. — Perseverance in prayer is recommended us by the example of the poor widow, who by her importunity prevailed over the unjust judge.  Chry. hom. xix. — The Greek word means, to babble or trifle.

Ver. 9.  As God is the common Father of all, we pray for all.  Let none fear on account of their lowly station here, for all are comprised in the same heavenly nobility. . . By saying, “who art in heaven,” he does not mean to insinuate that he is there only, but he wishes to withdraw the humble petitioner from earth, and fix his attention on heaven.  Chry. hom. xx.  Other prayers are not forbidden.  Jesus Christ prayed in different words (John, c. viii.), and the apostles; (Acts i, 24,) but this is an example of the simple style to be used in prayer, and is applicable to all occasions. — Hallowed be thy name, from the word holy, be held and kept holy, be glorified by us, and that not only by our words, but principally by the lives we lead.  The honour and glory of God should be the principal subject of our prayers, and the ultimate end of our every action; every other thing must be subordinate to this.  A.

Ver. 10.  Those who desire to arrive at the kingdom of heaven, must endeavour so to order their life and conversation, as if they were already conversing in heaven.  This petition is also to be understood for the accomplishment of the divine will in every part of the world, for the extirpation of error, and explosion of vice, that truth and virtue may everywhere obtain, and heaven and earth differ no more in honouring the supreme majesty of God.  Chry. hom. xx.

Ver. 11.  Our supersubstantial bread.[2]  So it is at present in the Latin text: yet the same Greek word in S. Luke, is translated daily bread, as we say it in our Lord’s prayer, and as it was used to be said in the second or third age, as we find by Tertullian and S. Cyprian.  Perhaps the Latin word, supersubstantialis, may bear the same sense as daily bread, or bread that we daily stand in need of; for it need not be taken for supernatural bread, but for bread which is daily added, to maintain and support the substance of our bodies.  Wi. — In S. Luke the same word is rendered daily bread.  It is understood of the bread of life, which we receive in the blessed sacrament.  Ch. — It is also understood of the supernatural support of the grace of God, and especially of the bread of life received in the blessed eucharist.  A. — As we are only to pray for our daily bread, we are not to be over solicitous for the morrow, nor for the things of this earth, but being satisfied with what is necessary, turn all our thoughts to the joys of heaven.  Chry. hom. xx.

Ver. 12.  Of all the petitions this alone is repeated twice.  God puts our judgment in our own hands, that none might complain, being the author of his own sentence.  He could have forgiven us our sins without this condition, but he consulted our good, in affording us opportunities of practising daily the virtues of piety and mildness.  Chry. hom. xx. — These debts signify not only mortal but venial sins, as S. Augustine often teaches.  Therefore every man, be he ever so just, yet because he cannot live without venial sin, ought to say this prayer.  Cont. 2 epis. Pelag. l. i. c. 14. — l. xxi. de civit. Dei. c. xxvii.  B.

Ver. 13.  God is not the tempter of evil, or author of sin.  James i. 13.  He tempteth no man: we pray that he would not suffer the devil to tempt us above our strength: that he would remove the temptations, or enable us to overcome them, and deliver us from evil, particularly the evil of sin, which is the first, and the greatest, and the true efficient cause of all evils.  A. — In the Greek we here read, for thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory; which words are found in some old Greek liturgies, and there is every appearance that they have thence slipped into the text of S. Matt.  They do not occur in S. Luke (vi. 4.), nor in any one of the old Latin copies, nor yet in the most ancient of the Greek texts.  The holy Fathers prior to S. Chrysostom, as Grotius observes, who have explained the Lord’s prayer, never mention these words. — And not being found in Tertullian, S. Cyprian, S. Jerom, S. Ambrose, S. Augustine, &c., nor in the Vatican Greek copy, nor in the Cambridge MSS. &c. as Dr. Wells also observes, it seems certain that they were only a pious conclusion, or doxology, with which the Greeks in the fourth age began to conclude their prayers, much after the same manner as, Glory be to the Father, &c. was added to the end of each psalm.  We may reasonably presume, that these words at first were in the margin of some copies, and afterwards by some transcribers taken into the text itself.  Wi.

Ver. 14.  Here he again recommendeth the forgiving of others, as the means of obtaining forgiveness.  A.

Ver. 16.  He condemns not public fasts as prescribed to the people of God, (Jud. xx. 26.  2 Esdras ix.  Joel ii. 15.  John iii.) but fasting through vain glory, and for the esteem of men.  B.

Ver. 17.  The forty days’ fast, my dear brethren, is not an observance peculiar to ourselves; it is kept by all who unite with us in the profession of the same faith.  Nor is it without reason that the fast of Christ should be an observance common to all Christians.  What is more reasonable, than that the different members should follow the example of the head.  If we have been made partakers with him of good, why not also of evil.  Is it generous to exempt ourselves from every thing that is painful, and with to partake with him in all that is agreeable?  With such dispositions, we are members unworthy of such a head. . . . Is it much for us to fast with Christ, who expect to sit at the table of his Father with him?  Is it much for the members to suffer with the head, when we expect to be made one day partakers with him in glory?  Happy the man who shall imitate such a Master.  He shall accompany him whithersoever he goes.  S. Bern. Serm, in Quad. — Wherefore, my dear brethren, if the taste only has caused us to offend God, let the taste only fast, and it will be enough.  But if the other members also have sinned, let them also fast.  Let the eye fast, if it has been the cause of sin to the soul; let the ear fast, the tongue, the hand, and the soul itself.  Let the eye fast from beholding objects, which are only calculated to excite curiosity and vanity; that being now humbled, it may be restrained to repentance, which before wandered in guilt.  Let the ear fast from listening to idle stories and words that have no reference to salvation.  Let the tongue fast from detraction and murmuring, from unprofitable and sacrilegious discourse; sometimes also, out of respect to holy silence, from speaking what appears necessary and profitable.  Let the hand also fast from useless works, and from every action that is not commanded.  But above all, let the soul fast from sin and the doing of its own will.  Without these fasts, all others will not be accepted by the Lord.  S. Bern. Serm. 2 de Jejun.  Quad. — Fast from what is in itself lawful, that you may receive pardon for what you have formerly done amiss.  Redeem an eternal fast by a short and transitory one.  For we have deserved hell fire, where there will be no food, no consolation, no end; where the rich man begs for a drop of water, and is not worthy to receive it.  A truly good and salutary fast, the observance of which frees us from eternal punishment, by obtaining for us in this life the remission of our sins.  Nor is it only the remission of former transgressions, but likewise a preservative against future sin, by meriting for us grace to enable us to avoid those faults we might otherwise have committed.  I will add another advantage, which results from tasting, one which I hope I am not deceived in saying you have frequently experienced.  It gives devotion and confidence to prayer.  Observe how closely prayer and fasting are connected.  Prayer gives us power to fast, fasting enables us to pray.  Fasting gives strength to our prayer, prayer sanctifies our fast, and renders it worthy of acceptance before the Lord.  S. Bern. Serm. de Orat. & []ejun.

Ver. 20.  By doing good works, distributing your superfluities to the indigent.  A.

Ver. 22.  Every action is lighted or directed by the intention.  If the intention be upright, the whole body of the action is good, provided it proceed not from a false conscience.  If the intention be bad, how bad must be the action!  Christ does not here speak of an exterior, but an interior eye.  He, therefore, who directs all his thoughts to God, may justly be said to have his eye lightsome, and consequently his heart undefiled with worldly affections; but he who has all his thoughts corrupted with carnal desires is, beyond a doubt, enveloped in darkness.  Chry.

Ver. 24.  Behold here a fresh motive to detach you from the love of riches, or mammon.  We cannot both serve God and the world, the flesh and the spirit, justice and sin.  The ultimate end of action must be one, either for this or for the next life.  A.

Ver. 25.  A prudent provision is not prohibited, but that over-solicitude which draws the soul, the heart, and its affections from God, and his sweet all-ruling providence, to sink and degrade them in empty pursuits, which can never fill the soul.  A. — Be not solicitous;[4] i.e. too solicitous with a trouble and anxiety of mind, as appears by the Greek. — For your life; lit. for your soul, which many times is put for life.  Wi.

Ver. 27.  Why should the children of God fear want, when we behold the very birds of the air do not go unprovided?  Moreover, what possible good can this anxiety, this diffidence procure them?  Almighty God gives life and growth, which you cannot do with all your solicitude, however intensely you think.  Apollo may plant, Paul may water, but God alone can give the increase.  1 Cor. iii. 6.  Of how much greater consequence is it then to love and serve Him, and to live for Him alone!  A.

Ver. 30.  “O ye of little faith;” that is, of little confidence in God and his providence.  M.

Ver. 32.  It is not without reason that men are in such great fear and distress, when they are so blind as to imagine that their happiness in this life is ruled by fate.  But such as know that they are entirely governed by the will of God, know also that a store is laid up for them in his hands.  S. Chrys.

Ver. 33.  [5] Your Father knoweth; he does not say God knoweth, but your Father, to teach us to apply to him with greater confidence.  S. Chrys. — He that delivers himself entirely into the hands of God, may rest secure both in prosperity and adversity, knowing that he is governed by a tender Father.  Aquin.

Ver. 34.  The morrow will bring with it cares enough, to occupy you in providing what will then be necessary for you.  Christ does not prohibit all care about temporal concerns, but only what hinders us from seeking the kingdom of heaven in the first instance; or what makes us esteem more the things of this world, than those of the next.  M. — The affliction and labour which each day brings with it is a sufficient trial, nor ought we seek by our anxiety for labour and affliction before it arrive; for why should man forestall the evil day, which has not arrived, and perhaps may never arrive?  But again, this does not prohibit us from making a provision for the morrow, for Jesus Christ does not say to us, provide not for the morrow, but, be not solicitous for to-morrow.  Est. in dif. loc.  He who supplied our wants to-day, will supply them also to-morrow.  The evil of the day is sufficient, without borrowing to-morrow’s burden to increase the load.  It is the curse of the envious and wicked to be self-tormented, whilst they who live by faith, can always rejoice in hope, the true balm of every Christian’s breast, the best friend of all in distress.

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[1]  V. 1.  Justitiam.  In almost all Greek copies, elehmosunhn.

[2]  V. 7.  Nolite multum loqui, mh battologhshte, which is balbutire, nugari, &c.

[3]  V. 11.  Supersubstantialem, epiousion, which Greek word is translated, quotidianam, Luc. xi. 3.  So it is expounded by S. Chrys. om  xv. p. 138.  ti estin ton arton ton epiousion; ton efhmeron.  S. Greg. of Nyssa (tom. i, p. 750, Edit. Paris. an. 1638) calls it, o artoV thV shmerinhV creiaV esti.  Panis hodiernæ, or quotidianæ necessitatis.  Suidas expounds it, o th onsia hmwn armozwn, qui est conveniens nostræ substantiæ or o kaqhmerinoV, quotidianus.

[4]  V. 25.  Mh merimnate.  It does not seem well translated, take no thought.

[5]  V. 33.  Et justitiam ejus,  dikaiosunhn autou, non  authV, Dei, not Regni.

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MATTHEW 7

CHAPTER VII.

Ver. 1.  Judge not,[1] or condemn not others rashly, that you may not be judged or condemned.  Wi. — S. Jerom observes, Christ does not altogether forbid judging, but directs us how to judge.  Where the thing does not regard us, we should not undertake to judge.  Where it will bear a favourable interpretation, we should not condemn.  Magistrates and superiors, whose office and duty require them to judge faults, and for their prevention to condemn and punish them, must be guided by evidence, and always lean towards the side of mercy, where there are mitigating circumstances.  Barefaced vice and notorious sinners should be condemned and reprobated by all.  A. — In this place, nothing more is meant than that we should always interpret our neighbor’s actions in the most favourable light.  God permits us to judge of such actions as cannot be done with a right intention, as murder.  As to indifferent actions, we must always judge in the most favourable sense.  There are two things in which we must be particularly on our guard: 1. With what intention such an action was done.  2. Whether the person who appears wicked will not become good.  S. Jerom.

Ver. 2.  This rule, which God will infallibly follow, should put a check to the freedom with which we so frequently condemn our neighbour.  A. — As we behave towards our neighbours, interpreting their actions with charitableness, and excusing their intentions with mildness; or, on the contrary, judging them with severity, and condemning them without pity; so shall we receive our judgment.  M. — As the pardon of our sins is proportioned to the pardon we afford to others, so also will our judgment be proportioned to the judgment we pass on others.  If our neighbour be surprised by sin, we must not reproach or confound him for it, but mildly admonish him.  Correct your brother, not as an enemy, taking revenge, but as a physician, administering appropriate remedies, assisting him with prudent counsels, and strengthening him in the love of God.  Chry. hom. xxiii.

Ver. 3.  “Mote and beam,” light and grievous sins.  M.

Ver. 5.  Thou hypocrites, cast out first the beam, &c.  Correct first thy own greater faults, before thou censure the lesser failings of others.  Wi.

Ver. 6.  Give not that which is holy, or holy things, (as in the Greek) to dogs; i.e. to scandalous libertines, or infidels, who are not worthy to partake of divine mysteries and sacraments, who sacrilegiously abuse them, and trample them under their feet, as hogs do pearls.  Wi. — The sacred mysteries should not be given to those that are not properly instructed in the sublime nature of them; nor should we hold any communication of religion with those that are enemies to the truths of Christ, which they tread under their feet and treat contemptuously, and will be so far from having any more friendship for you on account of such a criminal complaisance, that it is more probable they will betray you and turn against you.  A.

Ver. 7.  After having preached these great and wonderful truths, after having commanded his apostles to keep themselves free from the vices of mankind, and make themselves like not to angels or archangels only, but to the Lord of all things; and not only observe justice themselves, but likewise to labour for the correction of others, lest they should be disheartened at these almost insurmountable difficulties: our Redeemer subjoins, Ask, and you shall receive, &c.  When we offer our petitions to the Almighty, we must imitate the example of Solomon, who immediately obtained what he asked of the Lord, because he asked what he ought.  Two things, therefore, are necessary to every prayer, that it be offered up with perseverance and fervour, and that it contain a lawful prayer.  Chry. hom. xxiv. — The reasons why so many do not obtain the effects of their prayers, are,1st. Because they ask for what is evil; and he that makes such a request, offers the Almighty an intolerable injury by wishing to make him, as it were, the author of evil:  2nd. Although what they ask be not evil, they seek it for an evil end.  S. James iv.:  3rd. Because they who pray, are themselves wicked; (S. John ix.) for God doth not hear sinners:  4th. Because they ask with no faith, or with faith weak and wavering:  (S. James i.)  5th. Because although what we ask be good in itself, yet the Almighty refuses it, in order to grant us a greater good:  6th. Because God wishes us to persevere, as he declares in the parable of the friend asking bread, Luke, ch. ii.; and that we may esteem his gifts the more:  7th. We do not always receive what we beg, because, according to S. Augustine, (lib. ii, de Serm. Dom. et epis. 34, ad Paulinum) God often does not grant us what we petition for, that he may grant us something more useful and profitable.  Maldonatus.

Ver. 8.  Whatever we ask necessary to salvation with humility, fervour, perseverance, and other due circumstances, we may be assured God will grant when it is best for us.  If we do not obtain what we pray for, we must suppose it is not conducive to our salvation, in comparison of which all else is of little moment.  A.

Ver. 9.  Lest any one considering the great inequality between God and man, should despair of obtaining favours of God, and therefore should not dare to offer up his petitions, he immediately introduces this similitude of the Father; so that if we were on the point of despairing on account of our sins, from his fatherly tenderness we might still have hopes.  S. Thos. Aquinas.

Ver. 12.  For this is the law and the prophets; that is, all precepts that regard our neighbour are directed by this golden rule, do as you would be done by.  Wi. — The whole law and all the duties between man and man, inculcated by the prophets, have this principle for foundation.  The Roman emperor Alexander Severus, is related to have said, that he esteemed the Christians for their acting on this principle.  A. — This is the sum of the law and of the prophets, the whole law of the Jews.  M.

Ver. 13.  Enter ye in at the narrow gate, &c.  The doctrine of these two verses needs no commentary, but deserve serious attention.  Wi.

Ver. 14.  Our Saviour in another place says, my yoke is sweet, and my burthen light.  How comes it then that so few bear it, or how can we reconcile these texts together?  The answer is at hand; for if soldiers and mariners esteem wounds, storms, and shipwreck, easy to be borne with, in hopes of temporal rewards, surely no one can complain that the duties of a Christian are difficult, when compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.  Chry. — It may also be added that God, by his heavenly consolations, makes them not only supportable, but even easy and pleasant.  Thus the martyrs occasionally did not feel their torments through the sweet unction of divine love, and the excessive joy which God poured into their souls.  A.

Ver. 15.  In the clothing of sheep.  Beware of hypocrites, with their outward appearance of sanctity, and sound doctrine — by their fruits you shall know them.  Such hypocrites can scarcely ever continue constant in the practice of what is good.  W. — Heretics usually affect an extraordinary appearance of zeal and holiness, calling themselves evangelical preachers and teachers of the gospel, as if that Church which preceded them, and which descends by an uninterrupted succession from the apostles, did not teach the pure gospel of Christ.  A. — Beware of false prophets, or heretics.  They are far more dangerous than the Jews, who being rejected by the apostles, are also avoided by Christians, but these having the appearance of Christianity, having churches, sacraments, &c. &c. deceive many.  These are the rapacious wolves, of whom S. Paul speaks, Acts xx.  Chry. hom. xix.  Origen styles them, the gates of death, and the path to hell.  Com. in Job. lib. i. Tom. 2.

Ver. 16.  As the true Church is known by the four marks of its being one, holy, catholic, and apostolical, so heretics and false teachers are known by certain vices, and the pernicious effects of their novelties in religion.  As the true Church is one, by its members submitting with humility to the authority established by Christ, (he that will not hear the Church, let him be unto thee as the heathen and the publican.  Mat. xviii. 17.) so are false teachers known by their separation from the ancient Church, and their divisions among themselves, the necessary consequences of rebelling against the authority established by Christ, and alone capable of determining controversies.  The same pride and other secret vices which make them despise government, (2 Peter ii. 10.) make them also not afraid to bring in sects of perdition, blaspheming, and this in civil government as well as ecclesiastical.  Those that call themselves Reformers, in the beginning of the 16th century, of all others were remarkable in this.  What bloody tumults and wars were there not produced in Germany, by the first Reformers in that country!  Calvin overturned the government of Geneva; and his followers, under the name Hugonots, filled France for a great length of time with slaughter and civil wars, frequently shaking the throne itself.  In this country, the first cause of its separation from the universal Church, was the unbridled passion of a tyrant: the effects were adultery, and the murder of the successive queens that he had taken to his adulterous bed.  In the reign of his successor, the insatiate avarice of a corrupt nobility, gratified with the sacrilegious plunder of the Church, established what is called the Reformation.  The fear of being compelled to disgorge the fruits of their rapine, contributed much to the confirmation of that order of things in the reign of Elizabeth.  She was inclined to it by the circumstances of her birth, which could not be legitimate, if her father’s marriage with Catharine of Arragon was valid, as the first authority in the Catholic Church had declared.  The natural spirit of this heresy, though checked a while and kept under by the despotical government of this queen, appeared in its own colours soon after, and produced its natural fruits in the turbulence of the times that succeeded, and the multiplicity of sects that are continually springing up to this very day. — As the true Church is holy, recommending various exercises of religion tending to purify human nature, and render men holy, as fasting, confession of sins, evangelical counsels, &c. so false teachers cast off all these, promising liberty, (2 Pet. ii. 16.) and giving full rein to the lustful passions, thus giving a liberty of living, as well as a liberty of believing. — Another fruit of false teachers is, separation from what was the UniversalChurch before their time, and which continues to be still the far greater part, not being confined to one state or country.  If some modern principles, of not allowing any communion of religion out of each state, were admitted, as many religions should have been established by heaven as men think proper to establish different states; nor could Christ have given one for all mankind, under whatever state or form of government they might live. — Finally, false teachers are to known by their not being able to shew, that they have received their doctrine and mission from the apostles, in a regular succession from them.  Some of our modern divines would spurn at the idea of holding their doctrine and orders from the Catholic Church, such as it existed at the time of the Reformation, which is precisely such as it exists at the present moment. — In answer to this it has been retorted, that the fruits of the Catholic religion have been as bad, or worse; and the horrors of the French revolution are particularly mentioned, as a proof. . . . That great crimes have been committed by those who professed themselves Catholics, is not denied; but that they were prompted to them by the nature of their religion, is certainly not admitted.  The revolution of France in particular, was the effect of the people falling off from their religion.  As well may the Puritans, that brought Charles to the block, be said to be Catholics, because they or their parents once had been such: as well may the present bench of Protestant bishops be said to be Catholics, because the bishops of their sees once were so; or that Robespierre, Marat, and the Jacobins that persecuted catholicity in France, and brought its too indulgent sovereigns to the guillotine, were Catholics, or directed in the least by Catholic principles.  A.

Ver. 17.  It is not to be understood from this text, that a man who is once bad can never bring forth good fruit; but that as long as he remains in the state of sin, he cannot perform any meritorious action.  Chry. hom. xxiv.

Ver. 18.  A good tree cannot yield bad fruit, &c.  Not but that both good and bad men may change their lives.  This, according to the unanimous consent of the Fathers, is only to be understood while they remain such.  If a bad tree begin to produce good fruit, it becomes a good tree, &c.  Wi. — For not those who do one or two good works are just, but those who continue permanently to do good: in the same manner, not those who commit one or two bad actions are wicked, but those who continue in evil.  M.

Ver. 21.  Here Jesus Christ shews, that it is not sufficient to believe in him and hear his words, but that in order to salvation, we must join works with faith; for in this shall we be examined at the last day.  M. — Without faith they could not cry out, Lord, Lord.  Rom. x.  But the strongest faith without the works of justice, will not be available to salvation.  1 Cor. xiii.  B. — Many who have the Lord continually in their mouths, but care little about putting on the Lord, or penetrating themselves with his true spirit, will find their presumption, and the false consciences they have made to themselves, wofully disappointed.  A.

Ver. 22.  Have not we prophesied in thy name?  The gift of prophecy, and of doing miracles, may sometimes be granted to bad men, as to Caiphas, and Balaam.  Wi. — Under the name of prophets, the Hebrews comprised not only such as predicted future events, but also in general all such as gave themselves out for inspired, or who undertook teaching and interpreting the holy Scriptures; and here by prophesying is understood, in a general acceptation, all public functions, predicting futurity, expounding Scripture, instructing the people, preaching, &c.  V.

Ver. 23.  So as to approve and reward your works.  Here he shews that even prophecy and miracles will not save us without good works.  M. — How much less will faith, unassisted by good works, preserve us from condemnation.  A. — The gift of miracles is bestowed on men not for their own good, but for the advantage of others.  We must not then be surprised if men, who had indeed faith in Christ, but whose lives did not correspond with their faith, should be honoured with these extraordinary gifts, since the Almighty sometimes employs as his instruments in working similar wonders, men destitute both of faith and virtue.  Balaam, void of faith and probity, still by the will of God, prophesied for the advantage of others.  To Pharao and Nabuchodonosor were revealed future events of the greatest moment; and the wicked Judas himself cast out devils.  Therefore S. Paul said, “if I had all faith so as to remove mountains, and if I knew all mysteries, and was possessed of all wisdom, but had not charity, I am nothing.”  Hom. xv. S. Chry.

Ver. 24.  In the Greek text, “I will compare him;” an apposite comparison, to shew the necessity of good works.  It is the duty of each individual to erect this spiritual edifice of good works in the interior of his soul, which may be able to resist all the attacks of our spiritual enemy: whilst those men who have true faith and no works are compared to a fool, and are sure to perish.  M. Here again our Saviour dispenses his rewards to such as order their lives according to his instructions; but as before he promised the kingdom of heaven, divine consolations, and other rewards, so here he promises them the numberless blessings attendant on virtue in this life.  The just alone are surrounded with virtue as with a strong guard, and amidst the high swelling waves of worldly troubles, enjoy a calm and unchangeable tranquillity.  Thus was Job strengthened by his virtue against the attacks both of men and satan.  Chry. hom. xxv.

Ver. 25.  The Scribes and Pharisees only explained the law, and laid open the promises of Moses, whereas our Saviour gives new laws, and makes new promises in his own name; But I say to you, &c.  The energy also with which our Saviour spoke, together with the miracles which he wrought, had far greater influence on the minds of the people than the frigid manner in which the Scribes delivered their doctrines.  M.

Ver. 26.  Nothing can be more foolish than to raise an edifice on sand: it carries punishment with it, causing indeed abundance of labour, but yielding neither reward nor repose.  The slaves of malice, luxury, and voluptuousness, labour in the pursuit of their desires, yet not only receive no reward, but, on the contrary, the greatest punishment.  They sow in the flesh, from the flesh they shall reap corruption.  Gal. vi.  Chry. hom. xxv.

Ver. 27.  Such again shall be the end of all false prophets.  Their death shall be in the same proportion, ignominious and miserable, as their life had been glorious and attractive.  They shall be punished with so much greater severity, than others, as their sins have proceeded from greater knowledge and greater malice.  A.

Ver. 28.  With reason were the people enraptured with his doctrines; for he taught as having authority from himself, and not like their doctors, who only spoke in the name of Moses, and whose only ambition was to please, and not to correct.  In the Greek text there is only mention of the Scribes or doctors, but not of the Pharisees.

Ver. 29.  He taught as one having power, exousian, to found a law of his own.  Hence he said: Ego autem dico vobis; “But I say to you,” viz. as a legislator, announcing to you not the law of Moses, or of any other, but my own law.  Est. in dif. loca. — All agree that S. Matthew anticipates the sermon on the mount, in order thus to prefix the doctrines of Christ to the account of his miracles; for we cannot doubt that the discourse on the mount, which is mentioned by S. Matthew, is the same as that recorded by S. Luke.  The beginning, the middle, and the conclusion correspond with each other.  If S. Matthew mentions some particulars omitted by S. Luke, it is because his design was to collect together several instructions, which Jesus delivered on different occasions; and these, for the most part, are to be found in other parts of S. Luke. — This admirable sermon may be divided into three parts, viz. the exordium, the body of the discourse, and the conclusion.  The exordium comprises the eight beatitudes, and merits our most serious attention.  The body of the discourse is chiefly addressed to the apostles, whom Jesus had recently chosen, in order to instil into them, and all succeeding pastors of the Church, a right sense of the great duties belonging to their ministry; and, in the second place, it refers to all the faithful in general.  The conclusion consists of an exhortation to a life of piety, and contains several advices, some of which chiefly regard pastors, others indiscriminately all the faithful in general. — May this excellent abridgment of thy doctrine, O Jesus!  be the rule of our manners, the pattern of our life.  Amen.  A.

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[1]  V. 1.  Nolite judicare, krinein, which signifies either to judge, or to condemn.

[2]  V. 18.  Non potest Arbor bona, &c.  S. Jerom on this place, brings divers examples to shew, that men’s natures are not necessarily or unchangeably good or bad.  See S. Aug. lib. ii. de Serm. Domini in Monte, c. xxiv, p. 232.  Non potest esse nix calida, cum enim calida esse cæperit, non jam eam nivem, sed aquam vocamus.  See also S. Chrys. om kg, pag. 168. linea 1. Edit. Savil.

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MATTHEW 8

CHAPTER VIII.

Ver. 1.  And when he was come down from the mountain.  S. Matthew says, that Jesus Christ ascended the mountain, and sat down to teach the people; while S. Luke affirms, that he descended, and stood in a plain place.  But there is no contradiction; for he first ascended to the top of the mountain, and then descended to an even plain, which formed part of the descent.  Here he stood for a while, and cured the sick, as mentioned by S. Luke; but afterwards, according to the relation of S. Matthew, he sat down, which was the usual posture of the Jewish doctors.  S. Aug.

Ver. 2.  As the three evangelists relate the cure of the leper in nearly the same words, and with the same circumstances, we may conclude they speak of the same miracle.  S. Matthew alone seems to have observed the time and order of this transaction, viz. after the sermon of the mount; the other two anticipate it.  The Bible de Vence seems to infer, from the connection S. Matthew makes between the sermon of the mount and the cure of the leper, that it was not the same leper as that mentioned, Mark i. 40.  Luke v. 12.  V. — Adored him.  In S. Mark it is said, kneeling down, c. i. 40.  In S. Luke, prostrating on his face.  It is true, none of these expressions do always signify the adoration or worship which is due to God alone, as may appear by several examples in the Old and New Testament; yet this man, by divine inspiration, might know our blessed Saviour to be both God and man.  Wi. — “Make me clean;” literally, “purify me;” the law treated lepers as impure.  V. — The leper, by thus addressing our Saviour acknowledges his supreme power and authority, and shews his great faith and earnestness, falling on his knees, as S. Luke relates it.  Chry. hom. xxvi.  Our prayer should be such with great faith and confidence, qualified with profound humility, and entire diffidence of self.

Ver. 3.  Jesus, stretching forth his hand, touched him.  By the law of Moses, whosoever touched a leper, contracted a legal uncleanness: but not by touching in order to heal him, says Theophylactus.  Besides, Christ would teach them that he was not subject to this law.  Wi. — “Touched him.”  To shew, says S. Cyprian, that his body being united to the Divinity, had the power of healing and giving life.  Also to shew that the old law, which forbad the touching of lepers, had no power over him; and that so far from being defiled by touching him, he even cleansed him who was defiled with it.  S. Ambrose. — When the apostles healed the lame man, they did not attribute it to their own power, but said to the Jews:  Why do you wonder at this?  Or, why look you at us, as if by our power or strength we have made him walk?  But when our Saviour heals the leper, stretching out his hand, to shew he was going to act of his own power, and independently of the law, he said:  “I will.  Be thou clean;” to evince that the cure was effected by the operation of his own divine will.  Chry. hom. xxvi.

Ver. 4.  For a testimony to them.  That is, when the priest finds thee truly cured, make that offering which is ordained in the law.  Wi. — He did this to give us an example of humility, and that the priests, by approving of his miracle, and being made witnesses to it, might be inexcusable, if they would not believe him.  M. — He thus shews his obedience to the law, and his respect for the diginity of priests.  He makes them inexcusable, if they can still call him a transgressor of the law, and prevaricator.  He moreover gives this public testimony to them of his divine origin.  Chry. hom. xxvi.  S. Chrysostom, in his third book on the priesthood, says: “the priests of the old law had authority and privilege only to discern who were healed of leprosy, and to denounce the same to the people; but the priests of the new law have power to purify, in very deed, the filth of the soul.  Therefore, whoever despiseth them, is more worthy to be punished than the rebel Dathan and his accomplices.”  Our Saviour willeth him to go and offer his gift or sacrifice, according as Moses prescribed in that case, because the other sacrifice, being the holiest of all holies, viz. his body, was not yet begun.  S. Aug. l. ii. & Evang. ii. 3. & cont. adver. leg. & Proph. l. i. c. 19, 20.

Ver. 5.  A centurion.  The same who (Luke vii. 3,) is said to have sent messengers to our Saviour.  But there is no contradiction: for what a man does by his servants, or friends, he is many times said to do himself.  He came not in person out of humanity, but by his message shewed an extraordinary faith.  Wi. — The centurion shews a much stronger faith in the power of Christ, than those who let down the sick man through the roof, because he thought the word of Christ alone sufficient to raise the deceased.  And our Saviour, to reward his confidence, not only grants his petition, as he does on other occasions, but promises to go with him to his house to heal his servant.  Chry. hom. xxvii.  The centurion was a Gentile, an officer in the Roman army.  According to S. Luke he did not come to him in person, but sent messengers to him, who desired him to come down and heal his servant, whereas he seems here not to wish him to come: “Lord, I am not worthy,” &c.  These difficulties may be easily removed.  A person is said to appear before the judge, when his council appears for him; so he may be said to have come to Jesus, when he sent his messengers.  Or it may be that he first sent his messengers, and afterwards went himself.  As to the second difficulty, it may be said the messengers added that of their own accord, as appears from the text of S. Luke.  M. — S. Augustin is of opinion that he did not go himself in person, for he thought himself unworthy, but that he sent first the ancients of the Jews, and then his friends, which last were to address Jesus in his name and with his words.  l. ii de cons. Evang. c. xx.  Thus we see that the request of the two sons of Zebedee was made by themselves to Jesus Christ, according to S. Mark; (x. 35,) and by the mouth of their mother, according to S. Matthew, xx. 20.

Ver. 7.  On this occasion our Saviour does what he never did before: every where indeed he meets the will of his supplicants, but here he runs before his request, saying: “I will come;” and this he does to teach us to imitate the virtue of the centurion.

Ver. 8.  Origen says, when thou eatest and drinkest the body and blood of our Lord, he entereth under thy roof.  Thou also, therefore, humbling thyself, say: Domine, non sum dignus; Lord, I am not worth, &c.  So said S. Chrysostom in his mass, Litturg. Græc. sub finem; and so doth the Catholic Church say at this day in every mass.  See S. Augustin. Ep. cxviii. ad Janu.  B. — See Luke vii. 6.

Ver. 10.  Christ here compares the faith of the centurion with that of the people in general, and not with that of his blessed mother and the apostles, whose faith was beyond a doubt much greater.  M. — The Greek says, “neither in Israel.” — Jesus hearing this, marvelled.  That is, by his outward carriage, says S. Aug. seemed to admire: but knowing all things, he could not properly admire any thing. — I have not found so great faith in Israel.  This need not be understood of every one, but of those whom he had cured.  Wi.

Ver. 11.  In consequence of the faith of this Gentile, Jesus Christ takes occasion to declare that many Gentiles would be called to sit at table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven, which is frequently represented under the figure of a feast.  See chap. xxii. 2.  Luke xiii. 29.  xvi. 16.  Apoc. xix. 9.  In ancient times, the guests were reclined on beds when they took their meals.  V.

Ver. 12.  Whilst the Jews, who glory in descending from the patriarchs, and who, on this title, are children and heirs of the celestial kingdom which had been promised them, shall be excluded for having rendered themselves unworthy by their unbelief.  V. — Shall be cast out into exterior darkness.  This is spoken so as to imply a comparison to a supper in a great room, with a number of lights, when they who are turned out in the night, stand without, starving, weeping, and gnashing their teeth.  Wi.

Ver. 14.  Into Peter’s house.  That is, which had been Peter’s house; for now he had quitted house, and all things to follow Christ.  Wi. — According to S. Mark, (i. 29,) and S. Luke, (iv. 38,) the cure of Peter’s mother-in-law seems to have been performed previously to the sermon on the mount, of which St. Luke makes mention in chap. vi.  We may suppose that S. Matthew mentions it in this order, on occasion of the miracle performed in the same place on the centurion’s servant.  V.

Ver. 17.  In the Greek of the seventy-two interpreters, for infirmities we have amartiaV, sins; but the evangelist refers this to our bodily infirmities, because, as S. Chrysostom observes, diseases are the punishment of sins, and frequently arrive from the diseases of the soul.  M. — The text of Isaias here quoted, regards the Messias literally.  V. — He took our infirmities.  The words signify both the distempers of the body and the infirmities of the soul, for Christ cured both.  Wi.

Ver. 20.  By the fox is meant craft and cunning, by the birds pride.  Thus then our blessed Lord answered him; pride and deceit dwell in your heart, but you have left no place for the Son of Man to rest his head, who can rest only in the meek and humble.  S. Augustin. — Jesus Christ rejected this scribe, because he wished to follow Jesus rather through the desire of glory and wealth, hoping to be great in his kingdom, than with the design of perfecting himself in virtue; so that our Saviour answers him: You cannot expect riches from me; who am poorer than the beasts of the field, or birds of the air; they have a place of rest, whereas I have none.  M.

Ver. 22.  Let the dead bury their dead.  The first words, let the dead, cannot mean those that were dead by a corporal death; and therefore must needs be understood of those who were spiritually dead in sin.  Wi. — Two similar answers are mentioned in Luke ix. 57, 60.  Jesus Christ may have given the same answers on two different occasions.  V. — God will not suffer us to go and bury a deceased parent, when he calls us to other employments.  S. Chry.

Ver. 23.  This bark is the Catholic Church.  The sea denotes the world, the winds and tempests shew the attempts of the wicked spirits to overturn the Church.  The Lord seems to sleep, when he permits his Church to suffer persecution and other trials, which he permits, that he may prove her faith, and reward her virtue and merits.  Chry. hom. xxiii. in Mat. viii.  The apostles had followed their divine Master.  They were with him, and executing his orders, and it is under these circumstances they are overtaken with a storm.  If their obedience to Jesus Christ, if his presence did not free them from danger, to what frightful storms do those persons expose themselves, who undertake the voyage of the present life without him?  What can they expect but to be tossed to and fro for a time, and at last miserably to founder?  Faithful souls ought, from the example here offered them, to rise superior to every storm and tempest, by invoking the all-powerful and ever ready assistance of heaven, and by always calling in God to their help before they undertake any thing of moment.  A.

Ver. 25.  Should God appear to sleep, with the apostles, we should approach nearer to him, and awaken him with our repeated prayers, saying: “Lord, save us, or we perish.”  A. — Had our Saviour been awake, the disciples would have been less afraid, or less sensible of the want of his assistance: he therefore slept, that they might be better prepared for the miracle he was about to work.  Chry. hom. xxviii.

Ver. 26.  Why are you fearful, having me with you?  Do you suppose that sleep can take from me the knowledge of your danger, or the power of relieving you?  A. — He commanded the winds.  Christ shewed himself Lord and Master of the sea and winds.  His words in S. Mark (iv. 39,) demonstrate his authority: Rising up he rebuked the wind, and said to the sea: Peace, be still.  Wi. — As before our Lord restored Peter’s mother-in-law on the spot, not only to health, but to her former strength; so here he shews himself supreme Lord of all things, not only by commanding the winds to cease, but, moreover, by commanding a perfect calm to succeed.  Chry. hom. xxix.  How many times has he preserved his Catholic Church, when (to all human appearance, and abstracting from his infallible promises) she has been in the most imminent danger of perishing?  How many times by a miracle, or interposition of his omnipotence, less sensible indeed, but not less real, has he rescued our souls, on the point of being swallowed up in the infernal abyss?  A. — He commands the mute elements to be subservient to his wish.  He commands the sea, and it obeys him; he speaks to the winds and tempests, and they are hushed; he commands every creature, and they obey.  Man, and man only, man honoured in a special manner by being made after the image and likeness of his Creator, to whom speech and reason are given, dares to disobey and despise his Creator.  S. Aug. hom. in Mat.

From this allegory of the ship and the storm, we may take occasion to speak of the various senses in which the words of Scripture may be occasionally taken. . . . The sense of Scripture is twofold, literal and spiritual.  The literal is that which the words immediately signify.  The spiritual or mystic sense is that which things expressed by words mean, as in Genesis xxii, what is literally said of the immolation of Isaac, is spiritually understood of Christ; and in Coloss. ii. 12, by the baptism of Christ, S. Paul means his burial.  The spiritual sense in its various acceptations, is briefly and accurately given in the following distich:

Littera gesta docet, quid credas allegoria,

Moralis quid agas, quo tendas anagogia.

Ver. 28.  Two that were possessed with devils.  S. Mar. (c. v.) and S. Luke (c. viii.), in the same passage, mentions but one man, who is also said to be possessed with a legion of devils.  Those evangelists seem to make mention only of one of them, because he might be much more fierce and famous than the other.  Wi. — These sepulchres were caverns excavated in the rocks, which served them as places of retreat.  V.

Ver. 29.  Before the time which God has marked to drive us from the world, and to bury us for ever in the prison of hell.  V. — What have we to do with thee? Or what hast thou to do with us?  what harm have we done thee?  Art thou come hither to torment us before the time?  That is, before the time and day of judgment, after which the torments and punishments of the devils will be increased.  Wi.

Ver. 30.  And not far from them.[1]  In all Greek copies at present we read, There was afar off.  Beza himself here owns, that the Latin Vulgate is to be preferred before all Greek copies and MSS.  Wi. — The Greco-Latin MS. of Cambridge has not the word non in the Latin; but in the Latin of the ancient Vulgate it occurs.  V.

Ver. 31.  “Send us into the herd of swine.”  According to S. Luke, they begged of him two things; the first, that they might not be sent into hell, there to be tormented with more grievous torments, as they will be at the end of the world; the second, that they might be permitted to go into the herd of swine, that these being destroyed, the inhabitants of that country might be ill affected towards our Saviour, and refuse to receive him.  The event seems to confirm this opinion.  M.

Ver. 32.  Many reasons might be brought why our Saviour suffered the devils to enter into the swine: 1. To shew that the devils had no power even over swine without his permission.  2. That such as were freed from their power, might acknowledge the greatness of the favour done them, by seeing from how great a multitude they were liberated.  3. To punish those Jewish citizens, who fed upon swine’s flesh contrary to their law.  And, 4. To shew how willingly the devils dwell in the hearts of those who are addicted to the voluptuous and carnal life, aptly designated by the swine.  M. — S. Chrysostom says that our Saviour permitted the devils to enter the swine, not for their own sakes, but for our instruction.  1. That we might know how very desirous the enemy of our salvation is to bring upon us the greatest evils.  2. That the devil has not any power, even over swine, without the permission of God.  And, 3. That these cruel fiends would, if the Almighty allowed them, inflict still more grievous torments on their unhappy slaves.  Hom. xxix.  Jesus Christ here confutes the Sadducean doctrine, which denies the existence of spirits, good or bad.  A.

Ver. 34.  That he would depart from their coasts.  S. Jerom thinks these people did this out of a motive of humility, looking upon themselves unworthy of his presence: others judge that the loss of the swine made them apprehend lest Christ, being a Jew, might do them greater damages.  Wi. — The fear lest his presence might cause them some fresh loss, seems to have overbalanced, in their estimation, the advantages they might have expected from his visit.  V. — How often has our good Lord wished to visit us, to honour us with his sacred presence, to enrich us with his divine inspirations; and how often, like these Gerasens, have we desired him to depart from our territories?  Some worldly interest, sensual enjoyment, or supine listlessness on our part, has occasioned us to neglect the proffered advantages.  Oh!  can there be more marked ingratitude than this!  Oh!  how shall we one day grieve for having lost, by our culpable indifference, immense spiritual treasures, which have been made over to others far more deserving than ourselves!  Yes, the day will certainly arrive, when we shall value a single additional degree of the divine favor and grace, infinitely more than all the united honours, riches, and pleasures of this world.  A.

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[1]  V. 30.  Erat non longè, but now in all Greek copies, erat longè, hn de makran.  Beza says the reading in the Latin is to be followed, repugnante fide omnium Græcorum Codicum, sed rectiùs.

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MATTHEW 9

CHAPTER IX.

Ver. 1.  The cure of the paralytic (v. 2), is generally supposed to have been anterior in point of time, to the cure of two possessed persons, chap. viii.  Carrieres supposes the contrary.  V. — Into his own city.  Not of Bethlehem, where he was born, nor of Nazareth, where he was brought up, but of Capharnaum, says S. Chrysostom, where he is said to have dwelt since he began to preach.  See Matt. iv. 13.  Wi. — S. Jerom understands this city to be Nazareth, which was Christ’s own, because he was conceived there.  S. Austin, S. Chrysos. Euthy. Theophylactus, think it was Capharnaum, because this miracle was performed at the last mentioned place, according to S. Mark’s relation; and S. Matthew calls it Christ’s own city, because after leaving Nazareth, he chose Capharnaum for the chief place of his abode.  If S. Jerom’s interpretation be admitted, we must suppose that S. Matthew having told us that Christ came to his own city, Nazareth, and omitting to relate what happened there, passed immediately to the history of the cure of the paralytic, which took place at Capharnaum.  Such omissions and change of place without the reader’s being informed of the transition, are not unfrequent in the evangelists.  We must likewise observe that they frequently invert the order of facts, as to the time of their happening.  Jansen. — Christ may be said to have had three cities: Bethlehem, in which he was born; Nazareth, in which he was educated; and Capharnaum, in which he most frequently resided, during his sacred ministry.  It is most probable, and most generally understood, that in this place of the Scripture Capharnaum is meant; though several understand it of Nazareth, and some few with Sedulius, li. 3. carm.

Intravit natale solum, quo corpore nasci

Se voluit, patriamque sibi pater ipse dicavit.

Ver. 2.  Thy sins are forgiven thee.  We do not find that the sick man asked this; but it was the much greater benefit, and which every one ought to prefer before the health of the body.  Wi. — He says this, because he wished to declare the cause of the disease, and to remove it, before he removed the disease itself.  He might also desire to shew the paralytic, what he ought to have prayed for in the first place.  M. — The sick man begs for corporal health, but Christ first restores to him the health of his soul, for two reasons: 1st. That be might insinuate to the beholders, that the principal intent of his coming into the world was to cure the evils of the soul, and to let them know that the spiritual cure ought most to be desired and petitioned for.  Corporal infirmities, as we learn in many places of the sacred text, are only the consequences of the sins of the patient.  In S. John (ch. iii.), Christ bids the man whom he had healed, to sin no more, lest something worse should befall him; and S. Paul says, that many of the Corinthians were afflicted with various diseases, and with death, on account of their unworthily receiving the body of the Lord.  A second reason why Christ forgave the sick man his sins, was, that he might take occasion from the murmurs of the Pharisees, to speak more plainly of his power and divinity, which he proved not only by restoring the man instantaneously to health, but by another miracle equally great and conclusive, which consisted in seeing the thoughts they had never expressed; for the evangelist observes, that they murmured in their hearts.  He afterwards cures the sick man to shew, says he, that the Son of man has power to forgive sins.  Jansen. — We may here observe likewise, that when Christ afterwards gave his apostles their mission, and empowered them to preach to the whole world, he communicates this same power to them, and seems to refer to the miracles which he had wrought, to prove that he himself had the power which he gave to them.  All power, says he, is given to me in heaven and on earth.  As the Father sent me, so I send you. . . . Whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven.  A. — Seeing their faith.  It does not follow from hence, as Calvin would have it, that faith alone will save us.  For S. Chrysos. says, “Faith indeed is a great and salutary thing, and without it there is no gaining salvation.”  But this will not of itself suffice without good works; for S. Paul admonishes us, who have made ourselves deserving a participation of the mysteries of Christ, thus, (Heb. c. iv.) “Let us hasten, therefore, to enter into that rest.”  He tells us to hasten, that is, faith alone will not suffice, but we must also strive all our life by good works to render ourselves worthy to enter the kingdom of heaven: for if those Israelites, who murmured and would not bear the calamities of the desert, were not, on that account, permitted to enter the land of promise, how can we think ourselves worthy of the kingdom of heaven, (figured by the land of promise) if we will not in this world undergo the labours of good works.  S. Chrysos. — From hence S. Ambrose concludes, that our Saviour is moved to grant our petitions through the invocation of saints, as he even forgave this man his sins through the faith of those that brought him.  Of how much greater efficacy then will not the prayers of the saints be?  Barardius. — Christ does not always require faith in the sick who desire to be cured, but seems to have dispensed with it on many occasions; for example, in the cases of those he cured possessed by the devil.  S. Chrys. — Son, &c.  O the wonderful humility of the God-man!  Jesus looks with complacence on this miserable wretch, whom the Jewish priests disdain to look upon, and in the midst of all his miseries calls him his son.  S. Tho. Aquin. — They had read what Isaias had said: I am, I am he who destroyeth thy sins: ego sum, ego sum ipse, qui deleo iniquitates tuas, xliii. 25.: but they had not read, or, at least they had not understood what the same prophet says, liii. 6.  The Lord hath heaped upon him the iniquity of us all: posuit Dominus in eo iniquitatem omnium nostrum.  Nor had they remembered the testimony of the Baptist: behold the Lamb of God, behold him who taketh away the sins of the world.  John i. 29.  Mald.

Ver. 3.  This man blasphemeth, by pretending to have a power to forgive sins, which none but God can do; and they looked upon Jesus as a man only.  It is true, and what all Catholics teach, that God alone hath power of himself to forgive sins.  But Christ, who was both God and man, could, and did communicate this power of forgiving sins in his name, to bishops and priests, as his ministers and instruments in the sacraments of baptism and penance.  We have Christ’s clear words for it, (Jo. xx. 23.) whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them, &c.  Wi. — And behold some of the scribes.  The Jewish rulers wished to defame the character of our divine Redeemer, but by this means they rendered the miracle much more famous, and Christ turned their wicked designs to their own confusion.  S. Chrys. — For Christ says, Why do you think evil in your hearts?  in which words Jesus plainly evinces to them the reality of his divinity; for who knows the secrets of man’s heart, but God alone?  S. Jerom.

Ver. 4.  Jesus seeing their thoughts.  By shewing that he knew their hidden thoughts, as well as by healing the man, to confirm his words and doctrine, he gave them a proof of his divine power.  Wi. — Not because they betrayed them by any exterior sign, but, as S. Mark says, knowing in his spirit that they so thought within themselves, because he was God, in whose hands are our hearts, (Prov. c. xv. and c. xxi,) and to whose eyes all things are naked and open.  Tostatus. — Had not our Saviour been truly God, and equal to his Father, he would have rebuked the scribes, for attributing that to God only which he exercised.  But so far from denying their assertion, he immediately admits the truth of it, and answers them by another no less wonderful act of his almighty power.  He tells them publicly the evil they had thought in their hearts, whilst the Scriptures repeatedly affirm that God alone can know the secrets of hearts.  Thou alone knowest the hearts of the children of men, 3 Kings, c. viii. and 2 of Philip. c. vi. v. 30.  And man seeth those things that appear, but the Lord beholdeth the heart.  And 1st of Kings, c. xvi, v. 7, The searcher of reins and hearts is God.  Psalm vii, v. 10, The heart is perverse above all things, and unsearchable.  Who can know it?  I am the Lord that search the heart and prove the reins.  Jeremias, c. xvii, v. 9. and 10.; and innumerable other texts of Scripture might be brought to prove that God only can know the minds and thoughts of men.  Our Saviour, therefore, shews himself to be equal to his Father, by thus revealing to all, the malicious murmurs of his enemies, who for fear of the multitude, dared not to publish themselves what their wicked hearts devised.  S. Chrys. hom. xxx. — Said:  Why do you think, &c.  Here S. Cyril exclaims, Oh!  thou Pharisee, who sayest, who is able to forgive sins, except God alone!  I will answer thee; who is able to search into the secrets of the heart but God alone, who calls himself, by his prophet, the searcher of the hearts and the reins of men!  S. Cyril. — If thou art incredulous about my power of remitting sin, behold I exercise another, whilst I lay open thy interior.  S. Chrysos.

Ver. 5.  The power of working miracles, and of forgiving sins, is proper to God, but can be communicated by God to man equally in the sacraments of baptism and penance.  A. — Which is easier.  It is more difficult to remit sins than restore the health of the body.  S. Austin remarks, (tract. lxxii in Joannem) it is more difficult to justify a man than to create the heavens and the earth; but Christ speaks thus, because the Pharisees might otherwise have said, that as he could not confer visible health upon the body, he had recourse to the invisible remission of sins, and that it was easy to grant in words, what no one could discern whether it was really granted or not.  In this sense, therefore, the word, “Be thou healed,” is more difficult than simply to say, “Thy sins are forgiven thee;” which any one could say, though he might not effect what his word implied.  M. — Doubtless the healing of the body was easier, for as much as the soul is more excellent than the body, so much is the healing of the soul more difficult and more excellent than that of the body.  But since the one is visible, the other invisible, therefore he performs the less, but more evident miracle, in testimony of the performance of the other more excellent, but less evident exertion of his power.  Thus he truly verifies what the Baptist said of him, “This is he that taketh away the sins of the world.”  S. Chrysos. hom. xxx.

Ver. 6.  But that you may know.  This may be understood differently, either as spoken by Christ to the Jews present, or by the evangelist to the people to whom he wrote his gospel.  S. Thom. Aquin. — Thus Christ proves that he had the power of remitting sins; as a falsity cannot be confirmed by a miracle, since in this case God would bear testimony to a falsity.  M. — Take thy bed, &c.  This doubtless was commanded him, to convince the whole world that this was no phantom, and to add still greater credibility to the fact, and he rose, &c. — He who was pleased to become man, is truly the Son of God; and, in this quality, he possesses all power.  This he proves by the double exercise of his power over both soul and body.  A. — Surge, tolle, and vade, Christ added these words for the greater evidence of the cure.  Maldonatus.

Ver. 8.  Feared, and glorified God.  Here it may be observed, that the people, before they praised, feared God, for the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom.  And S. Basil says, that fear, as a good guide, necessarily leads us to piety; and charity takes us, after having been exercised a little in fear, makes us perfect men.  S. Basil.

Ver. 9.  Named Matthew.  ‘Tis remarked by S. Jerom, that the other evangelist, out of respect to this apostle, did not call him Matthew, (the name he generally went by) but Levi; whereas he, in his own gospel, to shew the goodness of God who from a publican had made him an apostle, styles himself Matthew the publican.  S. Thos. Aquin. — S. Austin. de Concor. Evan.  It is most probable, says S. Austin, that S. Matthew does not mention what had happened to him, before he began to follow Jesus; for it is supposed that this evangelist was called antecedent to the sermon on the mount; for S. Luke named the 12 that were chosen, and calls them apostles.  S. Matthew mentions his vocation to the apostleship as one of the miracles that Jesus performed, for certainly it was a great miracle for a publican to become an apostle. — Rose up, and followed him.  When we hear the voice of God calling us to virtue, we must not delay.  The devil, says S. Basil, does not advise us to turn entirely from God, but only to put off our conversion to a future time.  He steals away our present time, and gives us hopes of the future.  But when that comes, he steals that also in the same manner; and thus by giving us present pleasure, he robs us of our whole life.  S. Basil. — Sitting in the custom-house.  Jesus called S. Matthew with two words only, follow me; and presently he left all, and became his disciple; doubtless by a particular inspiration and motion of divine grace.  Wi.

Ver. 12.  They that are in health.  The explication of which is, I converse with sinners, that I may heal their souls from incredulity.  M.

Ver. 13.  I am not come.  The just appear to be mentioned ironically, as it is said in Genesis, Behold  Adam is become as one of us: and if I hunger, I will not tell thee.  Psalm xlix.  For S. Paul asserts, that none on earth were just: all have sinned, and need the glory of God.  Rom. iii.  S. Chrysos. hom. xxxi. — Christ came to call all men, both just and unjust, since he called Nathanael, who was a just man.  But the meaning of these words is, I came not to call you, Scribes and Pharisees, who esteem yourselves just, and despise others, and who think you have no need of a physician; but I came to call those who acknowledge themselves sinners.  Theophylactus. — Or the meaning may be, “I came not to call the just to penance, of which they have no need;” thus in S. Luke, (c. v.) I came not to call the just, but sinners to repentance.  Or again, the meaning may be, I came not to call the just, because there are none just of themselves, and who stand not in need of my coming.  S. Paul says, All have sinned, as above.  M. — Mercy, and not sacrifice.  Christ here prefers mercy to sacrifice; for, as S. Ambrose says, there is no virtue so becoming a Christian as mercy, but chiefly mercy to the poor.  For if we give money to the poor, we at the same time give him life: if we clothe the naked, we adorn our souls with the robe of justice: if we receive the poor harbourless under our roof, we shall at the same time make friends with the saints in heaven, and shall afterwards be received by them into their eternal habitations.  S. Ambrose. — I will have mercy and not sacrifice: these words occur in the prophet Osee, c. vi.  The Pharisees thought they were making a great sacrifice, and acceptable to God, by breaking off all commerce with sinners; but God prefers the mercy of the charitable physician, who frequents the company of sinners; but merely to cure them.  V.

Ver. 14.  Then came.  When the Pharisees in the prior question had been discomfited.  By S. Mark, (xi. 18,) we learn that the Pharisees joined with the disciples of the Baptist, and thus is reconciled what we read in S. Luke v. 33, who only mentions the Pharisees.  V. — Why do we, and the Pharisees fast.  It is not without reason that the disciples of S. John should ask this question, fasting being always esteemed a great virtue, witness Moses and Elias; the fasts which Samuel made the people observe in Masphat, the tears, prayers, and fasting of Ezechias, of Judith, of Achab, of the Ninivites, of Anna, the wife of Eleana, of Daniel, of David, after he had fallen into the sin of adultery.  Aaron, and the other priests, also fasted before they entered into the temple.  Witness also the fasts of Anna, the prophetess, of S. John the Baptist, of Christ himself, of Cornelius the centurion, &c. &c. &c.  St. Jerom. — This haughty interrogation of S. John’s disciples was highly blameable, not only for uniting with the Pharisees, whom they knew their master so much condemned, but also for calumniating him, who, they knew was foretold by John’s own testimony.  S. Jerom. — S. Austin is likewise of opinion, that John’s disciples were not the only persons that said this, since S. Mark rather indicates that it was spoken by others.  S. Thos. Aquin.

Ver 15.  Can the children of the bridegroom.[1]  This, by a Hebraism, signifies the friends or companions of the bridegroom, as a lover of peace, is called a child of peace:  he that deserves death, the son of death, &c.  Wi. — the disciples had not yet ascended to the higher degrees of perfection, they had not yet been renewed in spirit; therefore they required to be treated with lenity; for had the higher and more sublime mysteries been delivered to them without previous preparation, they would never, not even in the natural course of things, have been able to comprehend them.  I have many things to say to you, said our Saviour, but you cannot bear them now.  S. John xvi.  Thus did he condescend to their weakness.  S. Chrys. hom. xxxi.

Ver. 16.  A piece of raw cloth.[2]  By the Greek is signified new-woven cloth, that has not yet passed the hands of the fuller.  Wi. — And no one putteth, &c.  Christ, by these similitudes, justifies the manner of life which he taught his disciples, which at first was adapted to their understandings; lest, if in the beginning, he had required them to fast contrary to what they had been accustomed, they might have been frightened at the austerity of his institute, and deserted him.  He compares, therefore, his disciples to an old garment, and to old bottles; and an austere mode of life to new clothes and new wine.  And he argues, that if we do not put new cloth to an old garment, because it tears the garment the more, nor put new wine into old bottles, because by its fermentation it would easily break them, so in like manner his disciples, who had been accustomed to a less rigid mode of life, were not at once to be initiated into an austere discipline, lest they should sink under the difficulty, and relinquish the pursuit of a more perfect life.  M.

Ver. 17.  New wine into old bottles.[3]  These vessels were made of skins, or were leather bottles, in which wine used to be carried and kept.  Wi. — They were made of goat-skins prepared and sewed together, as is common in Spain and other southern countries to this day.  A. — They were to wait till they were renewed by the Holy Ghost, before they could enter with advantage on the hard ways of penance.  V.

Ver. 18.  A certain ruler.[4]  Lit. a prince of a synagogue.  He is called Jairus.  Mark v.  Luke viii. — My daughter is just now dead: or, as the other evangelists express it, is at the point of death; and her father having left her dying, he might think and say she was already dead.  Wi. — In effect, news was shortly after brought him that she was dead.  It is thus that some commentators explain the apparent difference found in Mark v. 22, and Luke viii. 41. — But come, lay thy hand, &c.  Let us admire and imitate the humility and kindness of our Redeemer; no sooner had he heard the request of the ruler, but rising up, he followed him.  Though, says S. Chrysostom, he saw his earthly disposition, requesting him to come and lay his hand upon her.

Ver. 20.  And behold a woman.  This woman, according to Eusebius, came from Cæsarea Philippi, who, in honour of her miraculous cure, afterwards erected a brazen monument, descriptive of this event, before the door of her house in Cæsarea Philippi.  Euseb.

Ver. 22.  EpistrafeiV kai idwn, turning about and seeing, as if he were ignorant, and wished to see who it was that had touched him, as the other evangelists relate.  In S. Mark (v. 29,) we see she was cured on touching the garment; and Jesus only confirms the cure by what he says in verse 34. — But Jesus turning about.  Our divine Saviour, fearing lest he might alarm the woman by his words, says immediately to her, Take courage; and at the same time calls her his daughter, because her faith had rendered her such.  S. Chrysos.

Ver. 23.  And when Jesus . . . saw the minstrels.  It was a custom among the Jews at funerals to hire persons to make some doleful music, and great lamentations.  Wi. — Ovid also mentions the lugubrious music attendant on funerals.

Cantabat mœstis tibia funeribus.  4. Fast.

Ver. 24.  The girl is not dead.  Christ, by saying so, insinuated that she was not dead in such a manner as they imagined; that is, so as to remain dead, but presently to return to life, as if she had been only asleep.  Wi. — But sleepeth.  In the xi. chapter of S. John, Christ again calls death a sleep.  Our friend Lazarus sleepeth.  Thus he teaches us to be no longer in dread of death, since it was reduced to the condition of a sleep.  If you believe this, why do you vainly weep?  why do you afflict yourself?  this the Gentiles do, who have not faith.  Your child is asleep, not dead, is gone to a place of rest, not to destruction.  Therefore the royal prophet says, “Turn, O my soul, into thy rest, for the Lord hath been bountiful to thee.”  Psalm cxiv.  If then it is a kindness, why should you weep?  what else could you do at the death of an adversary, an enemy, the object of your greatest aversion?  S. Chrysos. hom. xxxii. — Christ here asserts that the girl is only asleep, to shew that it was as easy for him to raise her from death as from sleep.  Theophylactus.

Ver. 25.  He took her by the hand, and as in his hands is the key both of life and death, (Apoc. i. 18,) so he commanded the soul to return and the girl to arise.  A. — And when the crowd, &c.  That is, if after a sinful and worldly life we wish to rise again, and be cleansed from the miserable condition of moral sin, denoted by the girl who was dead, we must cast out of our minds the great multitude of worldly concerns; for whilst these have possession, the mind is unable to recollect itself and apply seriously to consideration.  S. Gregory.

Ver. 27.  Son of David, have mercy on us.  The blind men style our Saviour Son of David, to shew the great respect they had for him.  Thus the prophets also did, when they addressed those kings to whom they wished to testify particular respect and esteem.  S. Chrysos. hom. xxxiii.

Ver. 30.  And Jesus strictly charged them.  Although our Saviour strictly charged them to keep the miracle silent, they nevertheless published it throughout all that country; not being able to contain themselves, they became the evangelists and publishers of what they were commanded to conceal.  Thus we are admonished not only to keep silent ourselves whatever is to our own commendation, but likewise to endeavour to hinder others from publishing it; to act otherwise would be to render ourselves odious to men, and abominable in the sight of God.  But if we are silent, we shall obtain greater glory in the sight both of God and men.  On the other hand, whatever redounds to the glory of the Almighty, we must ourselves publish, and exhort others to make it known to the whole world.  Therefore it is said, Go and relate the glory of God.  S. Chrysos. hom. xxxiii.

Ver. 31.  Spread his fame abroad.  Unable to confine their gratitude within the narrow limits of humility prescribed them by Jesus Christ.  A.

Ver. 32.  A dumb man.  The Greek rather signifies a deaf man: but these defects generally go together, because he that is deaf cannot learn to speak.  Wi.

Ver. 34.  By the prince of the devils.  What more foolish ever entered the mind of man.  Is it possible, as he afterwards says, that devils should be expelled by devils?  They assist and strengthen, not weaken and destroy one another.  Moreover, he did not only cast out devils, but he cleansed the lepers, raised the dead, appeased the storm, forgave sins by his own power, preached the eternal felicity of heaven, and brought back man to God: all which the devil never could, never would bestow upon mankind.  S. Chrysos. hom. xxxiii.

Ver. 36.  He had compassion on them.  The bowels of his compassion yearned to see multitudes cast down and oppressed, like sheep that are without a shepherd.  The Pharisees indeed were their shepherds; but they acted the part of ravenous wolves, not only neglecting to lead the people to virtue, but even hindering, as much as they could, their advancement in good; for when the admiring multitude cried out, “Never did the like appear in Israel,” they immediately decried it, saying, “By the prince of devils he casteth out devils.”  S. Chrysos. hom. xxxiii.

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[1]  V. 15.  Filii sponsi, uioi tou numfwnoV, so filius pacis, filius mortis, &c.

[2]  V. 16.  Panni rudis, agnafou.

[3]  V. 17.  In uteres, eiV askouV, uteres ex corio.

[4]  V. 18.  Modo defuncta est.  arti eteleuthsen.  Mar. v. 23.  In extremis est, escatwV ecei. (Luke viii. 42.) moriebatur, apeqnhsken.

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MATTHEW 10

CHAPTER X.

Ver. 1.  Before this time the 12 were called disciples, and not apostles.  But now he selects these from the disciples, and makes them, as it were, masters and interpreters of the ways of God to man.  He sent afterwards 72 other disciples, (Luke x. 1,) but these 12 only to the whole world.  A. — His twelve, &c.  Christ chose 12 apostles, that they might correspond to the number of the Jewish patriarchs, by whom they may be said to have been prefigured; and that as the whole Jewish people were descended according to the flesh from the 12 patriarchs, so the whole Christian people might be descended according to the spirit from the 12 apostles.  M. — Others say he chose 12, neither more nor less, to correspond with the 12 prophets of the old law, with the 12 fountains in Elim; and the 12 stones selected from the river Jordan, and preserved in the ark of the testament.  Others compare the 12 apostles to the 12 months of the year, and the four evangelists to the four seasons: thus Sedulius, l. i. carm.

Quatuor hi proceres una te voce canentes,

Tempora ceu totidem latum sparguntur in orbem.

Sic et apostolici semper duodenus honoris

Fulget apex numero menses imitatus, et horas,

Omnibus ut rebus semper tibi militet annus.

Ver. 2.  First, Simon.[1]  Simon was the first of the apostles, not in the time of his vocation, as his brother Andrew was called to the apostleship before him, but in dignity, in as much as he was constituted the vicar of Christ, and the head of the Church.  M. Who is called Peter.  When he first came to our Saviour, (Jo. i. 42,) he said, Thou art Simon, son of Jonas, (or John) thou shalt be called Peter; in Chaldaic, Cephas; that is to say, a rock, designing to make him the first fundamental stone or head of his whole Church.  See also Matt. xvi. 18.  Beza, without any grounds, would have the word first to be an addition.  But it is found in all Greek MSS. as well as in the ancient fathers.  Wi.

Ver. 3.  James, the son of Zebedee, called James the greater, put to death by Herod.  Acts xii. 2.  He was brother to John the Evangelist.  The other James was called the less, also James of Alpheus, and the brother of the Lord, bishop of Jerusalem, martyred there about the year 61.  Wi. — Some take Bartholomew to be the same as Nathaniel.  Bartholomew signifies son of Tholmew; and he might have been called Nathaniel, son of Thalmew.  V.

Ver. 5.  Go not into the way of the Gentiles, or among the Gentiles.  In this first mission, the apostles were ordered to preach to the Jews only, or to the children of the kingdom.  Matt. vii. 12.  See also Matt. xv. 24. and Acts xiii. 46.  Wi. — These twelve Jesus sent.  In this mission of the apostles we may observe three things: first, whither Jesus sent them; secondly, what he ordered them to teach; and thirdly, what they were to do.  As to the first, he tells them not to go in the way of the Gentiles, nor enter into the city of the Samaritans; but to go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.  We must here take notice that this commandment, given by Christ to the apostles, of confining their preaching to the house of Israel, does not contradict one related in Matthew, (c. xxviii.) Go teach all nations, &c.  We observe that these two commandments were given at two very different times; the first indeed, (the subject of our present annotation) the apostles received before the resurrection of Christ; the other after.  It was necessary first to warn the Jews of the arrival of the Messias amongst them; otherwise they might have excused themselves for having rejected him, by saying, “He had sent his apostles to preach, not to them but to the Gentiles and Samaritans.”  S. Jerom. — S. Chrysostom assigns another reason why the apostles were sent first to preach in Judea, viz. that having withstood the opposition of one nation, they might be more prepared to hold out against the attacks, which they would no doubt have afterwards to sustain, in their endeavours to convert the whole world.  S. Chrysos. — He forbids them to preach to the Gentiles, because it was proper that the word of God should first be announced to the Jews, children of the kingdom.  Vide Acts c. xiii, v. 46.  M.

Ver. 7.  And going, &c.  What the apostles were to preach, is the second thing to be taken notice of in their mission.  We here learn what it is, viz. that The kingdom of heaven is at hand.  We here behold the great dignity to which the apostles were raised, when sent to preach.  For, says S. Chrysostom, they are not sent to announce sensible things, like Moses and the prophets, but something wholly new, and before unheard of.  They are not like the prophets, to confine themselves to the preaching of temporal things, their doctrine is wholly heavenly; they are sent to announce the good things of eternity.  S. Thos. Aquin.

Ver. 8.  Heal the sick, &c.  This verse contains the third observation respecting the mission of the apostles: Christ not only gave them power to preach, but also to work miracles, in order, says S. Gregory, that works might give force and efficacy to their words, that as their doctrine was new, so their works might be new, and such as were before unheard of.  S. Jerom also says, men would never have given any credit to the apostles, unlearned and illiterate as they were, had they not been able to work miracles in proof of the great promises they made to them of heaven.  It was necessary that the greatness of their work should confirm the greatness of their promises.  S. Jerom. — Gratis you have received.  Here our Saviour admonishes his apostles not to work for the sake of lucre; but having themselves received gratuitously the light of faith, they should in the same manner communicate it to others.  S. Jerom. — S. Thos. also observes on this passage, that our Saviour probably wished to repress the avarice of Judas, who as he kept the common purse, might be tempted to increase their stock, by receiving pecuniary rewards for their labours.  S. Thos. Aquin. — S. Chrysos. says, that the apostles were warned by this admonition of our Saviour against two vices, to which they might be tempted on account of the great favours and graces they had received from heaven, viz. pride and avarice: 1st. Against pride, gratis you have received; i.e. whatever you have received is the gift of God, without any merit of yours: 2ndly. Against avarice, gratis give; that is, since every thing you have received has been given you gratuitously; so if you make use of the same gifts for the good of others, act also gratuitously, without expecting any temporal reward from them.  S. Chrys. hom. xxxiii.

Ver. 10.  Nor two coats, nor shoes;[2] i.e. provide not yourselves with another coat for a reserve, but go like poor people, who have but just what is necessary.  They were not to wear shoes, but they were allowed sandals, or soles with tops tied to their feet.  Mark vi. 9. — Nor a staff.  So Luke, C. ix. v. 3: yet S. Mark says, but a staff only.  To reconcile these expressions, some distinguish betwixt a staff necessary to walk with (which even the poorest people had) and another staff for their defence, which at least they were not to seek for.  And the meaning of these admonitions is that they were to go on their mission, not regarding whether they had a staff or not, unless it were necessary for them to walk with.  Wi. — In many Greek MSS. we read staffs in the plural, so that Jesus Christ orders them not to take any other than the one in their hand.

Ver. 11.  And there abide, &c.  That is, stay in the same house as long as you remain in the same city; remove not from house to house, as it is said Luke x. 7, but be content with what you meet with.  Wi. — S. Chrysostom gives three reasons for this precept: 1st. that they might not afflict those whom they left; 2ndly. that the apostles might avoid the accusation of inconstancy; 3rdly. of gluttony also.  Baradicet.  Into whatsoever, &c.  Lest the apostles should be induced to think, by what our Saviour had said in the preceding verse, viz. the workman is worthy, &c. that every door would be open for their entrance, he here tells them to inquire at their entry into any city, who amongst the inhabitants were worthy.  S. Chrysostom, hom. xxxiii. — And since they could not be expected to know who in every city were worthy, they were to be informed of this by the report and opinion of the people, that so their dignity and great character of apostles might not be defamed by the bad characters of any who might receive them.  S. Jerom, in S. Thos. Aquin. — But, if such was the rule given by Christ to the apostles, some one will perhaps ask, why did not Christ also follow the same maxim, since we read in Scripture, he entered into the house of Zacheus, the publican?  S. Chrysostom answers, Zacheus was made worthy by his conversion to Christ.  S. Chrysostom, in S. Thos. Aquin.

Ver. 12.  Peace be to, &c.  Heb. shalom, “peace be to you.”  The custom of salutation here recommended by our Saviour to his disciples, as S. Jerom informs us, was very prevalent among the Hebrews and Syrians. — This was an ordinary salutation among the Jews, by which they wished happiness and prosperity.  Wi.

Ver. 13.  And if that house, &c.  i.e. if it be worthy to receive your peace.  In S. Luke (C. x, v. 6) it is written, And if the son of peace be there: that is, a lover of peace, or one worthy of peace and prosperity.  Thus a son of death means one deserving of death.  M. — Your peace shall come upon it.  If men will not hearken to your instructions, you have this comfort and peace of mind, that you have discharged your duty.  Wi.

Ver. 14.  Shake off the dust from your feet.  It was common enough with the Jews, or at least with the preachers and prophets, to use some extraordinary outward actions, to make what they said more taken notice of by the people, as here the shaking off the dust from their feet was to denote to the obstinate unbelievers, that the very dust which their feet had contracted, in coming to preach to them the gospel, should hereafter rise in judgment against them.  Wi.  By this, the apostles were to testify that they took nothing away with them belonging to these reprobate cities.  They likewise shewed the long and painful journeys they had undertaken for their salvation.  S. Chrysostom, hom. xxxiii. — He orders them to do this, to shew that they would have nothing in common with them, since they left them even their dust.  Or it may be to shew, that the dust which they had gathered in their journey, would be a testimony against them in the day of judgment, because they had refused to receive them, as the Jews were accustomed to perform some remarkable action, for some great crime committed; thus, when they heard blasphemy, they tore their garments.  M.

Ver. 16.  Wise as serpents, &c.  It is a proverbial way of speaking; and an admonition to be circumspect and discreet, but harmless, innocent, sincere in all our actions and dealings.  Wi. — Simple.  That is, harmless, plain, sincere, and without guile.  Ch. — In the midst of wolves.  Although Christ sent his apostles not only against wolves, but even into the very midst of wolves, still he commands them to behave with the meekness of sheep, and simplicity of doves.  Thus he evinces the greatness of his power, in overcoming the wolves by the sheep, which were continually exposed to be devoured and torn in pieces by them, still never failing to change the fierce nature of the ravenous wolf into their own nature, in mildness and innocence.  As long as we retain the nature of sheep, we easily overcome our adversaries; but no sooner are we changed into wolves, than we become the derision of our enemies: the supreme Pastor, who superintends the sheep, not the wolves, withdrawing from us the powerful protection of his grace, and leaving us to the misery of our own weakness. — Our Saviour, in his infinite wisdom, knew full well the nature of things; passion was not to be overcome by passion, but by meekness only.  Thus the apostles did, when the Jews having apprehended them, said, Have we not again and again commanded you not to teach in this name?  Acts, C. iv.  Though they had the power of working the greatest miracles, yet they let nothing harsh, nothing severe, escape them, either in words or actions.  With simplicity they made answer, Judge ye, if it be just to hear you rather than God; and at the same time shewed their prudence, saying, We cannot but speak what we have heard and seen.  S. Chrysostom, hom. xxxiv. — As sheep, &c.  He compares them to sheep, not only because of their innocence, but also because they were sent unarmed and destitute of all human support.  M. — Wise, &c.  That you may guard against the snares of your enemies.  The prudence of the serpent is celebrated, because when it cannot escape, it strives at least to preserve its head free from hurt, whilst it leave the rest of its body exposed.  Thus Christians, who have Christ for their head, must preserve his faith and religion, though with the loss of every thing else.  M.

Ver. 17.  They will deliver you up in councils.  Christ, in this and the following verse, warns his apostles of the many troubles and persecutions to which the preaching of the faith would expose them.  S. Chrysostom assigns several reasons for him choosing to foretell them such sufferings:  1st. that he might shew that he had the gift of prophecy; 2nd. that they might not think such evils came upon them on account of his weakness; 3rd. that knowing beforehand the great trials to which they would be exposed, they might not be discouraged when they happened.  S. Chrysostom, in S. Thos. Aquin.

Ver. 18.  For a testimony to them, &c.  That is, that by suffering with fortitude and constancy, you may bear testimony of me, as men must know, that it is not any vain thing for which they see you are prepared to die.  Or the sense may be, that this may be for you a testimony against them in the day of judgment, and may render them inexcusable, since they will be unable to say that they have not heard the gospel.  M.

Ver. 19.  Be not thoughtful, with too great a concern of mind.  Wi. — That the apostles might not be discouraged at the description, which our Saviour gave them in the two preceding verses, of the troubles which they would have to sustain in their ministry, he now endeavours to console them.  When you are called before councils, says he, do not think how or what to speak, for it shall be given you in that hour what to speak.  A truly comfortable thought for all who should afterwards engage in the ministry of Christ.  Whatever troubles, whatever persecutions may fall to your lot, if even you should be cited before kings and councils to answer for your faith, do not be troubled.  You engage in the conflict, I will fight: you speak, but I will tell you what you ought to say.  A.

Ver. 22.  He that shall persevere, &c.  We are here told, that to be saved it is not sufficient that we were once virtuous, we must persevere to the end.  We are also assured of the same truth in Ezechiel.  If the just man shall turn away from his justice, and shall commit iniquity, he shall die in his sins, and his justice which he hath done shall not be remembered.  C. iii, v. 20.  A. — Some, says S. Chrysostom, are accustomed to be fervent at the beginning of their conversion, but afterwards grow remiss; of what advantage are seeds that flourish in the beginning, but afterwards wither and die?  S. Chrysos.  S. Thos. Aquin.

Ver. 23.  Flee into another.  Tertullian, with some others, held it never lawful to fly in the time of persecutions, against both the doctrine and example of our Saviour, Christ. — You shall not finish, &c.  S. Chrys. thinks the sense of these words is, you shall not go through, and have finished your preaching in all the cities of Israel, till I, who follow you, shall come, and join you again.  Others expound it, till the coming of me, your Messias, shall be published, and owned after my resurrection.  Wi.

Ver. 24.  The disciple is not above, &c.  If we therefore are disciples of Christ, we ought to embrace with joy, opprobrious and evil language, willingly receive and bear with patience all those things which our noble Lord and Master underwent for us.  But if we will not bear these things with patience, how shall we dare to call ourselves his followers, his disciples, his servants, his children, or his domestics.  S. Austin.

Ver. 25.  Beelzebub.  In the Greek Beelzeboul.  It was the name the Jews gave to the greatest of the devils, and also to the idol of Accaron.  The word signifies the lord of flies; either because of the multitude of flies that were in the temple of that idol, or because the people used to sacrifice to this idol, when they were molested with flies.  Wi.

Ver. 26.  For there is nothing hid, &c.  Even in this life, for truth, however much oppressed, is yet accustomed at length to rise superior to oppression.  What Christ therefore says here is, although the wicked persecute you, yet your virtue shall at length be known.  M. — Patience for a while, and soon your charity, which is now unknown, shall be renowned throughout the whole earth.  You shall be blessed by all as the greatest benefactors, and the cultivators of virtue, while the words of your adversaries shall be heard with the greatest contempt.  S. Chrysos. hom. xxxv.

Ver. 27.  That which I tell you, &c.  We must not suppose that our Saviour was accustomed to deliver his instructions to his apostles in the secret of the night, or teach them in private by whispers.  But here he uses a figure of speech, to convey to the minds of his apostles the insignificancy of Judea, where he was speaking in comparison of the whole world, which they were to instruct; and the low whisper of his voice, compared to the sound which they shall send forth to the ends of the earth.  S. Chrysos. hom. xxxv. — Upon the house-tops.  The tops of the houses in Palestine were flat, and the inhabitants were accustomed to assemble on them and discourse together in great numbers.  To preach, therefore, on the top of a house, is the same as to preach where there is a great concourse of people.  M.

Ver. 28.  Fear not those that, &c.  Men are afraid of a prison, yet they are not afraid of hell fire.  They fear temporal punishments, but dread not the torments of eternal fire.  S. Austin in Baradius. — He who continually fears hell, will never fall into it; but he who is negligent, will undoubtedly fall.  S. Chrys. in Baradius.

Ver. 29.  Are not two sparrows?  The sense is, sparrows are of very small value, and yet divine Providence defends and feeds them; how much more, therefore, will not God take care of you, who so far excel them?  No one, therefore, will be able to rob you of life without God’s permission.  M.

Ver. 30.  The very hairs, &c.  God numbers not the hairs of our heads after the manner of men: but by this our Saviour shews the infinite knowledge the Almighty has of all things, and the goodness of his Providence, watching over every, even the most minute part of the creation.  S. Chrysostom. hom. xxxv.

Ver. 31.  Fear not therefore, &c.  Here Christ admonishes us, in our greatest undertakings, to put our trust in God.  S. Bernard.

Ver. 34.  I came not to send, &c.  That is, dissension and war, in order that the false peace of sinners may be destroyed, and that those who follow me, may differ in morals and affections from the followers of this world.  The sword, therefore, is the gospel, which separates those parents who remain in infidelity, &c. &c. &c.  M. — It must be observed, that the gospel does not necessarily of itself produce dissensions amongst men, but that Christ foresaw, from the depravity of man’s heart, that dissensions would follow the propagation of the gospel.  The blame of this, however, does not attach to the gospel itself, since those who embrace it, after their conversion sought more than ever to keep peace with all men, even with their most bitter persecutors; whilst those who rejected the gospel, forgetting even the ties of kindred, persecuted even to death the followers of Christ.  A. — Send peace, &c.  Indeed before Christ became man, there was no sword upon the earth; that is, the spirit had not to fight with so much violence against the flesh; but when he became man, he shewed us what things were of the flesh, and what of the spirit, and taught us to set these two at variance, by renouncing always those of the flesh, which constantly endeavour to get master over us, and follow the dictates of the spirit.  Origen.

Ver. 35.  I am come to set a man at variance, &c.  Not that this was the end or design of the coming of our Saviour; but that his coming, and his doctrine would have this effect, by reason of the obstinate resistance that many would make, and of their persecuting all such as should adhere to him.  Ch. — Not that Christ came for this end, to cause divisions between father and son, &c.  On the contrary, the Scriptures teach us to love every one without exception, and especially our kindred; but this is to shew, and foretell what would happen in the same families, when some of them were Christians.  We have divers instances of the truth of this in the Lives of the Saints.  Wi. — No one can be connected with the earth and joined to heaven.  Those who wish to enjoy the peace of heaven, must not be united to the lovers of this world by any connection.  Baradius.

Ver. 36.  And a man’s enemies, &c.  He here alludes to our own passions of love, hatred, anger, envy, &c. which are our greatest enemies; and it is against these that we must make use of the sword our Saviour came to send amongst men.  Baradius.

Ver. 37.  Is not worthy of me, &c.  That is, is not worthy to be my disciple, and to enjoy my kingdom.  M.

Ver. 38.  He that, &c.  There are two kinds of crosses which our Saviour here commands us to take up: one corporal, and the other spiritual.  By the former, he commands us to restrain the unruly appetites of the touch, taste, sight, &c.  By the other, which is far more worthy our notice, he teaches us to govern the affections of the mind, and restrain all its irregular motions, by humility, tranquillity, modesty, peace, &c.  Precious indeed in the sight of God, and glorious is that cross, which governs and brings under proper rule the lawless passions of the mind.  S. Austin.

Ver. 39.  He that findeth, &c.  Behold the great losses that befall such as love their souls above measure; and on the contrary, the advantages that follow from hating them as they ought.  S. Chrys. hom. xxxvi. — That is, he that findeth in this life pleasures and comforts, and places his affections upon them, will certainly soon lose them.  For Isaias says, (C. xl, v. 6,) All flesh is grass, and all the glory thereof as the flower of the field.  The grass is withered, and the flower is fallen.  So man’s glory seems to flourish and appears great, but falls away and dies before it has come to its full bloom; for what duration is there in the flesh?  and what stability in the pleasures of this world?  To-day you may behold a young man, strong, beautiful, healthy, admired, and flourishing in virtue; and to-morrow you will find him quite changed, oppressed with either sin, labour, want, or sickness.  S. Ambrose. — But if he continues moderately happy as to temporal concerns till death, and places his affections on them, he hath found life here, but shall lose it in the next world.  But he that shall, for the sake of Christ, deprive himself of the pleasures of this life, shall receive the reward of a hundred fold in the next.  A.

Ver. 41.  The reward of a prophet.  That is, shall be partaker of the reward of a prophet, or shall receive the same reward as a prophet; as, according to the law of David, (1 Kings, C. xxx, v. 24,) He who descended to the battle, and he who remained with the baggage, shared equally.  So Saul, whilst he kept the clothes of those who stoned Stephen, stoned him by the hands of them all, as S. Austin observes.  M.

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[1]  V. 2.  Primus Simon, prwtoV Simwn.  See S. Jerom, S. Chrysostom, &c.

[2]  V. 10.  Neque virgam, mhde rabdon, and in divers MSS. both here and in S. Luke, ix. 3. mhte rabdouV, neque Virgas.  But in S. Mark, (vi. 8.) nisi Virgam tantùm  ei mh rabdon monon, in all MSS.

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MATTHEW 11

CHAPTER XI.

Ver. 2.  The order of time is not here observed by the evangelist.  S. John’s deputation to Jesus Christ took place some time before; and the text of the 7th chap. of S. Luke, gives it soon after the cure of the centurion’s servant; hence all that follows, in chap. xi. of S. Matthew, is placed by persons who have drawn up evangelical harmonies, immediately after the first 17 verses of chap. viii.  A.

Ver. 3.  Art thou he that is to come?[1]  (Greek, who cometh?) i.e. the Messias.  John the Baptist had already, on several occasions, declared that Jesus was the Messias.  Jo. i.  He could not then doubt of it himself, but sent his disciples to take away their doubt.  Wi. — S. John the Baptist sent his disciples not to satisfy his own doubts, but for the sake of his disciples, who, blinded by the love they bore their Master, and by some emulation, would not acknowledge Christ to be the Messias.  S. Chrysos. in Baradius. — This expression of S. John is much taken notice of, as conveying with it a very particular question.  “Tell me, says S. John, now that I am departing out of this world, whether thou art coming to redeem the patriarchs and holy fathers; or wilt thou send another?”  S. Thos. Aquin. — And S. Chrysostom also explains it thus, Art thou he that art to come to limbo? but the Baptist omitting this last word, sufficiently indicated to our Saviour what was the purport of this question.  S. Jerom and S. Gregory say, that by his death, he was going to preach to the holy fathers that Christ, the Messias, was come.  John does not here propose this question as ignorant of the real case, but in the same manner as Christ asked where Lazarus was laid.  So John sends his disciples to Jesus, that seeing the signs and miracles he performed, they might believe in him.  As long, therefore, as John remained with his disciples, he constantly exhorted them to follow Jesus; but now that he is going to leave them, he is more earnest for their belief in him.  S. Thos. Aquin.

Ver. 4.  Go, and relate, &c.  S. Luke here relates that Christ wrought more miracles when the disciple of S. John came than usual, by which he proved in a much stronger manner than he could have done by words, that he was the Messias.  For the prophets only wrought miracles by invoking the name of God, whereas he did it by his own authority.  S. Cyril. — The reason why our Saviour did not return a plain answer in words to S. John’s disciples is, because as the Jews expected the Messias to be a great and powerful king, had he acknowledged himself to be the Messias in the presence of the multitude, he might have given umbrage to the secular power, or afforded a pretext to the Scribes and Pharisees of calumniating him, and putting him to death before the time preordained for his passion.  Baradius.

Ver. 5.  The blind see, &c.[2]  Christ shews them who he was by the miracles, which were foretold concerning the Messias. — The poor have the gospel preached to them.  This is the sense held forth by the prophet Isaias.  C. lxi. v. 1.  Wi. — That is, they are declared to have the kingdom of heaven, and are styled blessed.  Here also he fulfils the prophecy of Isaias, (C. lxi.) which in the Septuagint version is rendered, He sent me to preach the gospel to the poor.  Nicolaus de Lyra.

Ver. 6.  Scandalized in me.  That is, who shall not take occasion of scandal or offence from my humility, and the disgraceful death of the cross which I shall endure: (Ch). or on my account, that is, at the doctrine of the cross; or when I shall die on an infamous cross.  Wi. — Blessed is he, &c.  That is, who shall not be offended by my doctrine or manners; for Christ was a stumbling block to many, but this was entirely their own fault.  He seems indeed directly to mark the disciples of S. John, and at the same time to shew that he knew their hearts.  M.

Ver. 8.  Clothed in soft, &c.  That the Baptist was not like the reeds, changeable by nature, the respect that the whole Jewish people paid him sufficiently evinced.  Our Redeemer, therefore, proceeds to shew that S. John was not changeable by his manner of life.  Delicacies and effeminacy (the ordinary sources of fickleness of behaviour,) being found in the houses of kings, and the great ones of this earth, were far from being desired by the precursor.  This he shewed to the world by his garments of camels’ hair, his habitation in the wilderness, his slender and insipid food of wild honey and locusts, and the prisons to which his constancy brought him.  S. Chrys. hom. xxxviii.

Ver. 9.  More than a prophet.  John was a prophet, because he foretold the coming of Christ; and he was more than a prophet, because he saw him, which was a privilege that none of the ancient prophets enjoyed; and not only did he see him, but pointed him out, before he was acknowledged in that character.  Again, he was more than a prophet, in as much as he was the precursor of the Messias, who even deigned to receive baptism at his hands.  M.

Ver. 11.  He that is the lesser, &c.  Many understand this of Christ, who is less in as much as he is more humble, younger in age, and according to the erroneous opinion of men, of less sanctity than John.  Maldonatus and Tolletus suppose the meaning to be, that he who is the least in sanctity in the Church of Christ is greater than John; not that John did not excel in sanctity many, nay even most of the children of the Church of Christ, but that those who belong to the Church, on account of this circumstance of their being under the new law, which is the law of children, are greater than those under the old law, which was the law of bondsmen, as the least among the children is greater than the greatest among the bondsmen.  Now John in this respect did not belong to the Church of Christ, as he was slain before Christ’s death, before which time the gospel was not fully established.  M. — There hath not risen . . . a greater, &c.  This comparison, by what we find, Luke vii. 28, is only betwixt John and the ancient prophets, to signify that John was greater than any of the prophets, at least by his office of being the immediate precursor of the Messias.  The comparison cannot be extended to Christ himself, who was both God and man, nor to his blessed Virgin Mother; nor need we understand it of his apostles.  Wi.

Ver. 12.  Suffereth violence, &c.  It is not to be obtained but by main force, by using violence upon ourselves, by mortification and penance, and resisting our perverse inclinations.  Ch. — Certainly it is great violence for a man to look for a seat in heaven, and to obtain that by his virtue which was refused him by his nature.  S. Jerom in S. Thos. Aquin. — The kingdom of heaven, &c.  That is, the kingdom of heaven is to be obtained by mortification, penance, poverty, and those practices of austerity which John, both by word and example, pointed out.  According to this interpretation, the kingdom of heaven means eternal life.  Or the meaning may be, the kingdom of heaven is taken by the violent, because it is not now confined, as in the old law, to one people, but open to all, that whoever will may enter in and take possession of it.  The kingdom of heaven, in this interpretation, is taken for the Church of Christ, for the gospel, and also for eternal life.  M.

Ver. 13.  All the prophets and the law prophesied until John:  as if he had said, all they who prophesied before, foretold the coming of the Messias; but now John points him out present with you, so that now all the types and figures of the ancient law will be fulfilled, and are at an end.  Wi.

Ver. 14.  He is Elias, &c.  Not in person, but in spirit.  Luke i. 17.  Ch. — John is here styled Elias, not in the same manner as those who taught the transmigration of souls; but the meaning is, that the precursor came in the spirit and virtue of Elias, and had the same fulness of the Holy Ghost.  The Baptist is not undeservedly styled Elias, both for the austerity of his life, and for his sufferings.  Elias upbraided Achab and Jezabel for their impieties, and was obliged to flee.  John blamed the unlawful marriage of Herod and Herodias, and died for his virtue.  S. Jerom, in S. Thos. Aquin.

Ver. 16.  Is like to children, &c.  This similitude signifies that there was nothing necessary for their salvation, which God had not abundantly provided for; but they had pertinaciously continued in their incredulity.  To explain this, he uses a similitude taken from morose children, whom nothing can please; he appears to refer to some custom of that time with which we are little acquainted.  M.

Ver. 17.  We have piped.  Christ, says, S. Jerom on this place, was represented by the children that piped, or played on pipes, and S. John by those that mourned; because Christ refused not upon occasions, to eat and converse with sinners.  Wi. — Jesus shews the Jews by this simile, that he had endeavoured to induce them, by the common life he led, to an imitation of his virtues; and they had not complied with his desire. — We have lamented.  This part is to be understood of S. John, who led a most austere life, and notwithstanding was despised by the Jews.  S. Jerom, in S. Thos. Aquin. — Similar to this is the complaint of the Almighty, by the mouth of the prophet Isaias: What is there that I should have done to my vineyard, and have not done?  Our Redeemer and the Baptist imitated skilful huntsmen, who made use of various and opposite stratagems, that if the nimble animal escape one, he may fall into another.  As men are commonly more engaged by fasting and austerities, therefore did the Baptist practise them in the highest degree, that they thus might be prevailed upon to believe his words.  Christ, condescending more to their weakness, did not embrace this rigid manner of life, though at the same time he sanctified and approved it by his fast of forty days, and extreme poverty, not having where to recline his head.  It was better that our Saviour’s doctrine should be approved of by one who practiced austerity, than that he himself should fast and live rigidly.  If the Jews admired fasting and penance, whose words should have led them to the Son of God?  If fasting appeared sorrowful and forbidding, why did they not join themselves to Jesus, who came eating and drinking, and compassionating their infirmities? which way soever they chose they might have arrived at salvation?  S. Chrys. hom. xxxviii.

Ver. 18.  He hath a devil.  Those possessed by devils, were often accustomed to pass their time in the open air, to use unusual food, and sometimes to refrain a considerable time from meat and drink.  M.

Ver. 19.  Come eating and drinking.  Whereas John came living in the wilderness on locusts, wild honey, &c.  Yet most part of the Jews neither regarded Christ nor S. John: nay the Pharisees here (v. 18) say of John, that he is possessed with a devil. — Wisdom is justified by her children.  That is, by such as are truly wise; and the sense seems to be, that the divine wisdom and Providence hath been justified, i.e. approved, owned, and declared just and equitable by those that being truly wise, have made good use of the favours and graces offered them at this time of their redemption, when others have remained obstinate in their blindness, and refused to believe in Christ.  Wi. — That is, the multitude of believers by their faith justify the providence and justice of God, against the calumnies of the wicked; for as these believed, what hindered others also from believing? where it appears that Divine Providence omitted nothing of those things, which were necessary to procure and promote the salvation of men.  M.

Ver. 21.  Wo to thee, Corozain, &c.  These four verses shew us how dangerous it is to resist the divine graces, and not to make good use of those favourable opportunities which the divine Providence hath placed us in, of working our salvation and of improving ourselves in virtue and sanctity.  Wi. — Sack-cloth and ashes, &c.  It was the custom for those who were in mourning, to be clothed with sack-cloth, and sit in ashes.  M.

Ver. 22.  More tolerable, &c.  For as the fault of him who never had the truth announced to him, was less than of him who rejected it when offered, so also his punishment would be less.  M.

Ver. 23.  If we compare this with Luke x. 15, it will appear that Jesus Christ made twice this reproach to these two impenitent cities.  V.

Ver. 25.  Jesus answered, &c.  lit. Jesus answering, said: where we may take notice, that answering, in the style of the Scripture, is often put when it is no answer to any thing that was said before.  Wi. — Because thou hast hid, &c.  Jesus gives thanks to his heavenly Father, because he had revealed the secret of his coming to his disciples, who, according to the false opinion of men, are called children and fools, and had hid it from the Scribes and Pharisees, whom he in ridicule calls the wise and prudent.  By this prayer, he also begs that his heavenly Father would complete what he had begun in his apostles.  S. Jerom. — Christ does not rejoice that it was not revealed to the wise and prudent, but because it was revealed to his little ones.  S. Thos. Aquin.

Ver. 26.  Yea, Father, &c.  S. Chrysostom interprets this passage as if Christ would say, Go on, Father, as you have begun; or the sense may be, I give thee thanks, O Father, that it has pleased thee to act thus, that since the wise men of this world have rejected the gospel, thou hast deigned to manifest it to little ones.  M.

Ver. 28.  All you that, &c.  That is, you who are wearied with the heavy load of your sins, and the grievous yoke of the old law.  M.

Ver. 29.  Take up my yoke, &c.  Fear not the yoke of Christ, for it is a yoke of the greatest sweetness.  Be not disheartened when he mentions a burden, because it is a burden exceeding light.  If then our Saviour says, that the way of virtue is exceeding narrow, and replete with difficulties and dangers, we must call to mind that it is so to the slothful only.  Perform therefore with alacrity what is required, and then will all things be easy; the burden will be light, and the yoke sweet.  S. Chrysos. hom. xxxix.

Ver. 30.  For my yoke is sweet, &c.  For though, in regard of our weak nature, it be a very heavy yoke, yet the grace of God renders it easy and light, because our Lord himself helps us to bear it, according to that of the prophet Osee, (C. xi, v. 4) I will be unto them as he that takes the yoke from off their heads.  S. Bernard says, that our Saviour sweetens by the spiritual unction of his grace, all the crosses, penances, and mortifications of religious souls.  S. Austin owns, that before he knew the power of grace, he could never comprehend what chastity was, nor believe that any one was able to practice it; but the grace of God renders all things easy.  Rodriguez.  On Mortification.  C. xix.

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[1]  V. 3.  Qui venturus es, o ercomenoV, qui venit, who cometh.

[2]  V. 5.  Pauperes Evangelizantur, ptwcoi euaggelizontai.  In the prophet Isaias, euaggelizesqai ptwcoiV epestalke me.

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MATTHEW 12

CHAPTER XII.

Ver. 1.  And his disciples being hungry.  How truly admirable is the conduct of the apostles, who would not depart from the company of Jesus, though pressed by the greatest hunger and fatigue, not even to take a little refreshment for the body.  S. Chrys. — It is remarked by S. Jerom, that the Pharisees did not accuse the disciples of theft, but of a breach of the sabbath.  S. Luke calls this sabbath, Sabbatum secundo primum, which is differently explained by interpreters.  Ribeira, following S. Chrysostom and Theophilactus, thinks that every sabbath was so called, which followed immediately any feast.  Maldonatus is of opinion that some particular sabbath is pointed out by this name, and conjectures that it was the sabbath of Pentecost, because it is the second of the great feasts, viz. the Passover, Pentecost, Scenopegia, or of the Tabernacles. — In the Greek, sabbath is in the plural, and means the days of the sabbath or rest, which were a part of the feast.  The three great feasts lasted a whole week each.  They were all three called prwta, i.e. great, solemn feasts.  The first was that of the Passover, with the seven days of unleavened bread, called prwtoprwton, the first-first sabbath by excellence: the second was the great feast of Pentecost, deuteroprwton, the second-first sabbath, (which seems to have been the feast meant by the evangelist in this place, as at this season the corn was ripe in Palestine) and the third was the feast of tabernacles, tritoprwton, the third-first great sabbath.  Many, however, are of opinion, that by the second-first sabbath is meant the octave day of the feast, which was ordered to be equally solemnized with the first day of the feast.  Liv. xxiii. 36. 39. and Num. xxix. 35.

Ver. 2.  That which is not lawful to do on the sabbath-days.  The Pharisees blame not the disciples for plucking the ears of corn, as they passed by, (this being allowed, Deut. xxiii. 25.) but for doing it on a sabbath-day, as if it had been a breach of the sabbath.  Wi. — Behold, &c.  The Pharisees here mildly rebuked our Lord; but afterwards, when he restored the withered hand, they rose up against him with such rage, that they formed upon the spot designs of killing him, as in v. 14.  When there is nothing great or sublime, they are more quiet, but when with his word only he restores health to the infirm, like furious beasts, they grow enraged.  S. Chrysos. hom. xl.

Ver. 3.  What David, &c.[1]  Christ shews them that the law need not always be taken according to the bare letter. — Into the house of God; i.e. where the tabernacle was then kept: not into the temple, which at that time was not built. — Eat the loaves, &c.  Christ speaks of those loaves which were ordered to be placed on a table within the tabernacle, and changed from time to time.  This translation seems as literal as may be, and more intelligible than loaves of proposition, or shew-bread.  Wi. — To refute this calumny of the Jewish leaders, Jesus reminds them of the conduct of David when pursued by Saul, who, reduced to the like extremity, eat of that bread which the priests alone were allowed to touch.  Achimelec, the high priest, thinking it a more pleasing sacrifice to God to preserve the life of man, than to make an offering of bread.  S. Jerom. — And they that were with him.  In the place alluded to, (1 K. xxi.) it is said, that he was alone.  It may be answered, that no one was with him when he received the loaves.  M.

Ver. 4.  How he entered, &c.  The house of God was then at Nobe.  In S. Mark, the high priest is called Abiathar.  See C. ii. 26.  To this difficulty some answer, that the father and son bore these two names, Achimelec and Abiathar.  This they attempt to prove from 2 K. viii. 19, and 1 Paral. xxiv. 3.  Others say that Abiathar, son of Achimelec, was present, and sanctioned the action of his father, thus making it his own.  Others again contend, that it ought to have been translated, in the chapter called Abiathar, instead of under Abiathar: for the Jews divided the Scripture into parts, and called them by the names of the most remarkable person or thing spoken of in them.  Thus Romans, ii. 2.  In Elias, means in the part called Elias.The loaves of proposition.  So were called the twelve loaves which were placed before the sanctuary, in the temple of God.  Ch. — These were exposed every sabbath, on the golden table, before the Lord.  V.

Ver. 5.  Break the sabbath; i.e. they do that, which if the divine worship did not require, would not be allowed on the sabbath, as the work they do, of its own nature, is servile.

Ver. 6.  A greater than the temple: so what can be done for the temple without a sin, may be done for him without a crime.  V.

Ver. 7.  Mercy, and not sacrifice.  Osee vi. 6.  The meaning of this is, if you then approve of the mercy of the high priest, who refreshed the famished fugitive David, why do you condemn my disciples?  S. Jerom.

Ver. 8.  Lord . . of the sabbath.  He proves that he can dispense with the observation of the feast, because he is master of the feast.  In S. Mark (ii. 27.) it is written, the sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath; i.e. man’s salvation is to be preferred to the observation of the sabbath.  M. — In the concurrence of two incompatible precepts, we must give the preference to that which is the end and object of the other; thus we must prefer the preservation of life to the observance of the sabbath.  A. — These loaves were twelve, corresponding to the twelve tribes of Israel.  They were set six and six, one upon another, at each end of the table.  Upon the uppermost loaf of each heap stood a vessel, smoking with the sweetest incense.  These loaves at the week’s end were, according to God’s order, eaten by the priests only, when they were replaced by twelve fresh ones, made like them, with the finest flour, tempered with oil.  This offering of the shew-bread before the Lord, was a continual sacrifice, as the holy Fathers observe, and a figure of a more excellent kind of shew-bread, viz. Jesus Christ himself in the holy eucharist.  A.

Ver. 9.  He came into the synagogue.  This happened some days later, but again on a sabbath.  M.

Ver. 10.  Is it lawful?  His enemies perceiving in what manner he excused his disciples, have recourse to a fresh stratagem.  S. Jerom. — By this question they did not seek learning or improvement, but merely an occasion to ensnare Jesus in his words.  If he answered in the affirmative, they would accuse him of violating the repose of the sabbath, enjoined by the law of Moses; if in the negative, of cruelty and want of feeling, and would infallibly have objected his own practice against him, as he had before justified his disciples for plucking corn on the sabbath.  Jesus seeing their malice, avoids their captious question by proposing one to them, as we read in S. Mark.  Is it lawful to do good or ill on the sabbath?  As if he had said, whether is it better to assist your neighbor on the sabbath, or to abandon him in his distress, when you are able to afford him relief?  Unable to give an answer, that would not be a justification of his actions, they remain silent; but he still presses the subject, by retorting their own actions upon themselves.  They afforded relief to brute animals that stood in need of it on the sabbath.  It was therefore cruelty, or mere malice, to cavil at his relieving the sick man on the sabbath.  Jans.

Ver. 13.  Stretch forth.  Our Saviour places the man that had the withered hand in the midst of the Jews, and looking round upon the multitude, (according to S. Mark) he ordered him to stretch out his hand, that by these several ways, he might excite the pity of the stiff-necked people; but no sooner had he performed this act of charity, than they, swelling with anger, went out, meditating destruction.  So ruinous and pestiferous is the vice of envy!  S. Chrys. hom. xli. — S. Matthew having mentioned this miracle, takes occasion to narrate others which Christ performed on his second return from Judea.  We have frequently to mention that the particle tunc, then, and such like, do not always relate to what immediately goes before.  A soul in sin may be said to resemble the withered hand, but obedience with faith to God’s commands can and will restore it to its pristine state.  Jesus bids him stretch out his hand, and power accompanies the command; he stretches it forth, and it is made whole like the other.  A.

Ver. 18.  Behold my servant, &c.  The words are out of the prophet Isaias, C. xli. 1.  And it is observed that the Jews, before the coming of Jesus, used to expound them of their Messias.  Wi. — Our Lord Jesus Christ may be called the Servant of the Almighty, because, as himself assures us, he came down not to be served, but to serve; or, as S. Remigius says, not on account of his divinity, but on account of his humanity, which he received from the pure flesh and blood of the immaculate Virgin.  Ex D. Thoma.  There is some difference in the text of Isaias, whence this is taken.  The apostles and evangelists did not confine themselves to cite the very words of the text, but only the sense.  V.

Ver. 19.  He shall not contend.  These words do not occur in the prophet, but are added by S. Matthew to express more fully the sense, because he offered himself up to the will of his heavenly Father, and delivered himself into the hands of those who persecuted him.  Aquin.  Nor cry out; because, like a lamb, in the hands of the shearer, he opened not his mouth.

Ver. 20.  The bruised reed.  The prophet here shews the mildness of our Saviour, who, though he could have broken them like a reed, and as a bruised reed, yet would not do it; and though he could have easily extinguished their rage and anger, yet he bore with it for a while, with singular clemency, till he should send forth judgment unto victory, i.e. till justice shall have appeared triumphant, till Christ shall have fulfilled all things, and raised his most illustrious trophy: till the Gentiles shall have placed their confidence in his most adorable name, and the Jews have no plea, notwithstanding their unparalleled obduracy, to make in reply. S. Chrys. hom. xli. — Judgment unto victory.  S. Jerom and S. Hilary expound these words in conformity with their interpretation of the two foregoing verses, as follows: “The Lord will cherish and support the infirm and weak in this time of penance and probation, inviting them to greater strength, and light, and perfect charity, till the power of death be taken away, till he return to judge the world, when his judgment shall be victorious; though, in the mean while, it often may appear suppressed, and even subdued by the obstinate will of man.”  But the exposition, most conformable to the literal sense of the prophet, is: he will support the weak by his mildness, until it come to pass that his judgment, which he came to announce to the Gentiles, be led to victory, by his truth becoming universally triumphant over the world, and in his name all nations shall hope.  Jansenius. — Thus will he bear with the little light and virtue of his enemies, till the bright light of his faith, and the warmth and strength of his grace, obtain in their hearts, and triumph over every opposition.  A.

Ver. 21.  In his name the Gentiles.  Here are two words differing from those used by the prophet: in the Hebrew text we have, in his law the islands shall hope: probably the oversight of the amanuensis substituting onoma for nomw; the latter variation is of still less moment, as the prophets understand by islands, countries far removed; and also the poet,

Et penitus toto divisos orbe Britannos.

And, Mittam ad insulas longe ad eos, qui non audierunt de me.  Isaias, lx. 9, and lxvi. 19.

Ver. 25.  Every kingdom.  Strong as a kingdom may appear, it is easily overturned by divisions; and lest it should be objected, that ruin was brought upon it by a multiplicity of clashing affairs, it is added that cities and families share the same fate, if subject to similar divisions.  S. Chrys. hom. xlii. — The Pharisees, on a former occasion, had laid a similar accusation against him.  Then indeed he did not correct them, wishing them to discover his virtue from the miracles he performed, and the dignity of his character from the doctrines he delivered; but as they still continue the old accusation, he now wishes to convince them of their error.  Envy does not so much seek how to speak, as what to speak.  Yet Christ does not despise them, but answers them in the most meek and humble manner, teaching us to be charitable to our enemies, though they behave to us in the most inimical manner.  By this also, our divine Saviour evidently demonstrates the falsity of the accusation; for it is never in the power of a possessed person to know another’s thoughts, nor give so mild an answer.  And as his enemies did not dare, from fear of the people, openly to broach this base calumny, seeing their thoughts, he answered them; still he does not expose to public infamy the malice of their hearts, but gives them a private solution of their difficulty.  S. Chrys. ex D. Thom.

Ver. 27.  Your children, &c.  Some by their children understand, exorcists, that were among the Jews, that sometimes cast out devils; but it is more commonly taken for Christ’s disciples and apostles, who were of the Jewish nation, to whom he had given power to cast out devils: as if he had said, If you allow them to cast out devils by divine power, why do not you also believe this of me, their master?  Wi. — S. Chrysostom says the apostles and disciples of Christ are here meant, for they had already cast out devils in virtue of the power conferred upon them by their divine Master, without ever having it said of them, that in the prince of devils they cast out devils.  Thus he shews that envy was the origin and cause of their persecuting spirit, and that not his actions but his person gave them such great umbrage.  hom. xlii. — If Christ alludes here to their own exorcists, who drove out devils by the invocation of the adorable name of God, he confounds the unjust malice and prevention of the Pharisees; if to the apostles, he constitutes them his umpires.  S. Thos. Aquin.

Ver. 28.  Kingdom of God.  Christ either calls himself and his coming the kingdom of God, because it was the beginning of the kingdom of God, and laid open the way to us: or the sense may be, If I, as proved in an argument above, cast out devils by the spirit of God, therefore what I, my apostles, and John preach, is true, viz. that the kingdom of God is at hand; because the Holy Ghost, who worketh miracles by us, proveth that our preaching is true.  Mald.

Ver. 29.  How can any one enter; how can I drive Satan from his possession? i.e. cast him out from the bodies of men, unless I am stronger than he, and first unarm him.  Maldon.

Ver. 30.  He that is not with me.  This sentence is not to be understood as directly spoken of heretics and schismatics, although at first sight it may appear so, but of the devil, who wishes to lead the souls of men captive, whilst Christ wishes to free them.  He entices men to wickedness, Jesus Christ draws them to virtue: how therefore can the works of Christ be compared with those of Satan!  S. Jer. — There is no medium.  We must either be with Christ, or against Christ: if we are not of Christ, whose then must we be, when nothing but sin can separate us from Christ and God?  Oh, where will the generality of Christians, who shew themselves so indifferent with regard to salvation, find themselves at the last day?  Can they say they are with Christ?

Ver. 31.  The blasphemy[2] against the Spirit, or against the Spirit and the Holy Ghost.  S. Augustine takes notice, that this is one of the most difficult places in the Scriptures.  According to the common exposition, here is not meant a sin committed by speaking against the third person of the blessed Trinity, the Holy Ghost, but that sin by which the obstinate Jews wilfully opposed Christ, and attributed those miracles to Beelzebub, which he performed by the Spirit of God, of which they could not be ignorant, but by a wilful blindness.  Wi. — The sin here spoken of is that blasphemy, by which the Pharisees attributed the miracles of Christ, wrought by the Spirit of God, to Beelzebub, the prince of devils.  Now this kind of sin is usually accompanied with so much obstinacy, and such wilful opposing the Spirit of God, and the known truth, that men who are guilty of it are seldom or ever converted; and therefore are never forgiven, because they will not repent.  Otherwise there is no sin which God cannot, or will not forgive to such as sincerely repent, and have recourse to the keys of the Church.  Ch. — Therefore I say: this therefore is not referred to what immediately precedes, but to what is said in verse 24.  Maldon. — Whosoever he be, says S. Augustine, that believeth not man’s sins to be remitted in the Church of God, and therefore despiseth the bounteous mercies of God, in so mighty a work, if he continue in his obstinate mind till death, he is guilty of sin against the Holy Ghost.  Enchir. lxxxiii. ep. 50. in fine.

Ver. 32.  Whosoever, &c.  It was their duty to have a knowledge of the Holy Ghost, and they obstinately refused to admit what was clear and manifest.  Though they were ignorant of the divinity of Jesus Christ, and might take him to be merely the son of a poor artizan, they could not be ignorant that the expelling of demons, and miraculous healing of all diseases, were the works of the Holy Ghost.  If, therefore, they refused to do penance for the insult offered to the Spirit of God, in the person of Christ, they could not hope to escape condign punishment.  Chrys. hom. xlii. — Against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him; i.e. they who for want of sufficient instruction, were invincibly ignorant that Christ was God, might more easily be brought to the true knowledge and faith of Christ, and so receive forgiveness of their sins: but if he shall speak against the Holy Ghost, i.e. against the Spirit of God in Christ, and shall oppose the known truth, by attributing to the devil that doctrine, and those miracles, which evidently were from the Spirit and the hand of God, that sin shall never be forgiven him.  But how is this consistent with the Catholic doctrine and belief, that there is no sin any man commits of which he may not obtain pardon in this life?  To this I answer, that in what manner soever we expound this place, it is an undoubted point of Christian faith, that there is no sin which our merciful God is not ready to pardon; no sin, for the remission of which, God hath not left a power in his Church, as it is clearly proved by those words, Whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them, &c.  S. Chrys. therefore expounds these words, shall not be forgiven them, to imply no more, than shall scarcely, or seldom be forgiven; that is, it is very hard for such sinners to return to God, by a true and sincere repentance and conversion; so that this sentence is like that (Mat. xix. 26.) where Christ seems to call it an impossible thing for a rich man to be saved.  In the same place S. Chrys. tells us, that some of those who had blasphemed against the Holy Ghost, repented, and had their sins forgiven them.  S. Augustine, by this blasphemy against the Spirit, understands the sin of final impenitence, by which an obstinate sinner refuseth to be converted, and therefore lives and dies hardened in his sins.  Wi. — Nor in the world to come.  From these words S. Augustine (De Civ. l. xxi. c. 13.) and S. Gregory (Dial. iv, c. 39.) gather, that some sins may be remitted in the world to come; and consequently that there is a purgatory, or a middle place.  Ch. — S. Aug. says these words would not be true, if some sins were not forgiven in the world to come; and S. Gregory says, we are to believe from these words in the existence of the fire of purgatory, to expiate our smaller offences, before the day of judgment.  S. Isidore and Ven. Bede say the same.  S. Bernard, speaking of heretics, says, they do not believe in purgatory: let them then inquire of our Saviour, what he meant by these words. — It is well known that Ven. Bede, on his death-bed, bestowed several small tokens to the monks who were present, that they might remember to pray for his soul in the holy sacrifice of the mass.  A.

Ver. 33.  Either make the tree good, &c.  This is connected with what had been said of their attributing his works to Beelzebub.  He condemns them for blaspheming him on all occasions, when at the same time they were not able to find fault with his life and doctrine.  Christ therefore tells them, that the tree is known by its fruit; and that if they cannot blame his actions, and his doctrine, they ought to allow him to be good, to be like the good tree; and that if they continue to blame him, they ought consequently to condemn his doctrine, yet this they were not able to do.  Wi.

Ver. 34.  As the Pharisees were ever boasting of, and glorying in their ancestry, Christ here shews, that they have not much reason to boast, since their ancestors were but vipers.  S. Chrys.

Ver. 36.  That every idle word.[3]  By idle words, S. Jerom, &c. expound words that are neither profitable to the speaker nor the hearer: but S. Chrys. says, false and abusive language.  Wi. — If, of every idle word, how much more of blasphemy, as when you say in Beelzebub I cast out devils.  M. — This shews there must be a place of temporal punishment hereafter, where these slighter faults shall be punished.  Ch. — If of every idle word we must make account before God in judgment, and yet shall not for every such idle word be damned eternally, there must necessarily be some temporal punishment in the next life.  B.

Ver. 38.  We would see a sign.  They wanted to see some new and unusual miracles.  They wished, says S. Jerom, either that he would call down fire from heaven, like Elias; or, like Samuel, cause it to rain, to thunder and lighten in summer, contrary to the nature of the country.  M. — That they might be assured he was sent by God, and acted by his Spirit.

Ver. 39.  Sign of Jonas.  I will give no other sign than my death and resurrection, as then, though unwillingly, they will acknowledge me, and people will believe and be converted: so in John (C. viii.) it is said, When you shall have exalted the Son of man, then you shall know that I am he.  M.

Ver. 40.  In the whale’s belly.[4]  The word signifies a great fish, and was not perhaps that which we commonly call a whale.  In the prophet Jonas, it is called, a great fish.Three days and three nights; not three whole days and three nights, but part of three natural days, from which, in common computation, the nights used not to be separated.  We have an instance of this, Esther iv. 16, where the Jews were ordered to fast with her three days, and three nights: and yet (C. v, v. 1) Esther, after part of three days, went to the king. — In the heart of the earth: by which is signified, Christ’s descent into hell; as S. Paul says (Ephes. iv. 9.) that he descended into the inferior parts of the earth, and this cannot be understood of the grave only.  Wi. — Jesus Christ expired on the cross about the ninth hour, or 3 p.m. when the general and supernatural darkness that covered the earth, may be counted for the first night, and the light which again appeared, for the term of the first day.  V. — As Jonas was a sign to the Ninivites, so is Christ to the Jews; for as he by the prodigy of remaining so long in the fish’s belly, and afterwards coming forth alive, gave such authority to his preaching, that the Ninivites were converted; so Christ, by his death and resurrection on the third day, shall shew that he is the true Christ, and this generation shall acknowledge him for the Messias.  M.

Ver. 42.  Queen of Saba, a province of Arabia, situated to the south of Judea.  3 K. x. 1. and seq.

Ver. 45.  Seven is taken frequently, in Scripture, for an indefinite number; for several.  V.

Ver. 46.  His mother and his brethren; i.e. his mother and relations.  Wi. — See verse 55 of the next chapter.  Ch.

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[1]  V. 3.  Panes Propositionis.  touV artouV thV proqesewV.  They are also elsewhere called, panes faciales, artouV enopiouV, (Deut. xxv. 30.) and faciei, tou proswpou.  2 Esdr. x. 33.

[2]  V. 31.  Spiritus blasphemia, h de tou pneumatoV blasfhmia.  S. Aug. (Serm. lxxi. de verbis Evang. Matt. c. v. p. 388. tom. v.) says of this place: Forte in omnibus Scripturis Sanctis, nulla major quæstio, nulla difficilior.  And again, (c. xii. pag. 394) he give this interpretation: ipsa ergo impœnitentia, est Spiritus blasphemia.  See also S. Jerom on this place.  S. Chrysostom’s exposition is more easy, when he thinks the sense is, that such a sin shall scarcely be forgiven.  uper parta auth h amartia asuggnwstoV om. ma. p. 274.

[3]  V. 36.  De omni verbo otioso, pan rhma argon.  Some MSS. have, ponhron.  S. Jerom says, Otiosum verbum est, quod sine utilitate et loquentis dicitur, et audientis.  In like manner, S. Greg. hom. vi. in Evang.  S. Bern. &c.  But S. Chrys. adds, to yeudeV, to sukofantian econ.

[4]  V. 40.  In ventre Ceti, tou khtouV.  By Cete, is signified, any very large fish, and so it is said in the prophet Jonas to have been, piscem grandem.

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MATTHEW 13

CHAPTER XIII.

Ver. 1.  On the same day Jesus left the house, in which he had performed the miracle, and delivered the preceding discourse, and sat himself down on the shore of the sea of Galilee, where multitudes crowded unto him.

Ver. 3.  To them he spoke many things, from a ship, in parables; probably many more than are here recorded.  By familiar and well-known objects, Jesus Christ would thus convey more pleasingly his divine instructions, and teach them to spiritualize their daily labours, and by natural things, which meet the senses, lead them to the knowledge of things divine, which we cannot naturally comprehend.  A. — Several reasons may be assigned why our Lord made use of parables:  1st. The lively imagination of the Orientals made them relish these figurative expressions, which awaken the attention, and exercise the understanding.  2d. The indisposition of his hearers made him frequently veil his instructions under similitudes or parables; but in private, he expounded the meaning to his disciples, who were better disposed, and was ever ready to give every necessary and satisfactory explanation to as many as sincerely wished for it. — A third motive, given by S. Matthew, was the accomplishment of the prophecies; for one of the characteristics of the Messias was, that he would express himself in this parabolical manner; and Jesus Christ was pleased that the most minute circumstances should be fulfilled in his person, in order that the resemblance between him and the ancient prophets, in the mode of instructing, might induce the Jews to consider him as the great prophet, foretold by Moses.  There are few Christians that do not dwell with delight and improvement on our Lord’s parables.  Their imagination, warmed with the singular beauty of the imagery, more easily retains them; and the greatest geniuses have ever esteemed them as very superior and striking lessons of morality and religion. — In his sermon on the mount, Jesus Christ does not make use of parables to convey his instructions to the Jews, for then his auditors were composed of a mixed multitude, and the major part of them illiterate people; but here, on the contrary, they are the Scribes and Pharisees, the doctors of the law.  Chrys. — Jesus Christ speaks sometimes in plain, and sometimes in obscure terms, that, by what they understand, they may be led to the search of what they do not understand.  S. Jerom.

Ver. 4.  And whilst he soweth.  S. Matthew and S. Mark subjoin the following parables to what goes before, but S. Luke places the parable of the sower immediately after the second journey through Galilee, which he anticipates.  Jesus Christ successively proposed four parables to the people, and then dismissed them; and being now retired with his disciples, he unfolded to them the meaning of the parables when in the house. v. 36.  S. Matthew, however, interrupts the course of the parables, and after the first, anticipates the request of the disciples to have it explained; but from S. Mark, we learn that this did not take place till Christ was alone in the house.  Of the eight parables, all spoken by Jesus on the same day, the first five were addressed to the people assembled on the sea-shore, the other three were added by him when alone with the apostles in the house, and are in some measure explanations of the former.  In the first, we see the different success of the word of God from the different dispositions of the hearers.  And as we find that only one-fourth part of the seed produced fruit, we may thence infer how many and great are the obstacles in the way of salvation, and how few will be the number of the elect.  A.

Ver. 5.  Had no deepness of earth; and therefore the seed, not able to shoot downwards, shot upwards, and for want of necessary moisture and nutriment, was burned by the scorching heat of the sun.

Ver. 8.  Some a hundred-fold.  This difference of fruits is the difference of merits here, and of the rewards hereafter, according to the diversity of states, &c.  S. Augustine, in his work, (de Virginitate, c. xliv, and seq.) saith, that the hundred-fold agreeth with professed virgins; the sixty-fold with religious widows; the thirty-fold with married persons.  This old heretic, Jovinian, and many of modern date, deny, affirming that there is no difference of merits or rewards.  S. Jer. l. ii. adv. Jovin.  Amb. ep. lxxxii.  Augustinus ep. lxxxii.  B.

Ver. 9.  He that hath ears to hear.  By these words, we are exhorted to examine the meaning of the parables.  S. Jer.  See C. xi. 15. — We are also taught that not all, but only such as have had the sense of the Scriptures opened to their understanding from above, can properly understand them.  The apostles themselves were in ignorance till Jesus Christ gave them the true meaning: aperuit illis sensum, ut intelligerent Scripturas: “he opened their understanding, that they might understand the Scriptures.”  S. Luke xxiv. 45.  It is God who speaketh in the Scripture, and it is God who giveth us to understand what is therein delivered.  His truths he conceals from the proud, while he reveals them to the little and humble.  How can any persons pretend that the most mysterious, as well as the most sacred book in the world, is open to every understanding?  S. Paul (Acts xiii. 26.) tells the Jews, that although the Scriptures were read to them every sabbath-day, their very rulers did not understand them; and S. Peter, in his 2d Ep. (iii. 17.) assures us, that there are many passage hard to be understood. — All comes from God.  It is He who openeth our ears to hear, our heart to believe, and our mind to understand.  Agar was near a well, and yet she wept, because she had no water to give her son to drink.  God opened her eyes, and she saw the well that was close to her.  Thus, says Origen, we may read the Scripture, and find no nourishment for the soul, unless God opens our mind, to see therein on what we are to nourish it.  It contains salutary waters, but only those can be benefited by them, who see how to drink of the heavenly source.  It is the Holy Ghost alone who can effectually open our eyes, to see these waters that spring up to life eternal; and this special grace we are to obtain by humble and fervent prayer.  Knock, and it shall be opened to you.

Ver. 10.  And his disciples came.  How great was the concern of the apostles for the welfare of their countrymen.  They did not say to Jesus, Why speakest thou thus to us; but, why speakest thou to them in parables?  S. Thos. Aquin.

Ver. 11.  To you it is given.  The mysteries of the kingdom of God are not disclosed to the Scribes and Pharisees, who were unwilling to believe in him, (though it was the duty and occupation of the Scribes to expound the sacred oracles to others) but to those who adhered closely to Christ, and believed in him: let us therefore run in company with the apostles to Jesus Christ, that he may disclose to us the mysteries of his gospel.  S. Thos. Aquin. — Can we then suppose, for a single moment, that the mere putting of a Bible into every man’s hand, will convert the world.  The command given to the apostles and their successors in the ministry is, Go ye, therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, &c. teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you.  And lo, I am with you all days, even to the end of the world.  S. Mat. xxviii. 20.  There is not a single word to them about writing.  During 2,500 years, from Adam to Moses, were the patriarchal families and other servants of God in a state of ignorance, concerning either the positive instructions of the Almighty respecting the sabbath-day, the rites of sacrifice, or their moral duties?  Yet there was no Scripture during all that period.  For more than 400 years after Jesus Christ, the canon of Scripture, as now generally received by Protestants, remained unsettled.  Had the apostles and evangelists done nothing more than publish their writings, and disseminate them to every pagan country, not a single nation, not a single pagan, would have abandoned their gods to believe in a crucified Jesus. — To them it is not given; i.e. to such as are unworthy, and by hardening their hearts, have made themselves unworthy.  Wi.

Ver. 12.  But he that hath not, from him shall be taken away even that which he hath.  We read again, (Matt. xxv. 29.) That also which he seemth to have, shall be taken away; and in S. Luke, (C. viii. 18.) That also which he thinketh he hath.  One passage helps to expound another: so that each of these texts, with a little reflection, will be found true; and such a truth, as ought to be a subject of fear and apprehension to all that are negligent and indolent in the service of God.  For, as S. Augustine observes, they who have received graces and favours from God, and have not made good use and profited by them, they may be said not to have them, although they are not yet take from them.  And why?  but because they make no more use of them, than if they had them not.  See the parables of the talents, Matt. xxv, and Luke xix.  Wi. — He that hath, to him shall be given the knowledge of the mysteries of the kingdom of God.  But such as are incredulous, and resist my words, like the Pharisees and other Jews, so far from being enriched with my spiritual gifts in my kingdom, shall even be deprived of the benefits they now possess.  Thus the Jews were deprived of their temple, priesthood, kingdom, and even the true worship of God.  S. Jer. — They rejected Jesus Christ, the fountain and corner-stone of virtue; all therefore they had acquired, or possessed, shall be taken from them, and given to the apostles.  Idem. — Whoever has a desire of complying with the divine precepts, that desire shall not only be increased, but all other virtues shall be added unto him; but if he be devoid of this desire, the virtues he already possesses, or seems to possess, shall be taken from him, not that God will deprive him of these without cause, but he will render himself unworthy of them.  S. Chrys.

Ver. 13.  Because seeing they see not, &c. i.e. they see not as they might, and ought to do, by shutting their eyes against the lights given them. — Therefore do I speak to them in parables: because seeing they see not, &c.  This passage, by which the prophet Isaias (vi. 9.) was ordered to foretell the obstinate blindness of the Jews, in refusing to receive and believe in their Messias, is cited six times in the New Testament; to wit, here in S. Matthew, also Mark iv. 14, Luke viii. 10, Jo. xii. 40, Acts xxviii. 26, and Rom. xi. 8.  In all these places we must detest the false interpretation of those who, not without heresy and blasphemy, would have God to be the author and cause of sin.  When it is said, (Isai. vi. 9.) blind the heart of this people, &c. the prophet is only commanded to foretell their blindness, of which, by their wilful obstinacy, they were the true cause.  And when we read in S. Mark, that to those that are without, all things are done in parables, that seeing they may see, and not see, &c. the word that does not signify the cause, nor the end, but only the event, and the consequence of what would happen by the wilful blindness of the Jews, and by the just permission of God.  S. Matthew here expounds to us the words of the prophet, by which it clearly appears that they were the cause of their own blindness; and that, by their obstinacy, they had made themselves unworthy of particular lights from God.  For the heart of this people (v. 18.) is grown gross . . . . and their eyes they have shut, &c.  The Jews therefore shut their own eyes, hardened their own hearts, which God only permitted.  See Rom. ix. 18. &c.  Wi. — If this blindness were natural, then indeed I would have opened their eyes to see and understand, but since this blindness is voluntary, he says, that seeing they see not, and hearing, they hear not; i.e. they have seen me cast out devils, and they said, in Beelzebub he casteth out devils; they heard I drew all to God, and they say, this man cometh not from God.  Since, therefore, they assert the very contrary to what they both see and hear, the gift of seeing and hearing me shall be taken away from them.

Ver. 15.  And should be converted.  In this the prophet shews the atrocity of the Jewish wickedness, and the malice of their hearts, but that he may attach them to God, their Father, he immediately subjoins, lest being converted, I should heal them; and this he says, in order to manifest to them the goodness of God, if they would repent.  S. Chrys. ex. D. Tho. — There is some difference between the text of Isaias, given by S. Matthew, and the original.  But we have elsewhere observed, that the evangelists attend more to the sense than the words.  The Septuagint have translated this text in the same manner.  The prophecy here mentioned regarded the Jews in the time of Isaias, according to the strict letter, but still more particularly the Jews in the time of Christ.  V. — They were authors of their own blindness, sin, damnation, and not Jesus Christ, as Calvin teaches.  See also Acts of the Apostles, xxviii. and Rom. i. and ix. 18. &c.  God is not the author of evil.  B.

Ver. 16.  But blessed are your eyes.  As the eyes of such as see and will not believe are miserable, so, he says, blessed are your eyes; you see my miracles, you hear my heavenly doctrines, &c.  Aquin. — Had we not read in a preceding part, that Christ exhorted his auditors to search after the knowledge of his words, we might perhaps have thought that Jesus here spoke of corporal eyes and ears; but the eyes here mentioned, seem to me to be those which can discern the mysteries of Christ.  S. Jer. ex D. Thom. Aquin.

Ver. 17.  Amen, I say to you.  S. Jerom remarks, that these words of our Saviour seem to contradict another part of Scripture, where it is said, Abraham desired to see my days; he saw them, and rejoiced.  But S. Jerom answers his own objection thus:  Abraham indeed saw my days, but only in a dark manner, in enigma, but not in reality, whilst you have your Lord with you; you speak to him, and interrogate him at pleasure.  Aquin. — Christ declares his disciples more blessed than the ancient patriarchs and prophets. . . . They saw him only by faith, but the disciples with their corporal eyes.  S. Chrys.

Ver. 19.  When any one heareth.  This seed falleth upon four different kinds of soil, which represent four different sorts of persons.  The 1st, such as continue obdurate in vice; the 2d, such as are unsteady and inconstant in their good resolutions; the 3d, such as are absorbed in the cares and pleasures of life; the 4th, such as have every proper disposition for receiving the word of God with fruit. — There cometh the wicked one, o ponhroV, the devil, and taketh away the word that was sown in their hearts, lest believing they should be saved.  A.

Ver. 21.  And suffers shipwreck in his faith.  Maldon.

Ver. 24.  Another parable he proposed.  As in the preceding parable our Lord spoke of those who did not receive the word, so in this he speaks of those who receive the corrupted word; for it is a diabolical machination to confound error with truth.  S. Chrys. ex D. Tho. — There are three things worthy of observation in this parable.  1st. That the Church of God on earth consists of both good and bad; the 2d. that God is not the author of evil; the 3d. that God does not always punish the wicked on the spot, but patiently bears with them.  M.

Ver. 25.  Were asleep.  When the superiors or pastors of the Church were lulled asleep or negligent, or, when the apostles were dead, as S. Augustine expounds it, the devil spread the tares or error and sin amongst a great number of Christians.  These falling from the state of grace, or becoming heretics, are yet mingled with the rest of the faithful in the same outward profession of Christianity, not unlike the good corn and cockle in the same field.

Ver. 27.  Then the servants.  S. Chrysostom observes, there are many circumstances in the parables that have no connexion with the instruction designed to be conveyed in the parables, and which are merely added to connect the different parts together.

Ver. 29.  No, lest, &c.  The prayers of repenting sinners are never despised.  We are taught also by this example not to cut off too hastily a fallen brother; for, whatever he may be to-day, to-morrow perhaps he may see his error and embrace the truth.  S. Jerom. — Jesus Christ exhorts us to bear with infidels and heretics, not on our own account only, as wicked men are frequently of use to the virtuous, but also on their account; for sometimes the persons who have been corrupted and perverted, will return to the paths of virtue and truth.  Let, therefore, both grow until the harvest, i.e. to the day of judgment, when the power of rectifying another’s error shall be no more.  S. Aug. ex D. Tho. — When many are implicated in one misfortune, what remains but to bewail their condition.  Let us then be willing to correct our brethren to the utmost of our power, but let it be always with mercy, charity and compassion; what we cannot correct, let us bear with patience, permitting what God permits, and interceding with him to move and convert their hearts.  But when an opportunity offers, let us publicly advocate the truth, and condemn error.  S. Jer. — S. Augustine affirms, that no one should be compelled by force to an unity of religious tenets: such as dissent for us must be persuaded by words, overcome by argumentation, and convinced by reason.  S. Thos. Aquin.

Ver. 32.  The least of all seeds.  That is, it is one of the least seeds; but in hot countries it is observed to grow to a considerable height, and to become a bush or a little tree.  Wi. — The gospel of Christ, compared in this verse to the grain of mustard seed, has indeed little show of grandeur and human greatness.  S. Paul calls it a scandal to the Jew, and a stumbling block to the Gentile.  But Jesus Christ here assures us, that when it has been spread and promulgated by his ambassadors, viz. the apostles, it shall surpass every other mode of instruction both in fame and extent.  S. Amb.  S. Jer.  S. Aug.

Ver. 33.  In three measures.  Sata, the word here used, was a particular Hebrew measure, which corresponds not to any particular measure that we make use of, and therefore I have put measures, as it is in other English translations.  See Walton de Ponderibus & mensuris, before his first tome, p. 42.  Wi. — It was the Seah of the Jews, the third part of the Epha, and contained about ten pints, and appears to be the ordinary quantity they baked at a time.  V. — By the woman here mentioned, S. Jerom understands the Church gathered from all nations; or the power and wisdom of God, according to S. Augustine.

Ver. 35.  By the prophet.  It is taken from Psalm lxxvii. 2.  S. Jerom remarks that many copies have, Isaias, the prophet, but supposes that the evangelist wrote, Asaph, the prophet, to whom the title of this psalm seems to attribute it; but it was probably chanted by Asaph, and composed by David, who is simply characterized under the name of prophet, because he prophesied in composing his canticles.  V.

Ver. 44.  Like unto a treasure.  This hidden treasure is the gospel of Christ, which conducts to the kingdom of heaven.  Thus he who by the knowledge which the gospel affords, has found the kingdom of heaven, should purchase it at the expense of every thing most near and dear to him: he cannot pay too great a price for his purchase.

Ver. 46.  This eternal kingdom faith opens to your view, but it does not put you in possession without good works.  V.

Ver. 52.  Every scribe; i.e. master or teacher.  Wi. — Because you know how invaluable is the treasure, the pearl, the kingdom, here mentioned; you, who are scribes and teachers, should cultivate it yourselves, and communicate the same blessing to others.  Thus imitating a father of a family, who draws from his treasure both new and old things, and distributes them to his children, according to their several wants and necessities.  This was a proverbial expression with the Jews, to signify every thing useful or necessary for the provision of a family.  Jer. Aug. Chrys. Bede, and Tirinus. — Thus also a pastor of souls throws light upon the mysteries of the New Testament, by the figures of the Old, and explains the workings of grace, by the operations of nature.

Ver. 55.  Is not this the carpenter’s son?[1]  I find carpenter in all translations, though the Greek word signifies, in general, a workman or craftsman.  The Latin is also a general word, which of itself signifies no more a carpenter than a smith.  But the common belief of the faithful is, that S. Joseph was a carpenter, which may be confirmed by what Theodoret relates (l. iii. Hist. c. xviii.) of one Libanius, under Julian the apostate, who asking scornfully of a holy man, what the carpenter’s son was doing at that time? the holy man made him this smart reply, that he was making a coffin for Julian; who was killed not long after.  Wi. — O! how truly astonishing is the stupidity of the Nazareans!  They wonder whence wisdom itself possesses wisdom, and virtue itself virtue.  The reason is evident: they only considered him as the son of a carpenter.  S. Jer. — Was not David the son of an husbandman, and Amos a shepherd?  They should then have honoured our Lord, when they heard him speak in this manner.  What wonderful mildness in Christ!  Though calumniated and reviled, he still answers with the greatest humility and charity, a prophet is not without honour, save in his own country. v. 57.  S. Chrys. ex D. Tho. Aquin. — His brethren.  These were the children of Mary, the wife of Cleophas, sister of our blessed Lady; (Mat. xxviii. 56.  John xix. 25.) and therefore, according to the usual style of the Scripture, they were called brethren, that is, near relations to our Saviour.  Ch.

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[1] Ver. 55. Fabri filius. tou tektonoV, artificis.  S. Hilary (Can. or cap. xiv. in Matt. p. 678.  Ed. Ben.) thought that S. Joseph wrought with fire and iron.  We find in a manner the same in S. Amb. L. iii. in Luc. in initio. p. 52.  See also S. Chrysologus. Serm. xlviii.  S. Justin (Dialogo cum Tryphone, p.69) says, Christ made aratra and juga; and in the Greek edition, (Parisiis, an. 1551, p. 93) arotra kai zuga.  Theodoret, (l. iii. Hist. c. xviii, p. 656) Sandalipam fabricat, glwssokomon . . . kataskeuazei.

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MATTHEW 14

CHAPTER XIV.

Ver. 1.  Tetrarch.  This word, derived from the Greek, signifies one that rules over the fourth part of a kingdom: as Herod then ruled over Galilee, which was but the fourth part of the kingdom of his father.  Ch. — S. John had been now imprisoned in the castle of Machærus about a year, at the instigation of Herodias.  It is very probable that before this he would have fallen a sacrifice to her vindictive temper, had it not been for the great personal respect in which (on account of the singular holiness of his life) he was held, not only by the people, but by Herod himself. — Josephus, in his Antiquities of the Jews, gives the following account: This Herod, who was also called Antipas, was the son of Herod the great, by his sixth wife, Cleopatra, of Jerusalem.  A general opinion obtained among the Jews, that Herod’s discomfiture by the Parthians, was the effect of divine vengeance upon himself and his army, for the blood of John, surnamed the Baptist.  He was a man of immaculate character, whose object was to exhort the Jews to the practice of virtue and piety, point out the necessity of repentance, and hold forth by baptism the import of regeneration to a new life, which he made to consist, not in abstaining from a particular sin, but in an habitual purity of both mind and body.  Such was the influence of this great and good man, as appeared from the multitude of his disciples, and the veneration of his life and doctrines, that Herod was apprehensive of a revolt.  He therefore sent him bound to prison, where by the malice of Herodias, his brother’s wife, he was afterwards put to death, which inhuman act was shortly followed by the marked vengeance of heaven on its execrable author, as the Jews were firmly convinced.  B. xviii, c. vii. — For Herod going to Rome, at the instigation of Herodias, expecting to be made king, was severely reproved by the emperor Caius, (Caligula) who transferred his tetrarchy to Agrippa, in consequence of which, Herod retired with his wife to Spain, and died in exile.  Wars of the Jews. B. ii, c. viii.  In the 18th book, and 9th chapter, Josephus says, the place of his exile was Lyons, in Gaul; that his goods were also confiscated, and that both himself and Herodias died in great misery.

Ver. 2.  Risen from the dead.  S. Jerom thinks these words are spoken by Herod ironically; but they are generally supposed to be his real sentiments, the dictates of a guilty conscience.  For he respected John, as appears from v. 9, and was afraid he was returned to avenge his unjust murder.  Jans. — Mighty works shew forth themselves in him,[1] or work in him.  Wi.

Ver. 3.  Because of Herodias, his brother’s wife.  In the common Greek copies we read, his brother Philip’s wife, as it is in the Latin in S. Mark, vi. 17.  Wi. — He is a different person from Philip the tetrarch, mentioned in S. Luke. iii. 1.  V.

Ver. 5.  He feared the people.  The fear of God corrects us, the fear of man restrains us, but removeth not the desire of evil.  Hence it renders such as have been restrained by it for a time, more eager afterwards to indulge their evil propensities.  Glossa.

Ver. 7.  He promised.  Wicked promises and wicked oaths are not binding.  That promise is wicked, in which the thing promised is wicked, and that oath is not binding, by which impiety is promoted.  S. Isidore.

Ver. 9.  Yet because of his oath, which could not bind him, being unjust.  Wi. — See the preposterous religion of this wicked prince.  He feels no remorse for his impious conduct to his brother and his own wife; murder, adultery, and incest do not appal him; and yet he is terrified with the thought of violating a vain and wicked oath on no occasion and in no circumstances obligatory.  Herod did wrong in taking such a rash oath, but he did worse in fulfilling it.  Jans. — David swore to kill Nabal.  He swore rashly; but with greater piety, he refused to keep his oath.  Perhaps it is because Catholics inculcate this principle, that they have been accused by their adversaries of teaching that faith is not to be kept, and also the doctrine of expediency.  A.

Ver. 11.  His head was brought.  How wonderful are the ways of the Almighty towards his servants!  He permits them in this life to be afflicted, and to be given up to the will of the impious, because he knows this is good for them, and beneficial to their eternal salvation.  We behold here S. John, the precursor of the Messias, who is declared by our Saviour to be the most distinguished personage ever born of woman, cast into prison, and, after a year’s confinement, slain at the request of an impious vile adulteress.  How can any one be heard to complain of the small trials to which he may be exposed for the faith of Christ, when he beholds so eminent a servant of God suffering so much in the same cause.  Dion. Carth.

Ver. 13.  Which, when Jesus had heard.  Our Saviour did not retire till he was informed of the death of the Baptist, by message; and this he did, not because he was ignorant of it before, but that he might shew to the world, not only by his appearance, but also by his manner of acting, the reality of the mystery of his incarnation.  Chrys. hom. 1. — He did not retire through fear, as some may think.  Hence the evangelist does not say, he fled, but he retired, to shew us that he did not fear his enemies.  Jer. — The desert was called Bethsaida, not because it was on the same side of the town, but opposite it.  Wherefore those who wished to join Jesus, not able to pass the lake, went round by the northern extremity, which they passed either by means of a bridge or in boats, and made such haste as to arrive at the desert before Jesus Christ, as S. Mark relates; (vi. 33.) whilst others, not equally expeditious, followed after, according to SS. Matthew, Luke, and John; so that there is no contradiction in the evangelists.  V.

Ver. 15.  And when it was evening.[2]  To understand this, and other places, we may take notice that the Hebrews counted two evenings: the first began when the sun was declining, about three in the afternoon; and such was the evening here mentioned.  The second evening was after sunset, or the night-time, as it is taken here in this chap. v. 23.  Wi. — That . . . they may buy.  Jesus Christ does not always anticipate the intentions of his supplicants: on this occasion, he waited for the multitude to ask of him to feed them; but they, though their great respect for him, did not dare to request the favour.  S. Chry.

Ver. 16.  But Jesus said.  It may perhaps be asked here, if then our Lord, as S. John relates, looking upon the multitude, inquired of Philip how so great a multitude could be fed in the desert, how can this be true, which S. Mat. relates, that the disciples first desired Jesus to send away the multitude?  But we are to understand, that after these words our Lord looked upon the multitude, and said to Philip what S. John mentions, which S. Mat. and the other evangelists omit.  S. Aug. de concord. evang. — They have no need to go: give you them to eat.  This he says for our instruction, that when the poor ask us alms, we send them not to other persons and other places, if we are able to relieve them ourselves.  E. — This happened when the Passover was near at hand, (being the third since the commencement of our Saviour’s ministry.)  S. 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 in order to introduce the subject of the heavenly bread, vi. 37.  He seems also to have had in view to describe the different Passovers during Christ’s preaching.  As he, therefore, staid in Galilee during the third Passover, he relates pretty fully his transactions during that time.

Ver. 19.  Commanded the multitude to sit down.[3]  Lit. to lie down, as it was then the custom of the Jews, and of other nations, at meat.  See Mark vi, and John vi. &c. — He blessed.  S. Luke (ix. 16.) says, he blessed them.  S. John (vi. 11,) says when he had given thanks: some take this blessing and giving thanks, for the same; but blessing them, must be referred to the loaves, and giving thanks, must be to God.  The loaves miraculously increased partly in the hands of Christ, when he broke them, partly in the hands of the disciples, when they distributed them about.  Wi. — He blessed and brake.  From this let Christians learn to give thanks at their meals, begging of God that his gifts may be sanctified for their use.  From this miracle it appears, that it is no impossibility for bodies, even in their natural state, to be in many places at the same time; since, supposing these loaves to have been sufficient for 50 persons, as there were a hundred such companies, the loaves must have been in a hundred different places at one and the same time.  It cannot be said, as some pretend, that other loaves were invisibly put into the apostles’ hands, since it is said that they filled 12 baskets of fragments of the five barley loaves; and again, he divided the two fishes among them all.  If God could cause bodies, in their natural state, to be in many places at one and the same time, how much more easy would it be to do the same with spiritual bodies, with the properties of which we are entirely unacquainted; so that from this it appears, that the objection that Christ’s body cannot be in many different places in the holy Eucharist, is nugatory.  But, who are we, to ask such a question of the Almighty, who know not what is possible, and what is not possible for him to do!  Bp. Hay, Sincere Christian.

Ver. 20.  And they did all eat, and were filled.  This miraculous multiplication of the loaves was effected on a Thursday eveningan excellent figure of the blessed Eucharist.  On the next morning, Friday, he cured the sick at Genesareth, and arrived at Capharnaum for the first vespers of the sabbath; where, in the Synagogue, he made his promise of the holy Eucharist, which he instituted on a Thursday evening, the eve of his death.  See Evangile médité. Tom. iii, p. 425.

Ver. 22.  And forthwith Jesus, &c.  In this we have the genuine picture of a Christian life.  After eating of the miraculous bread, we must like the disciples, prepare ourselves for labour.  As bread was given Elias, to enable him to walk 40 days to the mountain of God, Horeb, so the blessed Eucharist, the true heavenly bread, is given us that we may be able to support the hardships to which we are exposed.  Paulus de Palacio. — We here also see the ardent love of the disciples for their Lord, since they were unwilling to be separated from him even for a moment.  Theophylactus also adds that they were unwilling for him to go, ignorant how he could return to them.

Ver. 23.  Alone to pray.  By our Saviour’s conduct on this occasion, we are taught to leave occasionally the society of men, and to retire into solitude, as a more proper place to commune with heaven in earnest and fervent prayer.  The company of mortals is often a great distraction to the fervent Christian.  Dion. Carth.

Ver. 25.  And in the fourth watch of the night.  The Jews, under the Romans, divided the night, or the time from sunset to sunrise, into four watches, each of them lasting for three hours.  And the hours were longer or shorter, according as the nights were at different seasons of the year.  At the equinox, the first watch was from six in the evening till nine; the second, from nine till twelve; the third, from twelve till three in the morning; and the fourth, from three till six, or till sunrise.  Wi. — They had been tossed by the tempest almost the whole night.  S. Jer.

Ver. 28.  And Peter . . said.  Everywhere Peter appears full of faith and love.  He now with his usual ardour believes he can do at the command of his Master, what by nature he is unable to perform.  He desires to be with his Lord, and cannot bear delay; and, in reward of his eagerness, Christ works a miracle in his favour.  Jans. — Lord, if it be thou.  Peter, by saying if, did not doubt in faith, as Calvin pretends; nor was he guilty of any arrogance, as others conjecture; for our Lord granted his request.  Peter knew that his request would be pleasing to Christ, who had shewn himself so very considerate for his apostles.  Peter had also worked miracles himself in the name of Christ, and observing that he wished to pass by, Peter hastened to be with him, to embrace him, and serve him.  Tirinus.

Ver. 29.  Let those who argue that the body of our Saviour was not a real but an aerial body, or phantom, because he walked upon the waters, explain to us how S. Peter, whom they will not deny to be a true man, walked on the waters.  S. Jer.

Ver. 30.  He was afraid.  As long as Peter had his eye and faith fixed on Christ, the liquid element yielded not to his steps; but the moment he turns his thoughts on himself, his own weakness, and the violence of the winds and waves, he begins to lose confidence, and on that account to sink.  Again his faith saves him; he calls upon the Lord, who stretcheth forth his arm, and takes hold of him.  Jan. — By his confidence in God, we learn what we can do by the divine assistance; and by his fear, what we are of ourselves: also, that no one receives from God the strength he stands in need of, but he who feels that of himself he can do nothing.  S. Aug. ser. 76.

Ver. 31.  And immediately Jesus.  Five miracles are here wrought: 1. Christ walks upon the water; 2. enables Peter to do the same; 3. when Peter begins to sink, preserves him; 4. suddenly stills the tempest; 5. the ship is immediately in port, which may be mystically explained thus: a Christian is with Jesus Christ, to tread under foot the whole world, with the whirlpools of earthly distractions, whilst God calms all tempestuous passions, temptations, and persecutions, and leads him with faithful and continued support to the harbour of eternal rest and life.  Tirinus.

Ver. 32.  And when they were come up into the boat.  S. Mark (vi. 51.) tells us, Christ went up with S. Peter into the boat.  Nor is this denied by S. John (vi. 21.) when he says, They were willing therefore to take him into the boat: and presently the boat was at the land.  They not only would, but did also take him into the boat, which was presently at the shore.  Wi.

Ver. 33.  It may be doubted, whether the mystery of the blessed Trinity had been at this time explicitly revealed to the Jews.  Most probably not.  By “thou art the Son of God,” they only mean to bear testimony of his sanctity, and shewed themselves willing to acknowledge him for their Messias, as formerly prophets and holy men were styled, sons of God.  Or we may suppose that the Almighty enlightened their understanding by an interior ray of his light, to know a truth which was obscure to others, and therefore they come and adore him.  Jan.

Ver. 36.  Hence the veneration Catholics pay to holy relics is vindicated.  Not only Christ’s words, but his very garments had a virtue and power communicated to them.  B.

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[1]  V. 2.  Operantur in eo, energousin en antw; which shews that operantur is taken actively, not passively, as in some places.

[2]  V. 15.  Vespere facto, oyiaV genomenhV.  See Matt. xxvi. 20.

[3]  V. 19.  Benedixit.  S. Luke, (ix. 16.) benedixit illis, euloghse autouV, which is not the same as eucaristein.

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MATTHEW 15

CHAPTER XV.

Ver. 1.  The Pharisees observed a rigid and simple mode life, disdaining all luxurious delicacies.  They scrupulously followed the dicta of reason, and paid the greatest veneration and implicit obedience to the opinions and traditions of their seniors.  All contingencies they ascribe to fate, but not to the exclusion of free-will.  The immortality of the soul, and a future state of rewards and punishments, were favourite tenets with them, and their fame for wisdom, temperance, and integrity was proverbial.  Josephus, Antiq. B. xviii, c. ii.

Ver. 2.  Why do thy disciples transgress the tradition.  The Pharisees had various traditions delivered down from their ancestors, called deuterwseiV, of which some were works of supererogation, others were contrary to the law.  E. — It is a great proof of malice in the Pharisees, and of irreproachable character in our Lord, that they should be reduce to notice triffles, no ways connected with either piety or religion. . . They moreover betrayed their superstition, by insisting on the observance of these outward ceremonies, as essential parts of piety, which were not commanded by any law, (were certainly of no divine origin) and which, at most, were duties of civility, or emblems of interior purity.  Jans. — The tradition of the ancients?  They do not say the written law, which did not prescribe these washings of hands, cups, pots, beds, &c.  These traditions came only from the doctors of their law, who are called elders, which is a name of dignity, as was that of senator among the Romans, and so, in English, are the names of major, alderman, &c.  See Acts v. 6. &c.  Wi.

Ver. 3.  Why do you also.  The Jews understanding the saying of the prophets, “wash yourselves and be clean,” in a carnal manner, they made a precept of not eating without first washing their hands.  Ven. Bede. — The traditions here alluded to, and which they call the oral law, were respected equally with the written law, by all the Jews, except the sect of Caraites; they were collected in seventy-two books, and composed the cabbala, and were kept by Gemaliel and other heads of the sanhedrim, till the destruction of Jerusalem.  About 120 years after this, Rabbi Judas composed a book of them, called Mishna, or second law; afterwards two supplements and explanations were given, viz. the Talmud of Jerusalem, and the Talmud of Babylon.  By these the Jews are still governed in ecclesiastical matters.

Ver. 5.  The gift whatsoever proceedeth from me, shall profit thee.[1]  This gift is called Corban, Mark vii. 11.  Now, as to the sense of this obscure place, I shall mention two expositions that seem preferable to others.  The first is, as if a son said to his father or mother, Whatsoever was mine, (with which indeed I might have assisted you, my parents) I have given, i.e. promised to give to the temple: and being to keep this promise, I need not, or I cannot now assist you.  The second interpretation is, as if the son said to his father or mother, Whatsoever gift I have made to God will be profitable to you, as well as to me; or, let it be profitable to you, (which is more according to the Greek text, both here and in S. Mark) and therefore I am no further obliged to assist you.  Wi. — That is, the offering that I shall make to God, shall be instead of that which should be expended for thy profit.  This tradition of the Pharisees was calculated to enrich themselves, by exempting children from giving any further assistance to their parents, if they once offered to the temple and the priests that which should have been the support of their parents.  But this was a violation of the law of God, and of nature, which our Saviour here condemns.  Ch. — They committed a double crime.  They neither offered the gift to God, nor succoured their parents in their distress.  Chrys. hom. lii.

Ver. 6.  And he shall not honour; that is, assist his father or his mother.  It is doubtful whether these may not be the words of the Pharisees; but they rather seem the words of our Saviour Christ, especially seeing that in S. Mark, Christ himself adds: And, farther, you suffer him not to do any thing for his father or mother, making void the word of God by your tradition.  Wi.

Ver. 9.  In vain they worship, or think they worship God, who neglect the divine commandments to observe the commands of men.  We must not here suppose that Christ censures the commands of the Church, or the tradition of the apostles, because these are in nowise contrary to the divine law, but rather serve to enforce it, and reduce it to practice; nor are they so much the commands of men, as of God, delivered to us by his ambassadors.  Christ censures such as are merely human, such as those mentioned here, which are vain and futile, as the superstitious washing of hands; or erroneous, as that the soul is defiled by meat; or openly contrary to natural and divine law, as the defrauding parents of their just support.  Tirinus. — It is evidently erroneous to argue from this text against apostolic traditions.  S. Paul tells the Thessalonians, to stand fast, and hold the traditions which they had been taught, whether by word of mouth or by epistles.  2 Thess. ii. 14. — Commandments of men.  The doctrines and commandments here reprehended, are such as are either contrary to the law of God, (as that of neglecting parents, under pretence of giving to God) or at least are frivolous, unprofitable, and no ways conducing to true piety, as that of often washing hands, &c. without regard to the purity of the heart.  But as to the rules and ordinances of the holy Church, touching fasts, festivals, &c. these are no ways repugnant to, but highly agreeable to God’s holy word, and all Christian piety; neither are they to be counted among the doctrines and commandments of men, because they proceed not from mere human authority, but from that which Christ has established in his Church; whose pastors he has commanded us to hear and obey, even as himself.  Luke x. 16.  Matt. xviii. 17.  Ch.

Ver. 11.  Not that which goeth into the mouth, &c.  We must heartily pity and pray to God for those who blindly pretend from hence, that to eat any kind of meats, or as often as a man pleaseth on fasting-days, can defile no man.  Wi. — No uncleaness in meat, nor any dirt contracted by eating it with unwashed hands, can defile the soul; but sin alone, or a disobedience of the heart to the ordinance and will of God.  And thus, when Adam took the forbidden fruit, it was not the apple which entered into his mouth, but the disobedience to the law of God, which defiled him.  The same is to be said if a Jew, in the time of the old law, had eaten swine’s flesh; or a Christian convert, in the days of the apostles, contrary to their ordinance, had eaten blood; or if any of the faithful, at present, should transgress the ordinance of God’s Church, by breaking the fasts: for in all these cases the soul would be defiled, not indeed by that which goeth into the mouth, but by the disobedience of the heart, in wilfully transgressing the ordinance of God, or of those who have their authority from him.  Ch. — Jesus Christ by no means prohibits fasting and abstinence from certain food, and at certain times, or he would have been immediately accused of contradicting the law; he only says, that meat which they esteem unclean does not of itself, and by its own nature, defile the soul; which is what the Pharisees (and before them Pythagoras, and after them the Manicheans) maintained, and which S. Paul warmly confutes.  1 Tim. iv. 4.  Tirinus. — If a man gets intoxicated, adducing this same plea, that what entereth by the mouth, &c. is not the answer obvious; that it is not the wine, but the intemperance, contrary to the law of God, which defileth him: for drunkards shall not possess the kingdom of God.  1 Cor. vi. 10.

Ver. 12.  Scandalized.  When the Pharisees had received our Lord’s answer, they had nothing to reply.  His disciples perceiving their indignation, came and asked Jesus if he observed they were scandalized, i.e. offended.  It is probable the disciples were also a little hurt, or afraid lest his words were contrary to the law of Moses or the tradition of the ancients, and took this occasion of having their scruples removed.  S. Hilary, S. Chrys. and Theophylactus understand this answer, Every plant, &c. to signify that every doctrine not proceeding from God, consequently the traditions of the Pharisees here in question, were to be eradicated by the promulgation of the gospel truths, which were not to remain unpublished on account of the scandal some interested or prejudiced persons might choose to take therefrom.  Jans. — It must be here observed, that Christ was not the direct cause of scandal to the Jews, for such scandal would not be allowable; he only caused it indirectly, because it was his doctrine, at which, through their own perversity, they took scandal.  Dion. Carth.

Ver. 14.  Let them alone.  It must not be hence inferred, that he desired not the conversion of the Scribes and Pharisees.  He only says: if, through their own perversity, they choose to take scandal, let them do it; we must not neglect to teach the truth, though it displease men.  S. Jer. — When, says S. Gregory, we see scandal arise from our preaching truth, we must rather suffer it to take place than desert the truth.  Our Lord says they are blind, let us leave them.  For the land which has often been watered with the dews of heaven, and still continues barren is deserted.  Behold your house shall be left desolate.  Luke xiii. 35.  And Isaias (v. 6.) says, It shall not be pruned, and it shall not be digged, but briers and thorns shall come upon it; and I will command the clouds to rain no more rain upon it.  For, although God never refuses man grace sufficient to enable him to rise, if he pleases, yet he sometimes denies such assistance as would render his rise easy.  The state of a sinner is then desperate indeed, when Christ tells his disciples to leave him.  For as the Sodomites were destroyed, so soon as Lot, who was just and good in the sight of God, had departed from them, and as Jerusalem was laid waste when Jesus went out of it, (for he suffered without the gates) so the sinner is in a very dangerous state, when he is left by the ministers of religion as one infected with a mortal distemper.  Paulus de Palacio.

Ver. 19.  For out of the heart.  We must here observe, that our divine Redeemer mentions offences against our neighbour, to shew us that he is even more desirous we should love our neighbour than worship himself.  Idem.

Ver. 21.  Confines of Tyre.  It perhaps may be asked, why Jesus went among the Gentiles, when he had commanded his apostles to avoid those countries?  One reason may be, that our Saviour was not subject to the same rules he gave his disciples; another reason may be brought, that he did not go then to preach; hence S. Matthew observes that he kept himself retired.  S. Chry. — Tyre and Sidon were both situated on the Mediterranean sea, about 20 miles distant from each other, and the adjoining country to the west and north of Galilee was called the coast or territories of Tyre and Sidon.  The old inhabitants of this tract were descendants of Chanaan, (for Sidon was his eldest son) and continued in possession of it much longer than they did of any other part of the country.  The Greeks called it Phœnicia; and when, by right of conquest, it became a province of Syria, it took the name of Syrophœnicia; hence the woman, whom S. Mat. calls a Chanaanite, S. Mark calls a Syrophœnician and Gentile; as being both by religion and language a Greek.

Ver. 22.  It is probable that woman first cried out before the door, and assembled a crowd, and then went into the house.  Have mercy on me.  The great faith of the Chanaanæan woman is justly extolled.  She believed him to be God, whom she calls her Lord, and him a man, whom she styles the Son of David.  She lays no stress upon her own merits, but supplicates for the mercy of God; neither does she say, have mercy on my daughter, but have mercy on me. . . To move him to compassion, she lays all her grief and sorrow before him in these afflicting words: my daughter is grievously afflicted by a devil.  Glossa.

Ver. 23.  He answered her not.  It must not be supposed that our Saviour refused to hear the woman through any contempt, but only to shew that his mission was in the first instance to the Jews; or to induce her to ask with greater earnestness, so as to deserve more ample assistance.  Dion. Carth.

Ver. 26-7.  And to cast it to the dogs; i.e. to Gentiles, sometimes so called by the Jews.  Wi. — The diminutive word KunarioV, or whelp, is used in both these verses in the Septuagint.  Our Lord crosses the wishes of the Chanaanæan, not that he intended to reject her, but that he might bring to light the hidden and secret treasure of her virtue.  Let us admire not only the greatness of her faith, but likewise the profoundness of her humility; for when our Saviour called the Jews children, so far from being envious of another’s praise, she readily answers, and gives them the title of lords; and when Christ likened her to a dog, she presently acknowledges the meanness of her condition.  S. Chry. hom. liii.  He refused at first to listen to her petition, says the same saint, to instruct us with what faith, humility, and perseverance we ought to pray.  To make his servants more sensible of his mercy, and more eager to obtain it, he often appears to pay no attention to their prayers, till he had exercised them in the virtues of humility and patience.  Ask, and you shall receive; knock, and it shall be opened to you.  A.

Ver. 28.  Be it done.  In the beginning God said, Let there be light, and there was light; here Jesus Christ says, let it be done, &c. and her daughter was healed from that hour.  So powerful with God is earnest and fervent prayer.  Idem. hom. liii.

Ver. 30.  And he healed them.  The Chanaanæan was long in obtaining her request, and only prevailed by her importunity; whereas the Jews were cured on declaring their infirmities.  Thus were they left without excuse, seeing how much greater was the faith of this poor Gentile woman, than that of the descendants of Abraham.  Chry. hom. liii.

Ver. 32.  They continue with me now three days, eager to hear his divine instructions, and to witness the greatness of his miracles.  The disciples, as if not remembering what Jesus had done on a similar emergency, (see Matthew, xiv. 16,) expressed their solicitude and uneasiness for the hungered multitude.  A.

Ver. 36.  He gave thanks to his heavenly Father, for that providential care with which he supplies our wants, even miraculously, when necessary for us.  Everywhere his goodness and attention to the wants of his children are manifested, but not more so in the manna of the desert, than in the fertility of the holy land.  A.

Ver. 37.  Seven baskets full remained, to intimate that God remunerates with a liberal hand all alms given for his sake.  Various are the circumstances attending the present multiplication of the loaves with that in the preceding chapter.  In the former, there were five loaves and two fishes; here there are seven loaves and a few little fishes: In the former, 5,000 men were filled, here 4,000: in the former case, 12 baskets full of fragments remained, here seven.  T. — All which sufficiently prove that these were two distinct miracles, to both of which Jesus Christ refers in chap. xvi, v. 9. and 10.  A.

Ver. 39.  Magedan.  Some copies read Magdalan, others Magadan, or Magedan: this last is found in the Vulgate, and in the best MS. copies.  Mat. Polus. T. iv, p. 409.

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[1]  V. 5. Mark vii. 11.  Quodcunque ex me, tibi profuerit.  In the Greek, both in S. Matthew and S. Mark, dwron, o ean ex emou, wfelhqhV, tibi prosit.

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MATTHEW 16

CHAPTER XVI.

Ver. 1.  The Pharisees and Sadducees.  These were widely opposite in their religious sentiments to each other, but closely united in their design of persecuting Jesus Christ, and they come and ask of him a sign or prodigy from heaven, to convince them that he was the Christ, the Messias.  V. — The Sadducees deny the immortality of the soul, and affirm that our only obligation is the observance of the law; insomuch, that they prided themselves on their right of disputing the most important points with their teachers.  This sect is not numerous, and chiefly composed of men of condition, who, when properly qualified for offices of state, are compelled to conform, at least in appearance, to the principles of the Pharisees; otherwise, they would incur the resentment of the Pharisees.  Josephus, B. xviii, c. ii.  See also note on v. 7, chap. iii, above. — S. Chrys. is of opinion he would have granted them any sign they wished, had they been willing to believe; but as their object was curiosity and censure, he refused to comply.  They mistrusted, it would seem, his other miracles as the effect of some occult quality inherent in him, and wished to see a miracle performed upon distant objects in the heavens or clouds, which would be to them less suspicious and objectionable.  A.

Ver. 4.  You know then how to discern the face of the sky, &c.  Jesus Christ does not condemn every observation made upon the weather, from external appearances in the heavens.  He only upbraids the Jews for so closely examining these signs, and neglecting at the same time to notice the many signs and predictions which so plainly manifested him to be the promised Messias.  Dion. Carth. — The reasoning of Jesus Christ is this: you know how to judge of the weather from observation, and cannot you then know the certain signs so often promised, and now completed in my coming?  The signs of this event were, the taking away the sceptre from the tribe of Juda.  Gen. xxxix. 10.  The completion of the 70 weeks of years of Daniel ix. 25, amounting to 490 years, which were now on the eve of being completed.  The miracles of Jesus Christ, as the curing of the blind, the lame, the deaf and dumb, foretold by Isaias xxxv. 5. and lxi. 1.  To which may be added the apparition of angels to the shepherds at Bethlehem, the miraculous star which appeared to the magi, the testimony of his heavenly Father, the descent of the Holy Ghost in the form of a dove.  Besides, the testimony of the Baptist, and so many miracles of every kind wrought to establish this truth, most certainly, clearly, and infallibly demonstrate, that the long expected Messias had already come, and that this Jesus was the Messias.  T.

Ver. 5.  Forgotten to take bread.  The disciples had just filled seven baskets with fragments, but had forgotten to take any with them into the ship; or, according to others, had distributed all among the poor.  Barrardius. — They were so taken with the company of Christ, that they even forgot the necessities of life.  S. Anselm.  — The disciples, ever constant attendants on our Redeemer, were retained so strongly by the love of his company, that they would not be absent from him for one moment.  We may also remark how far they were from an eager search after delicacies, when they even forgot the daily pittance requisite for their support.  S. Remigius. — It was the custom of those times, and that country, for persons on a journey to carry their own bread.  V.

Ver. 6-7.  Beware of the leaven, &c.  The disciples, not understanding the meaning of Christ’s words, supposed he was instructing them not to touch the bread of the Scribes and Pharisees.  V.

Ver. 8.  Why do you think?  That we might know what effect this discourse of our Saviour had upon his disciples, the evangelist immediately subjoins, then they understood, &c.  This exposition of Christ freed them from the accusation of the Jews; it made them who were negligent and inattentive, both diligent and attentive, and confirmed them in their faith.  S. Chry.

Ver. 13.  Cæarea Philippi, was first called Paneades, and was afterwards embellished and greatly enlarged by Philip the tetrarch, son of Herod the great, and dedicated in honour of Augustus, hence its name.  There was moreover another Cæsarea, called Straton, situated on the Mediterranean: and not in this, but in the former, did Christ interrogate his disciples. He first withdrew them from the Jews, that they might with more boldness and freedom deliver their sentiments.  S. Chry. hom. lv. — The Cæsarea here mentioned continued to be called by heathen writers Panea, from the adjoining spring Paneum, or Panium, which is usually taken for the source of the Jordan.

Ver. 14.  Some say, &c.  Herod thought that Christ was the Baptist, on account of his prodigies.  S. Mat. xiv. 2.  Others that he was Elias: 1st. because they expected he was about to return to them, according to the prophecy of Malachias; behold I will send you Elias; 2d. on account of the greatness of his miracles; 3d. on account of his invincible zeal and courage in the cause of truth and justice.  Others again said he was Jeremias, either on account of his great sanctity, for he was sanctified in his mother’s womb; or, on account of his great charity and love for his brethren, as it was written of Jeremias: he is a lover of his brethren.  Or, again, one of the prophets, viz. Isaias, or some other noted for eloquence; for it was the opinion of many of the Jews, as we read in S. Luke, that one of the ancient prophets had arisen again.  Dion. Carth.

Ver. 15.  Whom do you say that I am?  You, who have been continually with me; you, who have seen me perform so many more miracles; you, who have yourselves worked miracles in my name?  From this pointed interrogation, Jesus Christ intimates, that the opinion men had formed of him was very inadequate to the exalted dignity of his person, and that he expects they will have a juster conception of him.  Chry. hom. lv.

Ver. 16.  Simon Peter answering.  As Simon Peter had been constituted the first in the college of apostles, (Matt. x. 2.) and therefore surpasseth the others in dignity as much as in zeal, without hesitation, and in the name of all, he answers: thou art the Christ, the Redeemer promised to the world, not a mere man, not a mere prophet like other prophets, but the true and natural Son of the living God.  Thus SS. Chrys. Cyril, Ambrose, Austin, and Tirinus.  When our Saviour inquired the opinion of the vulgar, all the apostles answered; but when he asks their opinion of him, Peter, as the mouth of the rest, and head of the whole college, steps forth, and prevents the others.  Chrys. hom. lv. — Tu es Christus, filius Dei vivi; or, as it is in the Greek, o cristoV, o uioV; The Christ, the Son, the Christ formerly promised by the law and the prophets, expected and desired by all the saints, the anointed and consecrated to God: o uioV, the Son, not by grace only, or an adoptive filiation like prophets, to whom Christ is here opposed, but by natural filiation, and in a manner that distinguishes him from all created beings. — Thou art[1] Christ, the Son of the living God, not by grace only, or by adoption, as saints are the sons of God, but by nature, and from all eternity, the true Son of the living God.  Wi.

Ver. 17.  Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-Jona.  Simon is undoubtedly Sumewn, as written 2 Pet. i. 1.  Bariwna is son of Jona, or John, an abridgment for Bariwanna.  Bar, in Chaldaic, is son; hence S. Peter is called, in John xxi, 16. and 17, Simon, son of John.  It was customary with the Jews to add to a rather common name, for the sake of discrimination, a patrwnumikon, or patronymic, as appears from Matt. x. 3. and xxiii. 35.  Mark ii. 14.  John vi. 42.  P.

Ver. 18.  Kagw.  And I say to thee, and tell thee why I before declared, (John i. 42.) that thou shouldst be called Peter, for thou art constituted the rock upon which, as a foundation, I will build my Church, and that so firmly, as not to suffer the gates (i.e. the powers) of hell to prevail against its foundation; because if they overturn its foundation, (i.e. thee and thy successors) they will overturn also the Church that rests upon it.  Christ therefore here promises to Peter, that he and his successors should be to the end, as long as the Church should last, its supreme pastors and princes.  T. — In the Syriac tongue, which is that which Jesus Christ spoke, there is no difference of genders, as there is in Latin, between petra, a rock, and Petrus, Peter; hence, in the original language, the allusion was both more natural and more simple.  V. — Thou art Peter;[2] and upon this (i.e. upon thee, according to the literal and general exposition of the ancient Fathers) I will build my church.  It is true S. Augustine, in one or two places, thus expounds these words, and upon this rock, (i.e. upon myself:) or upon this rock, which Peter hath confessed: yet he owns that he had also given the other interpretation, by which Peter himself was the rock.  Some Fathers have also expounded it, upon the faith, which Peter confessed; but then they take not faith, as separated from the person of Peter, but on Peter, as holding the true faith.  No one questions but that Christ himself is the great foundation-stone, the chief corner-stone, as S. Paul tells the Ephesians; (C. ii, v. 20.) but it is also certain, that all the apostles may be called foundation-stones of the Church, as represented Apoc. xxi. 14.  In the mean time, S. Peter (called therefore Cephas, a rock) was the first and chief foundation-stone among the apostles, on whom Christ promised to build his Church.  Wi. — Thou art Peter, &c.  As S. Peter, by divine revelation, here made a solemn profession of his faith of the divinity of Christ, so in recompense of this faith and profession, our Lord here declares to him the dignity to which he is pleased to raise him: viz. that he, to whom he had already given the name of Peter, signifying a rock, (John i. 42.) should be a rock indeed, of invincible strength, for the support of the building of the church; in which building he should be next to Christ himself, the chief foundation-stone, in quality of chief pastor, ruler, and governor; and should have accordingly all fulness of ecclesiastical power, signified by the keys of the kingdom of heaven. — Upon this rock, &c.  The words of Christ to Peter, spoken in the vulgar language of the Jews, which our Lord made use of, were the same as if he had said in English, Thou art a rock, and upon this rock I will build my church.  So that, by the plain course of the words, Peter is here declared to be the rock, upon which the church was to be built; Christ himself being both the principal foundation and founder of the same.  Where also note, that Christ by building his house, that is, his Church, upon a rock, has thereby secured it against all storms and floods, like the wise builder.  Matt. vii. 24, 25. — The gates of hell, &c.  That is, the powers of darkness, and whatever Satan can do, either by himself or his agents.  For as the Church is here likened to a house, or fortress, built on a rock; so the adverse powers are likened to a contrary house or fortress, the gates of which, i.e. the whole strength, and all the efforts it can make, will never be able to prevail over the city or Church of Christ.  By this promise we are fully assured, that neither idolatry, heresy, nor any pernicious error whatsoever shall at any time prevail over the Church of Christ.  Ch. — The gates, in the Oriental style, signify the powers; thus, to this day, we designate the Ottoman or Turkish empire by the Ottoman port.  The princes were wont to hold their courts at the gates of the city.  V.

Ver. 19.  And I will give to thee the keys, &c.  This is another metaphor, expressing the supreme power and prerogative of the prince of the apostles.  The keys of a city, or of its gates, are presented or given to the person that hath the chief power.  We also own a power of the keys, given to the other apostles, but with a subordination to S. Peter and to his successor, as head of the Catholic Church. — And whatsoever thou shalt bind, &c.  All the apostles, and their successors, partake also of this power of binding and loosing, but with a due subordination to one head invested with the supreme power.  Wi. — Loose on earth.  The loosing the bands of temporal punishments due to sins, is called an indulgence: the power of which is here granted.  Ch. — Although Peter and his successors are mortal, they are nevertheless endowed with heavenly power, says S. Chry. nor is the sentence of life and death passed by Peter to be attempted to be reversed, but what he declares is to be considered a divine answer from heaven, and what he decrees, a decree of God himself.  He that heareth you, heareth me, &c.  The power of binding is exercised, 1st. by refusing to absolve; 2d. by enjoining penance for sins forgiven; 3d. by excommunication, suspension or interdict; 4th. by making rules and laws for the government of the Church; 5th. by determining what is of faith by the judgments and definitions of the Church.  T. — The terms binding and loosing, are equivalent to opening and shutting, because formerly the Jews opened the fastenings of their doors by untying it, and they shut or secured their doors by tying or binding it.  V. — Dr. Whitby, a learned Protestant divine, thus expounds this and the preceding verse: “As a suitable return to thy confession, I say also to thee, that thou art by name Peter, i.e. a rock; and upon thee, who art this rock, I will build my Church, and I will give to thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven, the power of making laws to govern my Church.”  Tom. i, p. 143.  Dr. Hammond, another Protestant divine, explains it in the same manner.  And p. 92, he says: ” What is here meant by the keys, is best understand by Isaias xxii. 22, where they signify ruling the whole family or house of the king: and this being by Christ accommodated to the Church, denotes the power of governing it.”

Ver. 20.  Tell no one that he was Jesus, the Christ.  In some MSS. both Greek and Latin, the name Jesus is not here found, and many interpreters think it superfluous in this place.  The Greek expressly says the Christ adjoining the article, which the Latin tongue does not express.  V. — “In a preceding part of Scripture, Jesus sending his apostles, commanded them to publish his coming; but here he seems to give a contrary mandate, tell no one, &c. but in my opinion it is one thing to preach the Christ, and another to preach Christ Jesus; for Christ is a name of dignity, but Jesus is the particular name of the Redeemer.”  S. Jer. — He did not forbid them to teach that there was a Messias a Redeemer, but to declare then that he was the person; 2d. the disciples (Matt. x,) are not sent to preach the gospel, strictly speaking, but only to prepare the minds and hearts of the people for the coming of the Messias, as is evident from Mat. x. 23.  See Mark xiv. 61. and 62.  John v. 18. and viii. 58. and x. 30. and xi. 27.  But why did he lay this injunction?  To avoid the envy of the Scribes, and not to appear to raise his own glory.  He wished the people to be induced to own him for their Messias, not from the testimony of his retainers, but from his miracles and doctrines; and lastly, because as his time was not yet come, the apostles were not yet fit to deliver, nor the people to receive, this grand tenet.  Mat. Polus. — It might moreover have proved a hinderance to his death.

Ver. 21.  From that time, &c.  Now when the apostles firmly believed that Jesus was the Messias, and the true Son of God, he saw it necessary to let them know he was to die an infamous death on the cross, that they might be disposed to believe that mystery; (Wi.) and that they might not be too much exalted with the power given to them, and manifestation made to them.  A.

Ver. 22.  Peter taking him, &c. out of a tender love, respect and zeal for his honour, began to expostulate with him, and as it were to reprehend him,[3] saying, Lord, far be it from thee, God forbid, &c.  Wi.

Ver. 23.  Go after me, Satan.[4]  The words may signify, begone from me; but out of respect due to the expositions of the ancient fathers, who would have these words to signify come after me, or follow me, I have put, with the Rheims translation, go after me.  Satan is the same as an adversary: (Wi.) and is here applied to Peter, because he opposed, out of mistaken zeal, Christ’s passion, without which the great work of man’s redemption could not be effected.  Peter, however, unknowingly or innocently, raised an opposition against the will of God, against the glory of Jesus, against the redemption of mankind, and against the destruction of the devil’s kingdom.  He did not understand that there was nothing more glorious than to make of one’s life a sacrifice to God.  V. — Thou dost not, i.e. thy judgment in this particular is not conformable with that of God.  Hence our separated brethren conclude that Christ did not, in calling him the rock in the preceding verses, appoint him the solid and permanent foundation of his Church.  This conclusion, however, is not true, because, as S. Augustine and theologians affirm, Peter could fall into error in points regarding morals and facts, though not in defining or deciding on points of faith.  Moreover, S. Peter was not, as S. Jerom says, appointed the pillar of the Church till after Christ’s resurrection.  T. — And it was not till the night before Christ suffered that he said to Peter: Behold, Satan hath desired to have thee; but I have prayed for thee, that “thy faith fail not,” and thou being once converted confirm thy brethren.  Luke xxii. 31.  A.

Ver. 24.  If any man will come.  S. Chry. Euthymius, and Theophylactus, shew that free will is confirmed by these words.  Do not expect, O Peter, that since you have confessed me to be the Son of God, you are immediately to be crowned, as if this were sufficient for salvation, and that the rest of your days may be spent in idleness and pleasure.  For, although by my power, as Son of God, I could free you from every danger and trouble, yet this I will not do for your sake, that you may yourself contribute to your glory, and become the more illustrious.  S. Chry. hom. lvi.

Ver. 25.  Whosoever will save his life.  Lit. his soul.  In the style of the Scriptures, the word soul is sometimes put for the life of the body, sometimes for the whole man.  Wi. — Whosoever acts against duty and conscience to save the life of his body, shall lose eternal life; and whoever makes the sacrifice of his life, or the comforts and conveniences of life for conscience sake, shall be rewarded with life eternal.

Ver. 26.  And lose his own soul.  Christ seems in these words to pass from the life of the body to that of the soul.  Wi.

Ver. 27.  Shall come in the glory.  Jesus Christ wishing to shew his disciples the greatness of his glory at his future coming, reveals to them in this life as much as it was possible for them to comprehend, purposely to strengthen them against the scandal of his ignominious death.  S. Chry.

Ver. 28.  Till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom.  Some expound this, as fulfilled at his transfiguration, which follows in the next chapter.  Others understand it of the glory of Christ, and of his Church, after his resurrection and ascension, when he should be owned for Redeemer of the world: and this state of the Christian Church might be called the kingdom of Christ.  Wi. — This promise of a transitory view of his glory he makes, to prove that he should one day come in all the glory of his Father, to judge each man according to his works: not according to his mercy, or their faith, but according to their works.  Aug. de verb. apos. serm. 35. — Again, asks S. Aug. how could our Saviour reward every one according to his works, if there were no free will?  l. ii. c. 4. 5. 8, de act. cum Fœlic. Manich.  B.

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[1]  V. 16.  Tu es Christus, Filius Dei vivi.  o cristoV o uioV tou qeou.  Where the Greek articles seem significant.

[2]  V. 18.  S. Aug. serm. 13. de Verbis Domini, in the new edit. serm. 76. t. v. p. 415, expounds these words super hanc Petram, i.e. super hanc Petram, quam confessus es, super meipsum.  See also tract. 24. in Joan. t. iii. p. 822.  But he elsewhere gave the common interpretation, as he says, l. i. Retrac. and in Psal. lxix.  Petrus, qui paulo ante Christum confessus erat filium Dei, & in illa Confessione appellatus erat Petra, super quam fabrificatur Ecclesia, &c.  See S. Jerom on this place, l. iii. p. 97. ædificabo (inquit Christus) super te Ecclesiam meam.  S. Chrys. hom. lv. in Matt. &c.

[3]  V. 22.  Increpare epitiman, by saying absit a te Domine, ilewV soi, propitius sit tibe Deus, &c.

[4]  V. 23.  Vade post me, upage opisw mou.

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MATTHEW 17

CHAPTER XVII.

Ver. 1.  And after six days.  S. Mat. reckons neither the day of the promise, nor the day of the transfiguration; S. Luke, including both, calls the interval about eight days, wsei hmerai oktw.  S. Chry. — He took Peter, as head of the apostolic college; James, as first to shed his blood for the faith; and John, as he was to survive all the rest, and to transmit to posterity the circumstances of this glorious mystery; or, according to S. Chry. on account of their more excellent love, zeal, courage, sufferings and predilection.  The mountain is generally believed to be Thabor, and as such is considered by Christians as holy, and was much frequented by pilgrims, as S. Jerom testifies.  Ven. Bede tells us that three churches were built upon it; and Mr. Maundrell, in his Journey from Aleppo to Jerusalem, p. 112, says there are still three grottoes, made to represent the three tabernacles proposed by S. Peter.  According to Le Brun, Thabor is situated about 12 miles from the sea of Galilee, and eight from Nazareth.  Others, however, do not think the transfiguration took place on Mount Thabor, which was in the middle of Lower Galilee, because S. Mark (ix. 29,) says, that Christ and his apostles, departing thence, passed through Galilee, and not out of Galilee, and suppose it might be Libanus, because it was near Cæsarea Philippi; in the borders of which Christ appears at this time to have been, at least the promise of the transfiguration was made there, and this place is distant about 60 miles from Mount Thabor.  Mat. xvi. 13. — Mount Libanus is the highest in Palestine, according to S. Jerom; and of it Isaias prophesied: “the glory of Libanus is given to it, the beauty of Carmel and Saron; they shall see the glory of our God,” xxxv. 2.  T. — But, as we said above, Thabor is very generally supposed to have been the mountain.

Ver. 2.  Transfigured.  Let no one think that he changed his natural form, laying aside his corporeal, and assuming a spiritual form; but when the evangelist says his countenance shone like the sun, and describes the whiteness of his garments, he shews in what the transfiguration consisted.  He added to his former appearance splendour and glory, but laid not aside his substance. . . . The Lord was transfigured into that glory with which he will appear again at the day of judgment, and in his kingdom.  S. Jer. — Calvin translates metamorfousqai, transformed, but contrary to the sentiment of the holy fathers.  He did not shew them his divinity, which cannot be seen by the eyes of the body, but a certain glimpse or sign of the same: hence the hymn

Quicunque Christum quæritis,

Oculos in altum tollite;

Illìc licebit visere

Signum perennis gloriæ.

Ver. 3.  Moses and Elias.  Jesus Christ had been taken by the people for Elias, Jeremias, or one of the prophets.  He therefore chose the chief of all the prophets to be present, that he might shew his great superiority over them, and verify the illustrious confession of Peter.  The Jews had accused Christ of blasphemy, and of breaking the sabbath; the presence of Moses and Elias refuted the calumny; for the founder of the Jewish laws would never have sanctioned him who was a transgressor of those laws; and Elias, so full of zeal for the glory of God, would never have paid homage to one who made himself equal to God, had he not really been the Son of the Most High.  S. Chry. hom. lvii. — S. Hilary thinks that Moses and Elias (who represent the law and the prophets, and who here bear witness to the divinity of Jesus Christ,) will be the precursors of his second coming, alluded to in Revelations, ch. xi, though the general opinion of the Fathers is, that the two witnesses there mentioned are Enoch and Elias.  Jans. — It is hence evident, that the saints departed can and do, with the permission of God, take an interest in the affairs of the living.  S. Aug. de curâ pro mort. c. xv. 16. — For as angels elsewhere, so here the saints also, served our Saviour; and as angels, both in the Old and New Testament, were frequently present at the affairs of men, so may saints.  B. — All interpreters agree, that Elias appeared in his own body, but various are their opinions with regard to the apparition of Moses.  A.

Ver. 6.  And were very much afraid. There were two causes that might produce this fear in the apostles, the cloud that overshadowed them, or the voice of God the Father, which they heard.  Their human weakness could not bear such refulgent beams of glory, and trembling in every limb, they fall prostrate on the ground.  S. Jer. — The Almighty, it seems, was pleased to fulfil the wish of Peter, thereby to shew that Himself is the tent or pavilion, under the shade of which the blessed shall live for ever, and to sanction the public and explicit confession of Peter relative to the divinity of Jesus Christ, by his own no less public and explicit confession, joined with an express command to hear and obey him.  S. Chrysostom very justly remarks, that this voice was not heard till after the departure of Moses and Elias, that no possible doubt might exist to whom it was referred, and that it was to Christ only and to no other. — Hear ye Him: i.e. as the law and the prophets are fulfilled and verified in Jesus Christ, your new legislator and prophet, you are to hear and obey Him in preference to either Moses or Elias, or any other teacher.  A.

Ver. 7.  And Jesus came and touched.  The terrified disciples were still prostrate on the ground, and unable to rise, when Jesus, with his usual benevolence, approaches, touches them, expels their fear, and restores them to the use of their limbs.  S. Jer.

Ver. 9.  Tell the vision to no man, till the miracle of his resurrection has prepared the minds of men for the belief of this.  Expose not an event so wonderful to the rash censure of the envious Pharisees, who calumniate and misrepresent my most evident miracles.  Jesus Christ also gave a lesson here to his followers to observe the closest secrecy in all spiritual graces and favors.

Ver. 10.  Elias must come first.  The prophet Elias will come again in person before my second coming to judgment, and will re-establish all things, by the conversion of the Jews to the Christian faith, according to the common opinion.  But John the Baptist who was Elias in spirit, is already come.  See Matt. xi. 14.  Wi. — This was a vulgar error spread by the Scribes among the Jewish people.  It proceeded from an erroneous interpretation of Scripture.  They confounded the two comings of our Saviour.  The Baptist was the precursor of Christ at his first coming, and was styled by our Lord Elias, because he performed the office of Elias; and he shall go before Him in the spirit and power of Elias.  Luke i. 17. — But this prophet in person will be the precursor of the second coming of Christ.  Whereby Malachy, predicting this coming of Christ, says: I will send to you Elias the Thesbite; thus evidently distinguishing him from the Baptist, who was also Elias in spirit and in the dignity of his office.  S. Chry. hom. lviii. — Jesus Christ here confirms the literal sense of the prophecy; (Malac. iv. 5,) but, in the next verse, he shews a prior, though less perfect accomplishment of the same in the person of John the Baptist, who was raised by God to prepare the ways of the Lord.

Ver. 11.  Shall . . . restore all things.  According to S. Chry. Theophylactus, and others, these words signify that Elias shall restore all the Jews to the one true faith towards the end of the world; or, according to S. Augustine, he shall strengthen those that shall be found wavering in the persecution of Antichrist.

Ver. 12.  So also shall the Son of man.  Jesus in a most beautiful manner takes advantage of this conversation, to remind them of his future passion, and from the recollection of the sufferings of John, affords them comfort in his own.  S. Chry.

Ver. 14.  And when he was come.  Peter, by wishing to remain on the holy mount, preferred his own gratification to the good of many.  But true charity seeketh not its own advantage only; what therefore appeared good to Peter, did not appear so to Christ, who descends from the mountain, as from his high throne in heaven, to visit man.  Origen.

Ver. 15.  I brought him to thy disciples.  By these words the man here mentioned privately accuses the apostles, though the impossibility of the cure is not always to be attributed to the weakness of God’s servants, but sometimes to the want of faith in the afflicted.  Jerom. — Stand astonished at the folly of this man! how he accuses the apostles before Jesus!  But Christ frees them from this inculpation, imputing the fault entirely to the man himself.  For it is evident, from many circumstances, that he was weak in faith.  Our Saviour does not inveigh against this man alone, not to wound his feelings too sensibly, but against the whole people of the Jews.  We may infer, that many of the bystanders entertained false notions of his disciples, from these words of deserved reproach: O! unbelieving and incredulous generation, how long shall I be with you?  In which words, he shews us how much he wished for his passion, and his departure hence.  S. Chry. — We must not imagine that our Saviour, who was meekness and mildness itself, uttered on this occasion words of anger and intemperance.  Not unlike a feeling and tender physician, observing his patient totally disregarding his prescriptions, he says, How long shall I visit you; how long shall I order one thing, and you do the contrary?  Thus Jesus is not angry with the man, but with the vices of the man; and in him he upbraids the Jews, in general, for their incredulity and perversity.  S. Jer. — The general sentiment is, that these reproaches are limited to the people; some extend them to the apostles.  See below, v. 19.  V.

Ver. 18.  Why could not we?  The disciples began to apprehend that they had incurred their Master’s displeasure, and had thereby lost their power of working miracles.  They come therefore secretly to Jesus Christ, to learn why they could not cast out devils.  He answered them, that it was their want of faith, which probably failed them on this occasion, on account of the difficulty of the cure, little reflecting that the virtue of the Lord, which worked in them, was superior to every possible evil of both mind and body. — S. Hilary is of opinion, that during the absence of Christ on the mountain, the fervour of the apostles had begun to abate.  Jans.

Ver. 19.  If you have faith as a grain of mustard-seed.  Christ insinuates to his apostles, as if they had not yet faith enough to work great miracles, which require a firm faith joined with a lively confidence in God.  The mustard-seed is brought in with an allusion to its hot and active qualities.  Wi. — That is, a perfect faith; which, in its properties and its fruits, resembles the grain of mustard-seed in the parable.  C. xii. 31.  Ch. — By faith is here understood, not that virtue by which we assent to all things that are to be believed of Christ, the first, of the theological virtues, in which the apostles were not deficient, but that confidence in the power and goodness of God, that he will on such an occasion exert these, his attributes, in favour of the supplicant.  To have a true faith of this kind, and free from all presumption, is a great and high privilege, which the Holy Ghost breathes into such only as he pleases.  Jans. — Examples of this efficacious faith are given by S. Paul.  Heb. c. ii.  S. Gregory of Neo-Cæsarea is also related, by Eusebius and Ven. Bede, to have removed by the efficacy of his faith a rock, which obstructed the building of a church; thus literally fulfilling the promise of Jesus Christ.  Tirinus. — The faith of the apostles, especially of those that had not been present at the transfiguration, was not perfect and complete in all its parts, till after the resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ, and the descent of the Holy Ghost.  A. — S. Jerom understands by mountains, things the most difficult to be effected.

Ver. 20.  See here the efficacy of prayer and fasting!  What the apostles could not do, prayer accompanied with fasting can effect.  How then can that be genuine religion, which makes fasting an object of ridicule?  We see also here that the true Church in her exorcisms follows Scripture, when she uses besides the name of Jesus, many prayers and much fasting to drive out the devils, because these, as well as faith, are here required.  B.

Ver. 21.  Jesus then taking the road to Jerusalem with his disciples, and whilst they were in Galilee, which they had to pass through, he spake to them of his sufferings, death, and resurrection.  V.

Ver. 22.  They were troubled exceedingly, not being able to comprehend the mystery of Christ’s sufferings and death, which were so opposite to the notions they had of the glorious kingdom of the Messias.  Wi. — This grief was the consequence of their attachment to their divine Master.  They were ignorant, as S. Mark and S. Luke notice, of the word that was spoken.  They full well understood that he would be put to death, but did not sufficiently comprehend the shortness of his rest in the grave, the nature of his triumphant resurrection, nor the inestimable benefits which his death would bring on the world.  S. Chrys. hom. lix.

Ver. 23.  They that received the didrachmas, (ta didracma) in value about fifteen-pence of our money.  Wi. — A tax, according to some, laid on every person who was twenty years of age, for the service of the temple.  See Exod. xxx.  S. Chrysostom thinks it was paid for the first-born only, whom the Lord would have redeemed for the first-born of the Egyptians, whom he slew.  Others think it was a tribute paid to the Romans, as Christ, in v. 24, seems to insinuate, by mentioning the kings of the earth; and the Jews were tributary to them at this time.  In v. 24, the evangelist uses the word KhnsoV, taken from the Latin census, or tax.

Ver. 25.  Then the children.  From these words and the following, that we may not scandalize them, some argue that Christians are exempt from taxes.  The fallacy of this deduction is victoriously demonstrated from the express words of S. Paul, (Rom. xiii.) commanding us to be subject to the higher powers, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake: Render tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom, &c.  The word children then does not mean subjects, but must be understood in its natural limited sense.  Jans. — Jesus Christ argues a minori ad majus thus, if the kings of the earth exact money from their subjects only, and exempt their own children, how much more ought I to be exempt, who do not claim my descent from a temporal prince only, but from the supreme King of heaven.  This example our Saviour would never have adduced, says S. Chrys. had he not really been the Son of God.  hom. lix.  Our Saviour uniformly waved his right to exemptions in temporal things: he declares every where that temporal princes have nothing to fear from him, or his doctrines, since his kingdom is not of this world.  A.

Ver. 26.  But that we may not.  Jesus Christ pays the tribute, not as one subject to the law, but as consulting the infirmity of the people; but he first shews himself exempt from the above example, lest his disciples might take occasion of scandal therefrom.  S. Chrys. hom. lix. — For me and thee.  A great mystery this: Jesus Christ paid not only for himself, but for the future representative of Him and his Church, in whom, as chief, the rest were comprised.  S. Aug. q. ex Nov. Tes. q. lxxv. tom. 4.  Jesus Christ here, as well as on many other occasions, pointedly marks the precedence of Peter, which might give rise to the strife and contention of the disciples, in the commencement of the ensuing chapter, on the subject of superiority.  Thus S. Jer. Chrys. Tirinus, &c.

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MATTHEW 18

CHAPTER XVIII.

Ver. 1.  Who, thinkest thou?  This altercation for superiority among the apostles, whilst they were upon their road to Judea, might have arisen from another cause besides the precedence given by Jesus Christ to Peter above, as S. Chrysostom (hom. lix. in Mat.) affirms.  A report prevailed among the disciples, that Christ would soon die; and they wished to know who would be the first, when he was gone.  Jans. — Or expecting that by his future resurrection he would enter into full possession of his temporal kingdom, they wished to learn which of them should be the greater in this new and glorious state. Calmet supposes that Peter was not with them, but that he had gone before with his Master to Capharnaum.  C.

Ver. 2.  And Jesus calling . . . . a little child.  In S. Mark (ix. 32.) we find that Jesus did this in the house, when they were arrived at Capharnaum.

Ver. 3.  You shall not enter, &c. i.e. you shall have no place in my kingdom of glory, in heaven, where none shall find admittance but they that are truly humble.  Wi. — Our Lord in this and the next chapter teaches us, 1st, To sit down in the lowest place; 2nd, to bear patiently with our neighbor; 3rd, not to scandalize a weak brother; 4th, mildly to correct him when faulty; and 5thly, to forgive him when repentant.

Ver. 4.  Greater in the kingdom of heaven, because more conformable to me here on earth.  Humble souls, who are little in their own eyes, are so dear and closely united to the Almighty, that Christ declares them to be the most acceptable, the first in merit, not highest in authority or dignity either in church or state, as some idle fanatics pretend.  Jans. — The kingdom of heaven is not the reward of ambition, but the boon of simplicity and humility.

Ver. 5.  He that shall receive.  To receive, in the style of the Scriptures, is to honour and favour, to be charitable, and kind to any one.  Wi. — Who does not admire here the great goodness of God!  Jesus, knowing that he was soon to leave the world, and that his disciples would no longer have it in their power to manifest their charity for him by their kind services, substitutes the poor in his place, declaring, that if they receive or honour them, they received Christ himself.  Dion. Carth. — What greater proof can we wish for the merit of good works!!!

Ver. 6.  But he that shall scandalize, shall by their evil doctrine or example draw others into sinful ways.  The words scandalize, and scandal, being sufficiently understood, and authorized by use, both in English and French, might I thought be retained.  The words offend and offences, in Prot. translation, do not express sufficiently the sense.  Wi. — That is, shall put a stumbling-block in their way, and cause them to fall into sin.  Ch. — By these strong expressions of our Lord, we may judge of the enormity and malice of scandal.  Rather than be the cause of scandal to any of the faithful, and occasion the loss of his soul, we must be ready to undergo every torment, yes, and suffer death itself.  Dion. Carth. — The ancient punishment among the Greeks for sacrilege was drowning, with a mill-stone fastened about the neck, according to Diodorus Siculus.

Ver. 7.  It must needs be, not absolutely, but the weakness and wickedness of the world considered that scandals should happen.  Wi. — Considering the wickedness and corruption of the world, such things always will happen; but the judgments of God, though slow, will be terrible in the extreme.  Lento quidem gradu Divina procedit Vindicta, sed tarditatem gravitate compensat.  Val. Max. — We must not suppose for a moment that Christ subjects human actions to the control of rigid fatality.  It is not the prescience or prediction of Christ, which causes these evils to take place; they do not happen, because Christ foretold them; but, Christ foretold them, because they would infallibly happen.  The Almighty permits scandals, because the good are benefited by them, making them more diligent and more watchful: witness the great virtue of Job, of Joseph, and many others perfected in temptation.  If the less virtuous receive any detriment from scandals, they owe it to their own sloth and laziness.  S. Chry. hom. lx. — Jesus Christ pronounces a double wo to the man who bringeth scandal, and to the world which is punished by it.  But why, asks S. Chrys. does he bewail the miseries of the world, when it depended upon him to stretch forth his hand and remove them?  He imitates the conduct of a good physician, who, after prescribing various remedies, feels himself obliged to declare to his patient, that by neglecting the prescriptions, he is increasing his distemper.  Jesus Christ had left the throne of his glory, taken upon him the form of a servant, and suffered the greatest extremities, but seeing man so perverse as to reap no advantage from all he had done and suffered for him, he weeps over his miserable state.  Nor is this without its particular fruit; for it frequently happens, that whom good counsel cannot move, prayers and tears, and the relation of the dismal consequences attendant on sin, bring to repentance.  This also manifests his tenderness and boundless charity, since he weeps over the people, who of all others most contradicted him.  S. Chrys. hom. lx.

Ver. 8.  And if thy hand, or thy foot, &c.  These comparisons are to make us sensible, that we must quit and renounce what is most dear to us, sooner than remain in the occasions of offending God.  Wi. — These words more properly mean our relatives and friends, who are united to us as closely as the different members of the body.  This he had touched upon before, yet he again repeats it, for nothing is so pernicious, nothing so dangerous, as the company and conversation of the dissolute.  Connections of friendship and affinity, are sometimes more powerful in inclining us to good or evil, than open compulsion.  On this account Christ, with great earnestness, commands us to cut with those most near and dear to us, when they are to us the immediate occasions of scandal.  S. Chrys. hom. lx.

Ver. 10.  Their angels.  The Jews also believed that men had their good angels, or angels appointed to be their guardians.  See Gen. xlviii. 16.  Wi. — Observe the dignity of the humble and little, whom the world despises.  They have angels constantly pleading their cause in the divine presence.  They are now weak and unable to defend themselves, but they have their advocates in heaven, accusing those who offer them any injury or scandal.  It is evident from many parts of Scripture, that angels are appointed guardians of kingdoms, countries, cities, and even individuals, Exod. xxiii.  Dan. x.  Apoc. xii. & alibi.  The angel of the Lord shall encamp round about them that fear him, and he shall deliver them.  Ps. xxxiii.  S. Jerom does not hesitate to affirm that every man has an angel assigned him at his birth, which he confirms from C. xii, of Acts, where it is related that the girl thought she saw Peter’s angel.  The thing is so plain, that Calvin, dares not deny it, and yet he will needs doubt of it.  L. i. Inst. c. xiv. sect. 7.  Origen thinks that only the just have their guardian angels, and these only at their baptism.  The opinion of S. Augustine is universal in the Catholic Church. “I esteem it, O my God, an inestimable benefit, that thou hast granted me an angel to guide me from the moment of my birth, to my death.”  De dilig. Deo. Medit. c. xii.  How much are we indebted to the Providence of God, for extending itself also to the wicked.  They likewise have their angels, without whose assistance they would fall into many more grievous sins, and the evil spirits would have more power over them.  Let us then with gratitude remember our dignity, and fear to commit any thing in their presence, which may make them grieve and withdraw from us their protection and assistance.

Ver. 12.  If a man have a hundred sheep.  This is to shew the goodness and mercy of God towards sinners.  By the one sheep, some understand all mankind, and by the ninety-nine, the angels in heaven.  Wi. — Jesus Christ manifests his tender regard and solicitude for us poor weak creatures, by becoming himself the Son of man, thus abandoning in some measure the angels who are in heaven.  He is come down upon earth to save by his death what was lost, imitating thus, with regard to men, the conduct themselves observe with regard to their sheep.  V. — In the Greek, it is dubious whether the shepherd leaves the ninety-nine in the mountains, or, whether he himself goeth into the mountains in quest of the lost sheep.

Ver. 14.  Even so it is not.  Here some may perhaps object, that since the Almighty does not wish any of his little ones to perish, he must consequently wish all to be saved, and therefore that all will be saved.  Now this is not the case: the will of the Almighty is therefore sometimes frustrated in its effects, which is contrary to Scripture.  To this objection, S. John Damascene replies, that in God we must distinguish two distinct wills; the one antecedent, the other consequent.  A person wills a thing antecedently, when he wills it merely as considered in itself.  For instance, a prince wishes his subjects to live, in as much as they are all his subjects.  But a person wills a thing consequently, when he will a thing in consideration of some particular circumstance.  Thus, though the king wishes all his subject to live, he nevertheless wills that some should die, if they turn traitors, or disorganize the peace of society.  In the same manner, the Almighty wishes none of his little ones to perish, in as much as they are all his creatures, made to his own image, and destined for the kingdom of glory; though it is equally certain that he wills the eternal punishment of many who have turned away from his service, and followed iniquity.  If we observe this distinction, it is easy to see what our Saviour meant, when he said that it was not the will of his Father that any of these little ones should perish.  S. John Dam.

Ver. 15.  Offend against thee.  S. Chrysostom, S. Austin, and S. Jerom understand from this verse, that the injured person is to go and admonish his brother.  Other understand against thee, to mean in thy presence, or to thy knowledge, because fraternal correction is a duty, not only when our brother offends us, but likewise when he offends against his neighbour, and much more when he offends God.  It is moreover a duty not peculiar to the injured, but common to all.  When the offence is not personal, our advice will be less interested.  This precept, though positive, is only obligatory, when it is likely to profit your brother, as charity is the only motive for observing it.  Therefore, it not only may, but ought to be omitted, when the contrary effect is likely to ensue, whether it be owing to the perversity of the sinner, or the circumstances of the admonisher.  Jans.

Ver. 17.  Tell the church.  This not only shews the order of fraternal correction, but also every man’s duty in submitting to the judgment of the Church.  Wi. — There cannot be a plainer condemnation of those who make particular creeds, and will not submit the articles of their belief to the judgment of the authority appointed by Christ.  A.

Ver. 18.  Whatsoever you shall bind, &c.  The power of binding and loosing, which in a more eminent manner was promised to S. Peter, is here promised to the other apostles and their successors, bishops and priests.  Wi. — The power of binding and loosing, conferred on S. Peter, excelled that granted to the other apostles, inasmuch as to S. Peter, who was head and pastor of the whole Church, was granted jurisdiction over the other apostles, while these received no power over each other, much less over S. Peter.  T. — Priests receive a power not only to loose, but also to bind, as S. Ambrose writeth against the Novatians, who allowed the latter, but denied the former power to priests.  Lib. i. de pœnit. c. ii.  B.

Ver. 19.  That if two of you.  From these words, we learn how superior is public to private prayer.  The efficacy of the former is attributed to the presence of Christ in those assemblies.  The Father, for his Son’s sake, will grant petitions thus offered.  Jans. — The fervour of one will supply for the weakness and distractions of the other.

Ver. 20.  There am I in the midst of them.  This is understood of such assemblies only, as are gathered in the name and authority of Christ; and in unity of the Church of Christ.S. Cyprian, de Unitate Ecclesiæ.  Ch. — S. Chrysostom, Theophylactus, and Euthymius explain the words in his name, thus, assembled by authority received from Christ, in the manner appointed by him, or for his sake, and seeking nothing by his glory.  Hence we may see what confidence we may place in an œcumenical council lawfully assembled.  T. S. Greg. lib. vii. Regist. Epist. cxii.

Ver. 21.  S. Peter knew the Jews to be much given to revenge; he therefore thought it a great proof of superior virtue to be able to forgive seven times.  It was for this reason he proposed this question to our Lord; who, to shew how much he esteemed charity, immediately answered, not only seven times, but seventy times seven times.  He does not mean to say that this number must be the bounds of our forgiving; we must forgive to the end, and never take revenge, however often our brother offend against us.  There must be no end of forgiving poor culprits that sincerely repent, either in the sacrament of penance, or one man another his offences.  B. — To recommend this great virtue more forcibly, he subjoins the parable of the king taking his accounts: and, from the great severity there exercised, he intimates how rigid will his heavenly Father be to those who forgive not their enemies.  Dion. Carth.

Ver. 22.  Till seventy times seven; i.e. 490 times; but it is put by way of an unlimited number, to signify we must pardon private injuries, though even so often done to us.  Wi. — When our brother sins against us, we must grieve for his sake over the evil he has committed; but for ourselves we ought greatly to rejoice, because we are thereby made like our heavenly Father, who bids the sun to shine upon the good and the bad.  But if the thought of having to imitate God alarm us, though it should not seem difficult to a true lover of God, let us place before our eyes the examples of his favourite servants.  Let us imitate Joseph, who though reduced to a state of the most abject servitude, by the hatred of his unnatural brethren, yet in the affliction of his heart, employed all his power to succour them in their afflictions.  Let us imitate Moses, who after a thousand injuries, raised his fervent supplications in behalf of his people.  Let us imitate the blessed Paul, who, though daily suffering a thousand afflictions from the Jews, still wished to become an anathema for their salvation.  Let us imitate Stephen, who, when the stones of his persecutors were covering him with wounds, prayed that the Almighty would pardon their sin.  Let us follow these admirable examples, then shall we extinguish the flames of anger, then will our heavenly Father grant us the forgiveness of our sins, through the merits of our Lord Jesus Christ.  S. Chrys. hom. lxii.

Ver. 24.  Ten thousand talents.  It is put as an example for an immense sum.  It is not certainly agreed what was the value of a talent.  A talent of gold is said to be 4900 lb.; of silver 375 lb.  See Walton’s Prologomena, Dr. Harris’s Lexicon, &c.  Wi. — The 10,000 talents, according to some authors, amount to £1,875,000 sterling, i.e. 740,000 times as much as his fellow-servant owed him; the hundred pence amounting to not more than £3 2s. 6d.

Ver. 35.  So also shall my heavenly Father do to you.  In this parable the master is said to have remitted the debt, and yet afterwards to have punished the servant for it.  God doth not in this manner with us.  But we may here observe, once for all, that in parables, diverse things are only ornamental to the parable itself; and a caution and restriction is to be used in applying them.  Wi. — Not that God will revoke a pardon once granted; for this would be contrary to his infinite mercy, and his works are without repentance.  It means that God will not pardon, or rather that he will severely punish the ingratitude and inhumanity of the man, who, after having received from God the most liberal pardon of his grievous transgressions, refuses to forgive the slightest offence committed against him by his neighbour, who is a member, nay a son of his God.  This ingratitude may justly be compared with the 10,000 talents, as every grievous offence committed against God, exceeds, in an infinite degree, any offence against man.  T. — This forgiveness must be real, not pretended; from the heart, and not in word and appearance only; sacrificing all desire of revenge, all anger, hatred and resentment, at the shrine of charity.

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MATTHEW 19

CHAPTER XIX.

Ver. 3.  Is it lawful?  Here again the Pharisees, ever anxious to ensnare Jesus in his words, come to him and ask him, is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause?  Thinking now they had to a certainty succeeded, they argue thus with themselves: shall he say that it is not lawful, we will accuse him of blasphemy, contradicting the Scriptures.  For, it is written, Deut. iv. 1.  If a man take a wife, and she find not favour in his eyes, for some uncleanness, he shall write a bill of divorce.  And Malachy, ii. 16.  When thou shalt hate her, put her away. — On the other hand, if he shall say it is lawful, we will accuse him of favouring the passions.  But Jesus Christ, the wisdom of the eternal Father, silences them with the authority of that Scripture they attempted to bring against him.  What God has joined together, let no man put asunder; intimating, that the connexion between husband and wife is so strict, that by it they become as one flesh, and can no more be separated than one member from another.  Dion. Carth. — To put away his wife for every cause,[1] or upon every occasion.  They did not doubt it, if the cause was considerable.  Wi.

Ver. 4.  In the beginning.  It is remarked by S. Jerome, S. Chrys. and Theophylactus, that the Almighty does not say of any of the animals which he created, as he does of man and woman, that he joined one male to one female; from which it appears, according to the reasoning of S. Augustine, that monogamy, as well as the indissolubility of marriage, was instituted from the beginning by the Almighty.  T.

Ver. 5.  These words were pronounced by Adam.  Gen. xi. 24. — And they two shall be in one flesh.[2]  I translate thus with submission to better judges; yet the sense may be, by a kind of Hebraism, they shall be esteemed as one person.  Wi.

Ver. 7.  The Pharisees, not satisfied, again attack our Saviour.  To this second attack he replies: Moses indeed permitted you to put away your wives on account of the hardness of your hearts, and to prevent a greater evil, lest through your cruelty you should poison them, or put them to violent death; but in the natural law, signified by the beginning, it was not so.  Dion. Carth.

Ver. 8.  Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, permitted you, &c.  Whether this was permitted in the old law, so that the man who was divorced from his wife could marry another woman, is disputed.  Some think this second marriage was still unlawful, though tolerated, and not punished.  At least in the new law, a divorce upon just causes may be sometimes permitted; but this does not make it lawful for the man or woman so separated to marry another.  Wi. — The latter part of this verse, of S. Paul, (Rom. vii. 3,) and the constant tradition of the Church, shew that the exception only refers to separation, but not to the marrying another during the life of the parties.  In this place Christ restores the original condition of the marriage state, and henceforth will have it to be a perfect figure of the hypostatic union of his divine person with our human nature, as also of his nuptial union with his Church, and consequently that it should be indissoluble.  T.

Ver. 9.  And I say to you.  It is worthy of remark, that in the parallel texts, S. Mark x. 2. and S. Luke xvi. 18. and S. Paul to Cor. vii. 10. omit the exception of fornication; and also that S. Matthew himself omits it in the second part of the verse; and says absolutely, that he who shall marry her that is put away committeth adultery.  It perhaps crept in here from c. v. 32, where it is found in a phrase very similar to this, but which expresses a case widely different.  Divorce is in no case admitted but in that of adultery.  This is what Christ teaches in c. v. 32, and to this the exception is referred, marked in the two texts.  But in this very case the separated parties cannot contract a second marriage without again committing adultery, as we must infer, from a comparison of this text with the parallel texts of S. Mark and S. Luke.  V. — If we did not understand it in this manner, the case of the adulteress would be preferable to the case of her who should be put away without any crime of her own; as in this supposition, the former would be allowed to marry again, which the latter would not be allowed.  T. — S. Augustine is very explicit on this subject.  See l. 11. de adult conjug. c. xxi. xxii. xxiv. — S. Jerom, in his high commendation of the noble matron, Fabiola, says of her: “that though she was the innocent party, for the unlawful act of marrying again, she did public penance.”  In Epitaph. Fabiolæ. — This universally received doctrine of the Catholic Church was confirmed in the general council of Trent.  Sess. xxiv. can. 6.

Ver. 11.  All receive not this word.[3]  To translate all cannot take, or cannot receive this word, is neither conformable to the Latin nor Greek text.  To be able to live singly, and chastely, is given to every one that asketh, and prayeth for the grace of God to enable him to live so.  Wi. — Jesus Christ takes occasion from the remark of the Pharisees to praise holy virginity, which he represents as a great and good gift of heaven; and such it has ever been considered in the eye of true and genuine religion.  Hence it appears that besides commandments, there are evangelical counsels, to the observance of which it is both lawful and meritorious for a Christian to devote himself, especially for the purpose of employing himself with greater liberty and less encumbrance in the service of his God. — Our Lord does not approve of the conclusion his disciples drew from his doctrine on the indissolubility of marriage, lest he should seem to condemn matrimony both good and necessary; neither does he reprove them for it, lest he should seem to prefer it before the state of continency.  His answer therefore prudently avoids both difficulties, by seeming to grant, on the one hand, that it was more expedient not to marry, because chastity is a great gift of God; (1 Cor. vii.) and plainly shewing on the other, that only few can have this privilege, because all do not receive this word, i.e. all are not called to this state.  Jans. — All cannot receive it, because all do not wish it.  The reward is held out to all.  Let him who seeks for glory, not think of the labour.  None would overcome, if all were afraid of engaging in the conflict.  If some fail, are we to be less careful in our pursuit of virtue?  Is the soldier terrified, because his comrade fights and falls by his side?  S. Chrys. — He that can receive it, let him receive it.  He that can fight, let him fight, overcome and triumph.  It is the voice of the Lord animating his soldiers to victory.  S. Jer.

Ver. 12.  And there are eunuchs, who have made themselves eunuchs, &c.  It is not to be taken in the literal sense, but of such who have taken a firm and commendable resolution of leading a single life. — He that can receive it, let him receive it.  Some think that to receive, in this and the foregoing verse, is to understand; and so will have the sense to be, he that can understand what I have said of different eunuchs, let him understand it; as when Christ said elsewhere, he that hath ears to hear, let him hear.  But others expound it as an admonition to men and women, not to engage themselves in a vow of living a single life, unless, after a serious deliberation, they have good grounds to think they can duly comply with this vow, otherwise let them not make it.  Thus S. Jerom on this place, and S. Chrys. where they both expressly take notice, that this grace is granted to every one that asketh and beggeth for it by prayer.  Wi. — To the crown and glory of which state, let those aspire who feel themselves called by heaven.

Ver. 13.  That he should lay his hands upon them.  It was the custom to present children to men reputed holy, as it is now the custom for bishops and priests to pray and give a blessing to others.  Wi. — It was customary with the Jews to present their children to the elders, that they might receive their blessing; hence they present them on this occasion to our Lord.  Remigius. — And the disciples rebuked them, not because they were unwilling that the children should be blessed by the hands of our Saviour, but as they were yet weak in faith, they thought that, like other men, he would be teased by the importunity of the offerers.  S. Jerom. — The people thought that the same hands, which could restore instantaneous health to the sick, must necessarily impart every good to such children as they should touch.  The disciples thought they made too free with their Master, requesting what, in their ideas, was beneath his dignity.  A.

Ver. 14.  Jesus said . . Suffer the little children, &c.  He here blames the conduct of the apostles, and shews that his assertions in praise of virginity, were not meant as derogatory from the holiness of the marriage state, by giving his blessing to these little ones, the fruits of lawful wedlock; and declares that the kingdom of heaven is the portion of such as resemble these little ones, by the innocence of their lives and simplicity of their hearts.  He, moreover, shews that confidence in our own strength, in our own free-will, and in our merits, is an invincible obstacle to salvation.  S. Mark (x. 16) says, that embracing them, and laying hands upon them, he blessed them.  Hence probably arose the ancient custom of presenting children to bishops and priests, to receive their blessing, beside that of confirmation immediately after baptism. — Nicephorus tells us that the celebrated S. Ignatius, afterwards bishop of Antioch, was one of these children who, on this occasion, received Christ’s blessing. — If we would enter into the kingdom of heaven, we must imitate the virtues of little children.  Their souls are free from every passion; void of every thought of revenge, they approach those who have grieved them as to their best friends.  Though the parent repeatedly chastise his child, it still will adhere to him, still will it love him, and prefer him in all his poverty to all the fascinating charms of dazzling gold and purple.  They seek not beyond what is necessary, they admire not the beauty of the body, they are not grieved at the loss of worldly wealth, therefore does the Saviour of the world say, that theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  S. Chrys. hom. lxiii.

Ver. 16.  Behold one came.  S. Luke (xviii. 18.) calls him a prince or lord.  Some conjecture this young man came only in a dissembling way, to try or tempt our Saviour, as the Pharisees sometimes did, and without any design to follow his advice; but by all the circumstances related of him, by the evangelists particularly, when S. Mark (C. x. 22.) tells us, he went away sorrowful, he seems to have come with sincerity, but without resolution strong enough to leave his worldly goods and possessions.  Wi.

Ver. 17.  Why askest thou me concerning good?[4]  In the ordinary Greek copies, why dost thou call me good?  Wi. — One is good, &c.  God alone, by his own nature, is essentially, absolutely, and unchangeably good; at the same time, he is the source of all created goodness, as all goodness is a mere emanation from his.  The person here addressing our Saviour, appears not to have believed that Christ was God: wherefore our Saviour, to rectify his misconception, tells him that God alone is good, insinuating thereby, that he should believe him to be God, or cease to address him by the title of good.  T. — The sense is, that only God is good necessarily, and by his own nature.  The Arians bring this place to shew, that Christ is not truly and properly God: but by this way of speaking, Christ does not deny that he is good, even by his nature, and consequently God; but seems to speak in this manner, to make the man know who he was.  Wi.

Ver. 19.  S. Jerom thinks his answer was not conformable to truth, or he would not have been sorry when ordered to distribute his goods among the poor.

Ver. 21.  If thou wilt be perfect.  This shews there is a difference betwixt things that are of precept, and those that are of counsel only, which they aim at, that aspire to the greatest perfection.  Wi. — Evangelical perfection essentially consists in the perfect observance of God’s commandments, which is greatly assisted by embracing not only voluntary poverty, but also the other counsels given to us in the gospels, such as perpetual chastity, and entire obedience.Follow me.  Thus to follow Christ, is to be without wife and care of children, to have no property, and to live in community; this state of life hath a great reward in heaven.  This state, we learn from S. Augustine, the apostles followed; and he himself not only embraced it, but exhorted as many others as he possibly could to embrace it.  Aug. ep. lxxxix, in fine, and in Ps. ciii. conc. 3. post. med.  B. — The whole perfection of a Christian life consists in following Christ, by an imitation of his virtues.  So that he who possesses poverty and chastity, does not immediately become perfect, but only enters upon the way of perfection, by facilitating his progress to perfection, removing hindrances, and laying aside all care of temporal concerns.  Nicholas de Lyra. — In this chapter Jesus Christ delivers the evangelical counsels.  In v. 12, he recommends continencyhere he proposes voluntary poverty, and immediately adds that of obedience, follow me.  S. Augustine teaches, that the apostles bound themselves by vow to the observance of these three counsels.  De civit. Dei. B. xvii. c. 4.

Ver. 22.  Sorrowful.  I know not how it happens, that when superfluous and earthly things are loved, we are more attached to what we possess in effect than in desire.  For, why did this young man depart sad, but because he had great riches?  It is one thing not to wish for, and another to part with them, when once we have them.  They become incorporated, and, as it were, a part of ourselves, like food; and, when taken, are changed into our own members.  No one easily suffers a member of his body to be cut off.  S. Aug. ep. xxxi. ad Paul.

Ver. 24.  It is easier for a camel,[5] &c.  This might be a common saying, to signify any thing impossible, or very hard.  Some by a camel, would have to be meant a cable, or ship-rope, but that is differently writ in Greek, and here is commonly understood a true camel.  Wi. — But nothing is impossible to God.

Ver. 25.  They wondered very much.  The apostles wondered how any person could be saved, not because all were rich, but because the poor were also included, who had their hearts and affections fixed on riches.  S. Aug. and Nicholas de Lyra.

Ver. 27.  Behold we have left all!  What confidence this in Peter!  He had been but a fisherman, always poor, living by his industry, and gaining his bread by the sweat of his brow; yet with great confidence he says, we have left all.  S. Jer. — For, we are not to consider what he left, but the will with which he left his all.  He leaves a great deal, who reserves nothing for himself.  It is a great matter to quit all, though the things we leave be very inconsiderable in themselves.  Do we not observe with how great affection we love what we already have, and how earnestly we search after what we have not?  It is on this account that S. Peter, and his brother, S. Andrew, left much, because they denied themselves even the desire and inclination of possessing any thing.  S. Gregory on S. Mat. hom. v. — Though I have not been rich, I shall not, on that account, receive a less reward; for, the apostles, who have done the same thing with me, were no richer than myself.  He therefore leaves all the world, who leaves all he has, and the desire of ever having more.  S. Aug. ep. lxxxix. ad. Hilar.

Ver. 28.  In the regeneration.  Jesus Christ here calls the general resurrection the regeneration, because there will then be a renovation of the human body, and of the whole world.  The promise which is here made to the apostles of sitting on thrones at the general judgment, and passing sentence on the 12 tribes of Israel, must not be understood as limited to the apostles, or to the Jews.  For S. Paul says, (1 Cor. vi. 2. and 3,) that not only he, but also many of the Corinthians to whom he was writing, would judge not merely the 12 tribes, but the whole world, and moreover angels themselves.  It is the opinion of many of the Fathers, S. Jerom, S. Austin, S. Gregory, and others, that all apostolical men, i.e. such as, renouncing the goods of this life, adhere to Christ in mind and affection, and by every possible means promote his reign and the propagation of his gospel, will be so far honoured as to sit in judgment with him at the general resurrection.  T. — You also shall sit on twelve seats, or thrones, meaning at the general resurrection, when Christ will appear on the throne of his majesty, with his heavenly court, and with his elect, shall condemn the wicked world.  Wi.

Ver. 29.  Shall receive a hundred-fold.  In S. Mark we read a hundred-fold now in this time, and in the world to come life everlasting.  Which hundred-fold is to be understood of the blessings in this life, of interior consolations, of the peace of a good conscience, and in general of spiritual gifts and graces, which are much more valuable than all temporal goods.  And besides these spiritual graces in this world, he shall have everlasting glory in the world to come.  Wi. — Our Saviour does not here lay down a precept of separating from wives; but, as when he before said, he that loseth his life for my sake, shall find it, he did not counsel, much less command us to lay violent hands upon ourselves; so here he teaches us to prefer the duties of piety to every other consideration.  S. Chrys. hom. lxv. — The reward will be a hundred-fold, by the accumulation of spiritual gifts and graces in this life, infinitely superior to all we have left, and the inheritance of life eternal in the next.  V.

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[1]  V. 3.  Quacunque ex causa, kata pasan aitian, ex qualibet causa.

[2]  V. 5.  Erunt duo in carne una, duo eiV sarka mian, in carnem unam, as Gen. ii. 7. factus est homo in animam viventem.  See Maldon.

[3]  V. 11.  Non omnes capiunt, ou panteV cwrousi.  Maldonat will needs have cwrein, to signify intelligere, as it does sometimes.  But S. Jerom on this place, unusquisque consideret vires suas, &c.  And S. Chrys. (hom. lxiii.) ut singulare esse certamen perdiscas.  S. Jerom adds, Sed his datum est, qui petierunt; qui voluerunt; qui ut acciperent, laboraverunt.  And S. Chrys. His enim datum est, qui spontè id eligunt. dedotai gar ekeinoiV toiV boulomenoiV.  Ed. Sav. p. 397.

[4]  V. 17.  Quid me interrogas de bono?  erwtaV peri agaqou.  In the common Greek copies, ti me legeiV agaqon.

[5]  V. 24.  Camelum, kamhlun, which is observed to be different from kamiloV, a cable, or ship-rope.  See Mr. Legh, Critica Sacra.

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MATTHEW 20

CHAPTER XX.

Ver. 1.  For the kingdom.  The participle for, is found in the Greek, and connects the present parable with the last verse of the preceding chapter: indeed it is a comment on that text, and describes to us the gospel dispensation.  Thus the conduct of God in the choice he makes of members for his spiritual kingdom, the Church, and of his elect for the kingdom of heaven, is not unlike that of the father of a family, who hires workmen to labour in his vineyard.  There are various opinions respecting who are meant by the first, and by the last, in this parable.  Many of the fathers suppose that the saints of different states and degrees are here designed, whose reward will suffer no diminution from the circumstances of their having come to the service of Christ at a late age of the world, according to SS. Hilary, Gregory, and Theophylactus; or, at a late age of life, according to SS. Basil, Jerom, and Fulgentius.  In the latter case, however, we must understand that their greater fervour in co-operating with divine grace, in the latter part of their life, has supplied and compensated for the defect of their preceding negligence; hence it may sometimes happen that the reward of such as enter late in life on the service of God, will exceed that of the less fervent who have entered at an earlier period.  But as Christ rather seems to speak here of his militant than his triumphant Church, many commentators explain the parable of the Jews and Gentiles.  For the Jews, after bearing the yoke of the Mosaic law for so many ages, received nothing more than what was promised to the observance of that law; whilst Christians receive a more plentiful reward for their more easy labour under the sweet yoke of the gospel.  In which sense Christ says to the Jews, Luke xiii. 29: Publicans and harlots shall go before you into the kingdom of heaven.  “And, strangers shall come from the east, and from the west, and the north, and the south, and shall sit down in the kingdom of God.  And behold they are last that shall be first, and they are first that shall be last.”  Ibid. 30. — Hence the Jews may be supposed to murmur, that they who are first in their vocation to be the people of God, and first in the observance of his law, should not be preferred to others, who in these respects have been far posterior to them.  T. — By the vineyard, says S. Chrysostom, we here understand, the commandments of God.  The time for labour is the present life.  In the first, third, sixth, ninth, and eleventh hours, i.e. in infancy, youth, manhood, declining years, and extreme decrepitude of age, many individuals, yielding to the effective call of God, labour in the exact performance of the divine commandments.  Hom. lxv.

Ver. 2.  The Roman penny, or denarius, was the 8th part of an ounce; which, at the rate of 5s. per ounce, is 7½d. It is put here for the usual hire of a day-labourer.

Ver. 3.  About the third hour.  As the Jews divided their nights into four watches, each watch comprehending three hours, so they divided their days into four greater hours, from sunrise to sunset, and each of these great hours contained three lesser hours; so that the whole day from sunrise to sunset, consisted of 12 hours, as also did the night.  The first of the great hours, comprehending the three first lesser hours, contained half of the space betwixt the rising of the sun and mid-day; and the end of this time was called the third hour.  The next great hour was from that time till mid-day, called the sixth hour.  The following great hour contained half of the time betwixt noon and the setting of the sun, the end of which was called the ninth hour.  The fourth great hour comprehended the last three lesser hours remaining till sunset, so that at the end of the eleventh hour, mentioned here, v. 6, began the last lesser hour of the twelve hours of the day; of which our Saviour said, (Jo. xi. 9,) are there not twelve hours in the day? — As to the moral sense of the parable, by the day is commonly expounded all the time from the creation to the end of the world, and so the third hour is reckoned from Adam to Noe; the sixth from Noe to Abraham; the ninth from Abraham to Moses; and from the ninth to the eleventh, was from Moses till Christ’s coming; and the time from Christ to the end of the world, is the 12th hour.  Other interpreters, by the day understand human life; and by the different hours, infancy, youth, the age of manhood, old age, and the last hour man’s decrepit age.  God is master and disposer of all, who by his grace calls some sooner, some later.  The market-place, in which men are so often found idle, as to the great concern of their eternal salvation, is the world.  The design of this parable was to shew that the Gentiles, though called later than the Jews, should be made partakers of the promises made to the Jews; this is also the meaning of verse 16, where it is said: the last shall be first, and the first last.  Wi.

Ver. 4.  I will give you what shall be just.  The prospect of a reward is therefore a good motive, authorized here by Christ himself.

Ver. 7.  No man hath hired us.  S. Chrys. again puts us in mind, that in parables all the parts are not significant, but some things are to be taken as mere ornaments of parabolical discourses, as here murmurings, which cannot be found in heaven: nor can men pretend they are not hired into God’s service; God hath given lights, called, hired, and promised heaven to all.  The rewards in heaven are also different.  And they who are last called, if they labour with greater fervour, may deserve a greater reward than others called before them.  Wi. — The Greek text finishes with, you shall receive what is reasonable. — We must observe here, says S. Chrys. on the words, because no man hath hired us, that this is the voice of the labourers only, in excuse for their not having entered upon their work before this late hour; for the master of the vineyard had shewn his willingness to hire them all, by going out early for that purpose.  Though the fault was their own, he does not upbraid them, but abstains from all harshness and severity, that he may the more easily engage them.  Hom. lxv.

Ver. 11.  And when they received it.  By those who laboured all the day in the vineyard, we are to understand such as have spent their whole lives in the service of God; but we are not thence to infer, that in the kingdom of heaven, where all receive their just reward, there is envy, discontent, or any complaint.  By these words, Christ wishes to convey to our minds an idea of the immense honours that will be heaped upon all such as return with sincerity, though at the decline or even verge of life, to the Almighty.  So exceeding great will be their reward, that it would excite envy, were it possible, even in the elect.  S. Chrys. hom. lxv.

Ver. 14.  I will also give.  Some are called to the service of their God, and to a life of virtue, from their infancy, whilst others, by a powerful call from above, are converted late in life, that the former may have no occasion to glory in themselves, or to despise those who, even in the 11th hour, enter upon the path of rectitude; and that all might learn that there is time sufficient, however short, left them to repair by their diligence and fervour their past losses.  S. Chry. hom. lxv. — Jesus Christ does not count so much the number of years, as the fervour and diligence we employ in his service.  Calvin is rather unhappy in his choice of this parable to prove his favourite tenet, that salvation is not the reward of good works, but of faith alone, or predestination, since Jesus Christ represents heaven as given wholly as a just reward of meritorious labour in the vineyard, though some labour a shorter, and others a longer time, and God of his great goodness may give more to some than to others, while to all He gives at least their due.  And a truly humble Christian will be ever satisfied with his lot, without envying that of others.  A. — As star differeth from star in glory in the firmament, (1 Cor. xv. 41,) so will there be different degrees of glory in heaven.  S. Aug. de virgin. c. xxvi.

Ver. 16.  Few chosen: only such as have not despised their caller, but followed and believed him; for men believed not, but of their own free will.  S. Aug. l. i, ad Simplic. q. ii.  B. — Hence the rejection of the Jews and of negligent Christians, and the conversion of strangers, who come and take their place, by a conversion both of faith and morals.  On the part of God all are called.  Mat. xi. 28.  Come to me all, &c.  In effect, many after their call, have attained to faith and justification; but few in comparison are elected to eternal glory, because the far greater part do not obey the call, but refuse to come, whilst many of those who come fall away again; and thus very few, in comparison with those that perish, will at the last day be selected for eternal glory.  T.

Ver. 18.  Behold we go, &c.  Jesus here, for the third time, foretells his death; (the first time, Mat. xvi. 21; the second time, Mat. xvii. 21.)  Our salvation and happiness are owing to the death of Christ; neither is there any thing that more loudly calls for our gratitude than his sufferings and death.  Jesus takes the 12 apart, and reveals to them the mystery of his passion.  He had previously declared it in public, but in ambiguous terms, saying: destroy this temple, &c.  A sign shall not be given, but the sign of Jonas the prophet; but here he manifestly expounds to his disciples the mystery: behold we go up to Jerusalem, &c.  This discourse of our Saviour is remarkable for an energetic strength of expression.  S. Chrys. — Jesus had repeatedly spoken to his apostles of his passion; but as much of what he had said had escaped their memory, now that he is upon the road to Jerusalem in company with his disciples, he brings it back to their recollection, to fortify them against the scandal they might take at his ignominious death.  S. Jerom.

Ver. 19.  The third day he shall rise again.  We may take notice, that as often as Christ mentioned his sufferings and death, he also joined his resurrection, that they might take notice, and not lose their faith.  Wi. — Like the rest of the Jews, the apostles were so fully prepossessed with the idea that the Messias would be immortal, that they could not understand what Jesus Christ said to them.  He, however, did reveal these things, that, on a future day, recollecting how their Lord and Master had foreseen and foretold to them the most material circumstances relating to his passion and death, they might believe more firmly in him, and be convinced that he suffered of his own free choice.  A.

Ver. 20.  Then came to him.  Upon Christ’s informing his apostles that he should die and rise again, they conceived that he would immediately reign in Jerusalem with great glory and power; and it was this made the mother of the sons of Zebedee petition that they might take precedence, and be honoured by the other apostles.  But Christ answers them that they knew not what they asked, for honours were to be bestowed not on relationship, but on merit: in like manner, the dignities of the Church are not to be conferred upon relatives, but upon the worthy.  Nic. de Lyran. — On comparing the 27th chapter of S. Mat. with the 15th of S. Mark, it will appear that she was the same as Salome. — In S. Mark x. 35, we find that the sons themselves made this petition: both the sons and their mother might make it; at least the sons may be said to have done what they got their mother to desire for them; and therefore Christ directed his answer to them: you know not what you ask.  You think, says S. Chrys. of temporal preferments, of honours, and crowns, when you should be preparing yourselves for conflicts and battles.  Wi. — Our Lord suffers these occasional weaknesses in his apostles, that he might, from his instructions and corrections, render his doctrines more intelligible to them and to posterity.  S. Jer.

Ver. 22.  The chalice.  It is a metaphor signifying Christ’s sufferings and death.  See Psal. x. 7. and lxxiv. 9.  Isai. li. 17.  The apostles replied, we can drink thy cup.  Their answer shewed their readiness, but want of humility.  Wi.

Ver. 23.  Of my chalice indeed you shall drink.  S. James was the first apostle that suffered martyrdom at Jerusalem. Acts xii. 2.  And S. John at Rome was put into a cauldron of boiling oil, and banished into Patmos. — Is not mine to give you.[1]  The Arians objected these words against Christ’s divinity.  S. Aug. answers that the words are true if taken of Christ, as he was man.  The easier answer is, that it was not his to give to them, while they were in those dispositions of pride and ambition.  So that the distinction made, is not betwixt the Father and his eternal Son, as if the Father could give what the Son could not, but betwixt persons worthy, and not worthy of such a favour.  It is true the word you, is now wanting in the Greek MSS. and must have been wanting in some of them in the fourth, or at least the fifth century, since we find them not in S. Chrysostom.  S. Aug. also in one place omits it, but sometimes lays great stress upon it; Christ’s meaning being no more, than that heaven was not his to give them; that is, to the proud, &c.  S. Amb. reads it; and what is still of greater weight, S. Jerom hath it in the text of the New Testament, which he corrected from the best Greek MSS.  Wi. — In your present state there is no exception of persons with God; for, whosoever is worthy of heaven, shall receive it as the reward of his merits.  Therefore Christ answers them, it is not mine to bestow the kingdom of heaven upon you, because you are not yet deserving, on account of your pride in seeking to have yourselves preferred before my other apostles.  But be ye humble, and heaven is prepared for you, as well as for all others, who are properly disposed.  Nic. de Lyra. — Greatness in the next life will be proportioned to humility in this.

Ver. 24.  The ten . . . were moved with indignation against the two brothers, who had petitioned for the first and chief places.  Wi. — The disciples understood from our Lord’s answer, that the request came in the first instance from the two disciples; but as they saw them much honoured by Christ, they did not dare openly to accuse them.  S. Chry. — The other ten apostles were as much wrong in their anger and jealousy as the former two were in their untimely petition.  In his answer to both, we cannot sufficiently admire the wonderful meekness of our blessed Saviour’s character.  Jansenius.

Ver. 25.  Princes of the Gentiles lord it over them: tyrannize over those that are under them, by arbitrary and violent proceedings.  Wi. — Our Lord wishing to extinguish the indignation conceived against the two brothers, lays before them the difference of secular and ecclesiastical princes, shewing that precedency in the Church is neither to be sought for by him who is not possessed of it, nor too eagerly loved by him who has it; for secular princes are lords of their subjects, keeping them under subjection, and govern them in every particular according to their will; but ecclesiastical princes are honoured with precedency, that they may be servants of their inferiors, administer to them whatever they have received from Christ, neglect their own convenience for the good of their neighbour, and be willing even to die for the spiritual good of their subjects.  It is neither just nor reasonable, therefore, to desire precedency in the Church, without these qualifications.  No prudent man is willing to subject himself to such servitude and danger, as to take upon himself the obligation of having to give an account of the wickedness and perversity of others, unless fearless of the divine judgments, he abuse his ecclesiastical superiority.  S. Chrys.

Ver. 28.  A redemption for many; i.e. for all, as it is sometimes the style of the Scriptures.  See S. Paul, 1 Tim. ii. 6.  Wi. — Certain Puritans pretend from this part of holy Scripture, that all superiority is forbidden; but it is merely pride, ambition, and haughtiness, not superiority, that is here proscribed.  Jesus Christ himself, as Son of man, was their and our Superior, Lord, and Master, notwithstanding his humility.  B. — For the divine appointment of both civil and ecclesiastical government, see Rom. xiii. 2. and 1 Cor. xii. 28.  Heb. c. xiii. 7, 17.

Ver. 30.  Two blind men.  S. Mark, (x. 46.) when he seems to relate the same passage, mentions but one, called Bartimeus; perhaps because he was the more famous of the two.  Wi. — These were very opportunely presented to our Lord, that they might go up to Jerusalem with him, after they had received sight from his divine hands, and appear there as witnesses of the divinity of his mission.  S. Chrys. hom. lxvi, in Matt. — We may here consider, if the blindness of the body be looked upon as a very great misfortune, how much greater must be the darkness of the soul.  The former is only a privation of the light of day, the other is a privation of the light of grace and glory.  The light of this world, though a great blessing, is enjoyed in common with the brute creation; it serves only to distinguish material objects.  The light which Christ communicates to the soul, enables us to know God and his sacred truths, as revealed to his holy Catholic Church; it elevates us above all inferior creatures, it dissipates the spiritual darkness caused by sin and our unruly passions, and conducts us to the true light of eternal glory.  Oh what unspeakable joy must then fill and overwhelm the elect, when in the light of God they see light itself, the bright countenance of their loving and beloved Father!!!

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[1]  V. 23.  Non est meum dare vobis.  Now we read only in the Greek, ouk estin emon dounai.  It is so also in S. Chrys. in S. Cyril, (in Thesauro, Assertione xxvi, tom. v. p. 243) where he answers this objection of the Arians.  Nor is umin, in the Greek text of S. Epiphan. (hær. lxix, p. 742) though it be put there in the Latin translation.  S. Aug. has not vobis: (l. i. de Trin. c. xii, p. 765.  G. tom. viii.) but in Ps. ciii, (tom. iv, p. 1157) he says, Quid est non est meum dare vobis? non est meum dare superbis.  S. Amb. (l. v. de Fide, tom. iv. c. iii, p. 147) Non dixit non est meum dare, sed non est meum dare vobis, hoc est, non sibi potestatem deesse asserens, sed me[]tum creaturis.  Besides the Fathers, who did not read vobis in the text, shew by their expositions, that they took the sense to be the same, and no ways favourable to the Arians.  See S. Aug. l. i. de Trin. p. 766.  A. non est meum dare, ac si diceretur, non est humanæ potestatis hoc dare, ut per illud intelligatur hoc dare, per quod Deus est æqualis Patri, &c.  See S. Chrys. hom. lxvi.  S. Cyril in Thesauro assert. xxvi. p. 243.  S. Epiphan. hær. lxix, p. 742, &c.

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MATTHEW 21

CHAPTER XXI.

Ver. 1.  Bethphage, was a village of the priests, and signifies the house of figs and dates, or the house of the fountain, or of the flatterer, situated on the declivity of Mount Olivet, about a mile to the east of Jerusalem, a sabbath-day’s journey.  As Bethphage was probably so called from the fig and date trees growing there, Mount Olivet was from the great number of olive-trees: twn elaiwn.  The triumphal entry of Jesus Christ into Jerusalem from Bethania, was on the first day of the week, answering to our Sunday, the very day on which, by the appointment of the law, (Exod. xii. 3.) the lamb was brought hither, to be sacrificed at the Passover.  To shew, moreover, that in himself all the figures of the old law were realized, he chose that very night for the institution of the Passover of the new law, the blessed eucharist, which was appointed for the immolation of the paschal lamb in the old law, and the very day for the redemption of the world, in which the people of God had formerly been redeemed from Egyptian bondage. . . When they were arrived to the mid-way between Bethania (which he had just quitted) and Bethphage, he sends two of his disciples.  In the Greek it is, Kai hlqon eiV Bhqfagh; i.e. eporeuonto, they were travelling to Bethphage, and were near the place, within sight of it, but had not reached it, as we learn from both S. Mark and S. Luke.

Ver. 2.  Go ye into the village; in Latin, Castellum, but in Greek, eiV thn Kwmhn, which is, before you, contra vos, as Virgil says, Italiam contra.  Æneid i.  Some authors think it was Bethphage.  A. — An ass tied,[1] and a colt with her.  This colt, which never yet had been rid upon, represented the people of the Gentiles, to whom God had not given a written law, as he had done to the Jews.  Here was manifestly fulfilled the prophecy of Zachary.  C. ix.  It was now the first day of the week, in which Christ suffered; he was pleased to enter into Jerusalem in a kind of triumph, the people making acclamations to him, as to their king and Messias.  Wi. — Both Jews and Gentiles, figured by the ass and the colt, are to be loosed and conducted by the hands of the apostles of Christ to their Redeemer.  The Gentiles, represented by the colt, though heretofore unclean, no sooner receive Jesus resting upon them, than they are freed from every stain and rendered perfectly clean.  The zeal of the Gentiles stirred up the emulation of the Jews; therefore did the ass follow after its colt.  This approach of the Jews to the true faith, after the vocation of the Gentiles, is spoken of by S. Paul, Rom. xi. 25. Blindness in part has happened in Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles should come in.  And so all Israel should be saved.  S. Chrys. hom. lxvi. — As it is written, “there shall come out of Sion, he that shall deliver, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob.  And this is to them my covenant;” when I shall take away their sins.  This prophecy of Isaias (lix. 20.) S. Paul applies to the conversion of the Jews; (ibid) and thus both Jew and Gentile are to take up our Saviour’s yoke, which is certainly sweet, and his burden light.

Ver. 3-4.  The Lord hath need.  Not our Lord, or your Lord, but the Lord, viz. of all, both of the beasts and of their masters, and of every creature.  Christ here discovers two of his own attributes, his omniscience and his supreme dominion.  Now this was done not by accident, not through novelty or to avoid fatigue, but as the evangelist declares, to accomplish the prophecy of Isaias and of Zarchary.

Ver. 5.  Some MSS. read Isaias, others Zacharias: the text seems to be extracted from both, but particularly the latter, the sense of which is taken, though not verbatim, from the Septuagint version.  See Isai. lxii. 2. and Zach. ix. 9.

Ver. 7.  Sit thereon.  S. Jerom reprobates the opinion of those who suppose that Christ rode upon both the ass and the colt, though without sufficient reason.  The Greek indeed, epanw autwn, upon them, may be referred either to the beasts or to ta imatia, the garments; but the very general sentiment is, that he first sat upon the ass for a short time, and then mounted the colt.  It may be asked why Jesus, who through humility had during his whole life travelled on foot, and in no one previous instance is found to have allowed himself the convenience of riding, should on this occasion enter Jerusalem riding?  One reason was, as mentioned in note on v. 4, supra, to fulfil the prophecy of Zarcharias, who had given this mark of the Messias.  Hence S. John (Chrys. hom. lxvi.) challenges the Jews to shew him any other king of theirs, who had entered Jerusalem riding on an ass.  Other reasons were, to give a faint specimen of his real kingly dignity before he suffered; to be publicly acknowledged for the Messias; to confirm the faith of his disciples; and to leave his enemies no excuse for their incredulity.  On this, as on all other occasions, magnificence is admirably blended with humility, in our Saviour’s actions.  Even in this his triumph, we cannot help admiring his humility, in riding upon an ass.  Jans. — The glorious reception he met with from the people, was perfectly voluntary on their parts, the genuine effusions of their hearts, and as such, infinitely superior to the vain and often forced parade bestowed upon earthly princes; and is commemorated in the blessing and distributing of palms in the Catholic Church, on Palm-Sunday, all over the Christian world.

Ver. 9.  Hosanna,[2] or hosiah-na, was an acclamation of the Jews: when applied to God, means save us, I beseech Thee; when applied to a sovereign prince, means vivat, in Latin, or long live the king.  V. — Hosanna, says S. Jerom, is the same as, Save, I beseech thee.  Ps. cxvii.  Some will have the word Hosanna directed to Christ himself, and the sense to be, Save us, O thou Son of David; others understand Hosanna, directed to God, as if the people said, Save, O Lord, this our king; by which the people wished peace, safety, and prosperity to Jesus their Messias.  Wi. It appears that the Holy Ghost, on this occasion secretly inspired their tongues, and through their means caused loud thanks to be offered to Jesus, for an approaching blessing, of which as yet they had no conception. — These same words of acclamation are daily used in the preface of the mass, and represent the exultations of both priest and people, expecting, as it were, and rejoicing at his coming.  B.

Ver. 10.  He entered by the golden gate which looks towards the east, and which was not far distant from the temple, where the procession terminated.  There Jesus, as high priest, made his solemn entry into his Father’s house.

Ver. 11.  The Prophet, &c.  It was amidst these acclamations that Christ wept, and foretold the destruction of the city.  Luke xix. 42.  Wi. — It was not without great reason, that the whole city was so much disturbed with the triumphal entry of Jesus.  Man was extolled as God, and God extolled in man.  The elders, admiring his heavenly virtue, exclaimed, who is the king of glory!  Origen. — This is Jesus, the prophet, (outoV estin IhsouV o profhthV,) the one promised by Moses, (Deut. xviii. 15.) was the answer of the simple and candid people.  Jans.

Ver. 12.  And cast out all.  Since the Jews came to the temple from all parts of Judea, such as came from a distance did not bring with them their sacrifices, but purchased them at Jerusalem.  The money-changers were persons who lent out money to the poor, that they might purchase the victims, &c.  But as the law forbade usury, they received other fruits, grapes, &c. in return.  These persons, beyond a doubt, beheld a more than human brightness darting from his eyes, otherwise they would not have suffered him to act thus.  In the same manner, the servants of the high priest fell down when they came to apprehend Jesus, at these words, I am he.  Nic. de Lyra. — Into the temple.  Into that part of it called the court of the Gentiles, where pigeons were to be sold for sacrifices, where there were tables of money-changers, &c.  S. Jerom here admires this as one of the greatest of Christ’s miracles, that a poor man should be permitted to cast the buyers and sellers out of the temple, to overturn their stalls, their money-tables, &c. without any opposition.  Wi.

Ver. 13.  My house shall.  That man is a thief, and turns the temple of God into a den of thieves, who makes religion a cloak for his avarice.  Of all the innumerable miracles which Jesus performed, none appear greater in my eyes than this: that one man, at that time so contemned and despised, who was afterwards nailed to the tree of the cross, should with his single power be able to expel from the temple that multitude of Scribes and Pharisees, who were so maliciously bent upon his destruction, and so greedy of gain.  Something more than human appeared in his celestial countenance on this occasion, and the majesty of the divinity shewed itself in his looks and gestures.  Igneum quiddam, atque sidereum radiabat ex oculis ejus, et divinitatis majestas lucebat in facie.  S. Jerom. — Hence it is not to be wondered at, if in the utmost fear and consternation they fled away.  M.

Ver. 15.  Hosanna.  S. Augustine (l. de doct. christ. c. xi.) thinks this word is an interjection of joy, without any particular meaning, denoting only affection, as Racha is an expression of indignation.  This opinion seems supported by the interpreters not having translated either of these words, but retained them in the Greek and in the Latin versions.  It seems more than probable, according to S. Jerom, that the whole sentence is taken from Ps. cxvii. 25 and 26, in which the supposition, hosanna will signify God save; the word me, though in the verse of the Psalm just mentioned, is not in the Hebrew.  It is a familiar acclamation among the Jews, which they sung every day on the feast of the tabernacles, carrying branches in their hands.  (The feast of the tabernacles was figurative of Christ’s divinity, resting under the tabernacle of our humanity.)  The manner in which it was chanted, was not unlike our litanies.  First some name or attribute of the Deity was sung, as “For thy own sake, O Lord of Lords,” to which the people answered, “hosanna,” or “save us,” “by thy covenant,” “save us,” “thy holy temple,” “Hosanna, save us.”  These litanies were very long, and are said at present by the Jews in their synagogues. Many things have undoubtedly been added in process of time, but they most probably were in use from the beginning.  Jans.

Ver. 16.  Have you never read: Out of the mouth, &c.  The words are Psalm viii. 3, which some apply to the praises the people gave to David, when he had conquered Goliath, but Christ applies them to the present circumstances.  Wi. — It is here said, that from the mouth of children the Almighty, had perfected praise, as in Ps. viii. 3. in the Septuagint, to shew that their words did not proceed from their own minds, but that their tender tongues were employed by the power of God to sound forth his praise.  S. Chrys. hom. lxviii. — It is evident from this and various other texts, that we ought to read the Old Testament with an eye to Christ, who was the end of the law.

Ver. 17.  And having viewed all about; (as we read in S. Mark xi. 11,) when the hour of evening was come, he went out of the city into Bethania, as usual, with the 12 apostles.  Hence we may collect in how great poverty our Saviour lived, and how far he was from flattering the great ones of this world, since he could not find a friend to offer him his house for a night’s repose, and to ease his fatigued members, but is obliged to go to Bethania, a small village, to the house of Martha and Mary.  S. Jer.

Ver. 18.  In the morning, returning into the city, he was hungry.  This hunger, though real and pressing, was mysterious, and affords an opportunity of giving instruction both to the Jews and to all his disciples.  By the fig-tree, was represented the Jewish synagogue; the hunger of Christ was a figure of his extreme desire of finding it productive of good works, (and there is no time nor season when the servants of God can be excused from bringing forth good works) answerable to the pains of cultivation he had taken for more than three years.  The leaves were their pompous shew of exterior service, the barren foliage of legal rites, void of the internal spirit and good works, the only valuable produce of the tree.  By the withering of the tree subsequent to Christ’s imprecation, the reprobation and utter barrenness of the synagogue are represented.  S. Mark observes, (xi. 13,) that it was not the season for figs; nor are we to suppose that our Saviour went up to the tree expecting to find fruit; but if some of the evangelists mention this circumstance, they only relate the surmises of the disciples.  Though he had before shewn his power by innumerable miracles, Christ still thought this necessary to excite the hearts of his disciples to greater confidence.  He had often exercised his power to do good, but now for the first time shews himself able to punish.  Thus he testifies to the apostles and to the Jews themselves, that he could with a word have made his crucifiers wither away, and therefore that he willingly bore the extremity of the sufferings he should in a few days have to undergo.  S. Chry. hom. lxviii.

Ver. 20.  The disciples, &c.  This surprise of the disciples, at the sudden withering of the fig-tree, happened the following morning.  See Mark xi. 20.

Ver. 24-25.  The baptism of John, by which is also understood his doctrine and preaching, was it from heaven or not?  Wi.

Ver. 26.  He will say to us: Why then did not you believe him?  When he divers times bore witness to you that I am your Messias.  Wi.

Ver. 28.  A certain man had two sons, &c.  The ancient interpreters, by the first son generally understand the Gentiles, as also publicans and scandalous sinners; and by the second, the Jewish people.  The Gentiles, &c. who at the first did not, would not worship and serve God; yet afterwards they, as also publicans, and many sinners, received the faith, and being converted, became faithful servants of God, and saints: the Jews, or the greatest part of them, who pretended to be God’s servants, and his people, rejected the gospel and their Messias; therefore this commination follows, the publicans, &c. shall go before you into the kingdom of God.  Wi. — By these two sons are to be understood, says S. Chrysostom, the Gentiles and the Jewish people; the latter our Redeemer wishes to make sensible of their own great ingratitude, and of the ready obedience of the cast-off Gentiles.  For they having never heard the law, nor promised obedience have still shewn their submission by their works; whereas the Jews, after promising to obey the voice of God, had neglected the performance.  Hom. lxviii.

Ver. 33.  A certain master of a family, &c.  This master is God; the vineyard, the Jews; the husbandmen, the Jewish priests; the servants, God’s prophets, sent from time to time: the son, called (Mark xii. 6,) his only and most dear son, is our Saviour Christ, whom they persecuted to death.  Wi. — By this parable, our Saviour teaches the Jews that the providence of God had wonderfully watched over them from the beginning, that nothing had been omitted to promote their salvation, and that notwithstanding his prophets had been put to most cruel deaths, still the Almighty was not turned away from them, but had at length sent down his only Son, who should suffer at their hands the inexpressible ignominies and tortures of his cross and passion.  S. Chry. hom. lxix.

Ver. 37.  They will reverence, &c.  This is not said, as if God were ignorant what the Jews would do to his only begotten Son, since in this very place he declares that they would condemn him to death; but, to shew what they ought to have done, and what he had a right to expect from them.  Nic. de Lyra.

Ver. 38.  Heir.  From this text, it appears that the princes of the Jews knew Jesus to be the Messias, and that it was only through envy and malice they were so blinded as not to acknowledge him for the Son of God.  When, therefore, the apostle says, (1 Cor. ii. 8,) If they had known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory; this, it is probable, must be understood of the common people, since we can hardly believe that the princes of the people were ignorant of it, as Christ had so repeatedly inculcated this truth, that he even says himself they had no excuse, and were only actuated by hatred against him and his Father.  S. John xv. 22.  T. — Inheritance, &c.  It appears from S. John xi. that one of the motives why the Jews killed our Saviour was, lest if they let him live, all men should believe, and the Romans should come and destroy their nation.  But the very means they took to secure their kingdom to themselves, hastened their downfall, and eventually caused their ruin; since in punishment of their crucifying Jesus Christ, their city and state were completely ruined under the Roman emperors Titus and Vespasian.  Nic. de Lyra.

Ver. 41.  He will bring those evil men to an evil end.  This answer was made by some of them.  Yet S. Luke (xx. 16,) tells us, that others among them, (whom we may take to be the Scribes and Pharisees) cried out, God forbid; seeing well enough that this was a prediction of their future ruin.  Wi. — If we compare this text with S. Luke, it will appear that it was from the midst of the people that this answer was given, which was confirmed by Jesus Christ, and at which the high priests were so indignant, because they saw clearly it must fall upon themselves.  V.

Ver. 42.  The head of the corner.  By these words, (Psal. cxvii,) which the Jews themselves expounded of their Messias, Christ shewed them, that although they, who should have been the architects, had rejected him, yet he should be the chief corner-stone to unite the Jews and the Gentiles, converted into one Christian Church, militant on earth and triumphant in heaven.  See Acts iv. 11.  Wi. — S. Austin remarks, that this parable was addressed not only to the opponents of Christ’s authority, but likewise to the people.

Ver. 43.  The kingdom of God shall be taken from you.  By this dreadful conclusion he tells them in plain terms, that they shall be forsaken, and punished for their blindness and obstinacy.  Wi.

Ver. 45.  They understood that he spoke of them.  This parable, though immediately addressed to the Jews, contains an admirable instruction for Christians.  For, what the Jews have suffered for their wickedness and ingratitude, has also been the fate of many Christian kingdoms, and the mournful lot of many once flourishing happy churches, whose candlesticks are removed, and light extinct.  The same conduct God observes with regard to particular persons, in punishment of their repeatedly abusing his graces; he at last withdraws them, and leaves the culprit to himself, and to the miserable consequences of this merited privation of grace.

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[1]  V. 2.  A prophecy of the coming of the Messias was here so manifestly accomplished in the person of Jesus, that I cannot but set down the words of the prophet Zachary, c. ix.  Ecce Rex tuus veniet tibi justus & Salvator, ipse pauper, & ascendens super Asinam, & super pullum filium Asinæ.  They are no less clear in the Hebrew, and other languages.  See the Protestant translation in the prophet Zacharias.

[2]  V. 9.  Hosanna filio David.  ta uiw Dauid.  See Maldonat.

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MATTHEW 22

CHAPTER XXII.

Ver. 1.  Jesus answered, and spoke to them again in parables, and concludes his discourse with again describing, 1st. the reprobation of the Jews; 2d. the calling of the Gentiles to the true faith; and 3d. the final judgment of both the one and the other.  In this parable of the marriage feast, says S. Chrysostom, our Saviour again declares to the Jews their reprobation, and the vocation of the Gentiles, their great ingratitude, and his tender solicitude for them.  For he did not send them a single invitation only; he repeatedly invited them.  Say, says he, to the invited; and afterwards, call the invited; thus evincing the greatness of their obstinacy, in resisting all the calls and pressing invitations of the Almighty.  Hom. lxx. — This parable is certainly not the same as that mentioned in S. Luke xiv. 16, as every one that will be at the pains to examine and compare all the circumstances of each, will easily discover, though they are very much alike.  M.

Ver. 2.  Is like to a man being a king, &c.  This parable seems different from that of Luke xiv. 16.  See S. Aug. l. ii. de Cons. Evang. c. lxx.  The main design in this parable, is to shew the Jews that they were all invited to believe in Christ; though so few of them believed.  The king is God; his son is Jesus Christ; the spouse is the Church; the marriage is Christ’s incarnation; the feast, the grace of God in this life, and his glory in the next.  His servants were the prophets; and lastly his precursor, S. John. — My fatlings, which I have prepared, and made fat for the feast: but this is but an ornament of the parable.  Wi. — The same takes place in the kingdom of heaven, as when a king makes a marriage feast for his son.  Jesus Christ seems to have had two things in view in this parable: 1st. that many are called to the kingdom of heaven, i.e. his Church, and that few come, as he concludes, v. 14, many are called, &c; 2d. that not all that come when called will be saved, i.e. will be reputed worthy of the celestial feast; because some have not on the wedding-garment, as he shews, v. 11.  M. — Thus the conduct of God in the formation of his Church, and in the vocation of men to glory which himself has prepared for them in the kingdom of heaven, is like to that of a king, wishing to celebrate the marriage of his son.  V. — Marriage is here mentioned, says S. Chrysostom to shew there is nothing sorrowful in the kingdom of God, but all full of the greatest spiritual joy.  S. John Baptist likewise calls our Saviour the spouse; and S. Paul says, I have espoused thee to one man, 2 Cor. xi.  S. Chrys. hom. lxx.  See also Eph. v. 25. and Apoc. xxi. 2. and 9.  The nuptials in this place do not signify the union of marriage, or the incarnation of Jesus Christ, by which the Church is made his spouse; but the marriage feast, to which men are said to be invited.  This is no other than the doctrines, the sacraments and graces, with which God feeds and nourishes our souls, united to him by faith in this life, and by eternal joy and glory in the next.  Jans. — This union is begun here on earth by faith, is cemented by charity in all such as are united to Christ in the profession of the one true faith he came down to establish, and will be consummated and made perpetual hereafter by the eternal enjoyment of Christ in his heavenly kingdom.

Ver. 3.  His servants.  John the Baptist and Christ himself, who took the form of a servant, to call such as had been formerly invited to the nuptials that were to be celebrated in his time.  The Jews were invited by Moses and the prophets, and were instructed to believe that the Messias would celebrate this happy feast.  On the predetermined day, they were again called by his servants, saying: Do penance; for the kingdom of heaven is at hand: come to the feast, i.e. become members of his Church, by believing in Christ.  Jans. — In the same manner, S. Chrysostom says that the Jews had been invited by the voice of the prophets, and afterwards by the Baptist, who declared to all, that Christ should increase, but that he himself should decrease.  At length, they were invited by the Son in person, crying aloud to them: come to me all you that labour, and are heavily laden, and I will refresh you.  Mat. xi. 28.  And again: if any man thirst, let him come to me and drink.  S. John vii. 37. — And not by his words only, but by his actions also did he call them; and after his resurrection, by the ministry of Peter and the rest of the apostles (hom. lxx,) he informed the invited Jews that the banquet was ready; because the Christian religion being now established, the way to eternal happiness was laid open to mankind.

Ver. 5.  One to his farm.  After they had put to death the Son of God, still did the Almighty invite them to the marriage-feast; but they with futile excuses declined and slighted the proffered favour, wholly taken up with their temporal concerns and sensual enjoyments, their oxen, lands and wives.  From the punishment inflicted on these, we learn, that no consideration, how specious soever it may appear, can prove a legitimate excuse for neglecting our spiritual duties.  S. John. Chrys. hom. lxx. — Such as refuse to be reconciled to the holy Catholic Church, allege vain pretexts and impediments; but all these originating in pride, indolence, or human respects, will not serve at the day of general retribution and strict scrutiny.

 

Ver. 6.  Put them to death.  Thus the Jews had many times treated the prophets.  Wi. — These were by far the most impious and the most ungrateful; tenuerunt Servos ejus, as is related in the Acts, with regard to the death of James, and Stephen, and Paul.  M.

Ver. 7.  Sending his armies.  Here our Redeemer predicts the destruction of Jerusalem, by the armies of Vespasian and Titus, sent against them by the Almighty, in punishment of their incredulity and impiety.  S. Chrys. hom. lxx. — Thus the king destroyed those murderers, and burnt their city; for sooner or later God is observed to exert his vengeance on all such as despise his word, or persecute his ministers.  See the miseries to which the Jews were reduced in Josephus, book the 6th, c. ix, Hist. of the Jewish war; who declares, that in the last siege of Jerusalem 1,100,000 persons perished, and that the city was completely destroyed.  Other interpreters suppose that the evil spirits are here meant, by whom God punishes man, according to Psalm lxxvii, v. 49.  M. and Maldonatus.

Ver. 8.  Were not worthy.  The Almighty knew full well that they were not worthy; he still sent them these frequently repeated invitations, that they might be left without any excuse.  S. Chry. hom. lxx. — More is signified here than the bare letter conveys; they were not only less worthy of the nuptials, but by their very great obstinacy, ingratitude and impiety, quite unworthy.  Not so the Gentiles.  Jans. — Hence Christ says:

Ver. 9.  Go ye therefore into the highways.  The apostles first kept themselves within the precincts of Judea, but the Jews continually sought their destruction.  Therefore S. Paul said to them, (Acts xiii. 46.) to you it behoved us first to speak the word of God, but seeing you reject it, and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, behold we turn to the Gentiles.  S. Chrys. hom lxx.

Ver. 10.  Both bad and good.  Christ had before told the Jews that harlots and publicans should, in preference to them, inherit the kingdom of heaven, and that the first should be last, and the last first, which preference of the Gentiles, tormented the Jews more than even the destruction of their city.  Chrys. lxx. — Good and bad, persons of every tribe, tongue, people, nation, sex and profession, without any exception of persons or conditions.  Hence it is evident that the Church of God doth not consist of the elect only; and, that faith alone, without the habit of charity and good works, will not suffice to save us.  B.

Ver. 11.  Wedding garment, which Calvin erroneously understands of faith, for he came by faith to the nuptials.  S. Augustine says it is the honour and glory of the spouse, which each one should seek, and not his own; and he shews this, in a sermon on the marriage feast, to be charity.  This is the sentiment of the ancients, of S. Gregory, S. Ambrose, and others.  What S. Chrysostom expounds it, viz. an immaculate life, or a life shining with virtues, and free from the filth of sin, is nearly the same; for charity cannot exist without a good life, nor the purity of a good life, without charity.  In his 70th homily on S. Matthew, he says that the garment of life is our works; and this is here mentioned, that none might presume, (like Calvin and his followers) that faith alone was sufficient for salvation.  When, therefore we are called by the grace of God, we are clothed with a white garment, to preserve which from every stain, from every grievous sin, depends upon the diligence (the watching and praying) of every individual.  S. John. Chrys. — It was the custom then, as it still is in every civilized nation, not to appear at a marriage feast, or at a dinner of ceremony, except in the very best attire.  V.

Ver. 12.  Not having a wedding garment.  By this one person, are represented all sinner void of the grace of God.  Wi. — To enter with unclean garments, is to depart out of this life in the guilt of sin.  For those are no less guilty of manifesting a contempt for the Deity, who presume to sit down in the filth of an unclean conscience, than those who neglected to answer the invitations of the Almighty.  He is said to be silent, because having nothing to advance in his own defence, he remains self-condemned, and is hurried away to torments; the horrors of which words can never express.  S. Chrys. hom. lxx.

Ver. 15.  This is the third conference which Jesus Christ had with the Jews.  It relates to the civil conduct of mankind, as directed and influenced by religion.

Ver. 16.  The Herodians.  That is, some that belonged to Herod, and that joined with him in standing up for the necessity of paying tribute to Cæsar; that is, to the Roman emperor.  Some are of opinion that there was a sect among the Jews called Herodians, from their maintaining that Herod was the Messias.  Ch. — These soldiers had come to Jerusalem for the feast of the Passover, which was to take place in a very few days.  The Pharisees sent their disciples with these soldiers, that immediately as the former ensnared him in his discourse, the latter might apprehend him.  It is worthy of remark, that these blood-thirsty miscreants sought to ensnare him in his words, not able to discover a fault in any action of his whole life.  Nic. de Lyra. and S. Chrys. — Master, we know.  The Pharisees had instructed their disciples and the Herodians to speak in this seemingly friendly manner to our Saviour, that they might put him off his guard, and thereby ensnare him; thinking that Jesus, like other men, could be led away by flattery.  Thus do all hypocrites act.  They first praise those they want to destroy; and thus by their deceitful words, lead them aside from the true path, into all kinds of evils and miseries.  Ita S. Chrys. Tostatus, &c.

Ver. 17.  Is it lawful, reasonable and just, to give tribute to Cæsar?  It was at that time a question much agitated among the Jews, whether they, being the peculiar people of God, ought to be subject and pay taxes to Cæsar, or to any prince whatsoever, or be exempt from them.  Wi. — Judas Galilæus, about the time of Christ’s birth, stirred up the people to a revolt, which though suppressed by violent measures, and himself slain by the Romans, yet the doctrine he broached did not expire with him.  Some even among the Pharisees were of opinion, that it was unlawful for the people of God to serve strangers and idolaters, as we learn from Josephus.  The question, therefore, proposed to our Saviour was insidious in the extreme, and not easy to be answered, without incurring the displeasure of one or other of the parties.  For, if he answered that it was lawful, he would expose himself to the hatred of the Jews, who were aggrieved with what generally thought an unjust extortion, and a mark of servitude injurious to God; if he denied the legality of this hated capitation-tax, he would incur the displeasure of the Herodians, and be denounced to Cæsar.  This latter appears to have been their wish; as, in that case, it would have been very easy to persuade Pilate, that Christ and his disciples coming from Galilee, were favourers of that sect, who, from the name of their founder, Judas Galilæus, were called Galilæans; and some of whom, as we read in S. Luke (c. xiii. 1,) Pilate put to death, whose blood he mingled with their sacrifices.  Indeed so determined were the enemies of Christ to injure him with Pilate on this subject, that notwithstanding his answer was plainly in favour of the tribute, yet they blushed not a few days after to accuse him to Pilate of teaching it to be unlawful to pay tribute; we have found him, say they, forbidding tribute to be paid to Cæsar.  T. and Dion. Carth.

Ver. 18.  Ye hypocrites?  Our divine Saviour knowing their malice, and that it was their wish in proposing this question, to render him odious to the people, or a suspicious character to the prince, answers them in these severe words. . . . Another motive was, to let them see that the secrets of their inmost heart were open to him, and thus induce them to be converted from their wickedness; for, certainly, if they perceived that he could read their hearts, they must thence concluded that he was something more than human.  This severe reprehension, according to S. Chrysostom, shews, that it is better for man that God should chastise him here in this life, than spare him here to chastise him hereafter.  Tostatus.

Ver. 21.  Render therefore to Cæsar the things that are Cæsar’s.  He neither directly decided the question, nor offended the Herodians.  They admired his wisdom, were quite disappointed, and retired with confusion.  Wi. — The reasoning of Christ appears to be this: As you are the subjects of Cæsar, which you plainly acknowledge by admitting his coin, upon which he inscribes himself lord of Asia, Syria, and Judæa, &c. it is but just you pay him the tribute due from subjects to their sovereign; nor have you any reason to object on the plea of religion, since he demands of you for the exigencies of the public service only temporal things, and such as are in some respects already his own, by being stamped with his own image and superscription.  But spiritual things, which belong to God alone, as your souls, stamped with his image, divine worship, religious homage, &c. God, not Cæsar, demands of you.  “Give therefore to Cæsar what belongeth to Cæsar, and to God what belongeth to God.”  T. — What our Saviour here commands us to give to God, is nothing else but our heart and affections.  Here our divine Lord likewise shews us, how we are to steer the middle course between the two extremes, into which some persons fall.  Some say that all must be given to God, and nothing to Cæsar, i.e. all our time must be given to the care of our soul, and none to the care of the body; but Christ teaches that some must be given to the one, and part to the other.  Origen. — Although Christ clearly establishes here the strict obligation of paying to Cæsar what belongs to Cæsar, yet he is afterwards accused, as we have mentioned above, (see note on v. 17) as if he forbade tribute to be paid to Cæsar.  In like manner, in spite of the most explicit declarations of the Catholic Church, respecting her loyalty and subjection to temporal powers, her enemies fail not to calumniate her doctrine as inimical to the state, and subversive of due subordination.  But let our opponents attend to the following authority and public declaration of Pope Clement XIV. addressed to all Catholic bishops in the Christian world.  “Be careful,” says he, “that those whose instruction in the law of the gospel is committed to your charge, be made sensible from their very infancy of their sacred obligation of loyalty to their kings, of respect to their authority, and of submission to their laws, not only for wrath, but for conscience sake.” — But princes should not exact, and subjects should not affect to give them ecclesiastical jurisdiction.  S. Athanasius quotes the following strong words from an epistle of the famous confessor Hosius, to Constantius, the Arian emperor: “Cease, I beseech thee, and remember that thou art mortal.  Fear the day of judgment, and meddle not with ecclesiastical matters; neither do thou command us in this kind, but rather learn them of us.  To thee God hath committed the empire; to us he hath committed what belongs to the Church.  And as he who, with a malicious eye, hath designs upon thine empire, opposeth the ordinance of God; so do thou also beware lest, by an improper interference in ecclesiastical matters, thou be made guilty of a great crime.  For it is written, Give to Cæsar, &c.  Therefore, neither is it lawful for us on earth to hold the empire, neither hast thou, O emperor, power over incense and sacred things.”  Athan. ep. ad solit. vitam agentes. — And S. Ambrose to Valentinian, the emperor, (who by the ill counsel of his mother Justina, an Arian, required of S. Ambrose to have one church in Milan made over to the Arian heretics) saith: “We pay that which is Cæsar’s to Cæsar, and that which is God’s to God.  Tribute is Cæsar’s; it is not denied.  The Church is God’s; it cannot verily be yielded to Cæsar; because the temple of God cannot be Cæsar’s right.  Be it said, as all must allow to the honour of the emperor, for what is more honourable than that the emperor be said to be the son of the Church?  A good emperor is within the Church, but not above the Church.”  Ambros. l. v. epist. Orat. de Basil, trad.

Ver. 24.  Raise up issue to his brother, to be heirs of his name and of his effects, as we read in Ruth, c. iv, v. 10: suscitare nomen defuncti, &c. to raise up the name of the deceased in his inheritance, lest his name be cut off from among his family, and his brethren, and his people.  A.

Ver. 29.  You err.  The Sadducees erred in supposing that there would be no resurrection, or if there was, that the future state would be like the present.  Unable to conceive any thing else, they thought themselves justified in concluding that the soul would not survive the body.  Had they known the Scriptures, they would not have fallen into this error; since therein are found abundant testimonies of a resurrection, as Job xiv and xix, Isaias xxvi, Ezechiel xxxvii, Daniel xii.  The power of God also, had they paid sufficient attention to that consideration, would have taught them the same truth.  It cannot be difficult for that power, which created and formed all things from nothing, to raise the body again after it has been reduced to ashes: nor impossible to prepare in a future state, rewards and enjoyments superior to and widely different from any thing that is seen in our present stage of existence.  Jansenius.

Ver. 30.  As the angels.  Not in every respect, for the body shall be likewise raised with the soul, whilst the angels are pure spirits: but in this we shall be like unto angels, we shall be endowed with immortality, and impassibility; and our joys, like those of the angels, shall be wholly spiritual.  Jans. — If not to marry, nor to be married, be like unto angels, the state of religious persons, and of priests, is justly styled by the Fathers an angelic life.  S. Cyp. l. ii. de discip. et hab. Virg. sub finem.  B.

Ver. 32.  He is not the God of the dead.  Jesus Christ here proves the resurrection of the body by the immortality of the soul; because in effect these two tenets are inseparable.  The soul being immortal, ought necessarily to be one day reunited to the body, to receive therein the recompense or punishment which it has merited in this same body, when it was clothed with it. — By this text S. Jerom refutes the heretic Vigilantius, and in him many of modern date, who to diminish the honour Catholics pay to the saints, call them designedly dead men.  But the Almighty is not the God of the dead; of consequence these patriarchs, dead as they are in our eyes as to their bodies, are still alive in the eyes of God as to their souls, which he has created immortal, and which he will undoubtedly have the power of reuniting to their bodies. — The Sadducees were a profane sect, who denied the resurrection of the body, and the existence of angels and spirits, and any future state in another world: (see Acts xxiii. 8.) nor did they receive any books but the five books of Moses.  Christ therefore, from a passage Exod. iii. 15, shewed them that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, had still a being; because God, 200 years after the death of the last, said thus to Moses, I am the God of Abraham, &c.  He did not say, (as S. Chrys. takes notice) I was the God of Abraham, &c.  Therefore these souls had a being: for the Lord would not call himself the God of those who were not at all: no one calling himself lord or king of those who are no more.  Wi.

Ver. 34.  The Pharisees heard that he had silenced their adversaries, the Sadducees, &c.  Some of them, says S. Luke, (xx. 39.) applauded him, saying, Master, thou hast said well.  Wi. — The Pharisees assembled themselves together, that they might confound him by their numbers, whom they could not by their arguments.  Wherefore they said one to another: let one speak for all, and all speak by one, that if one be reduced to silence, he alone may appear to be refuted; and, if he is victorious, we may all appear conquerors.  Hence it is said, And one of them, a doctor of the law, (S. Chrysostom) asked him, tempting him, if he were really possessed of that wisdom and that knowledge which people so much admired in him.  V.

Ver. 40.  On these two, &c.  Whereby it is evident that all dependeth not upon faith only, though faith be the first, but much more upon charity, which is the love of God and of our neighbour, and which is the sum of all the law and the prophets; because he that hath this double charity, expressed here by these two principal commandments, fulfilleth all that is commanded in the law and the prophets.  B.

Ver. 45.  If David then call him Lord, how is he his son?  It was allowed of as a certain truth, that the Messias was to be the son of David.  Christ shews them by David’s own words, that he was the Lord as well as the son of David: and this is what they could not answer to.  Wi. — Jesus Christ here inculcates to the Pharisees, that two natures must be admitted in the Messias; in one of which, viz. in his human nature, he is the son of David, and as such inferior to him; and in the other, viz. in his divine nature, he is the son of God, and consequently superior to David; whence this latter, by the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, justly calls him Lord.  T. — Jesus Christ does not wish them to think that the Messias is not the son of David, but only wished to rectify their opinion concerning him.  When therefore he asks how he is the son, he teaches them that he is not after the manner they understand it, the mere Son, but what is much more, the Lord also, of David.  S. John Chrysostom, hom. lxxii.

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MATTHEW 23

CHAPTER XXIII.

Ver. 1.  Then Jesus, &c.  Jesus thus spoke to the multitude a few days previous to his passion.  It is here observable that our Saviour, after he had tried all possible remedies, after he had taught and confirmed his doctrines by innumerable miracles, after he had secretly by his parables reprehended them for their wickedness, but without effect, now publicly upbraids their vices.  But before his reprehension of the Pharisees, he instructs the people, lest they should despise the authority of the priesthood.  Salmeron.

Ver. 2.  The Scribes.  They, who professed the greatest zeal for the law of Moses, and gloried in being the interpreters of it, sat upon the chair of Moses, succeeded to his authority of governing the people of God, of instructing them in his law, and of disclosing to them his will.  Such, therefore, as did not depart from the letter of the law, were called Scribes.  But such as professed something higher, and separated themselves from the crowd, as better than the ordinary class of men, were called Pharisees, which signifies, separated.  Origen. — God preserveth the truth of the Christian religion in the apostolic See of Rome, which in the new law answers to the chair of Moses, notwithstanding the disedifying conduct of some few of its bishops.  Yes, though a traitor, as vile as Judas himself, were a bishop thereof, it would not be prejudicial to the integrity of the faith of God’s Church, or to the ready obedience and perfect submission of sincere good Christians, for whom our Lord has made this provision, when he says: do that which they say, but do not as they do.  S. Aug. Ep. clxv.

Ver. 3.  All therefore whatsoever they shall say.  S. Augustine, in his defence of the Apostolic See, thus argues, contra lit. Petil. “Why dost thou call the apostolic chair the chair of pestilence?  If, for the men that sit therein, I ask: did our Lord Jesus Christ, on account of the Pharisees, reflect upon the chair, wherein they sat?  Did he not commend that chair of Moses, and, preserving the honour of the chair, reprove them?  For he sayeth: they have sat on the chair of Moses.  All therefore whatsoever they shall say to you, observe and do.  These points if you did well consider, you would not, for the men whom you defame, blaspheme the Apostolic See, wherewith you do not hold communion.”  l. ii. c. 51.  And again, c. 61.  Ibid.  “Neither on account of the Pharisees, to whom you maliciously compare us, did our Lord command the chair of Moses to be forsaken; (in which chair he verily figured his own) for he warned the people to do what they say, and not what they do, and that the holiness of the chair be in no case forsaken, nor the unity of the flock divided, on account of the wicked lives of the pastors.” — Christ does not tell them to observe every thing, without exception, that the Pharisees should say to them; for, (as it was observed in a previous chapter) many superstitions and false ordinances had obtained amongst them, corrupting the Scriptures by their traditions; but only such as were not contrary to the law of Moses.  We are taught to obey bad no less than good ministers, in those things that are not expressly contrary to the law of God.  Hence appears how unfounded and unreasonable is the excuse so often adduced by persons in justification of their misdeeds, viz. that they saw their pastors do the same.  Such must attend to the rule here given by Jesus Christ.  What they say, do: but according to their works, do ye not.  Dion. Carthus. — The words, all whatsoever, shew that nothing must be excepted, but what the supreme law orders to be excepted.  E.

Ver. 4.  Heavy and insupportable burdens.  Some understand in general the ceremonies of the law of Moses; but Christ seems rather here to mean the vain customs, traditions, and additions, introduced by the Jewish doctors, and by their Scribes and Pharisees.  Wi. — They thus greatly increase the burden of others, by multiplying their obligations; whilst they will not offer themselves the least violence in observing them, or alleviating the burden, by taking any share upon their own shoulders.

Ver. 5.  Phylacteries.[1]  These were pieces or scrolls of parchment, on which were written the ten commandments, or some sentences of the law, which the Jews were accustomed to fasten to their foreheads, or their arms, to put them in mind of their duty.  Thus they interpreted those words.  Deut. vi. 8.  Thou shalt tie them as a sign on thy hand: and they shall be, and move before thy eyes.  Perhaps all the Jews, and even our Saviour himself, wore them; and that he only blames the hypocrisy and vanity of the Scribes and Pharisees, who affected to have them larger than others; and they did the like as to the fringes which the Jews wore on their garments.  Wi. — That is, parchments, on which they wrote the ten commandments, and carried on their foreheads before their eyes: which the Pharisees affected to wear broader than other men: so to seem more zealous for the law.  Ch. — The word Phylacterion, which is found both in the Greek and Latin Vulgate, properly signifies a preservation.  It was a piece of parchment which the Jews carried round their heads from one ear to the other, and round their arms like bracelets, and upon which were written certain words of the law.  Since the origin of the sect of Pharisees, they began to attach to these bands of parchment chimerical virtues, such as preservatives of maladies, and preservations from the insults of devils; hence the name phylacterion.  V.

Ver. 7.  Rabbi.  A title like that of master or doctor.  Judas gave it to our Saviour.  Matt. xxvi. 49.  And the disciples of S. John the Baptist call him so.  John iii. 26. — Christ blames their pride, and vanity in affecting such titles, rather than the titles themselves.  Wi. — DidaskaloV, properly a preceptor, as John iii. 10.  Art thou a master in Israel, and knowest not these things?  V.

Ver. 8.  One is your master, or teacher, who is the Christ, and under him one vicar, the successor of S. Peter, with whom all Catholic teachers are one, because they all teach one and the same doctrine in every part of the Christian world; whereas in the multiplicity of modern sects, which are every day dividing and subdividing into fresh sects, no two leaders can be found teaching in all points exactly the same tenets; as each is not only allowed, but expected to follow his own private spirit, and to build his creed upon his own interpretation of Scripture.  A.

Ver. 9-10.  Call none your father . . . Neither be ye called masters, &c.  The meaning is, that our Father in heaven is incomparably more to be regarded, than any father upon earth: and no master is to be followed, who would lead us away from Christ.  But this does not hinder but that we are by the law of God to have a due respect both for our parents and spiritual fathers, (1 Cor. iv. 15,) and for our masters and teachers.  Ch. — This name was a title of dignity: the presidents of the assembly of twenty-three judges where so called; the second judge of the sanhedrim, &c.  V. — Nothing is here forbidden but the contentious divisions, and self-assumed authority, of such as make themselves leaders and favourers of schisms and sects; as Donatus, Arius, Luther, Calvin, and innumerable other of very modern date.  But by no means the title of father, attributed by the faith, piety, and confidence of good people, to their directors; for, S. Paul tells the Corinthians, that he is their only spiritual Father: If you have 10,000 instructors in Christ, yet not many Fathers.  1 Cor. iv. 15.

Ver. 13.  You shut the kingdom of heaven.  This is here taken for eternal happiness, which can be obtained only by faith in Christ, since he calls himself the gate.  S. John c. x. — Now the Pharisees, by refusing to believe in him, and conspiring against him, deterred those, who would otherwise have believed in Christ, from professing his name and following his doctrines, and thus shut the gate of heaven against them.  Nic. de Lyra. — In all these reprehensions, it is to be noted, for the honour of the priesthood, Jesus Christ never reprehendeth priests by that name.  S. Cyp. ep. lxv.

Ver. 14.  You devour the houses of widows.  Here our blessed Saviour severely reprehends the hypocrisy and other vices of the Scribes and Pharisees, a little before his death, to make them enter into themselves, and to hinder them from seducing others.  Wi. The Pharisees, by every means in their power, endeavoured to persuade the widows of the poor to make vows or offerings for the temple, by which they themselves became rich, and thus they devoured the houses of widows.  Nic. de Lyra. — Whoever is a perpetrator of evil, deserves heavy chastisements; but the man who commits wickedness under the cloak of religion, is deserving of still more severe punishment.  Origen. — The same is said of fasting, alms, prayers.  Mat. vi. — As above our Lord had inculcated eight beatitudes, so here he denounces eight woes or threats of impending judgment, to the Scribes and Pharisees, for their vile hypocrisy.  Jans.

Ver. 15.  Because whilst a Gentile he sinned without a perfect knowledge of the evil, and was not then a two-fold child of hell; but after his conversion, seeing the vices of his masters, and perceiving that they acted in direct opposition to the doctrines they taught, he returns to the vomit, and renders himself a prevaricator, by adoring the idols he formerly left, and sells his soul doubly to the devil.  S. Chrys. — They that teach that it is sufficient to have faith only, do make such Christians as blindly follow them, as these Jews did their proselytes, children of hell far more than before.  S. Aug. l. de fide et oper. c. xxvi.

Ver. 16.  Wo to you blind guides.  Avarice seems to have been the chief motive of the Pharisees in teaching this doctrine, since they taught that those who swore by the temple were guilty of no sin, nor under any obligation at all; whereas they who swore by the gold of the temple, were bound to pay a certain sum of money to the priests, by which they themselves were enriched.  Nic. de Lyra. — Whosoever shall swear by the temple, it is nothing, &c.  To understand this obscure place, we may take notice, that a good part of what was offered on the altar, and given to the treasury of the temple, fell to the share of the Jewish priests; and therefore it was not their interest to have such promises or oaths dispensed with.  This made them teach the people, that if any one had made a promissory oath or vow to give their money or goods to the temple, or to the altar itself, as it is said v. 18, such oaths or promises were not obligatory, or might easily be dispensed with.  But if any one had sworn or vowed to give any thing to the treasury of the temple, or join it to the offerings to be made on the altar, then such oaths and promises which turned to their profit were by all means to be kept.  S. Jerom expounds it of oaths in common discourse; as if they taught the people, that when any one swore by the temple, or the altar, it was not so considerable as to swear by the gold in the temple, or by the offerings there made: for in the latter cases, they were to make satisfaction according to the judgment of the Jewish priests.  And to correct their covetous proceedings, Christ tells them that the temple and the altar were greater than the gold and the offerings.  Wi.

Ver. 19.  Sanctifieth.  The altar is sanctified by our Lord’s body thereon.  Theophylactus, the close follower of S. Chrysostom, writeth thus upon this text: “In the old law, Christ will not allow the gift to be greater than the altar; but with us the altar is sanctified by the gift: for the bread, by the divine grace is converted into our Lord’s body, and therefore the altar is sanctified by it.”

Ver. 21.  By him that dwelleth in it.  Here we see that swearing by creatures, as by the gospel and by the saints, is all referred to the honour of God, whose gospel it is, whose saints they are.  B.

Ver. 23.  You . . who pay tithe, &c.  The tithes of these small things are not found in the law.  Nor yet doth Christ blame them so much for this, as for neglecting more weighty matters; and tells them by a proverb, that they strain out a gnat, and swallow a camel.  Wi. — The Pharisees pretended the greatest exactitude even in the smallest commands of the law, when the observance of them could impress the people with a favourable idea of their sanctity; whereas they omitted the more essential precepts of the law, when it did not procure them the praise of men.  Nic. de Lyra. — S. Jerom interprets this passage of receiving tithes; the Vulgate has decimare.  S. Jer. — The Pharisees are blamed by our Lord for their avarice, in scrupulously exacting tithes of the most trifling things, whilst they lived in a constant neglect of their duty, both to God and their neighbour.  Idem.

Ver. 25.  Wo to you.  Jesus Christ here condemns, in forcible language, the principal vices of the Pharisees, viz. their hypocrisy, false devotion, boundless ambition, insatiable avarice, false zeal, and ignorance in deciding upon cases of conscience.  S. Luke represents our Saviour as saying this to the Pharisees at dinner; (C. xi.) so that Christ must either have repeated these things at different times; or, S. Mat. according to custom, must have added them to other words of our Saviour, which, though spoken on another occasion, had some connection with the same subject.  In vain do you, Pharisees, boast of your external sanctity.  Do not imagine, that fornication, adultery, and other actions, are the only sins to be attended to; and that pride, avarice, anger, and other spiritual sins, are of no moment.  He who made the body, made also the soul; and it is of equal consequence that both be kept clean and free from sin.  Nic. de Lyra. — By the similitude of the cup, and of whited sepulchres, as also that of building the sepulchres of the prophets, he shews that they did all their actions purposely to be seen by men, and that this was their only motive in all they did.  Idem. — Like Ezekiel’s bitter roll, we have here a dreadful list of woes, like as many thunderbolts, levelled against hypocrisy, avarice, ambition, and all bitter zeal.  We should be careful not to suffer such rank weeds to grow up in our soil, to the ruin of all good.

Ver. 26.  Thou blind Pharisee.  The vices of the Scribes and Pharisees are not unfrequently to be found in Christians.  The genuine characters of the pharisaical and hypocritical spirit, are: 1. to be punctiliously exact in trifles; 2. to be fond of distinction and esteem; 3. to be content with external piety; 4. to entertain a high opinion of ourselves, and to be impatient of reproof; 5. to be harsh to others, and ready to impose on them what we do not observe ourselves.  Sins abundantly sufficient to rob us of every good, and to leave our house quite desolate! not less so than the temple and city of Jerusalem!

Ver. 27.  Whitened sepulchres.  The Jews, lest they should be defiled with touching the sepulchres, whitened them on the outside, in order to distinguish them.  But this exterior whiteness, covering interior corruption, was a genuine picture of the pharisaical character.  But these men, says S. Gregory, can have no excuse before the severe judge at the last day; for, whilst they shew to the view of mankind so beautiful an appearance of virtue, by their very hypocrisy they demonstrate that they are not ignorant how to live well.  Moral. xxvi. — Tell me, you hypocrite, what pleasure there is in wickedness?  why do you not wish to be what you wish to appear?  What it is beautiful to appear, is beyond a doubt more beautiful to be.  Be therefore what you appear, or appear what you really are.  S. John Chrysostom.

Ver. 28.  Jesus Christ so often and so boldly condemns the Pharisees, because he reads their hearts and intentions; but we, who can only judge of overt actions, who cannot dive into the secrets of the heart, must never presume to call men’s exterior good actions hypocrisy; but judge of men according as we see and know.  B.

Ver. 29.  Build the sepulchres, &c.  This is not blamed, as if it were in itself evil to build or adorn the monuments of the prophets; but the hypocrisy of the Pharisees is here taxed; who, whilst they pretended to honour the memory of the prophets, were persecuting even unto death the Lord of the prophets.  Ch. — Jesus Christ foresaw that they would shortly accomplish the wickedness of their fathers in shedding his blood, as their fathers did the blood of the prophets.  Hilar. — And although they seemed to honour the prophets, and to abhor the murder of the just, it was merely that in their persecution of Jesus Christ he might appear to the people neither a prophet, nor just.  M.

Ver. 32.  Jesus Christ does not here persuade the Jews to continue on in their wicked ways, as if praising and sanctioning their conduct; but only predicts his own death, which they were about to compass, and which crime would greatly exceed that of their fathers: as he was the greatest, and even the Lord of all the other prophets, whom their fathers had put to death.  Dion. Carth.

Ver. 35.  From the blood of Abel, &c.  Not that the Jews, to whom Christ spoke, should be punished for crimes which they themselves did not commit nor be more severely punished than they themselves deserved; but he speaks of the Jewish people which, by putting to death their Messias, should shortly fill up the number of their sins; so that God would destroy their whole nation, as if the blood of Abel, and of the prophets unjustly murdered came upon them at once.  See Maldonat. — Of Zacharias, the son of Barachias.[2]  Some think this was Zachary, numbered among the lesser prophets, whose father’s name was Barachias; but we do not read of his being murdered in this manner.  The more common opinion is, that here is meant Zachary, who, preaching to the people, (2 Par. xxiv. 20,) was stoned to death in the very place where Christ was now speaking.  But there he is called the son of Joiada, and not of Barachias.  Some conjecture his father might have had both names; and S. Jerom tells us, that in an ancient copy of S. Matthew, called the Gospel of the Nazarenes, he found this Zacharias, of whom our Saviour speaks, called the son of Joiada.  Wi. — S. Jerom gives another reason why he might have been called the son of Barachias, and not the son of Joiada, and this is to commend the sanctity of the father; for Barachias is interpreted the blessed of the Lord.  Others suppose that he was the 11th of the 12 prophets; but it is not mentioned that he was slain between the temple and the altar.  Some surmise that it was the father of the Baptist, collecting from the apocryphal writings that he was killed for preaching the arrival of the Redeemer: but that he was the son of Joiada, otherwise called Barachias, is the common opinion.  S. Jerom. — That upon you may come, &c.  Not that they should suffer more than their own sins richly deserved; but that the justice of God should now fall upon them with such a final vengeance once for all, as might comprise all the different kinds of judgments and punishments, that had at any time before been inflicted for the shedding of just blood.  Ch.

Ver. 36.  Amen, I say to you.  More severe punishments were inflicted on these Jews, on account of their more grievous and heinous transgressions; for nothing had been able to recall them from their wickedness.  They had the example of their ancestors before their eyes, continually irritating the wrath of God; yet all they had suffered for their crimes, could not incite them to leave their sinful ways; but they proceeded further than their ancestors in impiety, and ought therefore to receive a more severe condemnation.  Thus though Lamech had not killed a brother, but had neglected to be more prudent after the exemplary punishment of Cain, he still cried out: Seven-fold punishment is taken of Cain, but of Lamech seventy times seven.  Gen. iv.  S. Chrys. hom. lxxiii.

Ver. 37.  And thou wouldst not.  Three truths may be gathered from these words of our Saviour: 1. They, who perish, perish by their own fault, because they refuse to listen to the voice of God calling them to salvation; 2. that man’s will is free, and that it is an error in man to lay all his wickedness to the charge of God, or of blind chance; for God justly attributes the reprobation of man to his own perverse will, which often opposes that of God, and brings destruction on itself; 3. how necessary it is for man to subject his will to that of the Almighty, and ever to say with our Saviour: Nevertheless, not my will, but thine be done.  Salmeron.

Ver. 38.  Behold, your house.  Their house shall be deprived of the protection of the God of heaven.  He it was that had hitherto preserved them, and he also would inflict upon them those very severe judgments they so much dreaded.  S. Chrys. hom. lxxv.

Ver. 39.  Till you say, blessed is he that cometh.  Hereafter you shall own me for your Messias, and the world’s Redeemer, at least at the day of judgment.  Wi. — The time here foretold, when they should say: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord, is the day of general judgment.  When our Saviour says, henceforth, we must understand it of all that time, which intervened between the time of his speaking and his passion.  S. Chrys. hom. lxxv. — It may also be understood of the Jews, who are to be converted to the faith of Jesus Christ towards the end of the world.  M.

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[1]  V. 5.  Phylacteria. fulakthria.  Conservatoria, or preservatoria.  See S. Jerom on this place, p. 188, and S. Chrys. hom. lxxii. in Matt.

[2]  V. 35.  In Evangelio quo utuntur Nazareni, pro filio Barachiæ, filium Joiadæ reperimus Scriptum.

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MATTHEW 24

CHAPTER XXIV.

Ver. 1.  After the fatigues of preaching and teaching, Jesus towards evening left the temple, as it is in the Greek, eporeueto apo tou ierou, and went towards Mount Olivet, where he was accustomed to spend his nights, as we learn from S. Luke, c. xxi. v. penult.  Jans. — His disciples came to shew him the buildings, not moved by curiosity, for they had seen them frequently before, but by pity; because he had on a former occasion, and only just before in Jerusalem, threatened the destruction of the temple and city, hoping that the splendour and magnificence of so fine a structure, consecrated to God, might alter his determination, as S. Hilarius observes.  But the anger of God, provoked by sins, is not to be appeased with stones and buildings.  He therefore answered them: (Jans.)

Ver. 2.  Do you see all these things?  Examine again and again all this magnificence, that the sentence of heaven may appear more striking. — A stone upon a stone.  We need not look on this as an hyperbole.  The temple burnt by the Romans, and afterwards even ploughed up.  See Greg. Naz. orat. ii. cont. Julianum, Theodoret l. iii. Histor. c. xx. &c.  Wi. — Julian the apostate, wishing to falsify the predictions of Daniel and of Jesus Christ, attempted to rebuild the temple.  For this purpose, he assembled the chief among the Jews, and asking them why they neglected the prescribed sacrifices, was answered, that they could not offer any where else but in the temple of Jerusalem.  Upon this he ordered them to repair to Jerusalem, to rebuild their temple, and restore their ancient worship, promising them his concurrence in carrying on the work.  This filled the Jews with inexpressible joy.  Hence flocking to Jerusalem, they began with scorn and triumph to insult over the Christians.  Contributions came in from all parts.  The Jewish women stripped themselves of their most costly ornaments.  The emperor opened his treasures to furnish every thing necessary for the building.  The most able workmen were convened from all parts; persons of the greatest distinction were appointed to direct the work; and the emperor’s friend, Alipius, was set over the whole, with orders to carry on the work without ceasing, and to spare no expense.  All materials were laid in to an immense quantity.  The Jews of both sexes bore a share in the labour; the women helping to dig the ground, and carry away the rubbish in their aprons and gowns.  It is even said that the Jews appointed some pick-axes, spades, and baskets, to be made of silver, for the honour of the work.  Till this time the foundations and some ruins of the walls had remained, as appears from S. Cyril, in his catechism xv. n. 15. and Euseb. Dem. Evang. l. viii. p. 406.  These ruins the Jews first demolished with their own hands, thus concurring to the accomplishment of our Saviour’s prediction.  They next began to dig a new foundation, in which many thousands were employed.  But what they had thrown up in the day, was, by repeated earthquakes, the night following cast back again into the trench.  When Alipius the next day was earnestly pressing on the work, with the assistance of the governor of the province, there issued, says Ammianus Marcellinus, such horrible balls of fire out of the earth near the foundations, as to render the place inaccessible from time to time to the scorched workmen.  And the victorious element continuing in this manner obstinately bent, as it were, to drive them to a distance, Alipius, thought proper to abandon, though reluctantly, the enterprise.  This great event happened in the beginning of the year 363, and with many very astonishing circumstances is recorded both by Jews and Christians.  See the proofs and a much fuller account of this astonishing event, which all the ancient fathers describe as indubitable, in Alban Butler’s life of S. Cyril of Jerusalem, March 18th.  Thus they so completely destroyed whatever remained of the ancient temple, that there was not left one stone upon another; nor were they permitted by heaven even to begin the new one.  Maldonatus.

Ver. 3.  Tell us, when shall these things be?  and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the consummation of the world?[1]  We must take good notice with S. Jerom, that three questions are here joined together.  1. Concerning the destruction of Jerusalem; 2. of the coming of Christ; 3. of the end of the world.  Christ’s answers and predictions in this chapter, are to be expounded with a reference to the three questions.  This hath not been considered by those interpreters; who expound every thing here spoken by Christ of the destruction of Jerusalem; nor by others, who will have all understood of his coming to judgment, and of the end of the world.  Wi. — It is probable the apostles themselves did not understand that they were asking about two distinct events.  Being filled with the idea of a temporal kingdom, they thought that Christ’s second coming would take place soon; and that Jerusalem, once destroyed, the Messias would begin his reign on earth.

Ver. 4.  And Jesus answering.  Various are the interpretations given here.  Some will have it refer to the destruction of Jerusalem, which took place, A.D. 70; and others, to the end of the world.  That of S. Chrys. seems to be very conformable to the context, and is followed by many.  He explains all, to the 23d verse exclusively, of what shall precede the destruction of Jerusalem; nor is there any circumstance which cannot easily be referred to that event, as will appear from a careful and attentive observation of the history of the Jews, and of the Church at that time, in the writings of Josephus and Eusebius.  Even the preaching of the gospel to the whole world, which seems to favour the contrary explanation, is by the same father said to have taken place before the destruction of Jerusalem.  S. Paul tells the Colossians, that even in his time the faith was spread all over the world.  The abomination of desolation may be explained of the Roman soldiery, or, of the seditious zealots, who, by their murders and other atrocities, polluted the temple.  See Josephus, b. 4. and 5. of the Jewish war.  As deicide was a crime peculiar to the Jews and exceeded every other crime, their punishment was severe above measure.  Had the Almighty punished them to the full of what they had deserved, not one of the Jews would have escaped.  But as he formerly would have spared Sodom and Gomorrha, had there been found therein ten just men to avert the impending ruin; so shall these days of affliction be shortened for the sake of some who believe.  The verses subsequent to the 22d, are explained by S. Chrys. of the second coming of Christ, previous to the general judgment.  Jans. — Such as wish for a more particular explanation of every thing preceding the 23d verse, how it applies to the Jews, may consult the concordance of Jansenius, who thus concludes his observations: “Hitherto we have explained all things of the destruction of Jerusalem, which prophecies, though they principally regarded the times of the apostles, may be of use to us in two ways.  1. It will confirm our faith, when we see clearly fulfilled whatever was distinctly foretold of this people; and may serve to increase our fears, when we reflect, that what is immediately added concerning the day of judgment, shall be fulfilled with the same rigorous exactitude and certainty.  It is another effect of divine Providence for the increase of our faith, that this prophecy, which was to take place with regard to Jerusalem, is not mentioned by S. John, who lived long enough to see it accomplished, but by the other evangelists, who died long before the event.  2. It should animate us in the practice of virtue, and gratitude to reflect, that whatever tribulations happen to the Church, or throughout the earth, all co-operate to the advantage of the elect.  Such as will be good, have nothing to fear.”  Jans.

Ver. 5.  For many will come.  One of these was Simon Magus, who in the Acts (c. viii. v. 10.) is mentioned as calling himself the power of God; hence the apostle S. John (1 ep. ii. 18,) says, and as you have heard that Antichrist cometh, even now there are become many Antichrists.  By Antichrists I understand heretics, who, under the name of Christ, teach doctrines different from Christ; neither is there any reason for us to be surprised, if many be seduced, since our Lord declares that many will be seduced.  S. Jerom. . . .  This alone will be sufficient for us to know the false doctrines taught by Antichrist, when they assure us that they are Christ; for we do not read in any part that Christ said so of himself.  The miracles he performed, the doctrines he taught, and the virtues he on every occasion exhibited, were proofs sufficient to convince us that he was the Christ.  There is need of the assistance of God to overcome the snares laid for us by hypocrisy.  Origen. — Among these impostors were one Theodas, (Acts v. 36,) the impious Egyptian, (Acts xxi. 38,) Judas of Galilee, Menander, and several others who preceded the destruction of Jerusalem; but many more will precede the destruction of the world.  This therefore is the first sign, the seduction of many souls from the true faith by heresies, and is common to both events.  Jans. — See much more in Barradius, tom. iii. l. 9, c. 2, where he collects various illustrations from Josephus and profane authors.  M.

Ver. 6.  Shall hear of wars.  Most authors understand this second sign of the Jewish wars which preceded the ruin of Jerusalem; others of the wars of Antichrist, previous to the end of the world.  Both are very probable.  The first is proved from history, and from the events; the latter, from what we learn from the Apocalypse, will certainly happen.  M. — These things must happen, as is said of scandals and heresies, not absolutely, but considering the malice of man, and the decree of God, by which he had determined to punish the Jews.  Maldonatus.

Ver. 7.  And there shall be, according to the proverb, loimoV meta limon, plague after famine, both natural daughters of war, with intestine divisions, earthquakes, and other calamities; the third sign. . . .  As the bodies of men generally grow weak and faint previously to dissolution, so will it be with the earth before the destruction of the world; so that this inferior globe will be shaken with unusual convulsions, as if making its last effort for existence.  The air filled with destructive vapours will turn to the ruin of men, and the earth exhausted of its natural fertility, will refuse its accustomed support to the sons of Adam.  Hence will arise wars and famines, insurrections, rebellions, and mobs; some driven on by famine and want, others by ambition and avarice.  But if the corrupted heart of man shall refuse to depart from its evil ways, these calamities shall be increased; for all these are only the beginnings of more dreadful sorrows.  Origen.

Ver. 9.  Then shall they deliver you up, &c.  The fourth sign, common to both these events, shall be the persecution raised against the Church, which will be two-fold; it will regard both body and soul.  See Luke xxi. 12.  Mark xiii. 9.  All this happened to the apostles previously to the siege of Jerusalem, as well as to the martyrs in subsequent times.  A similar persecution, attended probably with additional severity, will most probably be the lot of the faithful during the reign of Antichrist.  The calamities, bloodshed, and utter ruin which took place at the destruction of the city and temple of Jerusalem, are a figure of the still more dreadful calamities, bloodshed, and ruin to be expected towards the end of the world; and which should be frequently present to our minds.  The late learned and venerable prelate Walmesly admonishes all parents to stand prepared for the bloody trial themselves, and to teach their children to be ever ready to meet, with Christian resignation, the awful and approaching event; for the rest of the world, as we learn from revelation, will be taken by surprise, as the people at the deluge.  Yes, this last may literally be styled a bloody trial; for the Church, which was purified with blood, began in blood, increased in blood, and will end in blood.

Sanguine mundata est ecclesia, sanguine cœpit,

Sanguine succrevit, sanguine finis erit.

The last chapter of the Apocalypse, which is the last communication of the divine will to man, is deserving our frequent and very attentive perusal.  In it Jesus Christ, by his repeated warnings, wishes to awaken us to a sense of that day of general retribution, saying: surely I come quickly: behold I come quickly: and my reward is with me, to render to every man according to his works.  (Behold the merit of good works proceeding from faith and charity.)  With what earnestness have the servants of God, in every age, prayed with S. John: (ibid) Come, Lord Jesus; come, put a final end to the reign of sin and Satan; come, admit thy elect, who have been purified in the waters of the great persecution, and in the blood of the Lamb, to thy heavenly bosom; to that happy sanctuary and asylum, where no hunger or thirst, no scorching heat of the sun, no fiery temptation will any more reach or molest them; where the sigh and the groan will not be heard; where all tears will be wiped away from every eye, and where they will be inebriated at the torrent of immortal delights, and will see and enjoy the Lord Jesus, without any apprehension of offending him, for ever and ever.  A.

Ver. 11.  And many false prophets shall rise, like those lying teachers mentioned by S. Peter, (2nd Ep. c. ii. v. 1) who shall bring in sects of perdition, (i.e. heresies destructive of salvation) bringing upon themselves swift destruction.

Ver. 12.  And because iniquity hath (literally, shall) abounded, shall arrive at its height, the charity of many, carried away by the force of bad example, will grow cold; and scarcely, even among Christians, will a person be found willing to assist Christians, lest he may be known for a Christian.  Of this we have an example, 2 Tim. iv. 16, At my first answer, no man stood with me, but all forsook me: may it not be laid to their charge; but the Lord stood by me, and strengthened me.  Maldonatus.

Ver. 13.  But he that shall persevere to the end, in the midst of this trying and afflicting scene, in faith and charity, (or as it is in the Greek; he that shall preserve his patience to the end, o upomeinaV, proof against heresies, persecutions, hatreds, or scandals) shall be saved.  To perseverance alone this promise is made; for, non quæruntur in Christianis initia sed finis.  Tert.  A part of this prediction was, beyond all doubt, accomplished with regard to the faithful, in the first persecutions raised by the Jews against the infant Christian Church; but the entire and literal completion of it is reserved for the latter times.

Ver. 14.  This gospel . . . shall be preached in the whole world, to serve as a testimony to all nations, of the solicitude of heaven in having the doctrine of salvation announced to them.  This then is a fifth sign, and not till then shall the consummation come. — And then shall the consummation come.  The end of the world, says S. Jerom.  The destruction of Jerusalem, says S. Chrys. and others.  Wi. — If the final destruction of Jerusalem be here meant, the gospel had been preached throughout the major part of the then known world.  See Rom. x. and Colos. i. 6, 23.  If the end of the world, there is the greatest probability that the true faith will have been announced to every part of the globe, before that period.

Ver. 15.  The abomination of desolation was first partly fulfilled by divers profanations of the temple, as when the image of Cæsar was set up in the temple by Pilate, and Adrian’s statue in the holy of holies, and when the sacrifices were taken away; but will be more completely fulfilled by Antichrist and his precursors, when they shall attempt to abolish the holy sacrifice of the mass.  S. Hyppolitus, in his treatise de Anti-Christo, mentioned by Eusebius, S. Jerom, and Photius, thus writeth: “The churches shall lament with great lamentations, because there shall neither be made oblations, nor incense, nor worship grateful to God. . .  In those days the liturgy (or mass) shall be neglected, the psalmody shall cease, the reciting of Scripture shall not be heard.” — The prophet Daniel (xii. 11.) calculates the reign of Antichrist, from the time that the daily sacrifice shall be taken away; which, by able commentators, is understood of the sacrifice of the mass, which Antichrist will endeavour to suppress. — The abomination of desolation,[2] or the abominable desolation.  Instead of these words, we read in S. Luke, (xxi. 20.) When you shall see Jerusalem surrounded by an army.  Christ said both the one and the other.  But the words in S. Luke, seem rather to give us a sign of the ruin of Jerusalem, than of the end of the world. — Spoken of by Daniel, the prophet.  The sense is, when you shall see that very prophecy of Daniel literally fulfilled hereafter.  What follows in the prophecy of Daniel, confirms this exposition; when the prophet adds, that the desolation shall continue to the end; that the Jews from that time, shall be no more the people of God, for denying their Messias; and that they shall put the Christ to death.  But what then was this desolation, which by the following verse, was to be a sign to the Christians to fly out of Judea?  Some expound it of the heathen Roman army, approaching and investing Jerusalem, called the holy city.  Others understand the profanation of the temple, made by the Jews themselves, a little before the siege under Vespasian; when the civil dissensions, those called the Zealots, had possessed themselves of the temple, and placed their warlike engines upon the pinnacles; and a part, at least, of the temple was defiled with the dead bodies of those killed there.  It was at that time that the Christians, according to Christ’s admonition, left Jerusalem and Judea, and fled to Pella, beyond the river Jordan.  See Euseb. l. iii. Hist. c. v.  Wi.

Ver. 16.  Then let those.  It is well known that this prophecy was verified to the letter, in the destruction of Jerusalem.  For, as the Roman army advanced, all the Christians who were in the province, forewarned by divine admonition, retired to a distance, and crossing the Jordan, took refuge in the city of Pella, situated in Trachonitis, and became subjects of king Agrippa, who was in amity with the Romans.  Remigius.

Ver. 17.  Not come down, into the house.  They had no occasion, as Mauduit and others seem to suppose, to throw themselves from the roof, for the Jews had usually stairs on the outside of their houses.  V.

Ver. 20.  In the winter: an inconvenient season for flying away. — Or on the sabbath, when it was lawful to travel only about a mile.  Wi. — Pray to God that you may be enabled to escape those evils, and that there may be no impediment to your flight.  Estius in dif. loca.

Ver. 22.  No flesh: a Hebraism for no person; denoting that no one would have escaped death, had the war continued.  Wi. — All the Jews would have been destroyed by the Romans, or all the Christians by Antichrist.  Maldonatus. — From this place, Jesus Christ foretells the coming of Antichrist, and forewarns Christians of latter ages, to guard all they can against seduction.

Ver. 23.  Lo, here is Christ.  These words are very aptly applied by Catholics to the conventicles of heretics; and would Christians attend to the injunctions of their divine Master, Go ye not out:believe it not, we should not see the miserable confusion occasioned in the Catholic Church, by unsteady Christians; who are guilty of schism, in forsaking the one true fold, and one shepherd, to follow their blind and unauthorized leaders.  E.

Ver. 26.  Behold he is in the desert.  This prediction of false Christs, may be understood before the destruction of Jerusalem, but chiefly before the end of the world.  Wi. — As we have mentioned above, in note on verse 5.

Ver. 28.  Wheresoever the body,[3] &c.  This seems to have been a proverb or common saying among the Jews.  Several of the ancient interpreters, by this body, understand Christ himself, who died for us; and they tell us, that at his second coming the angels and saints, like eagles, with incredible swiftness, will join him at the place of judgment.  Wi. — When he shall come to judgment, all, as it were by a natural instinct, shall fly to meet him, and receive their judgment.  S. Hilary understands this literally; that where his body shall hang upon the cross, there will he appear in judgment, i.e. near the valley of Josaphat; in which place the prophet Joel (c. iii. v. 2,) declares, that the general judgment shall take place.  T.

Ver. 29.  The sun shall be darkened, &c.  These seem to be the dreadful signs that shall forerun the day of judgment. — The stars shall fall, not literally, but shall give no light.  Wi. — According to S. Austin, by the sun is meant Jesus Christ; by the moon, the Church, which will appear as involved in darkness.

Ver. 30.  The sign of the Son of man, &c.  The Fathers generally expound this of the cross of Christ, that shall be seen in the air.  Wi. — This sign is the cross, much more resplendent than the sun itself.  Therefore the sun hides its diminished head, whilst the cross appears in glory; because the great standard of the cross, excels in brightness all the refulgent rays that dart from the meridian sun.  S. Chrys. hom. lxxvii. — The Jews, looking upon him whom they had pierced, now coming in the clouds of heaven with power and exceedingly great glory, shall have great lamentations.  Bitterly will they weep over their misery, in having despised and insulted him on a cross, who ought to have been the object of their veneration, adoration, and love.  S. Chrys. hom. lxxvii.

Ver. 34.  This generation; i.e. the nation of the Jews shall not cease to exist, until all these things shall be accomplished: thus we see the nation of the Jews still continue, and will certainly continue to the end of the world.  T. — Then the cross, which has been a scandal to the Jew, and a stumbling-block to the Gentile, shall appear in the heavens, for the consolation of the good Christian.  Hoc signum crucis erit in cœlo, cum Dominus ad judicandum venerit. — If it be to be understood of the destruction of Jerusalem, the sense may be, this race of men now living; if of the last day of judgment, this generation of the faithful, saith Theophylactus,[4] shall be continued: i.e. the Church of Christ, to the end of the world.  Wi. — This race, I tell you in very truth, shall not pass away till all this be finally accomplished in the ruin of Jerusalem, the most express figure of the destruction and end of the world.  V. — By generation, our Saviour does not mean the people that were in existence at that time, but the faithful of his Church; thus says the psalmist: this is the generation of them that seek the Lord.  Ps. xxiii, v. 6.  S. Chrys. hom. lxxvii.

Ver. 35.  Shall pass away:  because they shall be changed at the end of the world into a new heaven and new earth.  Ch.

Ver. 36.  No man knoweth . . . but the Father alone.  The words in S. Mark (xiii. 32.) are still harder: neither the angels, nor the Son, but the Father.  The Arians objected this place, to shew that Christ being ignorant of the day of judgment, could not be truly God.  By the same words, no one knoweth, but the Father alone, (as they expound them) the Holy Ghost must be excluded from being the true God.  In answer to this difficulty, when it is said, but the Father alone, it is certain that the eternal Son and the Holy Ghost could never be ignorant of the day of judgment: because, as they are one and the same God, so they must hove one and the same nature, the same substance, wisdom, knowledge, and all absolute perfections.  2. It is also certain that Jesus Christ knew the day of judgment, and all things to come, by a knowledge which he could not but have, because of the union by which his human nature was united to the divine person and nature.  See Colos. ii. 3.  And so to attribute any ignorance to Christ, was the error of those heretics called Agnoitai.  3. But though Christ, as a man, knew the day of judgment, yet this knowledge was not due to him as he was man, or because he was man, but he only knew the day of judgment, because he was God as well as man.  4. It is the common answer of the fathers, that Christ here speaks to his disciples, only as he was the ambassador of his Father; and so he is only to know what he is to make known to men.  He is said not to know, says S. Aug.[5], what he will not make others know, or what he will not reveal to them.  Wi. — By this Jesus Christ wished to suppress the curiosity of his disciples.  In the same manner after his resurrection, he answered the same question: ‘Tis not for you to know the times and the moments, which the Father has placed in his own power.  This last clause is added, that the apostles might not be discouraged and think their divine Master esteemed them unworthy of knowing these things.  Some Greek MSS. add nor even the Son, as in Mark xiii. 32.  The Son is ignorant of it, not according to his divinity, nor even according to his humanity hypostatically united to his divinity, but according to his humanity, considered as separate from his divinity.  V.

Ver. 37-38.  And as it was.  The same shall take place at the coming of the Son of man at the last day, as at the general deluge.  For, as then they indulged their appetites, unmindful of the fate that was attending them, gamounteV kai ekgamizonteV, marrying and given in marriage, solely occupied with the concerns of this life, and indifferent to those of the next; so shall it be at the end of the world.  They are not here accused of gross sins, but of a supine security of their salvation, as is evident from what follows.  Jans.

Ver. 39.  And they thought not of the deluge, though preached and predicted by Noe, (which rendered their ignorance and incredulity inexcusable) till it came and swept them all away.  So shall it be at the coming of the Son of man.  S. Luke adds, (c. xvii, v. 28,) likewise as it was in the days of Lot; they shall be eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building, i.e. totally immersed in worldly pursuits.  Hence the apostle; when they shall say peace, viz. from past evils, and security, viz. from future, then shall destruction come upon them on a sudden.  But some one may ask, how can there possibly be all this peace, all this security, when the evils mentioned above, famines, wars, plagues, earthquakes, and particularly the darkness of the sun, &c. &c. are presages calculated to strike with panic and consternation minds the most thoughtless and giddy?  I answer, that the wicked are chiefly designed here, who in the midst of the afflictions and alarms of the good, will still indulge in their pleasures and luxuries, like cruel soldiers, whilst the peaceable inhabitants are plundered.  S. Jerom adds, that the world for some time before its final dissolution, will be freed from all those calamities.  As to what is said (v. 29,) of the darkness of the sun and moon, these are circumstances that refer to the very coming of the judge.  Jans.

Ver. 40.  Then of two men, who shall think of nothing less than of going to appear before God, one shall be taken to be placed among the number of the elect, and the other shall be left condemned to eternal fire with the damned, on account of his crimes.  V. — This example of the men in the field, and of the condition and disposition of men at the period of the deluge, strongly expresses how unexpectedly these evils will rush in upon mankind; and the subsequent account of the two women grinding in the mill, shews how little they were solicitous for their salvation.  We are, moreover, taught by these examples, that some of all states and conditions will be saved, whether rich or poor, in ease or labour, or decorated with all the various degrees of worldly honour.  The same is mentioned in Exodus, c. xi, v. 5.  From the first-born of Pharao, who sitteth on his throne, even to the first-born of the handmaid that is at the mill, . . . every first-born shall die.  S. Chrys. hom. lxxviii.

Ver. 41.  Two women.  Slaves of both sexes were employed in grinding corn.  Of these, one shall be carried up to heaven by angels, the other shall be left a prey to devils, on account of her bad life.  V. — In many ancient MSS. both Greek and Latin, what we read in S. Luke, (xvii. 34.) of two men in the same bed, one shall be taken, and the other shall be left, is here added.

Ver. 42.  Watch ye, therefore.  That men might not be attentive for a time only, but preserve a continual vigilance, the Almighty conceals from them the hour of their dissolution: they ought therefore to be ever expecting it, and ever watchful.  But to the eternal infamy of Christians be it said, much more diligence is used by the worldly wise for the preservation of their wealth, than by the former for the salvation of their immortal souls.  Though they are fully aware that the Lord will come, and like a thief in the night, when they least expect him, they do not persevere watching, nor guard against irreparable misfortune of quitting the present life without previous preparation.  Therefore will the day come to the destruction of such as are reposed in sleep.  S. Chrys. hom. lxxviii. on S. Mat. — Of what importance is it then that we should be found watching, and properly attentive to the one thing necessary, the salvation of our immortal souls.  For what will it avail us, if we have gained the whole world, which we must then leave, and lose our immortal souls, which, owing to our supine neglect to these admonitions of Jesus Christ, must suffer in hell-flames for all eternity?  A.

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[1]  V. 3.  S. Jer. on this place, says, Interrogant tria: quo tempore Jerusalem destruenda sit: quo venturus Christus: quo consummatio sæculi futura sit.

[2]  V. 15.  Abominationem desolationis. Bdelugma thV erhmwsewV.  The same words are in the Sept.  Dan. ix.  See S. Jerom on this place, and S. Chrys. hom. lxxvi. and lxxvii. in Matt.

[3]  V. 28.  Corpus; in most Greek copies, ptwma, cadaver.  See again S. Jerom, and S. Chrys. hom. lxxvii, p. 492.

[4]  V. 34.  Generatio hæc.  Theophylact, h genea twn cristianwn.

[5]  V. 36.  S. Aug. l. 83. QQ. quæst. 60. tom. 6, p. 33.  Ed. Ben. dicitur nescire filius, quia facit nescire homines, i.e. non prodit eis, quod inutiliter scirent.  See the same S. Aug. l. 1. de Trin. c. xii. tom. 8, p. 764 and 765. and lib. de Gen. cont. Manich. c. xxii. p. 659. tom. 1.

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MATTHEW 25

CHAPTER XXV.

Ver. 1.  Ten virgins.  By these are signified all mankind.  By the bridegroom, Christ; by the bride, the Church; by oil, grace and charity.  Wi. — The kingdom of heaven is not unfrequently compared to the Church militant; which, as it is composed of both just and wicked, reprobate and elect, is deservedly compared to five wise and five foolish virgins: the wise constantly aspiring after their blessed country; the foolish, with all their fasts and austerities, wishing to procure nothing more than the empty esteem of men.  S. Gregory. — Went out to meet the bridegroom and the bride; in the Greek, it is simply, before the bridegroom.  The custom among the Jews was, that the bridegroom should go to fetch his spouse, and conduct her with solemnity to his house.  V. — This was the conclusive ceremony, and done in the night-time.  The young women of the vicinity, in order to do her honour, went to meet her with lighted lamps.  Modern travellers inform us, that this custom still obtains with the eastern nations, particularly the Persians.  Hence the Latin phrase, ducere uxorem, to marry.

Ver. 4.  But the wise took oil.  Under this parable, we have the state of all Christians in their mortal pilgrimage justly delineated.  The wise took oil in their lamps, the necessary qualifications of grace and charity, joined with divine faith, and an additional supply of oil in their vessels; i.e. they laid up in store for themselves a solid foundation of good works.  S. Gregory teaches, that by the lamps, faith is meant; and by the light, good works.  Hence he concludes that the bad, although they have lamps, i.e. faith, no less than the good, shall be excluded; because their lamps are out, i.e. their faith is dead, without charity and good works to enlighten them.  hom. xii. — S. Augustine also declares, that these lighted lamps are good works, viz. works of mercy and good conversation, which shine forth before men.  ep. 120. c. xxxiii. — And, that this oil is a right inward intention, directing all our works to the greater glory of God, and not to the praise of ourselves in the sight of men.  Idem. ibid. — The foolish virgins had a little oil in their lamps at first, sufficient to shine before men, by some little external shew of piety, or certain works done through fear, profit, or human respects; but had made no provision of oil in their vessels, i.e. in their hearts and conscience, no provision of solid piety and charity, by means of which they might, like the prudent virgins, produce good works to salvation.  Jans.

Ver. 5.  And while the bridegroom (Jesus Christ) tarried, i.e. delayed his coming, and thus protracted the time of repentance, they all slumbered and slept; viz. they all died.  Hence S. Paul, nolo vos ignorare de dormientibus.  But the reason why Jesus Christ says they slumbered is, because they were to rise again: and by the expression, whilst the bridegroom tarried, Christ wishes to shew us that a very short time will elapse between his first and second coming.  S. Jerom.

Ver. 6.  There was a cry.  So shall we all have to rise again at the sound of the last trumpet, to meet our judge, either like the wise virgins, who having their oil ready, and their lamps trimmed and burning, soon prepare themselves to give in their accounts to their Lord; or, like the foolish, who having made no provision of the oil of good works, are compelled to seek it at the time they are to be judged.  S. Augustine. — It is said he will come at midnight; i.e. when least expected.

Ver. 8.  For our lamps are gone out.  Thus too many trusting to their faith alone, and leading a tepid indifference life, are negligent in preparing themselves by good works for the coming of the bridegroom.  But when they perceived themselves called away from this life, to go and meet their judge, they then begin to find their lamps extinguished, and to think of procuring for themselves the oil of good works, by bequeathing their effects to the poor.  Though we ought not to despair of the salvation of these, still there is great room to fear; for, a death-bed repentance is seldom sincere, more seldom, or never perfect, and always uncertain.  Jansenius.

Ver. 9.  Go ye rather to them that sell.  The wise virgins do not there advise the foolish to go and buy, but upbraid them for the poor store of good works they have laid up.  They had before only sought the praises of men in their good actions, and therefore are answered by the wise: “go now to those to whom you have given all your actions; go and see what their praises will avail, what peace of conscience they can give you: and, if they have praised you, and made you esteemed in the eyes of men, see if they can do the same before God.”  S. Aug.

Ver. 10.  And the door was shut.  After the final day of judgment, there will be no room for prayers and good works.  S. Jerom. — For, after having received those within its walls, who have put on in some degree the nature of the angels, the gate to the city of bliss is closed for ever.  S. Aug.

Ver. 13.  Watch ye.  S. Austin asks, how can we be always watching, it being necessary for each one to give himself sufficient time to sleep and rest from his many labours?  He answers the question in these words: We may always keep watching to our hearts by faith, hope, charity, and all other good works.  But when we awake, like the five wise virgins, we must arise and trim our lamps, by supplying them with the oil of good works.  Then they will not go out, nor will the soothing oil of a good conscience be wanting to us.  Then will the bridegroom come and introduce us to his house, where we shall never need sleep or rest; nor will our lamps ever be in danger of going out.  Whilst we are in this life, we labour; and our lamps, blown about by the winds of innumerable temptations, are always in danger of being extinguished; but soon their flame shall become more brilliant, and the temptations we have suffered here shall not diminish, but increase its lustre.  S. Aug. serm. xxiv.

Ver. 14.  But that the apostles and all men might learn how they ought to watch, and to prepare for the last day, he subjoins another instructive parable of the ten talents.  It has a great affinity with that mentioned in S. Luke, xix. 11.  But this last was spoken at a different time, place, and occasion.  It differs also in some points. — For even as a man, &c.  This passage is to be understood of our divine Redeemer, who ascended to heaven encompassed by his human nature.  The proper abode for the flesh is the earth; when, therefore, it is placed in the kingdom of God, it may be said to be gone into a far country.  S. Gregory. — But when we speak of his divine nature, we cannot say that he is gone into a far country, but only when we speak of his humanity.  Origen.

Ver. 15.  In the parable of the talents, the master is God, talents, graces, &c.  Wi. — From this, it appears, we can do no good of ourselves, but only by means of God’s grace, though he requires our co-operation; since the servants could only make use of the talents given them to gain others.  (A talent is £187 10s.)  It is also worthy of remark, that both he who received five and he who received only two talents, received an equal reward of entering into the joy of our Lord; which shews, that only an account will be taken according to what we have received, and that however mean and despicable our abilities may be, we still have an equal facility with the most learned of entering heaven.  Jans. — The servant to whom this treasure was delivered, is allegorically explained of the faithful adorers of God, in the Jewish law, who departing from it, became followers of Christ, and therefore deserving of a double recompense. . . . .  The servant to whom the two talents were delivered, is understood of the Gentiles, who were justified in the faith and confession of the Father and the Son, and confessed our Lord Jesus Christ, God and man, composed of body and soul; and as the people of the Jews doubled the five talents they received, so the Gentiles, by the duplication of their two talents, merited a double recompense also. . . .  But the servant who received only one talent, and hid it in the ground, represented such of the Jews as persisted in the observation of the old law, and thus kept their talent buried in the ground, for fear the Gentiles should be converted.  S. Hilary.

Ver. 18.  He that had received the one.  The man who hid this one talent, represents all those who, having received any good quality, whether mental or corporal, employ it only on earthly things.  S. Gregory. — Origen is also of the same sentiment: if you see any one, says he, who has received from God the gift of teaching and instructing others to salvation, yet will not exercise himself in this function, he buries his talent in the ground, like this unworthy servant, and must expect to receive the like reward.

Ver. 19.  After a long time.  This represents the time that is to intervene between our Saviour’s ascension and his last coming.  For, as he is the Master, who went into a far country, i.e. to heaven, after he had inculcated the relative duties of each man in his respective state of life; so shall he come at the last day, and reckon with all men, commending those who have employed their talents well, and punishing such as have made a bad use of them.  S. Jerom.

Ver. 20.  I have gained other five.  Free-will, aided by the grace of God, doth evidently merit as we see here.

Ver. 24.  I know that thou art a hard man.  This is an insignificant part, that is, an ornament of the parable only; as also when it is said: I should have received mine with usury, v. 27.  Wi. — This seems to have been an adage levelled at avaricious men, who are never pleased but with what increases their hoards.  Under this symbol is also depicted the excuse of many, who accuse God of being the cause of their idleness, both here and in the judgment to come; as that God is too severe and unbending, whose service is extremely hard, and who adopts, rejects, and reprobates whom he pleases; who deals out heavier burdens than the weak nature of man is made to support; who denies the grace of obedience, and thus wishes to reap where he has not sown.  Jans.

Ver. 26.  Thou evil and slothful servant, for thus calumniating thy master; if I wish to reap where I have not sown, how ought you to fear my just indignation, if were I have sown I find nothing by your neglect to reap.  Thus our Lord retorts the accusation upon the servant, as in Luke xix. 22.  Out of thy own mouth I judge thee, thou wicked servant.

Ver. 29.  To every one that hath, &c.  That is, who hath, so as to have made good use of, or to have improved, what was committed to his trust and management.  See the notes Matt. xiii, v. 12.  Wi. — When those who are gifted with the grace of understanding for the benefit of others, refuse to make a proper use of the gift, that grace is of consequence withdrawn; whereas had they employed it with zeal and diligence, they would have received additional graces.  S. Chrys. hom. lxxix. — This, moreover, shews that God never requires of men more than he has enabled them to perform.

Ver. 30.  And the unprofitable servant.  Thus not only the rapacious, the unjust, and evil doers, but also all those who neglect to do good, are punished with the greatest severity.  Let Christians listen to these words, and while time will permit them, embrace the means of salvation.  S. Chrys. hom. lxxix. — Let no one suffer his talent to lie uncultivated, and, as it were, hidden and buried in this unhappy earth of the world and the flesh, which engages all their thoughts and affections more than the honour and glory of God, or the eternal welfare of their own or their neighbour’s souls. —— The foregoing parables manifestly tend to excite in us great watchfulness, under the just apprehension of the strict account which hereafter we must give of our respective talents.  Jesus, therefore, naturally concludes these parables with a description of that awful day which is to succeed the final reckoning, and which will unalterably fix our abode either in eternal happiness, or in eternal misery.  In this description we are to remark, 1. the preparations for this awful scene; 2. the sentence pronounced by the judge; 3. the execution of this sentence.

Ver. 34.  Shall the king say to them . . on his right hand.  By setting forth to all the world the good works of his faithful servants, the Sovereign Judge silences the murmurs of the reprobate, who might otherwise object that they had it not in their power to do good.  In the same manner, the conduct of the wise virgins was the condemnation of the foolish ones; the diligence of the faithful servant, of the sloth and drunkenness of the idle one; the zeal of the servants who multiplied the talents entrusted to them, of him that hid his talent in the ground; and the fervour of the observers of the commandments, of the negligence and remissness of those who are ever transgressing them.  S. Chrys. hom. lxxx. — These works of mercy, says S. Austin, prevail towards life everlasting, and to the blotting out of former sins; in Ps. xlix.

Ver. 35.  For I was hungry, &c.  We may take notice, that the wicked at the day of judgment, are said to be condemned for having omitted to perform good works.  Wi. — S. Austin, in his 33d sermon, brings a beautiful reason why the kingdom of heaven is bestowed solely upon the works of mercy, and eternal damnation for the neglect of them; viz. because, however just a man may be, still he has many failings to atone for, on account of which the kingdom of heaven might be justly denied him: but because he has shewn mercy to his neighbours, he deserves in like manner to have mercy shewn him.  But the wicked, not having shewn mercy to their neighbours, nor redeemed their sins by alms-deeds, or the like, are thus delivered up to eternal damnation.  Jans. concord. — Jesus Christ only mentions one species of good works, though others may be equally meritorious; for the means of salvation are not precisely the same for all the saints; some are saved by poverty, others by solitude, and each by that virtue which he shall have practised in the greatest degree of perfection.

Ver. 36.  And you visited me.  How easy are the things our Saviour requires at our hands!  He will not say at the day of judgment: “I was in prison, and you delivered me; I was sick, and you healed me; but only this, you visited me, you came to me.”  S. Chrys. hom. lxxx. — This seems particularly addressed to Christians engaged in the cares of the world, whose salvation principally depends on the practice of works of mercy.

Ver. 40.  As long as you did it to one of these, my least brethren.  Can there be a more forcible motive to charity, than the assurance of revelation that the Son of God will accept all good of offices done to the afflicted, as done to himself.  This condescension of the part of Jesus Christ, will fill the elect with sentiments of profound admiration and astonishment. — Then with fire in his eyes, and terror in his countenance, he shall say to the wicked: Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, which was prepared for the devil and his angels.  It was not originally created for rebellious man; for man was created subsequently to the fall and damnation of the rebel angels: and though he imitated their transgression, the sentence of everlasting burning was reversed by Jesus Christ. . .  By his blood man has been redeemed from eternal punishment.  If many, notwithstanding, are yet condemned to never-ending flames, they are punished under the quality of the slaves of the devil: for as they have wilfully followed his rebellious example, they must expect with him to participate in his torments.  Consult. i. John iii. 8.

Ver. 41.  Prepared for the devil.  When Christ invited the just to his heavenly kingdom, he calls it a kingdom prepared for them from the foundation of the world; a kingdom of inexpressible happiness, which from all eternity he designed for those who he knew would faithfully serve him.  But, when he pronounces the sentence of the reprobate, he speaks in a widely different manner.  He calls it an everlasting fire, prepared not for them, but for the devils and wicked spirits, their accomplices.  They have chosen to cast themselves into it; they must therefore look upon themselves as the authors of all their miseries and sufferings.  S. Chrys. hom. lxxx. — The pain of loss is here expressed by depart from me, and the pain of sense by eternal fire.  M. and Maldonatus.

Ver. 42.  Gave me not.  Jesus Christ chargeth them not here with a want of faith, but with a want of good works.  They certainly believed, but they attended not to good works; as if a dead faith, i.e. a faith not working by charity, could bring them to heaven.  S. Aug. de fide & oper. c. xv. & ad Dulcit. q. 2. ad 4. — Jesus Christ suffers his members to want, in mercy to them, and to afford others an opportunity of shewing their love for him, and of redeeming their sins by alms-deeds, as was said to the king of the Chaldeans, peccata tua eleemosynis redime.  Dan. iv.

Ver. 46.  Everlasting punishment.  The rewards and torments of a future life are declared by Jesus Christ, who is truth itself, to be eternal.  Let no one be found to argue hence against the goodness and mercy of God, for punishing sins committed in time with punishments that are eternal.  For 1. according to human laws, we see forgery and other crimes punished by death, which is in some measure an eternal exclusion from society.  2. The will of the sinner is such, that he would sin eternally if he could; it is an eternal God, a God of infinite majesty, who is offended.  He essentially hates sin; and as, in hell there is no redemption, the sin eternally continuing, the hatred God bears to sin must eternally continue, and with it eternal punishment.  The doctrine of those who pretend, with Origen, to question the eternity of the duration of hell’s torments; who can say with him, video infernum quasi senescentum, must encourage vice and embolden the sinner; for if the conviction of eternal torments is not capable to restrain his malice, the doctrine of temporal punishment would be a much less restraint.  The present world would not be habitable, were there nothing for the wicked to apprehend after this life.  There are many questions often proposed with regard to the situation and nature of hell-fire, &c. &c. &c. but in all these and similar objects of curiosity, it is best to adhere to the sage reflection of S. Austin: “When we dispute upon a point very obscure, without any clear and certain documents from the holy Scripture, the presumption of man should stop short, and lean not more to one than the other side.”  l. ii. de pecc. meritis et remiss. c. xxxvi. ep. 190. ad Optat. c. v. No. 16. —— On a recapitulation of this long and most interesting discourse, we may observe, that in the first place, it treats of those wars and persecutions which are to happen in the latter ages of the world; that it next proceeds to describe the heresies and schisms among Christians; the general propagation of the gospel; the great apostacy at the time of the Antichrist; and lastly, the grand and closing scene of the day of judgment.  Thus these grand and momentous events are intimately connected with each other, and all materially regard the Church of Christ.

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MATTHEW 26

CHAPTER XXVI.

This second council of the Jews against Jesus, was held on the Wednesday, two days before the Passover; and because on this day Judas sold Christ, and the Jews decreed his death, the ancient custom, according to S. Austin, originated of fasting on Wednesdays; (Ep. xxxvi. t. 3. p. 80,) and the general custom of abstaining from flesh on Fridays, because on that day Jesus suffered death for our redemption. —— In the notes on these two following chapters, I shall join all the chief circumstances related by the other evangelists that the reader may have a fuller and more exact view of the history of Christ’s sufferings and death.  Wi.

Ver. 2.  You know that after two days shall be the Pasch;[1] or the feast of the Pasch.  The Protestants translate, of the Passover.  The French all retain the same word in their language, Pâque; as the author of the Latin Vulg. and all other Greek versions have done.  It is indeed an evident mistake, (as S. Aug. observed) to take Pascha for a Greek word, as Mr. N. . . has done, who in his note on this place says, Pascha, in Greek, is a passion or suffering.  It is certain that the word Pascha, or Pasche, is from a Hebrew derivation, signifying a passing by or passing over.  Yet it must also be observed, that this same word Pascha, has different significations; sometimes it is put for the Paschal Lamb, that was sacrificed; as Luke xxii. 7, elsewhere for the first day of the Paschal feast and solemnity, which lasted seven days; as in this place, and Ezech. xlv. 21.  Again it is taken for the sabbath-day, that happened within the seven days of the solemnity.  Jo. xix. 14.  And it is also used to signify all the sacrifices, that were made during the seven days’ feast; as John xviii. 28.  Wi. — And the Son of man.  Jesus Christ informed his disciples of the bloody transactions, which were soon to be perpetrated at Jerusalem, lest they might be disheartened, when they saw their Master condemned to die on a cross.  Christ was delivered up to death by his heavenly Father out of love for man; he is betrayed by Judas for base lucre, condemned by the priests out of envy, and persecuted by the common enemy of mankind, who feared that his empire and reign might be destroyed among men by the preaching of our Redeemer; not perceiving, that man would be freed from his empire more by his death, than by his preaching.  Origen.

Ver. 3.  Into the palace or court of the high priest.  Assemblies were held in the public places, at the gates, or in the courts of the nobles.  V.

Ver. 5.  Not on the festival day.  Such a day seemed to them at first improper, at least to some of them; but this was overruled, when Judas informed them how he could and would put him into their hands on Thursday night.  S. Jerom takes notice, that when they said, Not on the festival, it was not through a motive of religion that they made this objection, but only lest a tumult should happen in his favour among the people; (Wi.) for they looked upon him as a great prophet. — Behold how fearful these people are, not of offending God, nor of increasing the enormity of their most atrocious crime, by committing it on the solemnity of the Passover, but of offending men by raising a tumult.  Still boiling over with rage, they no sooner found the Traitor, than yielding to the impulse of their blind fury, they gladly seized the opportunity offered, and immolating their victim in the middle of their solemnity.  Though this their wickedness was the instrument of the divine dispensation, to bring about the greatest good, still they will not go without receiving condign punishment; which the perversity of their wills so richly deserved, for murdering innocence itself; and at a time when guilt was accustomed to meet with mercy and forgiveness.  S. Chrys. hom. lxxx. — We know that by a decree of divine Providence, what had been so long and so earnestly sought for by the Jewish princes, viz. an opportunity of murdering the innocent Lamb of God, was not granted to them, except on the very feast of the Pasch.  For it was only fitting, that what had been for such a length of time figuratively promised, should be manifestly fulfilled; that the true Lamb should supersede the figurative one; and that by one grand sacrifice, the vast variety of offerings and holocausts should be done away.  S. Leo the great.

Ver. 6.  When Jesus was in Bethania, &c.  S. Aug. observes, that this pouring of the ointment on Jesus is not related by S. Matthew in due order of time.  It was not done on this Wednesday, but as S. John expressly tells us, (xii. 1.) six days before the Pasch, or Paschal feast, began.  This anointing was different from that done in the house of the Pharisee, and in Galilee, set down by S. Luke, C. vii. 37.  Wi. — S. Matthew mentions the fact in this place, because it was in some measure the occasion of Judas’s treason.  V. — S. Ambrose seems to assert, that the Simon here mentioned was at that time a leper, in the following words: “Hence, it appears, that Christ did not flee the company of lepers; he kept company with the unclean, that he might purify them from their uncleanness.”  S. Jerom is of opinion that Simon was not then a leper, but had been cured of a leprosy by our Lord; and that he afterwards retained the name of leper, as S. Matthew, after he was called by our Saviour, continued to be called the Publican.  The latter sentiment seem most probable, because the Jews were not permitted to associate with lepers.  Dion. Carth.

Ver. 7.  A woman.  This was Mary, the sister of Lazarus.  S. John xii. 3.  V. — It is not the use, but the abuse of things, which is blameworthy.  That man is not to be blamed, who does not exceed the rules followed by good, honourable, and conscientious men, with whom he associates.  What, therefore, in some is often reprehensible, in another is highly commendable.  A good reputation is a sweet perfume, which a man merits for his worthy deeds; and whilst he follows the footsteps of Christ, he may justly be said to anoint our Redeemer’s feet with a most precious ointment.  S. Augustin.

Ver. 8.  Indignation.  It was chiefly Judas, who blamed aloud this profusion.  V. — S. Matt. and S. Mark mention the disciples.  But such of them as spoke, were persuaded to what they said either by Judas’s words, or by their feeling and affection for the poor; but the only motive of Judas was avarice.  S. Thos. Aquin.

Ver. 10.  Why do you trouble this woman?  By this, our Saviour teaches us, that we are not to expect the more perfect acts of virtue from persons still novices, or young in the service of God.  He takes the part of the woman, and speaks in her behalf; that the tender bud of her faith might not be blasted, but that her virtues might be watered with tenderness, and thus assisted to produce greater fruit for the future.  When, therefore, we behold any good action done, though some imperfection may creep in with it, still ought we to behold it with kindness, and assist it to bring forth more perfect acts for the time to come.  S. Chrys. hom. lxxxi.

Ver. 11-12.  Me you have not, or will not have always, in this visible manner. — She . . hath done it for my burial.  S. Mark (xiv. 8.) says, She hath prevented the time to anoint me, which is done at burials, for my time of being buried will be in a few days.  Wi. — Me you have not always; viz. in a visible manner, as when conversant here on earth: and as we have the poor, whom we may daily assist and relieve.  Ch. — Or, he is not always corporally present with us, except in the persons of the poor, whom our Saviour commands us to receive or assist; promising to reward us in the same manner, as if we had conferred the same charity on himself.  This saying does not contradict what he afterwards said: behold, I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world; (C. xxviii. 20.) because in the former, he only speaks of his corporal presence, but in the latter text, of his spiritual presence and constant assistance.  Dion. Carth.

Ver. 13.  That also which she had done.  The exploits of kings and emperors are no longer remembered.  The actions of those who have built cities, raised fortresses, carried on wars, and erected trophies of their victories; who have subdued nations, dictated laws to thousands, and raised statues to their own honour, have passed into oblivion; and many of their names are long ago forgotten.  But when a poor simple woman, in the house of a leper, in the presence of twelve men, pours out her ointment; her good work is rehearsed after the lapse of so many ages, in every part of the habitable globe.  S. Chrys. hom. lxxxi.

Ver. 14.  The chief priests were then assembled; Judas, the disciple, who chiefly regretted the expense of the perfumes that had been used on his Lord and Master, at the feast of Bethania, and wished for an opportunity to make good the loss, went to the chief priests, saying:

Ver. 15.  What will you give me?  The impious wretch did not betray his divine Master out of fear, but out of avarice.  Of all passions the love of sordid lucre is the most vile; and the avaricious soul does not fear to plunge herself into the bottom of hell, for a trifling gain.  There is no vestige of honour or justice, or probity, remaining in the heart of that man who is possessed with the love of base lucre; whose god is his money.  The perfidious Judas, inebriated with this passion, while he thirsts after gain, sells with the most foolish impiety his Lord and his Master.  S. Leo the great. — He sells him for the paltry consideration of thirty pieces of silver, about £3 15s. the price of a common slave.  See Exod. xxi. 32.  It is probable that even the obdurate heart of Judas would not have betrayed his Master to the Jews, had he not expected that Jesus would escape from their hands on this occasion, as he had done at Nazareth, and in the temple.

The Pascal Supper.

 

Ver. 17.  The first day of the azymes; unleavened bread.  S. Mark (xiv. 12.) adds, when they sacrificed the Pasch: and S. Luke (xxii. 7.) says, And the day of the unleavened bread came; on which it was necessary that the Pasch (i.e. the Paschal lamb) should be killed.  From hence it follows, that Christ sent his apostles that very day (the 14th day of the month of Nisan) on which, in the evening, or at night, the Pasch was to be eaten; and which was to be with unleavened bread.  It is true, the 15th day of that month is called (Exodus xii. 1.) the first day of unleavened bread: but we must take notice, that the Jews began their feasts, or festivals, from sunset of the evening before; and consequently on the evening of the 14th day of the moon: at which time there was to be no leavened bread in any of their houses.  This shews that Christ eat the Pasch, or Paschal lamb, after sunset.  And when the Paschal supper was over, he consecrated the blessed Eucharist, in unleavened bread, as the Latin Church doth.  There are two or three difficulties relating to this matter in S. John, of which in their proper places.  Wi. — There were four passovers during Christ’s public ministry.  The 1st was after the marriage feast of Cana, in the 31st year of Jesus, and the 779th from the foundation of Rome.  To derive pascha from the Greek, pascein, to suffer, is a mistake, as S. Austin observes; tract. lv. in Joan.  It is certainly taken from the Hebrew, and signifies a passing by, or passing over: 1st, because the children of Israel passed in haste on that night out of the land of Egypt; 2d, because the angel, who on that night killed all the first-born of the Egyptians, seeing the doors of the Israelites stained with the blood of the paschal lamb, passed by all theirs untouched; 3d, because that was a figure of our Saviour passing out of this life to his eternal Father.  Yet it must be observed that this same word, pascha, or passover, is used sometimes for the paschal lamb, that was sacrificed; (Luke xxii. 7.) elsewhere, for the first day of the paschal feast and solemnity, which lasted seven days; (Mat. xvi. 2.  Ezech. xlv. 21.) for the sabbath-day, which occurred within the seven days of the solemnity; (John xix. 14.) and also for all the sacrifices made during the seven days’ fest.  The Passover was the most solemn rite of the old law.  When God ordered the Israelites to sprinkle the blood of the lamb upon their door-posts, it was solely with a view of signifying, that the blood of the true Lamb was to be the distinctive mark of as many as should be saved. Every thing was mysteriously and prophetical.  A bone of the lamb was not to be broken; and they broke not the arms or legs of Jesus Christ, on the cross.  The lamb was to be free from blemish; to express the perfect sanctity of Jesus Christ, the immaculate Lamb of God.  The paschal lamb was to be sacrificed and eaten; because Christ was to suffer and die for us: and unless we eat his flesh, we shall have no life in us.  The door-posts of the Israelites were to be sprinkled with blood, that the destroying angel might pass over them; for with the blood of Christ our souls are to be purified, that sin and death may not prevail against us.  In every house was eaten a whole lamb; and Christ, at communion, is received whole and entire by every faithful soul. — The manner in which it was to be eaten, shews the proper dispositions for Christians when they receive the blessed sacrament.  The roasting by fire, expresses divine charity; the unleavened bread, sincerity, truth, and a good conscience; the bitter herbs, repentance and contrition for sin; the girded loins and shod feet, the restraint upon our passions and lusts, and a readiness to follow the rules of the gospel; the staff, our mortal pilgrimage, and that having no lasting dwelling here, we should make the best of our way to our true country, the heavenly Chanaan. — On this day the passover was to be eaten, at least by a part of the people, according to S. Matt. S. Mark, and S. Luke; i.e. according to some, by the Galileans; for, according to S. John, it appears that the priests, and the Jews properly so called, such as dwelt in Judea, did not immolate it till the next day.  John xiii. 1, xviii. 28, and xix. 14.  V. — But we have here again to remark, that the Jews began their day from sunset of the previous day.

Ver. 18.  To a certain man, whom SS. Mark and Luke call, the good man of the house, or master of the house.  When S. Mat. therefore says, a certain man, he seems to do it for brevity’s sake; as no one ever speaks to his servants thus, go to a certain man.  The evangelist, therefore, after giving our Saviour’s words, go ye into a certain city, he adds as from himself, to a certain man, to inform us that there was a particular man to whom Jesus sent his disciples.  S. Austin. — In Greek, ton deina; in Hebrew, Peloni; words that express a person whose name is either not known, or is wished to be kept secret.  Jans.

Ver. 19.  And they prepared what was necessary, a lamb, wild lettuce, and unleavened bread.  V.

Ver. 20.  When it was evening.[2]  S. Luke says, when the hour was come, which was at the latter evening, after sunset.  The time of killing and sacrificing the lamb was, according to the 12th of Exodus, to be between the two evenings; (see Mar. xiv. 15.) so that we may reasonably suppose, that Christ sent some of his apostles on Thursday, in the afternoon, to perform what was to be done, as to the killing and sacrificing of the lamb, and then to bring it away: and he eat it with his disciples after sunset. — He sat down, &c.  Lit. laid down, in a leaning or lying position.  Some pretend, from this circumstance, that he eat not the paschal lamb that year, because it was to be eaten, standing, according to the law.  But they might stand at the paschal lamb, and eat the rest of the supper on couches; as it was then the custom.  Wi. — We must not hence suppose that he transgressed the law.  He first eat the Pasch according to the Mosaic rite, standing, and then sat down to supper.  S. Chrys. hom. lxxxii.

Ver. 22.  And they being very much troubled.  There were three motives for this great sorrow in the disciples: 1st, because they saw their innocent and dear Master was so soon to be taken from them, and delivered up to a most cruel and ignominious death; 2d, because each of them was afraid lest, through human frailty, he might fall into so great a crime; for they all were convinced, that what he said must necessarily come to pass: and lastly, that there could be found one among them so wretchedly perverse, as to deliver Jesus into the hands of his enemies.  Hence afraid of themselves, and not daring to affix a suspicion on any individual, they began every one to say: Is it I, Lord, on whom so atrocious a crime is to fall? . . . It is extremely probable that Christ made this prediction three times: 1st, at the commencement of supper; (Mat. xxvi. 21.)  2d, after washing the feet; (John xiii. 18.)  3d, after the institution of the blessed Eucharist.  Luke xxii. 21.  Thus Pope Benedict XIV. Sandinus, &c.

Ver. 23.  He that dippeth.  He that is associated to me, that eateth bread with me, shall lift up his heel against me, according to the prophecy of the psalmist, cited by S. John, xiii. 18. — Jesus Christ does not here manifest the traitor; he only aggravates the enormity and malice of the crime.

Ver. 25.  Is it I, Rabbi?  After the other disciples had put their questions, and after our Saviour had finished speaking, Judas at length ventures to inquire of himself.  With his usual hypocrisy, he wishes to cloke his wicked designs by asking a similar question with the rest.  Origen. — It is remarkable that Judas did not ask, is it I, Lord? but, is it I, Rabbi? to which our Saviour replied, thou hast said it: which answer might have been spoken in so low a tone of voice, as not perfectly to be heard by all the company.  Rabanus. — Hence it was that Peter beckoned to S. John, to learn more positively the person.  Here S. Chrysostom justly remarks the patience and reserve of our Lord, who by his great meekness and self-possession, under the extremes of ingratitude, injustice, and blasphemy, shews how we ought to bear with the malice of others, and forget all personal injuries.

The Institution of the Holy Sacrament.

 

Ver. 26.  And whilst they were at supper.  Jesus Christ proceeds to the institution of the blessed Eucharist, that the truth or reality may succeed to the figure in one and the same banquet; and to impress more deeply upon our minds the remembrance of so singular a favour, his last and best gift to man.  He would not institute it at the beginning of his ministry; he first prepares his disciples for the belief of it, by changing water into wine, and by the miraculous multiplication of the loaves. — Whilst they were, &c. before they parted: for by S. Luke (xxii. 20.) and 1 Cor. (xi. 25.) the blessed sacrament was not instituted till after supper.Jesus took bread, and blessed it.  S. Luke and S. Paul say, he gave thanks.  This blessing and giving thanks, was not the consecration itself, but went before it.  See the Council of Trent, sess. xiii. c. i.  Wi. — This is my body.  He does not say, this is the figure of my bodybut, this is my body.  2d Council of Nice. Act. vi.  Neither does he say in this, or with this is my body, but absolutely this is my body; which plainly implies transubstantiation.  Ch. — Catholics maintain, after the express words of Scripture, and the universal tradition of the Church, that Christ in the blessed sacrament is corporally and substantially present; but not carnally; not in that gross, natural, and sensible manner, in which our separated brethren misrepresent the Catholic doctrine, as the Capharnaites did of old; (John vi. 61, 62.) who were scandalized with it. . . . If Protestants, in opposition to the primitive Fathers, deny the connection of the sixth chapter of John with the institution, it is from the fear of giving advantage to the doctrine of transubstantiation, says Dr. Clever, Protestant bishop of Bangor. — This is my body.  By these words, and his divine power, Christ changed that which before was bread into his own body; not in that visible and bloody manner as the Capharnaites imagined.  John vi.  Yet so, that the elements of bread and wine were truly, really, and substantially changed into the substance of Christ’s body and blood.  Christ, whose divine power cannot be questioned, could not make use of plainer words than these set down by S. Matthew, S. Mark, S. Luke, and S. Paul to the Corinthians: this is my body; this is my blood: and that the bread and wine, at the words of consecration are changed into the body and blood of Christ, has been the constant doctrine and belief of the Catholic Church, in all ages, both in the east and west, both in the Greek and Latin churches; as may be seen in our controvertists, and particularly in the author of the books of the Perpetuity of the Faith.  The first and fundamental truths of the Christian faith, by which we profess to believe the mystery of the holy Trinity, i.e. one God and three divine Persons, and of the incarnation, i.e. that the true Son of God was made man, was born, suffered and died upon the cross for our salvation, are no less obscure and mysterious, no less above the reach of human capacity, than this of the real presence: nor are they more clearly expressed in the sacred text.  This change the Church hath thought proper to express by the word, transubstantiation: and it is as frivolous to reject this word, and to ask where it is found in the holy Scriptures, as to demand where we read in the Scriptures, the words, trinity, incarnation, consubstantial to the Father, &c. — Luther fairly owned that he wanted not an inclination to deny Christ’s real presence in the sacrament, by which he should vex and contradict the Pope; but this, said he, is a truth that cannot be denied:[3]  The words of the gospel are too clear.  He and his followers hold, what is called impanation, or consubstantiation; i.e. that there is really present, both the substance of the bread and wine, and also the substance of Christ’s body and blood. — Zuinglius, the Sacramentarians, and Calvinists deny the real presence; and hold that the word is, (est) importeth no more, than it signifieth, or is a figure of Christ’s body; as it hath been lately translated, this represents my body, in a late translation, or rather paraphrase, 1729.  I shall only produce here the words and reasoning of Luther: which may deserve the attention of the later reformers.  [4]”Who,” saith Luther, (tom. vii. Edit. Wittemb. p. 391) “but the devil, hath granted such a license of wresting the words of the holy Scripture?  Who ever read in the Scriptures, that my body is the same as the sign of my body? or, that is is the same as it signifies?  What language in the world ever spoke so?  It is only then the devil, that imposeth upon us by these fanatical men. . . . Not one of the Fathers, though so numerous, ever spoke as the Sacramentarians: not one of them ever said, It is only bread and wine; or, the body and blood of Christ is not there present.  Surely it is not credible, nor possible, since they often speak, and repeat their sentiments, that they should never (if they thought so) not so much as once, say, or let slip these words: It is bread only; or the body of Christ is not there, especially it being of great importance, that men should not be deceived.  Certainly in so many Fathers, and in so many writings, the negative might at least be found in one of them, had they thought the body and blood of Christ were not really present: but they are all of them unanimous.”  Thus far Luther; who, in another place, in his usual manner of writing, hesitates not to call the Sacramentarians, men possessed, prepossessed, and transpossessed by the devil.[5] — My body.  In S. Luke is added, which is given for you.  Granted these words, which is given, may bear this sense, which shall be given, or offered on the cross; yet as it was the true body of Christ, that was to be crucified, so it was the same true body which Christ gave to his apostles, at his last supper, though in a different manner. — The holy Eucharist is not only a sacrament, but also a sacrifice, succeeding to all the sacrifices of the ancient law, which Christ commanded all the priests of the new law to offer up.  Luther was forced to own, that divers Fathers, taught this doctrine; as Irenæus, Cyprian, Augustin: and in his answer to Henry VIII. of England: The king, says he, brings the testimonies of the Fathers, to prove the sacrifice of the mass, for my part, I care not, if a thousand Augustines, a thousand Cyprians, a thousand Churches, like that of Henry, stand against me.  The Centurists of Magdeburg own the same to have been the doctrine of Cyprian, Tertullian, and also of Irenæus, in the end of the second age; and that S. Greg. of Nazianzen, in the fourth age, calls it an unbloody sacrifice; incruenti sacrificii.  Wi.

This is my body.

To shew how these words have been interpreted by the primitive Church, we shall here subjoin some few extracts from the works of some of the most eminent writers of the first five centuries.

First Century.

S. Ignatius, bishop of Antioch, who was a disciple and contemporary with some of the apostles, and died a martyr, at Rome, in a very advanced age, An. 107, speaking of certain heretics of those times, says: “They abstain from the Eucharist and from oblations, because they do not confess the Eucharist to be the flesh of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who suffered for our sins.”  See epis. genuin. ad Smyrnæos. — He calls the Eucharist the medicine of immortality, the antidote against death, by which we always live in Christ. — In another part he writes: “I desire the bread of God, which is the flesh of Jesus Christ, and for drink, his blood.”  Again: “use one Eucharist; for the flesh of our Lord Jesus Christ is one, and the cup is one in the unity of his blood.  There is one altar, as there is one bishop with the college of the priesthood,” &c.

Second Century.

S. Justin, the philosopher, in an apology for the Christians, which he addressed to the emperor and senate of Rome, about the year 150, says of the blessed Eucharist: “No one is allowed to partake of this food, but he that believes our doctrines are true, and who has been baptized in the laver of regeneration for remission of sins, and lives up to what Christ has taught.  For we take not these as common bread, and common drink, but in the same manner as Jesus Christ, our Saviour, being incarnate by the word of God, hath both flesh and blood for our salvation; so we are taught that this food, by which our flesh and blood are nourished, over which thanks have been given by the prayers in his own words, is the flesh and blood of the incarnate Jesus.”  Apology ii. in fin. he calls it, Panem eucharistisatum ton arton eucaristhqenta, the bread blessed by giving thanks, as he blessed and miraculously multiplied the loaves, euloghsen autouV.

Third Century.

S. Cyprian, bishop of Carthage, who suffered martyrdom in 258, says: “the bread which our Lord delivered to his disciples, was changed not in appearance, but in nature, being made flesh by the Almighty power of the divine word.”

Fourth Century.

S. Cyril, bishop of Jerusalem, who was born in the commencement of the 4th century, and died in 386, explaining the mystery of the blessed Eucharist to the newly baptized, says: “Do not look upon the bread and wine as bare and common elements, for they are the body and blood of Christ; as our Lord assures us.  Although thy senses suggest this to thee, let faith make thee firm and sure.  Judge not of the thing by the taste, but be certain from faith that thou has been honoured with the gift of Christ’s body and blood.  When he has pronounced and said of the bread, this is my body, who will after this dare to doubt?  And when he has assured, and said, this is my blood, who can ever hesitate, saying it in not his blood?  He changed water into wine at Cana; and shall we not him worthy of our belief, when he changed wine into blood?  Wherefore, let us receive them with an entire belief, as Christ’s body and blood; for under the figure of bread, is given to thee his body, and under the figure of wine, his blood; that when thou hast received Christ’s body and blood, thou be made one body and blood with him; for so we carry him about in us, his body and blood being distributed through our bodies.”  S. Cyril, catech. — S. Ambrose, one of the greatest doctors of the Latin Church, and bishop of Milan, who died in 396, proving that the change of the bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ, is really possible to God, and really takes place in the blessed Eucharist, uses these words: “Will not the words of Christ have power enough to change the species of the elements?  Shall not the words of Christ, which could make out of nothing things which did not exist, be able to change that, which already exists, into what it was not?  It is not a less exertion of power to give a new nature to things, than to change their natures.  Let us propose examples from himself and assert the truth of this mystery from the incarnation.  Was it according to the course of nature, that our Lord Jesus Christ should be born of the Virgin Mary?  It is evident that it was contrary to the course of nature for a virgin to bring forth.  Now this body, which we produce, was born of the virgin.  Who dost thou seek for the order of nature in the body of Christ, when our Lord Jesus Christ was born of a virgin.  S. Ambrose, lib. de initiandis, c. ix.

Fifth Century.

S. Chrysostom, bishop of Constantinople, who died in 407, does not speak less clearly on this subject.  “He,” (i.e. Jesus Christ,) says the holy doctor, hom. l. in Matt. “has given us himself to eat, and has set himself in the place of a victim sacrificed for us.”  And in hom. lxxxiii.: “How many now say they could wish to see his form, his garments, &c.; you wish to see his garments, but he gives you himself not only to be seen, but to be touched, to be eaten, to be received within you.  Than what beam of the sun ought not that hand to be purer, which divides this flesh!  That mouth, which is filled with this spiritual fire!  That tongue, which is purpled with this adorable blood!  The angels beholding it tremble, and dare not look thereon through awe and fear, on account of the rays, which dart from that, wherewith we are nourished, with which we are mingled, being made one body, one flesh with Christ.  What shepherd ever fed his sheep with his own limbs?  Nay, many mothers turn over their children to mercenary nurses; whereas he feeds us with his own blood!”  — On another occasion, to inspire us with a dread of profaning the sacred body of Christ, he says: “When you see Him exposed before you, say to yourself: this body was pierced with nails; this body which was scourged, death did not destroy; this body was nailed to a cross, at which spectacle the sun withdrew his rays; this body the Magi venerated.” —— “There is as much difference between the loaves of proposition and the body of Christ, as between a shadow and a body, between a picture and the reality.”  Thus S. Jerom upon the epistle to Titus, c. i.  See more authorities in the notes on S. Mark’s Gospel, ch. xiv, v. 22, on the real presence, and also in the following verses and alibi passim.

Ver. 27.  Drink ye all of this.  This was spoken to the twelve apostles; who were the all then present; and they all drank of it, says Mark xiv. 23.  But it no ways follows from these words spoken to the apostles, that all the faithful are here commanded to drink of the chalice, any more than that all the faithful are commanded to consecrate, offer and administer this sacrament; because Christ upon this same occasion, and as I may say, with the same breath, bid the apostles do so, in these words, (S. Luke xxii. 19,) Do this for a commemoration of me.  Ch. — It is a point of discipline, which the Church for good reasons may allow, or disallow to the laity, without any injury done to the receiver, who according to the Catholic doctrine of the real presence, is made partaker of the same benefit under one kind only; he that eateth of this bread shall live for ever.  John vi. . . . When our adversaries object to us, in opposition to the very clear and precise proofs we produce from the primitive writers of the doctrine of the real presence, that is called sometimes bread, a figure, a sign; we reply, that they can only mean that the outward forms of bread and wine, which remain after consecration, are a figure, a sign, a commemoration.  They nowhere teach that the consecrated species are barely figures or signs, and nothing more.  On the contrary, with S. Cyril above quoted, they say: “Let your soul rejoice in the Lord, being persuaded of it, as a thing most certain, that the bread, which appears to our eyes, in not bread, though our taste do judge it to be so, but the body of Christ: and that the wine which appears to our eyes, is not wine, but the blood of Christ.”  Myst. catech. 4, p. 528: and with S. Gregory of Nyssa, born in 331, “the bread, which at the beginning was common bread, after it has been consecrated by the mysterious word, is called, and is become, the body of Christ.”  And with S. Paulinus, in the same age, “the flesh of Christ, with which I am nourished, is the same flesh as that fastened to the cross; and the blood, with which my heart is purified, is the same blood that was spilt upon the cross.”

Ver. 28.  This is my blood of the New Testament, which shall be shed for many for the remission of sins.  The Greek text in S. Luke shews that the words shall be shed, or is shed, cannot, in construction, be referred to the blood of Christ shed on the cross, but to the cup, at the institution of the holy sacrament.  This cup (says Luke xxii. 20,) is the New Testament in my blood; which cup[6] shall be shed, or is shed for you.  S. Paul also saith: this cup is the New Testament in my blood.  And if any one will needs insist upon the words, as related by S. Matthew and S. Mark, the sense is still the same; viz. that this cup was not wine, but the blood of Christ, by which the New Testament was confirmed, or alliance betwixt God and man. — For many.  S. Luke and S. Paul, instead of many, say for you.  Both are joined in the canon of the mass.  Euthymius says, for many, is the same as for all mankind.  This new alliance was made with all, and the former with the Jews only.  Wi. — As the Old Testament was dedicated with blood in these words: This is the blood of the Testament, (Heb. ix. 20,) so here is the institution of the New Testament, in Christ’s blood, by these words: This is the blood of the New Testament, which God contracts with you, to communicate to you his grace and justice, by the merits of this blood, which shall be shed for you on the cross; and which is here mystically shed for many, for the remission of sins: for the Greek is in the present tense in all the three evangelists, and in S. Paul, 1 Cor. xi, and the Latin Vulgate of S. Luke, xxii. 19.  Hoc est corpus meum quod pro vobis datur: didomenon, klwmenon ekcunomenon.

Ver. 29.  I will not drink from henceforth of this fruit of the vine.  In S. Luke, (xxii. 15, 16,) Christ said to his disciples; I earnestly desired to eat this Pasch with you before I suffer; (or this paschal sacrifice) for I say to you, that, from this time I will not eat thereof, till it be fulfilled in the kingdom of God.  These expressions seem to import no more, than that it was the last time he would eat and drink with them in a mortal body.  And if, as some expound it, Christ, by the generation of the vine, understood the consecrated cup of his blood, he might call it wine, or the fruit of the vine; because he gave them his blood under the appearance of wine; as S. Paul calls the body of Christ bread, because given under the appearance of bread.  1 Cor. xi. 26.  Wi. — Fruit of the vine.  These words, by the account of S. Luke, (xxii. 18,) were not spoken of the sacramental cup, but of the wine that was drunk with the paschal lamb.  Though the Sacramental cup might also be called the fruit of the vine, because it was consecrated from wine, and retains the likeness, and all the accidents, or qualities, of wine.  Ch. — As S. Paul calleth the body of Christ bread, so the blood of Christ may still be called wine, for three reasons: 1. Because it was so before; as in Genesis xi. 23, Eve is called Adam’s bone; in Exod. vii, Aaron’s rod devoured their rods, whereas they were not now rods but serpents; and in John ii, He tasted the water made wine, whereas it was now wine not water.  2. Because the blessed Eucharist retaineth the forms of bread and wine, and things in Scripture are frequently called from their appearance; as. Tob. v, the archangel Raphael, is called a young man; and Gen. xviii, three men appeared to Abraham; whereas they were three angels.  3. Because Jesus Christ in the blessed Sacrament is the true bread of life, refreshing us in soul and body to everlasting life.  B. — Drink it new, after a different manner most wonderful and hitherto unheard of, not having a passible body, but one clothed with immortality; and henceforth no longer in need of nourishment.  Thus he brings to their minds the idea of his resurrection, to strengthen them under the ignominies of his passion, and eats and drinks with them, to give them a more certain proof of this grand mystery.  S. Chrys. hom lxxxiii.

Ver. 30.  And when they had sung a hymn.  Christ, with his disciples, after supper, sung a hymn of thanksgiving.  Here in order to follow those incomparable instructions, which we read in S. John, chap. xiv. xv. xvi. and xvii.  Wi.

Ver. 31.  Scandalized in me, &c.  For as much as my being apprehended shall make you all run away and forsake me.  Ch.

Ver. 33.  I will never be.  After our Saviour had assured them of the prediction of the prophet, that the flock should be dispersed, and had confirmed it himself, still Peter denied it; and the more Christ assured him of his weakness, the more, according to S. Luke, (c. xxii.) did Peter affirm that he would not deny him.  Whence this confidence in Peter?  who when our Lord had said, that one of them would betray him, feared for himself, and though conscious of nothing, still prevailed on S. John to put the question to our Saviour.  Freed now from that solicitude and anxiety, which had so much oppressed him concerning the treason of Judas, he began to trust to himself.  Let us learn from this fall of the chief of the apostles, ever to assent with the greatest sincerity to the words of God.  Let us believe him in every possible circumstance, though it may appear to our senses and understanding contradictory; for, the word of God can never be made void; but our senses may easily be deceived.  When, therefore, he says, this is my body, let us without any the least hesitation immediately believe and contemplate the mystery with the eyes of our understanding.  S. John Chrys. hom. lxxxiii.

Ver. 34.  Before the cock crow.[7]  S. Mark is more particular; before the cock crow twice, thou shalt deny me thrice.  The sense seems to be, before the time that the cocks crow the second time, towards the morning.  Wi.

Christ’s prayer and agony in the garden.  He is seized, and carried before Annas and Caiphas.

Ver. 36.  Gethsemani.  S. John tells us it was a garden, whither Jesus was accustomed to go with his disciples, which Judas knew.  S. Luke says, he went according to his custom to the mount of Olives; i.e. where he used to spend part of the nights in prayer.  Wi.

Ver. 37.  He began to grow sorrowful.[8]  The Greek signifies to be dispirited.  S. Mark, to be in a consternation with fear: to wit, when all he was to undergo was represented to him, as well as the ingratitude of sinners.  Wi.

Ver. 38.  My soul is sorrowful.  The cause of our Lord’s grief was not the fear of suffering; since he took upon himself human nature, to suffer and to die for us; but the cause of his grief was the unhappy state of Judas, the scandal his disciples would take at his passion, the reprobation of the Jewish nation, and the destruction of the miserable Jerusalem.  Our Lord also suffered himself to be thus dejected, to convince the world of the truth and reality of his human nature.  S. Jerom.

Ver. 39.  Going a little further.  S. Luke says, about a stone’s cast, kneeling down; or as here in Matt. prostrating himself.  He did both. — Father, if it is possible.  Which is the same, says S. Augustin, as if he said, if thou wilt, let this cup of sufferings pass from me.Nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.  He that was God and man, had both a divine and a human will.  He was pleased to let us know what he naturally feared, as man, and in the sensitive part of his soul; yet shews his human will had nothing contrary to his divine will, by presently adding, but not my will, but thine be done.  Here, as related by S. Luke, followed his bloody sweat.  Luke xxii. 43.  Wi. — These words are a source of instruction for all Christians.  These words inflame the breasts of confessors; the same also crown the fortitude of the martyrs.  For, who could overcome the hatred of the world, the assaults of temptations, and the terrors of persecutors, unless Christ in all, and for all, had said to his eternal Father: Nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou willest.  Let all the children of the Church then understand well these words, that when calamities violently beat upon us, we may with resignation exclaim: nevertheless, not as I will, but, &c.  S. Leo the great.

Ver. 41.  Watch ye and pray, &c.  We watch by being intent on good works, and by being solicitous that no perverse doctrine seize our hearts.  Thus we must first watch, and then pray.  Origen. — The spirit indeed is willing, &c.  This is addressed to the disciples; that they were not to trust too much to their own courage; for although their spirit was ready to undergo any temptation, their bodies were still so weak, that they would fail, unless strengthened by prayer.  S. Hilary.

Ver. 44.  He prayed the third time, to teach us perseverance in our prayers.  Of these particulars Christ might inform his disciples afterwards; or they were revealed to them.  Wi. — Our Lord prayed three different times, to obtain of his heavenly Father pardon for our past sins, defence against our present evils, and security against our future misfortunes; and that we might learn to address ourselves in prayer to the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.  Rabanus.

Ver. 45.  Sleep on now.  These were words spoken, as it were, ironically.  The hour is come, that I am to be betrayed.  Wi. — It seems more probable that he then permitted them to sleep for some time, compassionating their weakness, and leaving them undisturbed.  For, it is not very probable that after the agony he had just been in, he should address his disciples ironically; so that the words in the next verse, Rise, let us go, seem to have been spoken after he had permitted them to enjoy a short repose.  Jans. — S. Austin also supposes that after our Lord said, sleep ye now, he was silent for some time, and only then added, it is enough, the hour is come.

Ver. 48.  Judas wished to give them a sign, because Jesus had before been apprehended, and had escaped from them on account of their ignorance of his person; which on this occasion he could also have done, if such had been his pleasure.  S. John Chrysostom.

Ver. 49.  Hail, Rabbi. And he kissed him.  This kind of salutation was ordinary with the Jews.  S. Luke tells us, Christ called Judas friend; and added, Is it with a kiss thou betrayest the Son of man?  By what we read in S. John, these men that came with Judas, seem not to have known our Saviour: for when he asked then, whom seek you?  they do not answer, thyself, but Jesus of Nazareth.  They were struck with a blindness, which S. Chrysostom looks upon as done miraculously.  The second miracle was, that when Christ said, I am he, they fell to the ground, as thunder-struck.  The third was, let these go, by which they had no power to seize any one of his disciples.  The fourth was, the healing of Malchus’s ear.  Wi.

Ver. 51.  Drew out his sword.  Peter did not comprehend the meaning of what Christ had said, Luke xxii. 36.  He that hath not a sword, let him buy one, which was no more than an intimation of the approaching danger.  Now Peter, or some of them, asked, and said: Lord, shall we strike?  But he struck without staying for an answer.  Wi.

Ver. 52.  Shall perish by the sword.  This was not to condemn the use of the sword, when employed on a just cause, or by lawful authority.  Euthymius looks upon it as a prophecy that the Jews should perish by the sword of the Romans.  Wi. — Our divine Saviour would not permit this apostle to continue in his pious zeal for the safety of his Master.  He says to him: put up thy sword.  For he could not be unwilling to die for the redemption of man, who chose to be born for that end alone.  Now, therefore, he gives power to his implacable enemies to treat him in the most cruel manner, not willing that the triumph of the cross should be in the least deferred; the dominion of the devil and man’s captivity in the least prolonged.  S. Leo.

Ver. 53.  More than twelve legions of angels.  A legion was computed about 6,000.  Wi. — These would amount to 72,000; but our Lord means no more than a great number.

Ver. 55.  In that same hour, &c.  The reason why the Jewish princes did not seize our Lord in the temple, was, because they feared the multitude; on which account Jesus retired, that he might give them an opportunity, both from the circumstances of place and time, to apprehend him: thus shewing us, that without his permission they could not so much as lay a finger upon him.  The evangelist informs us in the following verse of the reason of this conduct; that the writings of the prophets might be fulfilled.  S. Chrys.  See Luke xxii. 53.

Ver. 56.  All leaving him, fled away.  Yet Peter and another soon followed after at a distance.  S. Mark says (xiv. 51,) that a young man followed with nothing on but a linen cloth.  Perhaps it was some one that upon the noise came hastily out of the neighbourhood; and when they catched hold on him, fled away naked.  It is not known who he was.  Wi.

Ver. 57.  To Caiphas.  Our Saviour Christ was led in the night time, both to Annas and Caiphas: and first to Annas; (Jo. xviii. 13,) perhaps because the house of Annas was in their way; or that they had a mind to gratify the old man with the sight of Jesus, now taken prisoner and bound with ropes.  Wi. — After the chief priests had bribed Judas to betray Christ, they bring him to Caiphas, not as to his judge, but as to his enemy, to insult over him: and then they began to examine him concerning his doctrine and disciples, that they might find some heads of accusation from his answers: thus they shewed that they acted contrary to common justice, in apprehending a person before they had any thing to lay to his charge.  Jans. — Josephus relates that Caiphas had purchased the high priesthood for that year; although Moses, at the command of God, had ordained that a regular succession be kept up, and the son should succeed the father in the high priesthood.  It is no wonder then if an iniquitous judge passed an iniquitous sentence.  S. Jerom.

Ver. 58.  Peter followed.  To wit, to the court of Caiphas, where a great many of the chief priests were met. — And another disciple.  Many think this disciple was S. John himself.  Wi.

Ver. 60.  False witnesses.  But how were these men false witnesses, who affirm what we read in the gospel?  That man is a false witness, who construes what is said in a sense foreign to that of the speaker.  Jesus Christ spoke of the temple of his body.  Our divine Saviour had said, Destroy this temple; and they affirm that he had said, I am able to destroy.  Had the Jews attended sufficiently to our Saviour’s words, they would easily have perceived of what Christ was speaking, from what he there says: and in three days I will raise it up, S. Jerom. — These words of Jesus Christ are only mentioned by S. John ii. 19, who marks on what occasion and in what sense there were spoken.  V.

Ver. 61.  This man said: I am able to destroy the temple of God.  These men that gave this evidence, are called false witnesses.  They relate not the true words of Christ; which were not, I can destroy, but destroy you this temple, &c.  2. Christ spoke of the temple of his body, and they of the material temple.  3. It is not unlikely that they made other additions, as well as false constructions, omitted by the evangelists.  Wi.

Ver. 63.  I adjure thee by the living God.  They hoped this might make him own himself God; for which they were for stoning him.  Jo. x. 31. — S. Luke tells us, (xxii. 66,) that this question was put to Jesus, when it was day.  S. Augustine thinks it was put to him first in the night, and again the next morning.  We must not forget that when Christ was examined by the high priest, one of the servants standing by gave our blessed Redeemer a box on the ear, or on the face.  See John xviii. 22.  Wi. — Our divine Saviour as God knew perfectly well, that whatever he said would be condemned; and therefore the more Jesus was silent to what was alleged against him, the more did the high priest try to extort an answer from him, that he might have some accusation against the Lord of glory.  Hence he exclaimed in that violent manner: I adjure thee, or I command thee by the living God, Exorkizw se kata tou Qeou zwntoV.  The law for witnesses is to be found in Levit. v. 1; where the witness is pronounced guilty who should suppress the truth, after he has heard the fwnhn orkismou.  This is the true meaning of that law, so very ill understood by many.  See also Menochius, who on these very words of Leviticus says: if any one shall be called upon to say what he knows of a point that another has confirmed by oath, he shall carry his iniquity, i.e. the punishment of his iniquity, which God will inflict.  M. — See 1 Kings xiv. 24. 27.  Numbers v. 19.  1 Thess. v. 27.  The confession or denial of a person thus interrogated was decisive.  C.

Ver. 64.  Thou hast said it.  Or, as it is in S. Mark, I am.  According to S. Luke, Christ in the morning, before he answered directly, said to them: If I tell you, you will not believe me, &c.  Wi.

Ver. 65.  The same fury that made Caiphas rise from his seat, forced him also to rend his garments, saying: he hath blasphemed.  It was customary with the Jews, whenever they heard any blasphemous doctrines uttered against the majesty of the Almighty, to rend their garments in abhorrence of what was uttered.  S. Jerom. — This was forbidden the high priest; (Lev. xxi. 10,) but the Pharisees allowed him to rend his clothes from the bottom, but not from the top to the breast.

Ver. 66.  He is guilty of death; i.e. of blasphemy, and so deserves to be stoned to death.  Wi.

Ver. 67.  Then they spat in his face, and buffetted him, &c.  Here it was that this wicked council of the Sanhedrim broke up, in order to meet again the next morning.  Our blessed Saviour in the mean time was abandoned; that is, had abandoned himself for our sake, to be abused, vilified, beaten and tormented by a crew of miscreants, by all the ways and means their enraged malice could devise or invent: which S. Luke passeth over in a few words, telling us, that, blaspheming, they said many other things against him.  Let us, at least, compassionate our blessed Redeemer, and cry out with the angel in the Apocalypse: thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive power and divinity, honour and glory for ever.  Wi. — Behold with what accuracy the evangelist mentions every, even the most ignominious circumstance, concealing nothing, ashamed of nothing, but esteeming it his glory that the Creator of heaven and earth should suffer so much for man’s redemption.  Let us continually meditate upon this; let us ever glory in this, and fix it irrevocably in our minds.  S. Chrys.  See Mark xiv. 65.  Luke xxii. 64.

Peter’s Denial.

Ver. 69.  Peter sat without in the palace: i.e. in the open court below, where the servants had lighted a fire.  There came to him a certain servant-maid, the portress, says S. John, xviii. 17.  But he denied, saying: I know not what thou sayest.  In S. Luke, I know him not: in S. John, I am not.  The sense is the same; and Peter might use all these expressions.  Wi.

Ver. 71.  As he went out of the gate another maid.  S. Mark says, he went out before the court.  By the Greek, he seems to have gone out of the court into the porch.  He went from the fire, but returned thither again: for by S. John, (xviii. 25,) this second denial was at the fire.  S. Luke seems to say it was a man,[9] that spoke to him: and S. John, that they were several that spoke to him: it is likely both a girl and a man.  Wi.

Ver. 73.  And after a little while.  S. Luke says, about an hour after: this seems to have been about the time that the cocks crow the second time. — They that stood by came.  S. Luke says, another man.  S. John says, the cousin to him whose ear Peter cut off.  It is probable not he alone, but others with him. — Peter began to curse and swear.  It is in vain to pretend to excuse Peter, as if he meant that he knew not Jesus, as man; but knew him as God.[10]  They (says S. Jer.) who are for excusing Peter in this manner, accuse Christ of a lie, who foretold that he should deny him.  Wi. — See how one fall draws on another, and generally a deeper: to a simple untruth is added perjury; and to this, horrible imprecations against himself.  Lord, Jesus, preserve me!  or, I also shall deny thee!

Ver. 75.  And Peter remembered the word of Jesus.  S. Aug. understands this rather of an interior illumination of grace: but it is likely our Saviour then might be where he saw Peter, and gave him a glance of his eye. — And going forth he wept bitterly: even daily all his life-time, say the ancient historians of his life.  Wi. — S. Clement, pope, in his itinerary, relates how S. Peter was ever after accustomed to watch in prayer, from the first crow of the cock till morning, pouring forth torrents of tears, and bitterly bewailing his heinous crime.  Dion. Carth. — Let us compassionate our blessed Lord under his sufferings, and in opposition to the cruel malice of his enemies, let his followers cry out with the angel in the Apocalypse: Thou are worthy, O Lord, to receive power and divinity, honour and glory, for ever and ever.

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[1]  V. 2.  Pascha fiet. to pasca ginetai fit.  S. Jerom on this place, (p. 125.) Pascha, quod Hebraicè dicitur Phase: non a Passione, ut plerique arbitrantur, sed a transitu nominatur.  So also S. Aug. tract 55. in Joan.

[2]  V. 20.  Vespere facto.  See the two evenings, Matt. xiv. 15.

[3]  V. 26.  Luther.  Verum ego me captum video. . . . Textus enim Evangelii nimium apertus est.

[4]  Ibid.  See Luther, tom. 7. Ed. Wittemb. p. 391.

[5]  Ibid.  See Hospinianus, 2. part. Hist. Sacram. p. 187.  He says the Sacramentarians have a heart, according to a French translation, endiabolè, perdiabolè, transdiabolè.

[6]  V. 28.  Touto to pothrion, h kainh diaqhkh en tw aimati mou, to uper umwn ekcunomenon, and not ekcunomenw; so that it agrees with pothrion, &c.

[7]  V. 34.  The time towards the morning, called Gallicinium.

[8]  V. 37.  LupeisJai kai adhmonein.  In S. Mark, ekqambeisJai.

[9]  V. 71.  Aluis, eteroV, says S. Luke.  S. John says, eipon autw.

[10]  V. 73.  S. Jerom, in Matt. p. 133, scio quosdam pii affectus erga Apostolum Petrum, locum hunc ita interpretatos, ut dicerent Petrum non Deum negasse, sed hominem . . . Hoc quam frivolum sit, prudens Lector intelligit; qui sic defendunt Apostolum, ut Deum mendacii reum faciant.

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MATTHEW 27

CHAPTER XXVII.

Ver. 1.  When the morning was come.  The evangelist is silent with regard to what was transacted during the night, and of the multiplied cruelties and base indignities offered to our divine Redeemer during the whole of the night; for, after he has informed us of Peter’s denial, he immediately proceeds to tell us what happened at break of day.  S. Austin. — The chief priests, with the ancients and scribes, after they had wreaked their vengeance upon Jesus by the vilest treatment of his sacred person, took counsel how they might induce the governor to put him to death.  In this Sanhedrim, or full council of seventy-two, they again put the question to hold a council. — Council.  Caiphas, in the morning, called a full council of the Sanhedrim.  They again put the question to Jesus, and commanded him to tell them if he were the Christ, and the Son of God?  He owned he was.  Luke xxii. 70. — Upon this they led him away, and delivered him to Pontius Pilate, the governor: lit. the president.  This they did, 1. because being a festival day, they apprehended a tumult among the people.  2. To make him die a more infamous death on the cross; otherwise they might perhaps have stoned him to death, as they afterwards did S. Stephen.  3. The power of death being taken from them, they durst not well exercise it, at least, without permission from the Roman governor.  Wi.

Ver. 2.  In the council Jesus was free; but now all the council rising up, as appears from S. Luke, and binding him, (dhtanteV auton) as one certainly guilty of death, they conduct him to Pilate.  All attend to repress by their authority the people, to engage Pilate to pronounce sooner the sentence, when he saw that he was condemned by the unanimous voice of the Sanhedrim, and to hinder any one from rising in his defence.  They were the more anxious, 1. because about three years before, the power of life and death had been taken from them; 2. because they wished to throw the odium of the crime on another person; and lastly, because as both Jew and Gentile were equally to benefit of Christ’s death, so both Jew and Gentile were to concur in inflicting it; and as all were to have salvation offered them through his blood, so none were to be freed from the guilt of shedding it.  A.

Ver. 3.  Then Judas, . . . repenting himself.  A fruitless repentance, accompanied with a new sin of despair, says S. Leo.  Wi. — Perceiving that Jesus was delivered up, and remembering what our divine Saviour had said concerning his resurrection, he repented of his atrocious wickedness.  Perhaps Satan, who assisted and urged him on to betray his Master, deserted him, not that he had prevailed upon the unhappy miscreant to perpetrate what he had so passionately desired.  But how could Judas see that Jesus was condemned?  He certainly did not see it, but foreboded in his despairing mind what would be the event.  But some are of opinion that this passage is referred to Judas himself, who then became sensible of his crime, and saw his condemnation impending over his head.  Origen. — For the devil does not blind his agents in such a manner, as to leave them insensible of the crime they are about to commit, till it is perpetrated.  S. Chrys. — Although Judas conceived a horror at his crime, and confessed it, and made satisfaction to a certain degree by restoring the money, still many essential conditions were wanting to his repentance: 1. faith in Christ, as God, as a redeemer, as the sole justifier from sin; 2. besides this, there was also wanting hopes of pardon, as in Cain, and a love of a much injured and much offended God.  Hence his grief was unavailing, like that of the damned.  If Judas, says an ancient Father, had had recourse to sincere repentance, and not to the halter, there was mercy in store even for the traitor.  A.

Ver. 5.  Hanged himself,[1]  and did not die of the quinsy, (a tumid inflammation in the throat) as some of late expound it.  It is true the Greek word may sometimes signify a suffocation with grief; but it signifies also to be strangled with a rope, as Erasmus translated it.  So it is in the ancient Syriac version; and the same Greek word is made use of in 2 K. xvii, as to Achitophel’s death.  Wi. — To his first repentance succeeded fell despair, which the devil pursued to his eternal destruction.  If the unhappy man had sought true repentance, and observed due moderation in it, (by avoiding both extremes, presumption and despair) he might have heard a forgiving Master speaking to him these consoling words: I will not the death of a sinner, but rather that he may be converted and still live.  Origen.

Ver. 6.  Corbona.  A place in the temple, where the people put in their gifts or offerings.  Ch.

Ver. 7.  Burying-place.  This the Pharisees did, as a shew of their charity to strangers; but their intention, according to S. Jerom, was to disgrace Jesus; thus to keep alive in the minds of the people, that he was sold by one of his own disciples, and delivered up to a disgraceful death.  Dion Carth.

Ver. 8.  Haceldama is a Syriac word: it is not the Greek; and some conjecture, that it found its way hither from the first chapter of the Acts, v. 19.  V.

Ver. 9.  Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremias.  Jeremy is now in all Latin copies, and the general reading of the Greek; whereas the passage is found Zachary xi. 12.  Some judge it to have been in some writing of Jeremy, now lost; as S. Jerom says he found it in a writing of Jeremy, which was not canonical.  Others conjecture, that Zachary had also the name of Jeremy.  Others, that S. Matthew neither put Jeremy nor Zachary, but only of the prophet: and that the name of Jeremy had crept into the text.  Jeremy is not in the Syrica; and S. Augustine says it was not in divers copies. — And they took the thirty pieces of silver; each of which was called an argenteus.  The evangelist cites not the words, but the sense of the prophet, who was ordered to cast the pieces into the house of the Lord, and to cast them to the potter:[2] which became true by the fact of Judas, who cast them into the temple: and with them was purchased the potter’s field.  The price of him that was prized.  In the prophet we read, the handsome price, spoken ironically, as the Lord did appoint me; i.e. as he had decreed.  Wi.

Ver. 11.  Jesus stood before the governor.  By comparing the four evangelists together Pilate condescended to come out to the priests, and asked them, what accusations they brought against this man?  They replied first in general terms: (John xviii. 30.)  If he were not a malefactor, we would not have delivered him up to thee.  Take him you, said Pilate, and judge him according to your law.  They answered: It is not permitted us to put any one to death.  After this they accused him of raising tumults, and forbidding to give tribute to Cæsar; (Luke xxiii. 2; a manifest falsehood; see Matt. xxii,) and that he said, he is Christ, the king.  Upon this Pilate called him into the palace before him, and said: Art thou the king of the Jews?  Jesus owned he was: but first asked Pilate, if he said this of himself, or by the suggestion of others; which was to insinuate, that this information of his being a king came from his malicious adversaries; and that Pilate, having been so long governor, could not but know that he had never set himself up for king, nor pretended to any kingly power.  However, Pilate replied somewhat peevishly: Am I a Jew?  Thy own nation, and the chief priests, have delivered thee up to me: what hast thou done?  Jesus then told Pilate, that his kingdom was not of this world.  This abundantly satisfied Pilate: who needed not trouble his head about any spiritual kingdom, or such as was not of this world.  Jesus speaking of truth, Pilate asked him after a slight manner, what is truth? but perhaps, without waiting for any answer, went presently out, and told the Jews, that he found no cause nor crime in Jesus.  Wi. — The Judge of every living creature was arraigned by permission of his heavenly Father, before the petty judge of Judea, and suffers himself to be interrogated by him, though every question proposed was either put out of ridicule, or some equally base motive.  Origen. — Our divine Saviour confessed himself to be a king; but that he might give no umbrage either to Jew or Gentile, he at the same time declared, that his kingdom was not of this world.  S. Chrys.

Ver. 14.  The governor wondered exceedingly at Jesus’s patience and silence: and he saw very well that it was envy that excited the Jewish priests against him.  Matt. xxvii. 18.  But they went on charging him, that he stirred up the people, even from Galilee to Jerusalem.  Pilate hearing that he was of Galilee, laid hold on this occasion, and sent him to Herod Antipas, who was tetrarch of Galilee; and being a Jew was come up to Jerusalem at this great feast.  Herod was glad to see Jesus brought to him, hoping to see him do some miracle in his presence: but finding him silent, and that he did not satisfy his curiosity, he contemned him, and ordered him to be clothed in such a garment as might make him laughed at for a fool, or a mock king; and in this dress, sent him back through the streets to Pilate.  Wi. — The president admires the constancy and courage of his soul; and though, perhaps, he saw it was necessary to declare him guilty of the accusation; yet, beholding the heavenly wisdom and gravity that appeared in his countenance and the heavenly composure in which he stood, he could not conceal his admiration at his conduct.  So that it seemed to him most miraculous, that a man brought to the bar, and tried for a capital crime, should stand without fear at the approach of death, which men commonly so much dread.  Origen.

Ver. 15.  Upon the solemn day of the paschal feast, (which began the evening before) it was a custom for the governor to pardon and release to the people any one criminal whose life they should petition for: and to induce them to beg for Jesus, he put in the balance with him one Barabbas a famous malefactor, a seditious murderer, says S. Mark; a robber, or thief, says S. John.  Wi. — Pilate, wishing to release the innocent Jesus, that he might not give the Jews a possibility, as he thought, of refusing his offer, puts the murderer Barabbas in competition with the innocent Lamb of God.  S. John. Chrys.

Ver. 19.  In a dream.  We must remark, that these kind of dreams were not unusual among the Gentiles, being sent by God for some just and necessary reason; as on this occasion, that there might be a public testimony from the Gentiles, of the justice and innocence of Christ.  S. Jerom.

Ver. 20.  That they should ask Barabbas.  All, therefore, that resemble the Jews in either theory or practice, desire to have Barabbas loosed to them; al,l therefore, that seek after iniquity, ask for Barabbas, and put Jesus away.  But all who walk in the paths of virtue, ask for Jesus, and destroy Barabbas.  Pilate wishing on this occasion to shew the Jews the enormity of their crime, again puts the question, which will you have of the two?  And again, What shall I do with Jesus, who is called Christ?  But, they being enraged that Pilate should declare Jesus to be the Christ, all in the frantic fury exclaimed, Let him be crucified.  Origen.

Ver. 21.  Which . . . of the two, said Pilate to them, will you have released?  S. Mark tells us, that at the instigation of the priests, the people petitioned for Barabbas.  It was no small disappointment to Pilate.  What then, said he, shall I do with Jesus?  They all answer, let him be crucified.  In S. Luke, crucify him, crucify him.  What evil hath he done? replied Pilate; and this he repeated thrice, according to S. Luke, xxiii. 22. — Here in order followed the cruel scourging of our blessed Saviour, which Pilate consented to, in hopes to move the people to compassion.  This was executed with the utmost cruelty.  For they assembled the whole band of soldiers, commonly about 600.  And they made him one wound from head to foot.  Then a scarlet or purple coat was thrown over his shoulders: and platting or wreathing a crown of thorns, i.e. twisting sharp thorns, with some resemblance of a crown, they violently pressed it down on his head; and struck him at their pleasure with a reed, or cane, which they had placed in his hand, instead of a sceptre; and kneeling in derision, said, Hail, king of the Jews. — When the soldiers had treated Jesus in this barbarous manner, Pilate himself presented him in this condition to the people saying, Behold the man.  He imagined their fury would now be changed into pity: but they still cried out, Crucify him! crucify him!  Take him you, said Pilate, and crucify him; for I find no crime in him.  The Jews then answered: We have a law: and according to our law, he must die; because he hath made himself the Son of God.  At this Pilate was more afraid, lest perhaps he should be of the progeny of the gods, as the Romans fancied their heroes to be.  He returned back to the palace and asked Jesus again: whence art thou?  Jesus gave him no direct answer, yet told him, he could have not power over him, unless it had been granted him from above.  Pilate was still very desirous to set him at liberty, especially when his wife sent a message to him to have nothing to do with that just man, for that she had suffered much in a dream on his account.  Matt. xxvii. 19. — The Jews perceived Pilate’s great inclination to set Jesus at liberty: they therefore tell him in plain terms, that if he doth dismiss this man, he is no friend to Cæsar: for every one, say they, that pretends to be a king, contradicts Cæsar.  This moved Pilate more than any thing whatsoever, and prevailed with him both against justice and his own conscience, to condemn Jesus.  He feared lest some private information might be presented against him to Tiberius Cæsar.  He presently mounted the judgment-seat in a public place, and said to the Jews: behold your king.  They cry out, away with him, crucify him.  Shall I crucify your king? said Pilate.  They reply: we have no king but Cæsar; thus renouncing their Messias.  At this Pilate yielded; and (v. 24,) washed his hands, and said: I am innocent of the blood of this just man: look you to it.  Wi.

Ver. 24.  Taken water.  It was the custom of the ancients, when they wished to shew themselves innocent of any alleged crime, to take water and wash their hands in public.  Remigius. — Because the element of water naturally signifies purity.  See Virgil, Æneid xi. ver. 718.

Me bello è tanto digressum, et cæde recenti

                        Attractare nefas, donec me flumine vivo

                        Abluero.

Ver. 25.  All the people answered: his blood be upon us, and upon our children which continues, saith S. Jerom, to this day.  Then Pilate delivered to them Jesus to be crucified.  Wi. — This blasphemous prayer continues to this day, and will continue a protracted curse upon the Jews, and upon their posterity.  Origen. — Behold the insanity of the Jews!  Their passion and pertinacious obstinacy will not suffer them to see and understand: they draw down curses upon themselves in these terrible imprecations: his blood be upon us and upon our children.  Still the God of all mercies did not literally comply with their impious prayer.  For, of these children he selected some for himself; amongst the rest even Paul, and many thousands who were converted at Jerusalem.  S. Chrys.

Ver. 26.  And having scourged Jesus.  We must know that Pilate was a subject of the Roman empire; and by the Roman law it was ordained, that whoever was condemned to the cross, should previously suffer the punishment of scourging.  S. Jerom. — He wished also by this apparent severity to soften the minds of the Jews, content their inveterate animosity, and this with hopes that they would in the end consent to the liberation of Jesus.  V.

Ver. 27.  A Roman cohort properly consisted of 625 men; but they were not always complete, nor all equally strong.  V.

Ver. 28.  A scarlet cloak.  S. Mark and S. John call it purple.  But these colours are frequently taken promiscuously by writers.  Scarlet is a lighter, and crimson a deeper red colour.  V.

Ver. 29.  The crowning of thorns had preceded the time, when Jesus was made over by Pilate to the Jews.  As the Jews have no preterpluperfect tense, we may conjecture that those words, circumdederunt, posuerunt, are Hebraisms; for circumdederant, posuerant, they had covered him with a cloak; they had placed a crown of thorns on his head, and a reed or cane in his hand.  V.

Jesus carrieth his cross to Mount Calvary, where he is nailed to it.  A great darkness.

 

Ver. 31.  And led him away to crucify him.  It was the custom for men condemned to die by crucifixion to carry their cross, which Jesus did through the city; but going out, or being gone out of the city, and, as it is probable, fainting under the weight of it, (his strength as man being exhausted) they forced a man of Cyrene, named Simon, perhaps a Gentile, or Cyrene, in Lybia, to carry the cross after him.  S. Luke says, they laid the cross upon him to carry after Jesus; whether it were that they made Simon carry the whole cross, or whether he only bore it up behind, is not expressed.  S. Luke tells us, a great crowd followed, and a number of women, who wept and lamented; to whom Christ said: weep not over me, but weep for yourselves, and for your children, on account of the punishments and miseries that will shortly happen.  Wi.

Ver. 32.  Cyrene was the capital of a province in Africa, near Lybia.  See Acts ii. 10.  Some are of opinion that this Simon was a Jew; his name favours that sentiment, and there were many Jews in that province.  V. — S. John says that Christ went out carrying his own cross, while the other three evangelists state that they forced Simon of Cyrene to carry it for him.  Both are true: for seeing Christ unequal to the weight, they compelled the other to take it up for him; not a part only, as some painters represent, but the whole, to Mount Calvary, as Jesus Christ had carried the whole before.  S. Austin. — The evangelists would not have been so particular in this part, had they not wished to inculcate, that all who desire to follow Christ, must also take up their cross and follow him.  S. Jerom and Jans. — The latter says, in his Commentaries on the Gospels; as no one liked to carry the ignominious cross, the insolence of the soldiery compelled a stranger to carry it.  By this we learn, that the cross is not taken up by many except with compulsion; but, when once taken up, they carry it with willingness.  Jans.

Ver. 33.  Golgotha, i.e. the place of Calvary,[3] of heads and skulls: perhaps, says S. Jerom, from the skulls of persons executed, and buried there.  Several ancient writers would have it so called, from Adam’s skull, whom they guess to have been buried there.  Some also say that a part of this mountain was called Moria, the place where Abraham was ready to have sacrificed his son Isaac.  Wi. — Isaac, carrying the wood on his shoulders for the sacrifice, was a figure of Jesus Christ carrying his cross.  The mountain was situated to the north-west of Jerusalem.

Ver. 34.  Wine . . mingled with gall.[4]  The Prot. from the ordinary Greek copies, translate vinegar; but other Greek copies have wine, which S. Jerom and S. Hilary follow.  And in S. Mark all copies, without exception, have wine mixed with myrrh: perhaps myrrh, from its bitterness, is here called gall.  It is also observed that wine, with a mixture of myrrh, was often given to those that were to die a violent death, to comfort them, or stupefy them.  Our Saviour tasted it, but would not drink it.  He refused not to taste the bitterness, but would not take what might lessen his torments.  Wi. — S. Mark says, mingled with myrrh; perhaps it was mixed with both, to render it as bitter as possible.  S. Austin. — What S. Mark relates, he took it not, is thus explained: he took it not, so as to drink it; which S. Mat. confirms, by saying: and when he had tasted, he would not drink; (Idem,) so as to receive the support and comfort which a strengthening draft might afford.

Ver. 35.  They divided his garments.  This was accounted with the ancients the greatest infamy.  It was never done with any but the most vile and worthless wretches; with men who possessed nothing more then their garments.  This they did to our blessed Saviour; a punishment they did not think the two thieves deserving of.  S. Chrys.

Ver. 37.  This is Jesus, the King of the Jews.  S. Mark has only, this is the King of the Jews; as also S. Luke.  S. John, Jesus, of Nazareth, King of the Jews, which might be the whole inscription.  It was the custom of the Romans to put such inscriptions with the cause of their being crucified.  S. Luke and S. John tell us, it was written in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin.  The Jews begged of Pilate that it might be changed, or only put; He said, I am the King of the Jews: but Pilate made them this short answer: what I have written, I have written.  Wi. — This title was nailed over the head of our expiring Redeemer, by divine Providence; that the Jews might still be convinced, that with all their opposition, they must acknowledge him for their King, whom they had condemned to so cruel a death; and that so far from lessening his empire and regal power, they rather increased it.  Remigius.

Ver. 38.  Two robbers, or thieves, and Jesus in the midst; as if he had been the greatest malefactor of the three.  Wi.

Ver. 39.  They . . . blasphemed, reviled, and insulted him with words and gestures.  Wi.

Ver. 40.  If thou be the Son of God.  Behold these children of Satan, how they imitate the language of their father.  That wicked fiend, tempting our divine Saviour, exclaimed, “if thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down:” and these his children say, “if thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross:” but, on the other hand, Jesus will not descend from the hard wood of the cross, because he is the Son of God; for, being God, he descended on earth, took upon himself human nature, to die thus for those who crucified him.  S. John Chrys.

Ver. 42.  If he be the king of Israel.  Pilate having written on the inscription set upon the cross, that Christ was the king of Israel, the Jews endeavoured to persuade him to remove or alter it; but Pilate gave them for answer, according to S. John, “what I have written, I have written.”  The Jews, therefore, wishing to shew that he was not their king, said with insulting scorn, “if he be the king of Israel, let him come down from the cross,” (S. Chrys.) “and we will believe him.”  Falsehood and deceit are stamped upon these words of the Jewish priests; for, whether is it more difficult to descend from his cross, being yet alive, or, being dead, to raise himself from the tomb?  He rose again, and you did not believe; had he descended from the cross, you would have been equally incredulous.  S. Jerom.

Ver. 43.  If he will have him: lit. if he will him.  In the style of the Scriptures, to will, is to love, or be pleased with any one; and so it is applied, Psalm xxi. 9, from whence these words are taken.  See also 1 Kings xviii. 22.  Wi.

Ver. 44.  And the same thing the thieves also: i.e. one of them, the other being converted, as we find Luke xxiii. 39.  Wi. — S. Ambrose, S. Chrysostom, S. Jerom, and Ven. Bede say, that at first both of the thieves blasphemed; but one of them seeing the wonderful things that happened, viz. that the sun was darkened, the rocks split asunder, &c. was terrified and converted, he believed in Jesus, and atoned for his former evil language, by praying to him as to his God.  Dion. Carth.

Ver. 45.  From the sixth hour.  S. Mark says, it was the third hour, and they crucified him.  S. John says, it was about the sixth hour, when Jesus was condemned.  To reconcile these expressions, we may take notice, that the third greater hour lasted till the sixth hour; and so S. Mark calls it the third hour, because the third great hour (which contained three lesser hours) did not end till mid-day, when the sixth hour was beginning; so that the end of the third, and the beginning of the sixth, happened together. — Darkness,[5] at mid-day, and at full moon.  Some call it an eclipse of the sun.  It was rather by an interposition of clouds, or by the substraction of the rays of the sun. — Over all the earth, until the ninth hour.  It could be no miracle to be night in the opposite hemisphere; but whether it was in all those parts of the world where, of course, it should have been light, is doubted.  Origen thinks this darkness was only in Palestine, and the neighbouring countries: for as to the words, over the whole earth, or over the whole land, we find one kingdom or empire, by a common way of speaking, called the whole earth, or the whole world.  Here, in the history of Christ’s passion, we should take notice of his seven last words, or sentences on the cross.  1. He prayed for his enemies, and those that put him to death, (Luke xxiii. 34.)  Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.  2. His mercy called the good thief, This day thou shalt be with me in Paradise, Luke xxiii. 43.  3. He recommended his beloved disciple to his mother, saying: woman, behold thy son; and his mother to the same disciple, with, Behold thy mother.  Jo. xix. 26. and 27.  4. Here (v. 46) he cried out with a loud voice, Eli, Eli, lamma sabacthani, i.e. my God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?  These words, out of Psalm xxi. 1, were to express his violent sufferings.  The Arians objected them against the divinity of Christ; to whom the Fathers answer, that he spoke these words in the person of sinners, for whose sake he suffered, as they shew by the following words of the same Psalm: far from my salvation are the words of my sins: which cannot be applied to Christ, he being incapable of sinning.  Besides, these words may be expounded as a prayer, by which he desires of his Father, not to be abandoned any longer, but that his sufferings may now have an end.  In fine, that these words were uttered with an entire confidence, and an assurance in the presence and assistance of God, appears by what he presently added, recommending his spirit into the hands of his Father.  The fifth sentence was, I thirst, to let us know the violent thirst of his exhausted body.  S. John (xix. 28,) says it was that the Scripture might be fulfilled.  Psalm lxviii. 22.  And in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.  The sixth sentence was, It is consummated; (Jo. xix. 30) i.e. the work of man’s redemption, and all the prophecies, and decrees of heaven, concerning me, the Saviour of the world, are now accomplished.  The seventh and last sentence was, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit; and with these words, says S. Luke, (xxiii. 46.) pronounced with a loud voice, he expired.  Wi. — The learned are divided on this passage: 1st, As to the cause of the obscuration of the sun; and, 2ndly, as to the extent of its darkness.  Origen is inclined to think that the darkness was partial, and confined to Judea and the neighbouring countries, as the darkness of Egypt was only perceived in that country, and not in Gessen, where the children of Israel were.  S. Jerom imagines that the obscurity was caused by the rays of the sun being suddenly withdrawn by divine power, as was the case in Egypt.  These they give as conjectures only.  But S. Dionysius, the Areopagite, speaks from his own observations, being, as he informs us in a letter to S. Polycarp, then at Heliopolis, a city of Egypt, for the purpose of astronomical observations.  He noticed this miraculous eclipse.  He saw the moon rise from the east, and placing itself directly under the sun, cause the above mentioned darkness.  This made him cry out to his companion, in the greatest admiration.  He observes in this eclipse, four things contrary to the ordinary course of nature: 1. The time, full moon, when there cannot be an eclipse of the sun; 2. the moon being under the sun at the sixth hour, returned to its place in the east for the evening; 3. the order in which the sun was obscured.  In ordinary eclipses, the western limb of the sun is first obscured, on account of the motion of the moon in its orbit, being from west to east; whereas, in the present case, the moon having already passed the sun, and being removed from the sun the distance of a semicircle, returned from the east to the sun, and of course first eclipsed it on the eastern limb: 4. contrary to the manner of common eclipses, in which that part is first visible which was first obscured, that part of the sun first appeared which was last eclipsed, because the moon returned again to the east after the eclipse was full.  To this may be added the observation of S. Chrys. and S. Jerom: that the duration of natural eclipses is very short, whilst this lasted the space of three whole hours.  But this interposition of the moon, which suffers the greatest parallax, could not cause an universal eclipse; if, therefore, the text is to be understood literally of the whole earth, another cause must be supposed for this universal darkness.  But it may be understood in a more limited sense, of the land of Judea.  Dion. Carth.

The miracles at Christ’s death.  His burial.

Ver. 47.  This man calleth for Elias.  S. Jerom thinks these might be some of the Roman soldiers, who understood not Syriac, but who had heard of the prophet Elias.  Wi. — But if we understand it of the Jews, who could not possibly be ignorant of this word, we must suppose it was merely a stratagem of theirs, who wishing still to shew the weakness of our Redeemer, said that he called Elias to his aid.  S. Jer. — The soldiers thinking that he called for Elias, wished to hinder any one from offering vinegar, lest it should hasten his death, and prevent Elias from coming to assist him; which, from the darkness and other signs, they might think probable.  S. Austin. — Wine and vinegar, on account of their penetrating quality, were thought to hasten death.  We read in Plutarch, that wine was given to Mark Anthony, when he had stabbed himself, that he might die the sooner.  Jans.

Ver. 50.  With a loud voice.  In this our Redeemer confirms what he had said to Pilate; I have the power to lay down my life, and I have the power to take it up again: for he cried with a loud voice, and at the very hour of the evening sacrifice, to shew that it was by the effect of his own will that he died.  S. John Chrys. hom. lxxxix.

Ver. 51.  The veil of the temple was rent.  As there were in the temple two parts of the sanctuary, so there were two veils, or partition walls.  The first sanctuary, called the holy, was separated by a veil from that part of the temple called the court of the Israelites.  Into this outward sanctuary, called the holy, entered every day the priests that were in office.  The second interior sanctuary, called the holy of holies, was also separated from the outward sanctuary by another veil.  And into this holy of holies, no one was to enter except the high priest, and he but once a-year.  Both these veils seem to have been rent at Christ’s death: and by their being broken down, was signified first, that the ceremonies of the ancient law were to be abolished by the law of Christ; and also that heaven should be open to all. — The earth quaked.  How far this earthquake was extended, is uncertain. — The rocks were rent, and the graves were opened: and many bodies of the saints . . . arose.  S. Jerom takes notice, that these saints did not rise with their bodies till after Christ was risen; and so it follows, that going out of the graves, after the resurrection, they came into the holy city, (i.e. into Jerusalem) and appeared to many.  Wi. — This event was a prophecy of the fatal destruction that was shortly to fall upon the temple; and also, that it should henceforth give place to things more noble and sublime.  It likewise shews that greatness of Christ’s power.  S. Chrys. hom. lxxxix.

Ver. 54.  Indeed this was the Son of God.  S. Mark says, that when they saw Jesus die in that manner, crying out with a loud voice, which could not be natural, and when they saw the other miracles, they were struck with fear.  S. Luke says, (xxiii. 47.) that the centurion glorified God, &c.  Wi. — It is said that this centurion, being afterwards confirmed in the faith, was honoured with the crown of martyrdom.  S. Chrys. hom. lxxxix.

Ver. 55.  Ministering unto him.  It was customary with the Jews, for the women of that country to minister unto their teachers both food and raiment; but because this was liable to abuse, and to cause scandal to the Gentiles, S. Paul dispensed with their assistance.  These women ministered to our Lord, hoping that he would bestow heavenly food to them, who offered earthly food to him: not that the Creator of all things stood in need of assistance: but he wished to shew his disciples an example of poverty in himself, and charity in these women.  But let us see what sort of women these were that followed our Lord, among whom were Mary Magdalene, sister of Martha and Lazarus; Mary, the mother of James the less and Joseph, sister of the blessed Virgin Mary, and the mother of the sons of Zebedee, otherwise called Salome, who were disciples of Jesus.  S. Jerom, and M.

Ver. 57.  When it was evening, &c.  S. John tells us, (C. xix. 31.) that the day on which Jesus died, being the day of preparation, (lit. the parasceve) that is the Friday or eve of the great sabbath, to wit, of the sabbath-day, which happened in the week of the paschal solemnity, the Jews desired of Pilate that the bodies might not remain on the crosses on the sabbath-day, but that they might be taken away.  Some soldiers were sent for this purpose, and broke the legs of the two others that were not quite dead; but perceiving that Jesus was dead, they broke not his legs, but one of them pierced and opened his side with a lance or spear; and with such a wound, as would have deprived him of life, had he not been already dead.  The divine Providence permitted this, to make his death more certain and undoubted. — Joseph, a disciple in private, now encouraged by the miracles which had happened, went boldly to Pilate, and begged the body of Jesus.  S. Mark says, Pilate wondered, when he heard he was dead; and having been informed of the truth by the centurion, he granted the body to Joseph.  Nicodemus also, who is called a prince of the Jews, (Jo. iii. 1.) came to bury our Saviour, bringing with him a mixture of myrrh and aloes, to embalm the body, as they did.  Wi. — The evangelist does not call Joseph a rich man out of vanity, or to inform us that Jesus had persons of distinction among his followers, but to shew why Joseph in preference to any other went to beg the body; for being a nobleman, he could obtain easier access to the governor of Judea than any of the other disciples, who were chiefly poor illiterate fishermen.  S. Jerom. — The town of Arimathea is placed on the maps about eighteen or twenty miles north-west of Jerusalem.

Ver. 58.  The Roman laws forbade sepulture to be given to criminals, without an express permission from the judges.  V. and M.

Ver. 59.  Wrapt it up.  Behold with admiration the courage and constancy of this disciple of Christ, who, through love for his crucified Saviour, willingly exposed himself not only to the enmity of his countrymen, but even to the danger of death, and dared in the presence of all to beg the body of Jesus, and to give it public interment.  S. Chrys. hom. lxxxix.

Ver. 60.  And Joseph laid it in his own new monument, . . . hewed or cut out in a rock, where no one had ever been laid: and rolled a great stone against the entrance, that no one might go in, or take away the body.  But Mary Magdalene, and other women that had accompanied Jesus from Galilee, followed at a distance, to mark the place, having a design to come afterwards, and again embalm the body.  Wi. — It was the custom of that country, to excavate a tomb from the hard rock, for all persons of great distinction.  V. — From the unadorned tomb of a Man-God, we are taught to despise the grandeur of this perishable world, and fear the example of those who, even in their sepulchres, manifest to the world how grieved they were to leave their wealth, since they carried it with them to their tombs, ornamenting them with every costly decoration human ingenuity could devise.  S. Jerom.

Ver. 61.  Sitting over-against.  Though S. Matthew makes mention of two women only, who were there, it is nevertheless certain from the other evangelists, that there were more, though these two are here particularized, because they perhaps shewed greater anxiety.  They are said to be sitting, because they were afraid to join themselves with the two noblemen, Joseph, of Arimathea, and Nicodemus; and not able to leave their Lord, without knowing where he was placed, they sat down to see the end.  Jans.

Ver. 62.  The next day, which followed that of the parasceve, or preparation, (that is, on the great sabbath-day) the chief priests came to Pilate, to beg him to set a guard at the monument.  Wi. — The day of the preparation.  The eve of the sabbath; so called, because on that day they prepared all things necessary; not being allowed so much as to dress their meat on the sabbath-day.  Ch.

Ver. 63.  Sir, we have remembered, that that seducer, this impostor, this cheat; so they called our blessed Redeemer; from whence, says S. Augustine, Christians may learn to be patient under the greatest injuries. — Said: . . . after three days I will rise again.  This, therefore, must have been well known among the Jews.  Wi. — The chief motive, which influenced the high priest on this occasion, was probably the apprehension lest this prediction of Christ’s resurrection should be verified.  The wonderful prodigies which took place at his death, and especially the opening of the graves, (though none arose it is believed till after Christ’s resurrection, since Christ is called the first-born from the dead, 1 Coloss. i. 18. and the first-fruits of them that sleep, 1 Cor. xv. 20.) might naturally appear as preludes to what he had so often foretold.  It is true they had no idea but of a temporal passing resurrection , like that of Lazarus, which they had seen: yet they judged that such an event might be attended with the most serious consequences.  Hence, it is probable, that they gave them most express injunctions to put Jesus to death by all means, and to secure the body in the monument: for, it is certain, they formed a similar design against the life of Lazarus, whose resurrection occasioned many to believe in Jesus.  A. — They were not satisfied with taking his life; they must, moreover, deprived him of his good name.  Menoch. The chief priests could not yet be satisfied, after the horrid murder they had committed, unless they stirred up the minds of the people to a still greater height, by calumniating this innocent Lamb of God, and calling him an impostor, who was the most innocent of men, and spread abroad their poisonous doctrines in every sentence they uttered.  S. Jerom.

Ver. 65.  You have a guard; supposed to be a company of Roman soldiers, destined for the guard of the temple: (V.) or, may take a guard; go, and make it secure; which they did, sealing the stone, and placing guards at the monument.  Providence ordered this, to make Christ’s resurrection more certain and evident.  Wi.

Ver. 66.  They departing.  See how beyond the possibility of contradiction these precautions prove the reality of Christ’s resurrection, and how the inveterate enemies of Christ become unwilling witnesses of it; for, since the sepulchre was guarded, there was an impossibility of any deceit on the part of the disciples.  Now, if the least deceit was utterly impracticable, then indeed Christ our Lord was infallibly risen; and to remove every, the least possibility of deceit, Pilate would not permit the soldiers alone to seal up the monument.  S. Thos. Aquin. — The high priests made the sepulchre sure, sealing the stone at the entrance of the monument with the public seal, sfragizanteV ton liqon, proof against all fraud, either of corrupt guards or of designing followers, as Darius did, (Daniel vi. 17.) that no violence might be offered him.  All this diligence, on the part of the enemies of the Christian faith, was permitted by divine Providence, that our faith in Christ’s resurrection might be more certain, his glory greater, and the minds of the people better disposed to believe.  Jans.

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[1]  V. 5.  Laqueo se suspendit, aphgxato.  See Mr. Leigh, Crit. Sacra, apagcomai, strangulor, suffocor.

[2]  V. 9.  Zachar. xi. 13. projice illud ad staturium, decorum pretium. . . . Et projeci illos in domum Domini ad statuarium; where the Hebrew word signifies, ad figulum.

[3]  V. 33.  Calvariæ locus.  kraniou topoV.

[4]  V. 34.  Vinum cum felle mixtum.  The ordinary Greek copies have, oxoV meta colhV; but several copies have, oinon: and all of them in S. Mark, esmurnismenon oinon.  Lamy says oxoV is also used for made wines.

[5]  V. 45.  Tenebræ, a darkness.  What is brought out of Phlegon, on the 4th year of 202d Olympiad, is no convincing proof that this was by an eclipse, but may be understood of a great and extraordinary darkness.

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MATTHEW 28

CHAPTER XXVIII.

Ver. 1.[1]  And in the end of the sabbath, when it began to dawn towards the first day of the week.  According to the letter, in the evening of the sabbath, which began to dawn on the first of the sabbath; (or of the sabbaths in the common Greek copies.)  This latter translation, which is that of the Rheims Testament, is certainly more according to the letter, and more obscure than it need to be.  First, by translating, on the first of the sabbath, where sabbath is taken for a week, as in other places, Luke xviii. 12.  Acts xx. 7. and 1 Cor. xvi. 2.  It may therefore here be literally translated, on the first day of the week.  Secondly, By the evening, is here meant the night: for in the Scriptures, both the Latin and Greek word, which we find in this place, not only signifies that time which we commonly call the evening, but is also put for the whole night itself, and for the time from sunset to sunrise next morning.  Thus it is taken in the first chapter of Genesis, where, in the computation of natural days of 24 hours, all the hours in which it was dark, are called vespere, in the Sept.  And all the hours in which it was light, are called mane, prwi. et factum est vespere & mane dies unus, i.e. primus.  And from the fourth day, on which were created sun and moon, by vespere was understood all the time from the sun setting on such parts of the earth, to its rising to them again: and mane signified all the day, or the hours that the sun appeared to the like parts of the earth.  Therefore, the literal and proper sense of the verse is: in the night, i.e. in the latter part of the night of the sabbath, or after the sabbath, towards the morning of the first day of the week.  And that in this place is signified the latter part of the night, and not what is commonly called the evening, appears first by the following words, when it began to dawn, or to be light.  Secondly, It appears by the other evangelists.  S. Mark (xvi. 1.) says, when the sabbath was past . . . very early in the morning.  S. Luke says, (xxiv. 1,) very early in the morning.  S. John (xx. 1.) says of Mary Magdalene, that she came in the morning, when it was yet dark.  From all which it is plain, that Mary Magdalene, and the other pious women, came to the sepulchre at the end of the night after the sabbath-day, or when it began to be light, and about sunrise on the first day of the week, on our Sunday. — There may indeed be some doubt whether the Latin word vesperè be not an adverb, corresponding to the Greek oye, serò.  And then it may be translated with Dr. Wells: late in the night after the sabbath, as it began to dawn towards the first day of the week.  But this makes no difference at all as to the sense.  And the other Mary, &c.  S. Mark says, Mary, the mother of James and Salome.  S. Luke also names Joanna, who was wife to Chusa, Herod’s steward.  These women had rested the sabbath, and as soon as it was over, i.e. after sunset, they bought spices, and prepared them in the night, in order to embalm the body next morning.  Wi.

Ver. 2.  Behold . . an angel.  The angel did not remove the stone to afford a passage to Christ when he arose; for Christ most certainly arose before the angel appeared; but he removed the stone to prepare the way for the women, and to shew the soldiers that Christ was arisen.  He sat on the stone, that the women might know he had removed it; and, in the second place, that they might not be terrified at the appearance of the soldiers; for he exhorted them not to fear, but to come and see; and lastly, to prevent the soldiers from putting in another body, had they been so disposed.  The holy women seem not to have known that there were guards placed near the sepulchre; otherwise they would not have been so solicitous who should roll away the stone for them, as how they should deceive the guards and break the seal.  Tirinus. — For an angel of the Lord.  This angel, who came to testify Christ’s resurrection, removed the great stone; but Christ was risen before, who according to all the fathers, says Estius, rose, the sepulchre being yet shut.[2] — S. Matthew and S. Mark name but one angel; S. Luke and S. John name two.  It may be answered, that the women saw one at one time, and two at another: one upon the stone, out of the monument; (which also frightened the guards) afterwards this angel disappeared, and the women coming near, and looking into the vault, saw two angels, when he that was on the right side said, why seek you him that is living, among the dead? — Another difference to be observed, is, that S. Matthew, Mark and John tell us, that the angel, or angels, sat; and S. Luke, that they stood: they might sit at one time, and stand at another.  Besides that in the style of the Scriptures, standing, or sitting, many times imply no more than that they were present there. — In the third place, we take notice that Mary Magdalene seems to have come running to S. Peter, and S. John, as soon as she saw the stone removed, with these words, They have taken away the Lord . . . and we know not where they have laid him: John xx. 2, we do not there read that she said any thing of the angels.  Or perhaps S. Peter and S. John ran away before they heard all that Magdalene had to say.  In all these there is no contradiction; and the difficulties rise only from this, that each evangelist does not relate all the circumstances.  Wi.

Ver. 4.  The guards were struck, &c.  Fear and astonishment seized upon them, because they had not that charity for our Redeemer, of which he is so deserving; and they became petrified, like statues, at the thought that the crucified Jesus was arisen from the sepulchre.  For these men guarded the sacred tomb, actuated more by passion and cruelty than by any sentiment of love and duty.  Rabanus.

Ver. 5.  It is not yours to fear, who love Jesus Christ: let those rather fear, who through hatred have crucified Jesus.  All such, if they do not repent of their wickedness, must have to undergo the greatest extremities of pain.  S. Chrys. hom. xc. — Those miscreants fear, because they have not charity, but fear not you; for I know you seek him that was crucified, who is risen, as he promised you.  These affectionate women sought Jesus among the dead, who was then among the living.  The recent storm of calamities had nearly overwhelmed their faith, and the weight of temptations had so enfeebled their understanding, that they came to seek the Lord of heaven as one dead among the dead.  S. Jerom. — The angel blushes not to style Jesus the crucified; for this is now the height and perfection of all good.  By these glad tidings he endeavoured to expel their fears, speaking with a smiling countenance, as the messenger of the most joyful news.  S. Chrys. hom. xc.

Ver. 6.  He is risen, as he said.  This is to put them in mind of what they ought to have remembered, and believed. — S. Luke is more particular; and tells us the angel said: remember how he spoke to you, when he was yet in Galilee, that the Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinners, and be crucified, and on the third day rise again.  Wi. — By this the angel give them to understand, that if they would not believe him upon his own testimony, they should at least on the testimony of their Redeemer’s promises, who had frequently assured them that on the third day he should rise again.  S. Chrys. hom. xc.

Ver. 7.  Into Galilee.  It is not without reason that the angel informs the women that he will go before them into Galilee; for Galilee is interpreted a transmigration, or a passage.  O happy women, who merited the glorious ministry of announcing to a sunk and distressed world the triumphant resurrection of our Redeemer.  But thrice happy those souls, who in the day of judgment shall deserve to sing in everlasting canticles, the joy you now conceive in your breasts at the happy resurrection of Jesus.  Ven. Bede. — Moreover, the disciples being Galileans, it was natural for them to return to Galilee, after the festival week of the Passover.  V.

Ver. 9.  Jesus met them.  According to S. Mark, Christ appeared first to Mary Magdalene; and the particulars are related by S. John.  She at first did not know him, but took him for the gardener: then he called her by her name Mary, and she knew him: he said to her, touch me not, for I have not yet ascended to my Father; i.e. according to the common exposition, I have not ascended, nor am yet going to ascend; thou mayest see me again before I ascend: this is not the last time. — We also read here, (v. 9,) that he appeared to some of the other women, as they were returning to Jerusalem from the sepulchre, and that they laid hold on his feet, and adored him; nor is it said that he hindered them.  Wi. — They were then returning to carry the news to the disciples, when they laid hold of his feet.  To touch the feet, was in the Scripture a species of veneration; (see Exod. iv. 25.  4 Kings iv. 27.) as among the Greeks, the touching of the knees.  Thus Homer’s Illiad, b. i.,

Kai ra paroiq autoio Kaqezeto, Kai labe gounwn.  v 500.

And again, v. 512; wV hyato gounwn.

Ver. 10.  There they shall see me.  Our Saviour, on the day of                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         his resurrection, shewed himself alive five different times: 1. to Mary Magdalene; 2. to the women leaving the sepulchre; 3. to S. Peter; 4. to the two disciples going to Emmaus; 5. to the disciples assembled together, when the two returned from Emmaus.  And after the day of his resurrection, before he ascended into heaven, he appeared other five times: 1. after eight days, when Thomas was present; 2. when the seven disciples were fishing on the sea of Tiberias; (S. John c. xxi.) 3. to the eleven on Mount Thabor; 4. in Jerusalem, on the day of his ascension; and 5. on the same day on Mount Olivet, when he was taken from them.  Dion. Carth. — The seventh apparition of Jesus, which was by the sea or lake of Tiberias, S. John calls the third, which may mean in any numerous assembly of his disciples; the first being on the day of his resurrection, and the second the Sunday following.  This may also be referred to the number of days.  He first appeared to different persons on the very day of his resurrection; secondly, eight days afterwards, and then a third time.  S. Aug. — The history of our Lord’s different apparitions in not very clear, and it is necessary to have recourse to the first chapter of the Acts, and to the 15th chapter of S. Paul’s first epistle to the Corinthians.  S. Austin says, (l. iii. de cons. Evang. c. xxv,) that there are ten apparitions of our Lord recorded in the four evangelists, which he specifies; but Maldonatus, on the 28th chap. of S. Mat. enumerates 13 different apparitions.

Ver. 11.  Some of the guards came into the city.  It is probable they had retired a while to some place to consult what to say, and how to avoid being punished.  The chief priests, after consulting upon the matter, ordered them to say, that when they were asleep, the disciples came and stole away Jesus’s body.  This report was spread about every where.  S. Augustin laughs at them for their blindness and folly, in bringing men in for witnesses of a fact, which they themselves own was done whilst they were asleep.  Wi. — The poet, Sedulius, also is no less severe on these faithless guards:

Mentita est vox vana sibi; tamen ista figuram

                        Res habet egregiam, Judæis constat ademptum,

                        Quem nos devoto portamus pectore Christum.

Ver. 12.  Gave a great sum of money.  These princes of the Jewish nation still persisting in their malice, refused to turn to their Creator by hearty repentance, and wished to persuade the world that Jesus was not risen, sacrificing that money to falsehood, which was given for the use of the temple.  For as they offered Judas 30 pieces of silver to betray his Master, so now they offer a great sum of money to suppress a truth so useful and so necessary for man.  S. Jerom.

Ver. 13.  It hence appears, that the chief priests themselves were fully convinced of the fact; for otherwise, they would not have bribed the soldiers to dissemble, but would have accused the soldiers before the president of a neglect of duty.  T. — How was it possible for the timid and weak disciples, who dared not shew themselves in public, to come in defiance of an armed multitude to steal away the body!  If these men dared not even to come forward in defence of their Master when alive, is it probable that these same men after his death would steal away his body?  And could they, even allowing the possibility of conceiving the design, have removed the stone, which required a great number of hands to stir?  Was not the mouth of the sepulchre also sealed?  But whydi they not steal away the body the first night, before the guards were stationed?  For it was on Saturday the priests petitioned for a guard.  Why did they not also take the clothes, which S. Peter saw lying in the sepulchre?  Would not a delay in taking off the clothes, and the napkin that bound his head, have appeared dangerous?  Would it not have exposed their lives, particularly as the body had been anointed, and some time would be requisite to remove the linen, which would adhere to the body?  The means they take to make the miracle uncertain, render it utterly undeniable.  For in protesting that the disciples stole it away, they confessed that the body was no longer in the sepulchre.  The fear and doubts of the disciples, joined to the idle story of the soldiers, is an evident demonstration, that the account of the body being stolen away, is a gross calumny.  S. Chrys. hom. xc. — But let us again see how beautifully Sedulius paints the same in verse.

——Fare improbe Custos,

                        Responde scelerata cohors, si Christus, ut audes

                        Dicere, concluso furtim prductus ab antro

                        Sopitos latuit, cujus jacet intus amictus?

                        Cujus ad exuvias sedet angelus?  Anne beati

                        Corporis ablator velociùs esse putavit

                        Solvere contectum, quam devectare ligatum?

                        Cum mora sit furtis contraria.  Cautiùs ergo

                        Cum Domino potuere magis sua lintea tolli.

Ver. 16.  The eleven disciples went into Galilee, yet not till above eight days after.  As to the order of Christ’s apparitions, in the gospels: He appeared first to Mary Magdalene, and to other devout women; then to S. Peter; next to two disciples going to Emmaus; after that to the apostles that were all together, except only S. Thomas.  These apparitions were all on the very day he rose from the dead.  We find also (Jo. xx,) that eight days after he appeared to all the eleven apostles, Thomas being then present, to whom he said, put in thy finger hither, &c.  This is generally thought to have happened at Jerusalem.  When the apostles and disciples were gone into Galilee, he shewed himself to seven of them, as they were fishing on the lake of Tiberias.  Jo. xxi. 4.  We read also in this chap. (v. 16,) that he appeared to them on a mountain in Galilee: what mountain is was we know not.  It may be of this apparition that S. Paul says, (1 Cor. xv. 6,) Then was he seen by more than five hundred brethren at once.  He also tells us he appeared to S. James.  See v. 7.  But when or where this was, is not mentioned.  In fine, Christ till his ascension frequently appeared to them, and conversed with them.  He taught them to understand the holy Scriptures, and all that belonged to their ministry: he gave them power to forgive sins:  He sent his apostles as his heavenly Father had sent him.  He gave in particular to S. Peter the charge over his whole flock: He promised to send down upon them the Holy Ghost; and to remain with them himself to the end of the world, i.e. with his Church.  Wi. — It is supposed that then and there took place what S. Paul mentions, that Jesus Christ shewed himself to more than 500 of the brethren together.  V.

Ver. 17.  They adored: but some doubted.  This, says Theophylactus, need not be understood of the apostles, but of others, who had not seen Christ after his resurrection.  It may also be expounded of those disciples who had doubted at the first, and particularly of S. Thomas the apostle.  Wi. — These doubted not of the resurrection or divinity of Christ, but whether the person that appeared to them was really their Master, Jesus Christ.  V.

Ver. 18.  All power is given to me.  The Arians object that the power which Christ had, is said to be given him by another.  The Catholics answer, that Christ, as man, received this power from God.  2dly. It may also be said, that the eternal Son, though he be equal, and be the same God with the Father, yet he proceeds and receives all from the Father.  Wi. — See here the warrant and commission of the apostles and their successors, the bishops and pastors of Christ’s Church.  He received from his Father, all power in heaven and in earth: and in virtue of this power he sends them (even as his Father sent him, S. John xx. 21.) to teach and disciple, maqhteuein, not one, but all nations, and instruct them in all truths: and that he may assist them effectually in the execution of this commission, he promises to be with them, (not for three or four hundred years only) but all days, even to the consummation of the world.  How then could the Catholic Church go astray? having always with her pastors, as is here promised, Christ himself, who is the way, the truth, and the life.  S. John xiv. 6.  Ch. — Some hence infer that Jesus Christ, according to his human nature, was sovereign Lord of the whole world; but more properly this may be taken of his spiritual power, such as regards the salvation of souls.  For Jesus Christ says to Pilate, my kingdom is not of this world.  This spiritual power, Jesus Christ communicated in part to his apostles and their successors in the ministry, as to his vicars: As my Father hath sent me, so I send you.  Whatsoever you shall loose upon earth, shall be loosed also in heaven: behold here the power both in heaven and earth.  E.

Ver. 19.  Teach all nations.  In S. Mark we read, going into the whole world, preach to every creature, that is capable of it; not only to the Jews, but to all nations throughout the whole world, baptizing them, &c.  The Anabaptists pretend to shew from this place, that none are to be baptized, unless they be first taught and instructed.  This is true, as to persons who are already come to an age, in which they are capable of being instructed before their baptism.  But according to the tradition and constant doctrine of the Catholic Church, received also by the pretended Reformed Churches, new born children are to be baptized before they are capable of instruction: nor can they enter into the kingdom of heaven without baptism. — In the name of the Father, &c.  We are made Christians in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: we profess to believe, and hope for our salvation, by believing, hoping, serving, and adoring the same three divine Persons, from whence the Fathers prove the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost to be one God, and equal in all perfections.  Wi. — Had Christ only said, Lo! I am with you all days; it might, in that case, be limited to the natural lives of the apostles; but as He moreover adds, even to the consummation of the world, it must necessarily be extended to their successors in the ministry, till the end of time.  E. — By these words Go, teach, he gives them the power of teaching not only what relates to faith, but also what is necessarily connected with piety and a holy conversation.  For we see added a further explanation, teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you; which words, beyond all doubt, must be referred to the precepts of a holy life.  How egregiously then must those men be deceived, who infer from the words teach all nations, that faith alone will suffice.  What follows, baptizing them, shews another part of the pastoral functions, which consists in the administration of the sacraments.  Hence also all heretics are refuted, who pretend to affirm that all ecclesiastical ministry consists in barely delivering the word.  Estius, in dif. loca.

Ver. 20.  Behold I am with you all days, even to the end of the world, embraces two points necessary for the Church; viz. integrity of doctrine, and sanctity of life; for, if either of these should be wanting to the Church, it might then be justly said, that she had been left and abandoned by Christ, her Spouse.  E. — Jesus Christ will make good his promise: 1. by always dwelling in the hearts of the faithful; 2. by his sacramental presence in the holy Eucharist; 3. by his providential care, and constant protection to his holy Catholic Church.  These last six lines of S. Matthew’s gospel, says the bright luminary of France, Bossuet, most clearly demonstrate the infallibility and indefectibility of the one, holy, Catholic Church, which all are commanded to hear and obey.

____________________

[1]  V. 1.  Vespere autem Sabbati quæ lucescit in prima Sabbati. oye de sabbatwn, (one Greek copy, sabbatou) th epifwskoush eiV mian sabbatwn, (in unam seu primam Sabbatorum.)  What must the Latin, quæ, and the Greek, epifwskoush, agree with?  We must understand in the Latin, dies; i.e. die quæ lucescit: and in the Greek, we must understand, hmera th epifwskoush. — We may also observe, that in the Greek we read not oyia, but oye, the adverb, sero; so that in the Latin to correspond with the Greek, it should also be vespere, late after the sabbath.  In fine, that vespera is used in Scripture for the night: see what is said in Genesis, on all the days of creation; and the annotations on Matt. xiv. 15. Paulus Burgensis, in his Additions, published with his Glossa on Gen. 1 p,  Attendendum quod Hebræi per vespere intelligunt Noctem, quæ incipit a vespera, et terminatur in mane sequenti, &c.

[2]  V. 2.  Estius.  Est omnium Patrum sententia Christum resurrexisse clauso sepulchro.

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MARK

THE

HOLY GOSPEL OF JESUS CHRIST,

ACCORDING TO S. MARK.

PREFACE.

S. Mark, who wrote this Gospel, is called by S. Augustine, the abridger of S. Matthew; by S. Irenæus, the disciple and interpreter of S. Peter; and according to Origen and S. Jerom, he is the same Mark whom S. Peter calls his son.  Stilting, the Bollandist, (in the life of S. John Mark, T. vii. Sep. 27, p. 387, who was son of the sister of S. Barnabas) endeavours to prove that this was the same person as our evangelist; and this is the sentiment of S. Jerom, and some others: but the general opinion is that John, surnamed Mark, mentioned in Acts xii. was a different person.  He was the disciple of S. Paul, and companion of S. Barnabas, and was with S. Paul at Antioch, when our evangelist was with S. Peter at Rome, or at Alexandria, as Eusebius, S. Jerom, Baronius, and others observe.  Tirinus is of opinion that the evangelist was not one of the seventy-two disciples, because as S. Peter calls him his son, he was converted by S. Peter after the death of Christ.  S. Epiphanius, however, assures us he was one of the seventy-two, and forsook Christ after hearing his discourse on the Eucharist, (John vi.) but was converted by S. Peter after Christ’s resurrection, hær. 51, c. v. p. 528. — The learned are generally of opinion, that the original was written in Greek, and not in Latin; for, though it was written at the request of the Romans, the Greek language was commonly understood amongst them; and the style itself sufficiently shews this to have been the case:

——Omnia Græcè;

Cum sit turpe magis nostris nescire Latinè.  Juvenal, Satyr vi.

The old MS. in Latin, kept at Venice, and supposed by some to be the original, is shewn by Montfaucon and other antiquaries, to have been written in the sixth century, and contains the oldest copy extant of S. Jerom’s version. — S. Peter revised the work of S. Mark, approved of it, and authorized it to be read in the religious assemblies of the faithful; hence some, as we learn from Tertullian, attributed this gospel to S. Peter himself.  S. Mark relates the same facts as S. Matthew, and often in the same words: but he adds several particular circumstances, and changes the order of the narration, in which he agrees with S. Luke and S. John.  He narrates two histories not mentioned by S. Matthew; the widow’s two mites, and Christ’s appearing to the two disciples on the road to Emmaus; also some miraculous cures; (Mark i. 40, vii. 32, viii. 22, 26) and omits many things noticed by S. Matthew. . . But nothing proves clearly, as Dom. Ceillier and others suppose, that he made use of S. Matthew’s gospel.  In his narrative he is concise, and he writes with a most pleasing simplicity and elegance.

It is certain that S. Mark was sent by S. Peter into Egypt, and was by him appointed bishop of Alexandria, (which, after Rome, was accounted the second city of the world) as Eusebius, S. Epiphanius, S. Jerom, and others assure us.  He remained here, governing that flourishing church with great prudence, zeal, and sanctity.  He suffered martyrdom in the 14th year of the reign of Nero, in the year of Christ 68, and three years after the death of SS. Peter and Paul, at Alexandria, on the 25th of April; having been seized the previous day, which was Sunday, at the altar, as he was offering to God the prayer of the oblation, or the mass.

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MARK 1

CHAPTER I.

Ver. 1.  The beginning of the Gospel.  The Greek word[1] and Latin derived from it, signifies the good news, or happy tidings about Christ’s coming and doctrine.  The word gospel is from the Saxon, God’s spell, or good spell, i.e. God’s word, or good speech.  Wi. — Some are of opinion that the termination of the first verse should be pointed with a simple comma, thus connecting it with the sequel; and the Greek text seems to favour this sentiment.  According to the punctuation of the Vulgate, the first verse is merely the inscription or title.

Ver. 2.  In Isaias, the prophet.  That in the ancient copies was read Isaias, and not Malachy, is confirmed by the Syriac version, and also by S. Irenæus, Origen, S. Jerom, &c.  It is also proved from an objection of Porphyrius, who says, S. Mark mistook Isaias for Malachy.  In the ordinary Greek copies at present, we read in the prophets, not naming either Isaias or Malachy.  The words seem taken partly out of one, and partly out of the other.  These words, behold I send my angel before thy face, who shall prepare thy way before thee, are found Malac. iii. v. 1.  And the following words, a voice of one crying in the desert: prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight his paths, are is Isaias, c. xl, v. 3.  Wi. — In the beginning of his gospel, S. Mark alleges the authority of the prophets, that he might induce every one, both Jew and Gentile, to receive with willingness what he here relates, as the authority of the prophets so highly respected was very great.  S. John is here styled an angel, on account of his angelic life, and extraordinary sanctity; but what is meant by, who shall prepare thy way, is, that S. John is to prepare the minds of the Jews, by his baptism and preaching, to receive their Messias.  Theophylactus.  See in Mat. xi. 10.

Ver. 3.  See Mat. iii. 3.

Ver. 4.  For the remission of sins.  Some commentators think from this that the baptism of John remitted sins, though he says in another place, I baptize you with water, but there has stood one amongst you, who will baptize you with water and the Holy Ghost, to shew that he did not baptize with the Holy Ghost, without which there is no remission of sin.  This apparent difficulty will be easily reconciled, if we refer this expression to the word penance, and not baptism; so that by penance their sins were to be washed away, and there were baptized to shew their detestation of their former life.  Jans.  Concord. Evang.

Ver. 6.  See Matt. iii. 4. — Wild honey.  Rabbanus thinks it was a kind of white and tender leaf, which, when rubbed in the hand, emitted a juice like honey.  Suidas thinks it was a kind of dew, collected from leaves of trees, and was called manna.  But S. Chrys. Theophy. Euthy. and Isidore, with greatest probability, think it was honey collected by wild bees, in the fissures of rocks, or in the holes of decayed trees, which was insipid and unpleasant to the taste.  Tirinus.

Ver. 7.  One mightier than I.  The precursor does not yet openly declare our Lord to be the Son of God, but only one mightier than himself.  The Jews were not prepared to receive his coming; he therefore wisely led them by degrees to the knowledge of what divine Providence had designed them; he yet secretly assures them that he is the Son of God.  I have baptized you with water, but he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost.  Now it is evident that none but God can bestow upon man the grace of the Holy Ghost.  Ven. Bede.

Ver. 9.  See notes on our Saviour’s baptism, Matt. iii. — That Christ was baptized by immersion, is clear from the text; for he who ascended out of the water must first have descended into it.  And this method was of general use in the Church for 1300 years, as appears from the acts of councils and ancient rituals.  It is imagined by some, that in the very spot of the river Jordan, where the ark stood whilst the Israelites passed over, our Lord (the ark of the covenant of grace) was baptized by S. John.

Ver. 10.  Spirit.  The epithet Holy is not found in most of the Greek MSS. but it is in John i. 32. and 33.

Ver. 11.  The Greek printed copies, and some MSS. read with S. Matt. (iii. 17.) in whom, en w, ita. S. Chrys. Euthym. and Th.  Some few, however, have en soi, in thee, with the Syriac and Latin text.  P. — All the Fathers cite these verses for a proof of the Trinity: the testimony of the Father speaking, of the Son receiving the testimony, of the Holy Ghost descending in the shape of a dove.  P. in Matt. iii. 17.

Ver. 12.  Into the desert.  For the description of this desert, &c. read Maundrel’s Travels, or extracts therefrom in Rutter’s Evangelical Harmony.  Vol. i. p. 169.

Ver. 13.  The Greek does not express the forty nights, but we find it in S. Matt. iv. 2.

Ver. 15.  As if he were to say: To this day the Mosaic law has been in full force, but henceforth the evangelical law shall be preached; which law is not undeservedly compared to the kingdom of God.  Theophy. — Repent, therefore, says our Saviour, and believe the gospel; for if you believe not, you shall not understand; repent, therefore, and believe.  What advantage is it to believe with good works? the merit of good works will not bring us to faith, but faith is the beginning of good works.  S. Jerom.

Ver. 16.  We must observe that what S. Luke mentions, relative to the vocation of the apostles, is antecedent in point of time to what is here related by S. Mark; since it is known that these disciples on some occasions returned to their fishing, until Jesus called them to be his constant attendants.  Theophylactus.

Ver. 24.  The Greek text has here the same as in Luke iv. 34, Let us alone.  V. — I know who thou art.  It is a common opinion, that the devil did not know for certain that Jesus was the true Son of God.  Yet S. Mark’s words, both in this and v. 34, seem to signify he did know it.  Wi.

Ver. 25.  Christ would not suffer the devils to be produced as witnesses of his divinity; the author of truth could not bear the father of lies to bear testimony of him.  Hence Jesus threatened him, in order to teach us never to believe or put our trust in demons, whatever they may foretell.  S. Chrys.

Ver. 26.  Tearing him: not that the devil tore the poor man’s limbs or body; for S. Luke (iv. 35.) expressly tells us, that the devil hurt him not.  It means no more, than that he shook him with violent agitations.  Wi.

Ver. 27.  It is observed by S. Justin, (Apol. i. 54.) that the discourses of Jesus were short and concise.  S. Chrys. (in hom. xlviii. in Matt.) says, that Christ here accommodated his preaching to his hearers, and to his subject.  The ancients differ as to the length of time employed by Christ in the ministry of the word.  It is most probable that he spent about three years in announcing to the world his heavenly doctrines.  In the first year of his preaching, he seems not to have met with any great opposition; and on this account it may have been called, by the prophet Isaias, the acceptable year.  Sandinus. — What is this new doctrine?  In the Greek, This new manner of instructing.  See below, xiv. 2, and xii. 38.

Ver. 30.  It appears from S. Mark and S. Luke, that the cure of Peter’s mother-in-law and the other sick, here mentioned, happened after the preceding narrative, and probably on the same day.  But S. Matt. does not observe this order; for having related that Jesus, after the sermon on the mount, entered Capharnaum, and healed the centurion’s servant, he hence takes occasion to mention this and the other miracles, which he had omitted, and which Jesus had wrought at his first coming to Capharnaum.  Rutter.

Ver. 34.  The devils knew that it was Christ, who had been promised for so many ages before; for they saw him perform the wonders which the prophets had foretold of him; yet they were not perfectly acquainted with his divine nature, or otherwise they never would have persecuted to death and crucified the Lord of glory.  S. Aug. — But Christ would not permit them to declare that they knew him.  V. — See Luke iv. 41.

Ver. 44.  It was not the intention of Christ, that he should not tell any body; had that been his wish, he would easily have realized it: he spoke thus purposely, to shew us that we ought not to seek the empty praises of men.  He bade him also offer the sacrifices prescribed, because the law remained in full force till the passion of Christ, in which was offered a perfect sacrifice, that did away with all the legal sacrifices.  Nic. de Lyra.

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[1]  V. 1.  Euaggelion, Evangelium, bonum nuncium.

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MARK 2

CHAPTER II.

Ver. 2.  Some Greek and Latin copies have, after eight days.

Ver. 4.  Such diligence ought to be used to bring sinners to Christ, by means of the sacraments, as was used to procure for this man, through Christ, the health of his body.  B.

Ver. 5.  When Jesus saw their faith.  Our Lord is moved to shew mercy to sinners, by the faith and desires, and prayers of others; for this man was not more helpless in his limbs, than in his soul.  From this example, we are taught that in sickness the sacraments and helps of the Church, which are the medicines of the soul, should be called for in the first instance; for Christ first healed the sick man’s soul, before he removed his bodily infirmity.  We also learn that many diseases originate in sin, and that we are to remove the effect by removing the cause.

Ver. 10.  The Son of man.  Jesus Christ here proveth that himself as man, and not as God only, hath power to forgive sins; by this, that he was able to do miracles, and make the sick man suddenly rise; so the apostles and their successors, though they be not God, may in like manner have authority from God to remit sins, not as God, but as God’s ministers, and acting in his name, and vested with his delegated authority. — On earth.  This power which the Son of man hath to remit sins on earth, was never taken from him, but is perpetuated in his sacraments and ministers, by whom he still remitteth sins in the Church, and not in heaven only.  Relative to sin, there is one court of conscience on earth, and another in heaven, and the judgment of heaven followeth and approveth this on earth; as is plain by the words of our Saviour, to Peter first, and then to all the apostles: Whatsoever thou shalt bind upon earth, it shall by bound also in heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt loose upon earth, it shall be loosed also in heaven.  See Matt. xvi. 19. and xviii. 18.  Whereupon S. Jerom sayeth: that priests having the keys of the kingdom of heaven, judge in some manner before the day of judgment.  Ep. v. ad Heliod; and S. Chrys. more at large, l. iii. de Sacerd.

Ver. 12.  This paralytic is not the same as that mentioned in S. John; for that distressed man had no one to assist him, whereas this person had four; the former was by the side of the Probatica, but the latter in a house at Capharnaum.  Theophy.

Ver. 14.  To follow Christ, is to imitate him; wherefore this apostle, that he might be able to follow Christ, the model of poverty, not so much by his bodily steps, as by the inward affections of his soul, forsook all; he not only forsook his present goods, but despised all danger, which he incurred by leaving his business abruptly, and without rendering any account of it to his employers or governors.  Ven. Bede. — The person to whom Christ addresses the words, follow me, was Matthew: see infra ix. 9.

Ver. 17.  The Greek printed copies, and some MSS. add to penance, as we read in Luke v. 33.

Ver. 18.  See Matt. ix. 14, and Luke v. 33.

Ver. 20.  Jesus Christ here foretelleth that fasting shall be used in his Church, no less than in the old law, or in the time of John the Baptist.  See Matt. ix. 15. — When first we begin to be converted to God, the spiritual consolations which God infuses into our souls, cause in us an overflowing of spiritual delights, so that we then feast, and are in the midst of delight; but when the Bridegroom shall be taken away, when these spiritual consolations cease, then we fast, and find the commandments difficult.  It is then we must prepare ourselves for tribulation.  Ven. Bede.

Ver. 25.  When he had need.  In necessity many things are done without sin, which in other circumstances it would be unlawful to do.  B.

Ver. 26.  Under Abiathar.  The priest from whom David had these loaves, is called Achimelech, 1 K. xxi.  The most probable answer to this difficulty is, that the priest had both these names of Achimelech and of Abiathar, as also his father had before him.  For he that (1 K. xxii.) is called Abiathar, the son of Achimelech, is called 2 K. viii. 17, Achimelech, the son of Abiathar.  See also 1 Par. xviii. 16.  Wi. — Others say that Abiathar, son of Achimelech, was present, and sanctioned the deed of his father, thus making it his own.  Dion. Carth.

Ver. 28.  The maker of the law may abrogate or dispense with it when and where, for just cause, it seemeth good to him: thus the Church can dispense with, change, or abrogate, for just reasons, the discipline of the Church founded upon Church authority.  This we prove also from the action of David, (v. 26, supra) which the Scripture notices without blaming it, because the observance of the law, prescribed for the utility of man, must yield to the necessities of man.

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MARK 3

CHAPTER III.

Ver. 1.  He entered again into the synagogue, viz. of Capharnaum.  The man was there either, of course, on account of the sabbath, or to be cured by Jesus Christ.

Ver. 4.  A difficulty here arises, how to reconcile S. Mark with S. Matthew.  S. Mark puts the words into the mouth of Jesus Christ: Is it lawful?  When S. Matthew says, that they interrogated him: Is it lawful?  To cut the knot of this apparent difficulty, we must understand that they first put the question to our Lord, whether it was lawful to heal on the sabbath-day or not: and that Jesus understanding their secret thoughts, that they wished to have some grounds of accusation against him, placed the sick man in the midst of them, and said what S. Mark here relates of him: Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath-day, or to do evil?  S. Aug.

Ver. 8.  What is to be understood by Idumea, see Rutter’s Evangelical Harmony.  Vol. i. p. 286.

Ver. 11-12.  The unclean spirits being obliged by the Divine Power, not only to come and worship, but also to declare his majesty, exclaimed: Thou art the Son of God.  How astonishing then is the blindness of the Arians, who even after his resurrection denied him to be the Son of God, whom the devils confessed as such when clothed with human nature.  But it is certain that not only the devils, but the infirm that were healed, and the apostles themselves were forbidden, as well as the unclean spirits, to proclaim his divinity; lest the passion and death of Christ might be on that account deferred.  Ven. Bede.

Ver. 13.  He spent here the whole night in prayer, not that he who had all things to bestow, stood in need of prayer, or had any thing to ask; but to teach us that we must undertake nothing without previously recommending the affair to heaven, in humble and fervent prayer.

Ver. 14.  The number twelve is mystical, as appeareth by choosing Mathias to full up the place of Judas: they are the twelve foundations, under Christ, of the heavenly Jerusalem.  Apoc. xxi.

Ver. 15.  He gave his apostles the power of curing maladies both of soul and body, and of expelling devils, that they might prove the truth of their doctrines by the authority of miracles.  V.

Ver. 16.  The evangelist here gives the names of the twelve.  First, Simon, to whom he gave the name of Peter, in Greek, Petron, which signifies a rock; thus shewing that upon him his Church should be founded, as on a rock, never to be overturned.  Tirin. — Polus, in his Synopsis Criticorum on this verse says that some Greek copies have, Prwton Simwna, First, Simon, which he believes to be the genuine reading: “nec dubito quin hæc sit germana lectio.”

Ver. 17.  And he called James, &c.  The words, he called, are no addition, as they only express the literal sense: they are included in what is said, v. 13, that he called to him whom he would.Boanerges, the sons of thunder, or thunderers, is only to express their great zeal.  Wi. — He gave also the two sons of Zebedee the name of Boanerges, (BoanergeV) from the Syriac, Benairegesch; or the Hebrew, Beni, sons, regesch, thunder, noise or tumult.  In conformity to their name, we find these two apostles asking Jesus, (Luke ix. 54.) wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven, to consume them?  They spread the fame of the gospel through the whole world.  So great was the zeal of S. James, that he incurred the resentment of king Agrippa, and was the first of the apostles to seal the doctrines of Jesus Christ with his blood.  S. John also fulfilled the import of his name, as appears from his gospel, epistles, apocalypse, and the sufferings he underwent at Rome for the faith.  SS. Peter, James, and John, were the only apostles to whom our Saviour gave particular names, a mark, perhaps, of his special affection for them.  T.

Ver. 21.  And when his friends had heard of it;[1] lit. his own.  We cannot here understand his apostles, for they were in the house with him; but either some of his kindred and friends, or some that were of the same country and town of Nazareth, though perhaps enemies to him. — For they said.  It is not certain who said this, whether his friends or his adversaries. — He is become mad.[2]  By the Greek, he is not himself.  Christ might be called a madman by the Scribes and Pharisees, when he blamed their vices and when he preached with such extraordinary zeal.  Or, as the Greek implies, he was thought to be transported out of his wits, and , as the Prot. translation hath it, was beside himself.  If they were his friends that said this of him, they did not think so, but only pretended it, that they might get him safe out of the hands of his adversaries.  Wi.

Ver. 22.  From S. Matt. xii. 22. et dein. we learn that it was on the occasion of the delivery of a possessed person, this blasphemy was uttered.

Ver. 24.  Kingdom against kingdom.  As this is true in all kingdoms and states where civil dissensions obtaineth, so it is especially verified in heresies and heretics which have always divisions among themselves, as a punishment for their abandoning the Church, the pillar and ground of truth, the only centre of peace and unity.

Ver. 29.  See S. Matt. xii. 32. — Of an everlasting sin; i.e. of eternal punishment.  Wi. — What is here called everlasting offence, is (as S. Matt. expresseth it) that which shall neither be remitted in this life, nor in the life to come; which words would not be true, says S. Austin, if some sins were not forgiven in the world to come.  Now, as no mortal sin can be forgiven after death, there must necessarily be smaller transgressions, which we call venial; though many of our separated brethren will needs have all sins to be mortal; which is very far from a comfortable tenet.

Ver. 32.  The brethren of our Lord were not the children of the blessed Virgin: nor were they the sons of S. Joseph by a former wife, as some pretend; but in the Scripture language, and in this place, we understand by brethren the relatives of Mary and Joseph.  Ven. Bede.

Ver. 33.  Our Lord does not refuse to go out through any, the least, inattention to his mother; he wishes hereby, to teach us the preference we should give to the business of our heavenly Father, before that of our earthly parents.  Neither does he consider his brethren as beneath his attention, but prefers spiritual before temporal duties; and shews us, that a religious union of hearts and feelings is far more lasting, and better rooted than any other ties of affinity or friendship whatsoever.  Ven. Bede.

Ver. 34.  The Pharisees were afraid lest the greatness of Christ’s miracles, and the excellence of his doctrines, should put an end to their credit and authority among the people.  Hence their calumnies against him.

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[1]  V. 21.  Sui, oi par autou.

[2]  Ibid.  In furorem versus est, exesth; the word existasJai, is extra se esse, from which cometh the word ecstacy.  See 2 Cor. v. 13, where S. Paul useth the same Greek word.

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MARK 4

CHAPTER IV.

Ver. 1.  If we examine S. Matthew on this point, we shall discover that this discourse was made on the same day as the preceding discourse; for S. Matthew informs us, that having finished this exhortation, he the same day went and taught by the sea.  Ven. Bede.

Ver. 10.  When he was alone: in Greek Ote egeneto KatamonaV; i.e. when he was retired and alone, either in the house, out of the city, or at a distance from the multitude.  T.

Ver. 11.  Such as are out of the Church, though they both hear and read, they cannot understand.  Ven. Bede, in C. iv, Mark.

Ver. 12.  That seeing they may see, &c.  In punishment of their wilfully shutting their eyes, (Matt. xiii. 15.) God justly withdrew those lights and graces which otherwise he would have given them, for their effectual conversion.  Ch. — These speeches here and elsewhere, we are not to understand as if he spoke in parables to this end that the hearers might not understand, lest they should be converted; but we must learn the true sense from the corresponding texts in Matt. xiii, and Acts xxviii, where our Saviour and S. Paul render it thus: with their ears they have been dull of hearing, and their eyes they have shut. lest, perhaps, they may see, and understand, and be converted, and I heal them.  Whereby it is evident, that the speaking in parables was not the cause, (for many besides the apostles heard and understood) but themselves, who would not hear and understand, and be converted: and thus they were the real cause of their own wilful and obstinate infidelity.  And therefore also he spoke in parables, because they were not worthy to understand, as the others were to whom he expounded them.  B.

Ver. 22.  All my parables, doctrines, and actions, which appear now to you so full of mystery, shall not always be so: in due time they shall all be publicly expounded by you, my apostles, and by your successors.  Tirinus.

Ver. 23.  And let him learn that he is not to bury in unjust silence the instructions or the examples I give him; but must exercise them for the light and direction of others.  V.

Ver. 24.  Pay attention then to what you hear this day, that you may retain it, and communicate it to others, your brethren; for as you measure to others, so shall it be meted unto you; yes, more shall be given to you, who receive the word of God, if you be attentive to preserve it yourselves, and to communicate it to your brethren.  V.

Ver. 25.  They who do not profit by the knowledge of the word of God, shall in punishment of their neglect, lose the advantage which they may seem to have, since it will turn in the end to their greater condemnation: and moreover, by trusting to their own judgment, they interpret the word in a perverse sense, and thus also lose what they seem to have.  Nic. de Lyra. — Let those who talk so much about Scripture, and interpret it according to their own private spirit or fancy, see lest this also attach to them.  A.

Ver. 26.  So it is with him who announces the gospel of the kingdom of God, as with the sower.  For whether he sleep or rise, the seed will grow up while he knoweth not; and the well prepared soil will, by the blessing of God, be productive: so the word of God shed abroad in the heart of man, will increase and fructify independently of all the preacher’s solicitude, till he who has received it, being arrived at the measure of the age and fulness of Christ, shall be withdrawn by God from this world, and be called to himself.  V.

Ver. 29.  When the fruit is brought forth: lit. when the fruit[1] hath produced.  By the fruit is here meant the seed; i.e. when the seed by degrees hath produced the blade, then the ear, and lastly the corn, which is become ripe.  Wi. — This is a secondary sense of the text, when the fruit hath come to maturity, and by no means a forced interpretation.

Ver. 33.  This seems to contradict what was said v. 12, that seeing they may not see, &c.; but we must observe, that parables have more explanations than one, some more easy, whilst others are more difficult to be understood.  In parables, the multitude understood the more literal interpretation, whilst Christ explains the more abstruse and hidden sense to his apostles.  Hence there is no contradiction in these texts.  Nic. de Lyra.

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[1]  V. 29.  Cum produxerit fructus.  In the Greek, fructus is in the nominative case; otan de paradw o karpoV, &c.

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MARK 5

CHAPTER V.

Ver. 2.  Ven. Bede gives a beautiful explanation of this miracle.  He says that it represents the Gentiles, who were converted to the faith by the apostles.  The legion represents the innumerable vices to which they were subject, neither restrained by the laws of God nor man, but breaking through every restraint, and wallowing in all kinds of uncleanness.  Ven. Bede. — The three evangelists agree in the expulsion of the legion of devils, except that S. Matt. makes mention of two demoniacs, and SS. Mark and Luke only of one.  The difficulty is thus solved by S. Austin.  S. Mark and S. Luke only mention one, as being more generally known, and particularly frightful in the neighbourhood.  S. Aug.

Ver. 7.  I adjure thee by God.  The same is, I earnestly beg of thee not to torment me, by sending me into hell, and confining me in the abyss, there to be more tormented than I am at present.  See S. Luke viii. 31.  Wi.

Ver. 9.  My name is Legion.  Spirits have no names, only with respect to our language.  These devils say their name is Legion, because they are many.  Wi.

Ver. 13.  Jesus Christ permitted the devil to destroy these swine, that from their destruction, the men of that country might take the alarm, and be converted.  Ven. Bede.

Ver. 17.  Astonished at the miracle that had been performed, and displeased with the loss of their herds, they refused the Saviour of the world entrance into their country.  Theophy. — It is observed that all Christ’s miracles, except this, and the blasted fig-tree, were of the beneficent kind.  We cannot but pity the wretched blindness of the Gerasens, in driving Jesus from their coasts.  As a just judgment of God, their city was the first that fell into the hands of the Romans, in the fatal war under Vespasian.

Ver. 18.  That he might be with him; i.e. as one of his disciples.  S. Amb. says Christ did not grant his request, lest they might think that he sought to be glorified by men, in having always in his company a man out of whom he had cast so many devils.  Christ himself seems to give us another reason, that the man might go, and publish in his own country the miracles done by Jesus.  Wi.

Ver. 19.  And he admitted him not: By Christ’s conduct on this occasion, he teaches his disciples that they ought sometimes to make known their own good works, when either the glory of God or the edification of their neighbour were likely to be advanced by such a manifestation: otherwise they ought to conceal them, out of a spirit of humility.  Dion. Carth.

Ver. 20.  Decapolis, a territory on the eastern borders of the sea of Tiberias, and is so called, from ten principal towns that compose it.  V.

Ver. 23.  S. Matt. says: my daughter is even now dead.  The sense in both is exactly the same.  S. Matt. attended rather to the thoughts of Jairus, than to his words; for, as he left her dying, he could not reasonably hope to find her still in the same state; and, as he expected she was already dead, when he spoke this to Jesus, S. Matt. relates what the man thought at that instant, not what he said.  S. Aug.

Ver. 28.  Touch his garment.  Almighty God is pleased to give occasionally to the relics and clothes of his pious and faithful servants, a degree of virtue.  See Acts v, and xix, where the very shadow of S. Peter, and the handkerchiefs and aprons that had touched the body of S. Paul, and were brought to the sick, cured their diseases, and banished the wicked spirits.  See S. Chrysostom, T. 5. contra Gent. in vit. Babylœ.  S. Basil saith: “he that toucheth the bone of a martyr, receiveth in some degree holiness of the grace or virtue that is therein.  Bas. in Psalm cxv.

Ver. 30.  Virtue that hath proceeded from him.  Virtue to heal this woman’s malady proceeded from Christ, though she touched but his coat: so when the saints by their relics and garments perform miracles, the grace and force thereof cometh from our Saviour; they being but the means of instruments of the same.  B.

Ver. 35.  Ruler of the synagogue.  His house is understood.

Ver. 36.  Only believe.  Dissenters grossly abuse this and other similar texts of Scripture, to prove that faith alone will suffice for justification; whereas God only declares, that he requires a faith in his almighty power for the performance of miracles, and that without this necessary predisposition, he will not do any miracles.  See v. 5, of the following chapter.

Ver. 41.  Only three resurrections from the dead are mentioned as performed by our Saviour: one just dead; one carried out to be buried; and Lazarus, already in his tomb.  These represent the different states of sinners dead in sin, some more desperate than others.  To such as have been for years in sin, and have none to intercede for them, we must apply the words of Christ, suffer the dead to bury the dead.  Ven. Bede, and S. Aug. de verb. Dom. serm. 44.

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MARK 6

CHAPTER VI.

Ver. 1.  After the miracles that Christ had performed, though he was not ignorant how much they despised him, yet that there might be no excuse for their disbelief, he condescended to return to them.  Theophylactus.

Ver. 3.  S. Matt. relates that they asked: Is not this the son of the carpenter?  It is not improbable that both questions were asked; it was certainly very natural to take him for a carpenter, who was the son of one.  S. Austin. — They were scandalized at his lowly birth and humble parentage.  Hence Jesus Christ takes occasion to expose the malice and envy of the Jews, in refusing him, and to shew that the Gentiles would more esteem him.  See Luke iv. 25, and John i.

Ver. 13.  It was usual for the Jews to prescribe oil as a proper thing to anoint the sick; but its virtue in the present instance, when used by the apostles, was not natural but supernatural, and was derived from him who sent them; because this unction always produced a certain and constant cure in those who were anointed.  This miraculous gift of healing the sick with oil, which Christ conferred on his apostles, was a prelude or gradual preparation to the dignity to which he raised this unction, when he established it a perpetual rite in his holy Church.  Rutter. — With oil, &c.  This anointing the sick, was at least a figure of the sacrament, which Christ was pleased to institute for the spiritual relief of persons in danger of death: and which is fully expressed by S. James, in his Catholic Epistle.  C. vi.  The Council of Trent says this sacrament was insinuated in S. Mark, and published in the Epistle of S. James.  Trid. sess. xiv. c. 1.  Wi.

Ver. 14.  The Herod here mentioned was the son of Herod, from whom S. Joseph fled with Jesus and Mary into Egypt.  S. Chrys. hom. xlix. in Matt. — How great was the envy of the Jews, is easily to be conceived from this passage.  They can believe that John is risen from the dead, and appeared in public again, although no one gave testimony that this was the case: but that Jesus, so much favoured by God, who worked so many and so great miracles, should be risen again is incredible, although attested by angels, by apostles, by men, women, and persons of every denomination.  They still assert that the body of Jesus was stolen.  V. Bede.

Ver. 20.  Herod,[2] &c. The sense both of the Latin and Greek text seems to be, that Herod entertained and shewed a particular respect and value for John the Baptist: yet some expound it, that he had a watchful eye over him, and sought only for an occasion to take him off.  Wi.

Ver. 26.  It is customary, in Scripture, to give the generally prevailing sentiment at the time; thus Joseph is called by the blessed Virgin , the father of Jesus; so now Herod is said to be stricken with sadness, because he appeared to be so to the company at table, though within his own breast, he secretly rejoiced that he had an opportunity of destroying an importuning monitor, with an exterior shew of piety and honour.  Ven. Bede.

Ver. 29.  Church history informs us, that the Christians were accustomed to frequent this tomb with great piety and respect, till the reign of Julian the apostate, at which time the pagans, through hatred for Christianity, broke open his tomb, and dispersed his bones; but immediately after, thinking it better to burn them, they endeavoured to collect them again.  But some religious of a neighbouring convent, joining themselves to the pagans, under pretence of collecting the bones to burn, secreted the greater part of them, and sent them to Philip, at Jerusalem, who sent them to Athanasius, bishop of Alexandria; and in the reign of Theodosius, the temple of Serapis was converted into a Christian church, and dedicated to the honour of S. John the Baptist, where his relics were deposited.  Gloss. Ordina.

Ver. 37.  For two hundred pence.  See Matt. xviii. 28.  The apostles seem to speak these words ironically, to signify that they had not so much money as could procure a mouthful for each of them.  Wi.

Ver. 45.  The apostles were in a desert place belonging to Bethsaida, which probably was divided from it by some bay or creek, that ran into the land; and Christ only ordered them to pass over this to the city, where he might afterwards have joined them, when he had sent away the people.  But in their passage a great storm arose, and they were driven by an adverse wind to the open sea, towards Capharnaum; or, probably, when they found the wind so violent, afraid of shipwreck if they neared the shore, they rowed out to sea.  This reconciles the seeming discrepance of S. Mark and S. John, when notwithstanding the directions Christ had given his disciples to go before him to Bethsaida, we find them going to Capharnaum.  Rutter.

Ver. 48.  Thus the divine mercy often seems to desert the faithful in the height of tribulation, but God only acts thus, that he may try their patience, and reward them more abundantly.  Nic. de Lyra.

Ver. 52.  They understood not concerning the loaves;[3] i.e. they did not reflect how great a miracle that was which Christ had lately wrought, otherwise they would not have been so much surprised at his walking upon the sea.  Wi.

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[1]  V. 5. Non posse in Scripture, is divers times the same as nolle.  So Gen. xxxvii, it is said of Joseph’s brothers, they could not, (non poterant) i.e. would not, speak to him peaceably.  See Jo. xii. 39, &c.

[2]  V. 20.  Custodiebat eum, sunethrei auton.  The Prot. translation, observed him.

[3]  V. 52.  Non intellexerunt de panibus, ou gar sunhkan epi toiV artoiV.

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MARK 7

CHAPTER VII.

Ver. 2.  With common hands.  It may be translated, with defiled hands; as also v. 15; but the circumstances plainly shew the sense.  Wi.

Ver. 3.  Often washing, &c.[1]  Some would have the Greek to signify unless they wash up to the elbows, but I think without sufficient grounds.  Wi.

Ver. 4.  Washed: lit. baptized.  By beds are not understood night beds, but couches to eat upon, as it was then the custom.  Wi.

Ver. 7.  See the annotations Matt. xv. 9, 11.  It is groundless to pretend from this text, that the precepts and traditions of the Church are not binding and obligatory, for Christ himself has commanded all to hear his Church, and obey their lawful pastors.  These indeed may be called the precepts of men, but they are precepts of men invested with power and authority from God, and of whom Christ himself said, (Luke x. 16.) He that heareth you, heareth me; and he that despiseth you, despiseth me.

Ver. 9.  Well do you.  Christ here speaks by the figure called irony.  Wi.

Ver. 17.  Asked him the parable.  Asked him to explain its meaning.

Ver. 24.  If he desired to conceal himself, and could not, his will it seems was under control; but this is impossible.  His will must always take place.  On this occasion, therefore, he wished himself to be sought for by these Gentiles, but not to be made known by his own apostles.  Wherefore it came to pass, that not the persons who were his followers, but the Gentiles who entered the house in which he was, published his fame abroad.  S. Augustine. — Jesus Christ commanded his disciples not to publish that he was come into that country; not that he intended to cease from healing the infirm, and curing diseases, when he saw the faith of the inhabitants deserved it; for he informed the Gentile woman of his coming, and made it known to as many others as he thought worthy; but that he might teach us, by his example, to decline the applause of men.  Ven. Bede.

Ver. 25.  This part, in which S. Mark says that Christ was in the house, when the woman came to petition in behalf of her daughter, seems to differ from the narration of S. Matthew, who says that the disciples besought Christ to dismiss her, because she cried after them; by which he signifies, that she followed them as they were on the road.  These apparent differences may thus easily be reconciled.  The woman came to our Lord when he was in the house, and he, according to S. Matthew, not answering her a word, went out during the silence: the woman followed after, and by her perseverance obtained her request.  S. Austin.

Ver. 32.  Dumb.[2]  The Greek signifies one that speaks little, or with difficulty.  Wi. — They besought him.  In the Greek it is, they beseech him, which agrees so well with they bring, that we have every reason to believe that this was the original reading.

Ver. 34.  Ephphetha, a Syriac word.  Jesus Christ, in the cure of this man, uses many and various actions; but as of their own nature they are no ways equal to such a cure, they shew: first, that the cure was miraculous; and secondly, the virtue, which his divinity communicated to his sacred body.  V. — We must not suppose that our Saviour here groaned on account of any difficulty he experienced in working this miracle, but only from commiseration for the man, whom he was about to heal; as likewise to shew, how very difficult is the cure of those who are spiritually deaf and dumb by sin.  He was affected in a similar manner when he raised Lazarus to life, to shew with what difficulty a man, dead and buried in sin by evil habits, can arise from that miserable state.  Dion. Carth.

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[1]  V. 3.  Crebò, ean mh pugmh.  Mr. Bois, prebend of Ely, defends the Latin version, and says pugmh comes from pukna and puknwV.  But Theophylactus would have it to signify, up to the elbows; acri tou agkwnoV.

[2]  V. 32.  Mutum, dumb; Greek, mogilalon, qui parum loquitur.

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MARK 8

CHAPTER VIII.

Ver. 8.  After the multitude had eaten and were filled, they did not take the remains; but these the disciples collected, as in the former miracle of the multiplication of the loaves.  By this circumstance we are taught to be content with what is sufficient, and to seek no unnecessary supplies.  We may likewise learn from this stupendous miracle the providence of God and his goodness, who sends us not away fasting, but wishes all to be nourished and enriched with his grace.  Theoph. — Thus does our Lord verify in his works what he has promised in his instructions; that if we will seek in the first instance the kingdom of God and his justice, that all necessary things shall be added unto us.  By the gathering up of the fragments that remained, he not only made the miracle more striking to the multitude and to the apostles, but has also left us a practical lesson, how, in the midst of plenty, which proceeds from the munificence of heaven, we must suffer no waste.  A.

Ver. 9.  S. Mat. (xv. 38.) adds, without counting either the women or the children.

Ver. 10.  Dalmanutha.  S. Mat. (xv. 39.) has, to the borders of Magedan; in Greek, Magdala, or Magedan.  These were two towns beyond the sea of Galilee, situated near to each other; it is of little consequence which of these names the Evangelists mention; perhaps our Saviour visited both.  Tir. — The major part of commentators, if we can believe the Bible of Vence, take Magedan, or Magdala, to be the the town of that name situated to the east of the lake of Tiberias, in the vicinity of Gerasa, and Dalmanutha to be the name of that part of the country in which these two towns were situated.  V. — Polus in his Synopsis Criticorum, (vol. iv. p. 410.) gives three explanations for the discrepance of the names in SS. Matthew and Mark: 1. Idem locus erat binominis, the same place might have two names.  2. Propiqua erant loca, the places were near.  3. Alterum erat regio, alterum vicus, the one was the name of the territory, the other of the town or village; and concludes with asserting from Jewish authorities, that it was the same territory in which the two villages Magedan and Dalmanutha were situated; so that it might be known by either name, as we find the territory of Gadara and of Gergesæ is one and the same.  Polus.

Ver. 11.  Jesus Christ did not consent to the petition they made him, because there will be another time for signs and wonders, viz. his second coming, when the powers of heaven shall be moved, and the moon refuse her light.  This his first coming is not to terrify man, but to instruct and store his mind with lessons of humility, and every other virtue.  Theophy.

 

Ver. 12.  Jesus Christ fetches a deep sigh on account of their obduracy, and says; why do these ask for a miracle to confirm their belief, when they resist the authority of so many miracles, which are daily performed under their eyes?  V. — A sign shall not be given.  But by a Hebrew form of speech, if divers times is put for a negative.  Wi.

Ver. 15.  Of the leaven of Herod.  In S. Matt. c. xvi. v. 6, we read of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees: we may conclude that Christ named all of them.  Wi.

Ver. 23.  It may be asked, why our Lord led the man from the multitude before he cured him? — It may be answered, that he did it not to seem to perform his prodigies through vain glory; and thence to teach us to shun the empty praises of men: 2dly, to facilitate recollection, and to give himself to prayer, before he cured the blind man; and lastly, he went out of the city because the inhabitants of Bethsaida had already rendered themselves unworthy of the miracles of Christ.  For among them our Saviour had wrought many miracles, yet they would not believe.  S. Matt. xi. 21.  Tir.  Theophy. — Dionysius says, that Jesus led him from the multitude to shew that if a sinner, figured by the blind man, wishes to be converted from his evil ways, he must first leave all immediate occasions and inducements to sin.  D. Diony.

Ver. 24.  Men[1] as trees walking.  In the Latin text, walking may agree either with men, or with trees, but the Greek shews that walking must be referred to men.  Perhaps Christ restored sight in this manner to the man by degrees, to make him more sensible of the benefit; or to teach us how difficult is a sinner’s conversion; of which this was a figure.  Wi.

Ver. 25.  Our Saviour made use of exterior signs in the performance of his miracles to command attention, and to signify the inward effects of the favours grants: these the Catholic Church, after the example of her Founder and Model, also uses in the celebration of her sacraments, and for the same purposes.  Nor ought any supercilious and superficial reasoner to undervalue and contemn the corporal and external application of holy things, under the hollow plea, that we are exclusively to attend to the spirit and faith.

Ver. 28.  As one of the prophets.  In the Greek it is, one of the prophets.

Ver. 31.  After our Redeemer had heard the confession of his first apostle, who spoke in the name of all, as the head, he opens out to them the grand mystery of his passion.

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[1]  V. 24.  Video homines velut arbores ambulantes, blepw touV anqrwpouV wV dendra peripatountaV.

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MARK 9

CHAPTER IX.

Ver. 4.  The law and the prophets were signified by Moses and Elias; both bear testimony to the divinity of Jesus Christ’s mission, which was effectually to close the old, and open the new dispensation.  By the apparitions of these two illustrious personages, we learn also that sometimes, though not often, there is, by the permission of heaven, a certain intercourse between the living and the dead.  B.

Ver. 5.  Peter had forgotten that the glorious kingdom of Christ was not of this world, but in heaven only; that himself and the other apostles, clothed as they were with their mortality, could not participate in immortal joys; and that the mansions in the house of the Father are not raised with human hands.  He again shewed that he knew not what he said, by wishing to make three tabernacles, one for the law, one for the prophets, and one for the gospel, since these three cannot be separated from each other.  Ven. Bede.

Ver. 9.  Risen from the dead.  The disciples believed the resurrection of the dead, but they knew not what Christ meant by by his rising from the dead.  Their thoughts were filled with the idea of a glorious kingdom in this world, in which they should enjoy great dignities and offices under the Messias.  Wi.

Ver. 10.  The Jews here confound the two comings of Jesus Christ.  The Baptist, in the spirit of Elias, will precede the first, and Elias in person, the second coming of Christ.

Ver. 14.  The multitude were so solicitous to see Christ that they saluted him when yet a great way off.  Some imagine that the countenance of our Saviour, being rendered more beautiful by his transfiguration, attracted the attention and admiration of the people.  Theophy.

Ver. 20.  Let those blush who pretend to affirm, that all men come into this world clear of original sin, and perfectly innocent like Adam when first created.  For why should this child be tormented by a cruel devil, if he had not been under the guilt of original sin, as it is clear, beyond dispute, that he could not be guilty of any actual transgression?  Ven. Bede.

Ver. 22.  The answer of our Lord is adapted to the petition of the child’s father.  He had said: If thou canst do any thing, have mercy on us: and Christ answered: If thou canst believe, &c.  Thus when the leper said: If thou wilt, thou canst make me clean, he answered: I will, be thou made clean.  Ven Bede. — [1]All things are possible to him that believeth.  The sense is not, as if he that believeth could do all things; but that any thing might be done by the divine power and goodness, in favour of him that had a firm and lively faith.  Wi.

Ver. 23.  If the man believed, as he said, why does he add, help my unbelief?  It may be answered: because faith is manifold; their is a faith of beginners, and a faith of the perfect.  The incipient faith this man already possessed, and he besought our Saviour to help him to the higher degrees of this virtue.  No one becomes great and perfect all at once, but must first set off with small beginnings, and thus gradually ascend to the height of perfection.  Thus the man, who, by the inspiration of grace has received imperfect faith, may be said at the same time to believe, and still to be incredulous.  Ven. Bede. — Here we are taught that our faith is weak, and has need of support and increase from God’s assistance.  When tears accompany our faith, they obtain for us the grant of our petitions.  S. Jerom.

Ver. 26.  Him whom the devil had made like to the dead, the goodness of Christ, by his charitable touch, restored to life.  Thus proving at once both his divinity and humanity; the former by his wonderful cure of healing, and the latter by performing this cure by a touch of the hand.  Ven. Bede. — The devil could not inflict a real death on the child, on account of the dissent of the Author of life.  S. Chrys.

Ver. 27.  This person, whom the apostles had forbidden to work miracles in the name of Christ, believed indeed in Christ, but did not follow him, on account of the great poverty of the apostles: he was not perfect, nor had he left all things to follow Christ.  The apostles therefore concluded, that such a one was not worthy to work miracles in the name of their divine Master.  But for this indiscretion, Christ rebukes them, saying , do not, &c.  T.

Ver. 31.  They could not comprehend what he said; and this not so much through the dulness and stupidity of their understandings, as through their personal affection to him; and because knowing him to be God, they could not conceive how a God could die.  Nic. de Lyra.

Ver. 37.  Who followeth not us, in that special manner, as Christ’s apostles did.  Wi.

Ver. 40.  Here we may find that no one, however poor, can be excused from good works; since there is no one who is not able to give at least a cup of cold water; and we are assured that he will not lose his reward.  Nic. de Lyra.

Ver. 43.  Where their worm dieth not.  These words are taken out of Isaias lxvi. 24; and are to be expounded of the punishments, and fruitless repentance of the wicked in the next world.  Wi.

Ver. 48.  [2]For every one shall be salted with fire.  The sense seems to be, that every wicked unrepenting sinner (of whom it was before said, that their worm dieth not) shall be severely and continually punished, though not consumed by the fire of hell. — And every victim shall be salted with salt; that is, even good men shall be cleansed and purified by trials and sufferings in this world, as some victims were to be salted by the law.  Lev. ii. 13.  Wi.

Ver. 49.  Become unsavoury; i.e. if he, who has once received the faith, should apostatize from it, what is there that can possibly convert him from his wicked ways? since even the salt, with which he was salted, is become unsavoury, i.e. the doctrines he formerly received are no longer of any use.  Nic. de Lyra.

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[1]  V. 22.  Omnia possibilia sunt credenti, dunata tw pisteuont.

[2]  V. 48.  Omnis enim igne salietur, et omnis victima sale salietur, paV gar puri alisJhsetai, kai pasa qusia ali alisJhsetai.

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MARK 10

CHAPTER X.

 

Ver. 4.  Moses permitted the injured husband to send away his wife, declaring that he had repudiated her.  See Deut. xxiv. 1.

Ver. 5.  Because of the hardness of their hearts, and to prevent the excesses they would otherwise have committed with regard to their wives.  V.

Ver. 6.  But from the beginning of the world it was not thus; for then God only formed one man and one woman, that they might be exclusively and invariably attached to each other.

Ver. 7.  Hence it is written, (Gen. ii. 24, and Matt. xix. 5.) A man shall leave father and mother, and adhere to his wife.

Ver. 14.  Unless we are possessed of the innocence and purity of little children, we cannot enter the kingdom of heaven.  By the kingdom of heaven, we may here understand the truths of the gospel; for as a child never contradicts its teachers, nor opposes to them vain reasonings and empty words, but faithfully and readily receives their instructions, and with fear obeys them; so must we implicitly obey, and without any, the least, opposition, receive the word of the Lord.  Ven. Bede.

Ver. 18.  None is good.  Of himself, entirely and essentially, but God alone:  men may be good also, but only by a participation of God’s goodness.  Ch.

Ver. 20.  We must recollect, that to the faithful observers of the Mosaic law, not only present goods were given, but the happiness of a future life promised.  Hence our Lord with reason inquired, whether he had kept the commandments.  The innocent life of this young man is deserving of our imitation.  Ven. Bede.

Ver. 21.  Loved him.  We need understand no more by this, than that Christ gave him some marks of his tenderness for him, and for all men by his kind instructions, and invitations to a good and perfect life.  Wi. — It is worthy of inquiry, how that could happen which the evangelist here mentions, how Jesus could love this young man; when, as it is here related, he did not follow the admonitions given him by Jesus Christ.  The reason is, Christ loved him for his past behaviour, and his strict observance of the old law.  S. Chrys. in S. Thom. Cat. aur.

Ver. 28.  Although S. Peter had left but few things, he still calls them his all.  For small things have power of attaching us to them, and of exciting our passions; therefore he that forsakes his small possessions, shall be a partaker of the blessings of Jesus Christ.  Theophylactus.

 

Ver. 32.  Christ goes before, to shew his eagerness to suffer the ignominies and torments of his approaching passion, for our salvation.  Theophy. — But the disciples being already forewarned of what their Master was to suffer from the high priest and Scribes, went along the road to Jerusalem, with silent fear and trepidation, either lest they should be put to death with him, or lest he, whose life and doctrines they enjoyed, should fall into the hands of his enemies.  But our kind Redeemer, foreseeing that the minds of his disciples were disturbed, comforts them with the assurance of his resurrection.  Ven. Bede.

 

Ver. 35.  S. Matt. (xx. 20.) says it was their mother, Salome, but probably at their solicitation, or at least with their connivance and consent.

 

Ver. 42.  Who seem to rule over the Gentiles, &c.  See Matt. xx. 25, and Luke xxii. 25.  Wi.

 

Ver. 43.  In vain then do men either seek for immoderate power, or sigh after human greatness; for, not power, but humility, is the sure and only path to the summit of perfection.  He then proves to them by his own example, that if they would not believe his words, they might at least learn by his example.  Ven. Bede.

 

Ver. 46.  Bartimæus is a Syriac word, and signifies, son of Timæus.

 

Ver. 51.  Let us endeavour sedulously to imitate the good example of this blind man, who did not ask for honours, riches, or other worldly advantages, but only that he might receive his sight; that he might behold the light with the blessed angels, to which faith alone can conduct us.  Ven. Bede. — In this worse than Cimmerian darkness, how few are found, who pray as they ought for this all-necessary light of faith!!!

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MARK 11

CHAPTER XI.

Ver. 1.  This place, doubtless, had its name from the great number of olive-trees that grow upon it.  It lay a little out of Jerusalem, on the east side, about five furlongs from the city, according to Josephus; but he must be understood of the nearest part of it, since S. Luke makes the distance to be a sabbath-day’s journey, i.e. eight furlongs, or a mile; unless we suppose he meant the summit of the hill, from which our Saviour ascended.  Acts i. 12.  Mr. Maundrell says: I and my companions going out of Jerusalem, at S. Stephen’s gate and crossing the valley of Josaphat, began immediately to ascend the mountain; and being about two-thirds of the way up, we came to certain grottos, cut with intricate windings and caverns, under ground, which were called, the sepulchres of the prophets; that a little higher up, were twelve arched vaults under ground, standing side by side, and built in memory of the apostles, who are said to have compiled their creed in this spot.  Sixty paces higher, we came to the place where Christ is said to have uttered his prophecy, concerning the final destruction of Jerusalem; and a little on the right hand, to another, where he is said to have dictated (a second time) the Lord’s prayer to his disciples.  A little higher, is the cave of a saint called Pelagia; a little lower, a pillar denoting the place where an angel gave the blessed Virgin three day’s warning of her death; and, at the top of all, we saw the place of our blessed Lord’s ascension.  See Maundrell’s Journey to Jerusalem. — In the Greek, being between Bethphage and Bethania.  Bethania, which they had just left, was about one mile and a half from Jerusalem: Bethphage was between the two.  V.

Ver. 2.  This order of Jesus Christ shews his omniscience and supreme dominion.  By the former, he informs his two disciples that in Bethphage they would find a colt tied; and by the latter, he assures them that the master, on learning that the Lord hath need of the colt, will immediately let him go.  A.

Ver. 8.  The martyrs strewed garments in the way by putting off the garments of the flesh, and thus preparing a way by their blood for the servants of God.  Many strew their garments in the way, by subduing their bodies in fasting and abstinence, and thus affording good example to those that follow them.  Those cut down branches from the trees, who in their instructions take their seeds from the discourses of the Fathers, and, by an unassuming and humble delivery, spread them in the way of God.  V. Bede. — Let us strew the way of life, and cut branches from the trees, by imitating the example of the saints.  For the saints are the trees, from which we cut down branches, when we imitate their virtues.  Theophylactus. — The just shall flourish like the palm-tree, (Ps. xci.) confirmed in their roots, and extensive in their fruit and flowers, being the sweet odour of Christ.  2 Cor. ii. 15.

Ver. 9.  They that went before, were the prophets; and they that come after, are the apostles.  S. Jerom. — All these voluntary offerings were grateful to our divine Saviour; so are the like offerings made to him in the blessed sacrament.  B.

Ver. 10.  They call the kingdom of Christ the kingdom of David, because Christ was descended of the family of David.  David is likewise interpreted, strong of hand; but who is strong of hand but the Lord, whose hand has wrought so many and such miracles?  Theophy. — How great is the similarity of this sentence with that delivered by the angel Gabriel, when he addressed the blessed Virgin Mary: “the Lord God will give to Him the seat of David, his father.”  Ven. Bede. — “In the highest.” By this is meant, that the just shall be built upon the ruins of the angels; and, that the inhabitants of the earth shall obtain salvation.  S. Jerom. — The literal meaning is: blessed be the kingdom of our father, David, which he sees arrive in the person of his Son: Hosanna, glory and salvation to this Son so long expected, so ardently desired: peace and salvation, and glory be given to Him, by the great Lord and God, who dwelleth in the highest heaven.  S. Mat. xxi. 9.  S. Luke xix. 38.

Ver. 11.  In going into the temple, immediately on entering the city, he shews what religion recommends to us, viz. to enter first into a place of worship, if there is one, where we visit.  Ven. Bede. — Looking into the hearts of all, he could not, amongst those who contradicted the truth, find where to recline his head; therefore, he withdraws to his faithful servants, and takes up his abode with the children of obedience.  Idem.

Ver. 13.  He came, if perhaps, &c.  Christ knew there was no fruit upon it, and that it was not the season, or a season for figs.  See Matt. xxi. 19, what instruction he designed to give his disciples by what he said and did to the fig-tree.  Wi. — Jesus Christ here curses the barren tree, on account of his disciples, who were present; for as he every where gave instances of his most beneficent will, it was proper he should also give them proofs of his justice and severity.  Hence his principal motive for cursing the fig-tree was, not on account of any hunger he then experienced; for it is not probable that Christ should experience so great hunger, and at so early an hour, as these words seem to indicate.  Ven. Bede.

Ver. 16.  The vessels here spoken of as not allowed to be carried through the temple, were not any belonging to the temple, but only such as were brought by those who were buying and selling.  Origen asserts, that our Saviour’s driving so many thousands out of the temple, poor and humble as he appeared, was a more astonishing miracle than even his giving sight to the blind.  So divine an effulgency flashed from his eyes and whole countenance, as affected every beholder with astonishment and awful terror.  Orig. in D. Diony. — If Christ could not bear to see his Father’s house profaned, even with those things which in another place were not unbecoming, how indignant must he be to see the temple of God defiled with blasphemous and heretical doctrines, and with that levity and inattention observed in thougthtless giddy Christians, who thus scandalize and pervert his devoted children.  A.

Ver. 17.  Not to the Jews only, but to all nations; not in Jerusalem only, but in every city of the known world.  It is no longer a temple of bulls, goats, and rams, but a temple of prayer.  Ven. Bede.

Ver. 18.  What effect this strong reproof of our Saviour had upon the Jewish priests, and other ministers of the temple, is related by the evangelist in the subsequent words: they sought how they might destroy him.  Still they were obliged to protract their iniquitous designs for a short time, as the multitude were in admiration of his doctrines.  Gloss. — It was on a Tuesday that Jesus Christ discussed various subjects in the temple, his mission, the duties we owe to society, the resurrection of the body, &c. &c.

Ver. 23.  Ecclesiastical history informs us, that S. Gregory of Neo-Cæsarea, surnamed Thaumaturgus (whose feast is kept Nov. 17.) performed this miracle, removing by his prayers a mountain that obstructed the building of a church.  Ven. Bede.

Ver. 26.  Faith alone will not suffice for the remission of sins; we must moreover pardon every neighbour, and from our heart.

Ver. 28.  “It was a reasonable demand,” says Dr. Barrow, “which was made to our Saviour: tell us by what authority thou doest these things, and who hath given thee this authority.  The reasonableness of it our Lord did often avow, declaring, that if by his doctrine and works he had not vouched the divinity of his authority, it had been no sin to disbelieve or reject him.”  John v. 31, 36.  x. 25, 37. and xv. 22, 24.  Dr. Barrow on Supremacy, p. 49. — This principle, which supposes in pastors the necessity of a lawful mission, was formerly, and may still be, triumphantly urged against Luther, Calvin, Tindal, Cranmer, and all the first pretended Reformers of the Catholic Church.  For whence, said the Catholics, did these innovators derive their mission?  Who sent them to preach?  Who gave them authority to reform and alter the whole state of God’s Church?  Let them shew their commission for this purpose, either ordinary or extraordinary.  Unless they can do this, we have nothing to do with usurpers and intruders. . . . . If it be pretended that they had extraordinary mission, immediately derived from God, why did they not shew their credentials, stamped with the broad seal of heaven; that is, why did they not by clear and evident miracles, such as Christ and his apostles wrought, attest their being thus extraordinarily commissioned for the extraordinary work of the Reformation?  Without such proofs as these, no pretensions to an extraordinary mission, in opposition to the ordinary Church authority, can be admitted.  Otherwise every fanatic or enthusiast, following his own caprice, may pretend to a call from heaven; and, upon this foolish plea, preach up his own dreams for the pure word of God, in contempt of all authority, whether of Church or State.  If it be said that the missions of the first reformers were ordinary, and derived to them by the ministry of men, it behoves them to point out what men these were from whom they received this ordinary power.  Were they Catholics or Protestants?  Not Protestants, for they cannot name any such who commissioned them to preach; not Catholics, because the religion which Luther and his reforming brethren endeavoured to propagate, was a new religion, directly opposite to that of Catholics, and therefore could not be taught, in virtue of any commission from Catholics.  And how can they preach unless they be sent?  Rom. x. 15.  If it be urged that Luther had received his orders in the Catholic Church, it is easily answered that this could not authorize him to commence preacher and teacher of another religion, any more than the orders which Mr. Whiston and Mr. Wesley might receive in the Protestant church of England could authorize them to teach a doctrine anathematized by that Church.  Rutter.

Ver. 33.  Neither do I tell you, &c.  I do not tell you what I know, because you refuse to own what you know.  We should observe, there are here two reasons for concealing the truth from inquirers: 1st, when he that inquireth after the truth is incapable of understanding it; 2d, when on account of some contempt of the truth, or some other evil indisposition, the person is not deserving of having the truth laid open to him.  Ven. Bede.

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MARK 12

CHAPTER XII.

Ver. 1.  Under these figurative modes of speech, or parables, Jesus Christ began to trace out for their reflection a true portraiture of their ingratitude, and of the divine vengeance.  By this man we are to understand God the Father, whose vineyard was the house of Israel, which he guarded by angels; the place dug for the wine-vat is the law; the tower, the temple; and Moses, the prophets and the priests, whom the Jews afflicted and persecuted are the husbandmen or servants.  S. Jerom. — This same parable was employed by Isaias, (v. 1.) where speaking of Christ, he says: My beloved had a vineyard, and he fenced it in.  Tirinus. — He went into a far country, not by change of place, for he is every where, but by leaving the workmen the power of free-will, either to work or not to work; in the same manner as a man in a far country cannot oversee his husbandmen at home, but leaves them to themselves.  Ven. Bede. — This parable is thus morally explained: Jesus Christ planted a Church with his own blood, surrounded it with evangelical doctrine, as with a hedge; dug a place for the wine-vat, by the abundance of spiritual graces which he has prepared for his Church; built a tower, by appointing his angels to guard each individual Christian, who are the husbandmen to whom he has let it out.  Nic. de Lyra.

Ver. 2.  The first servant whom the Almighty sent, was Moses; but they sent him away empty; for, says the Psalmist, they provoked him to anger in the camp.  Ps. cv.  The second servant sent was David, whom they used reproachfully, saying: What have we to do with David?  3 Kings xii. 16.  The third was the school of the prophets; and which of the prophets did they not kill?  Mat. xxiii.  Ven. Bede.

Ver. 7.  From this it appears, that the chief priests and lawyers were not ignorant that Christ was the Messias promised in the law and the prophets, but their knowledge was afterwards blinded by their envy: for otherwise, had they known him to be true God, they would never have crucified the Lord of glory, says S. Paul.  For a further explanation, see S. Mat. xxi.  Ven. Bede.

Ver. 8.  They cast the heir, Jesus Christ, out of the vineyard, by leading him out of Jerusalem to be crucified. Theophy. — They had before cast him out by calling him a Samaritan and demoniac; (S. John, C. viii.) and again by refusing to receive him, and turning him over to the Gentiles.  S. Jerom.

Ver. 9.  The vineyard is given to others; as it is said, they shall come from the east and the west, from the north and the south, and sit down with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of God.  S. Jerom.

Ver. 10.  By this question, Christ shows that they were about to fulfil this prophecy, by casting him off, planning his death, and delivering him up to the Gentiles, by which he became the corner-stone, joining the two people of the Jews and Gentiles together, and forming out of them the one city and one temple of the faithful.  Ven. Bede. — The Church is the corner, joining together Jews and Gentiles; the head of it is Christ.  By the Lord hath this been done in our days, and it is wonderful in our eyes, seeing the prodigies which God has performed through him whom men reject as an impostor.  Theophy. and V.

Ver. 12.  The chief priests thus shew, that what our Saviour had just said was true, by thus seeking to lay their hands on him.  Ven. Bede.

Ver. 14.  The disciples of the Pharisees said this in order to induce our Saviour to answer them, “that they were not to pay tribute to Cæsar, being the people of God; an answer they confidently anticipated, and which the Herodians hearing, might immediately apprehend him, and thus remove the odium from themselves to Herod.  Ven. Bede.

Ver. 15.  Knowing their hypocrisy.[1]  The Latin word commonly signifies, cunning, but by the Greek is here meant their dissimulation, or hypocrisy.  Wi.

Ver. 17.  Although Christ clearly establishes here the strict obligation of paying to Cæsar what belongs to Cæsar, to the confusion of his very enemies, we shall still find them bringing forward against him the charge of disloyalty, as if he forbade tribute to be paid to Cæsar.  Luke xxiii. 2.  After the example of her divine Model, the Catholic Church has uniformly taught with S. Paul, the necessity of obeying the powers in being; and this not for fear of their wrath, but for conscience sake.  Render to Cæsar the money on which his image is stamped, but render yourselves cheerfully to God; for the light of thy countenance, O Lord, is stamped upon us, (Ps. iv.) and not the image of Cæsar.  S. Jerom. — With reason were they astonished at the wisdom of this answer, which eluded all their artifices, and taught them at the same time what they owed to their prince, and what they owed to God: and whoever hopes for the favour of heaven, must conscientiously observe this double duty to God and to the magistrate.

Ver. 26.  The doctrine of the resurrection from the dead is clearly given in the book of Moses, where mention is made of the burning bush, from the midst of which God appeared to Moses: have you not read, I say, what God there said to him?  As God is the God of the living, you must be in an egregious error in imagining, that such as die in the eyes of the world not to return thither any more, die in the same manner in the eyes of God, to live no more.  V.

Ver. 29.  Literally the Lord our God is the only Lord: and this is the sense of the text in Deuteronomy vi. 4.  The word in the original text, rendered by the term Lord, is the grand name JEHOVA, which signifies properly God, considered as the supreme Being, or the author of all existence.

Ver. 33.  Venerable Bede gathers from this answer of the Scribes, that it had been long disputed among the Scribes and Pharisees, which was the greatest commandment in the law; some preferring the acts of faith and love, because many of the fathers, before the law was instituted, were pleasing to God on account of their faith and piety, and not on account of their sacrifices; yet none were agreeable to God who had not faith and charity.  This Scribe seems to have been of the opinion of those who preferred the love of God.  Ven. Bede. — This excellence of charity teacheth us that faith only is not sufficient.  B.

Ver. 34.  Being now refuted in their discourse, they no longer interrogate him, but deliver him up to the Roman power.  Thus envy may be vanquished, but with great difficulty silenced.  Ven. Bede.

Ver. 35.  According to S. Mat. it was principally to the Pharisees that Christ proposed this question.  See Mat. 22, 41.

Ver. 37.  This interrogation of Jesus instructs us how to refute the adversaries of truth; for if any assert that Christ was but a simple and holy man, a mere descendant of the race of David, we will ask them, after the example of Jesus: If Christ be man only, and the Son of David, how does David, under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, call him Lord?  The Jews were not blamed for calling him the Son of David, but for denying him to be the Son of God.  Ven. Bede.

Ver. 43.  God accepts alms, if they are corresponding to each one’s abilities; and the more able a man is, the more must he bestow in charities.  The widow’s mite was very acceptable to God, and very meritorious to herself; because though small the offering considered in itself, it was great considering her extreme indigence.

Ver. 44.  But she, of her want,[2] or indigence, out of what she wanted to subsist by, as appeareth by the Greek.  Wi.

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[1]  V. 15.  Versutiam.  thn upokrisin.

[2]  V. 44.  De penuria sua, ek thV usterhsewV.  See the same Greek word, 1 Cor. xvi. 17.  2 Cor. ix. 12, and C. xi. 9. &c.

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MARK 13

CHAPTER XIII.

 

Ver. 2.  As Christ had frequently denounced the destruction of the temple, his disciples, surprised that so beautiful an edifice should be reduced to nothing, wish on that account to shew him the grandeur and magnificence of it; upon which Christ exclaimed: There shall not remain a stone upon a stone.  Theophy.

Ver. 4.  When shall these things be?  The miseries that took place previously to the destruction of the temple and city of Jerusalem, were a figure of the extreme calamity that will happen before the last day, in the reign of Antichrist: hence Jesus Christ speaketh indifferently of both.  B.

Ver. 6.  At the destruction of Jerusalem there appeared many impostors, many who professed themselves to be the Christ, and assured the populace that their delivery was at hand.  And in the Church many heresiarchs started up, and many came in the name of Christ; the first of these was Simon Magus, mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles, whom the people of Samaria received as the power and virtue of God.  But it is remarkable from the time of our Saviour’s passion, when they preferred the robber Barabbas to Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, they had no peace or quiet in the city, but constant tumult and dissension succeeded, to the very time of its destruction.  Ven. Bede. — So shall many seducers come towards the end of the world, who shall make themselves authors of sects, and shall gain many disciples: as followeth in plain words, v. 22. of this chapter.  B.

Ver. 9.  In the synagogues, or assemblies.  The word is here taken for assemblies of judges, and of justice. — For a testimony to them; i.e. that you may bear witness of me and my doctrine, and also against them.  Wi. — Some solicitude perhaps had seized upon the minds of the disciples, when they were informed by their divine Master, that they should stand accused before kings, and princes of the earth, for fear they should not be able, for want of human learning, to make a proper defence.  Our Saviour therefore says: be not thoughtful beforehand; for when we are brought to the bar in defence of our holy faith, it is only necessary for us, under such circumstances, to make an offer of our will; Christ himself will speak for us: and in our answers will be infused the grace of the Holy Ghost: for it is not you that speak, but the Holy Ghost.  Ven. Bede.

Ver. 14.  Ven. Bede here gives a beautiful illustration of this passage in a spiritual sense.  When, says he, we see the abomination of desolation standing where it ought not, that is, when we behold heresies and crimes reigning where we ought to see truth and virtue flourish, then let those who are in Judea, such as have kept the true faith unpolluted, flee to the mountains; that is, rise to the height of perfection; and let those who are on the house-top, those who crucifying the works of the flesh, live according to the spirit, not descend any more to their former way of living according to the flesh.  Ven. Bede. — If all heresies tend to the abomination of desolation, that more particularly does which taketh away with other sacrament, and the external worship of God, the very sacrifice of Christ’s body and blood; which being taken away, as S. Cyprian remarketh, no religion can remain.  S. Cyprian on the supper of our Lord.  Num. ii.

Ver. 19.  Jospehus, the Jewish historian, relates the calamities that befell unhappy Jerusalem, about thirty-seven years after the death of Jesus Christ, which verified to the very letter the prediction: there shall be such tribulations as were not from the beginning.  S. Austin.

Ver. 20.  This may be explained in a more general sense of the persecution of Antichrist, which will be dreadful beyond description, and executed in every part of the world.  The time however allowed to him and his wicked agents to tread under foot the holy city, (Apoc. xi. 2.) i.e. the Church of Christ, will not extend beyond forty-two months, or three years and a half.  This space of time Christ has set apart to purify his Church, and try his servants; and therefore he allows them to fall under the power of this merciless tyrant; and it was given unto him, says S. John, speaking of this event, to make war with the saints, and overcome them.  Apoc. xiii. 7.  We are admonished of the same by the prophet Daniel: (vii. 21.)  I beheld, says he, and lo that horn (Antichrist) made war against the saints, and prevailed against them; and he shall speak words against the Most High, and shall crush the saints of the Most High . . . and they shall be delivered into his hand until a time, and times, and half a time, (Dan. vii. 25.) i.e. a year, two years, and half a year, or three years and a half, the same with S. John.  Pastorini.  p. 327 and 8. — S. Austin, speaking of this dreadful period, says: this persecution will be the last; it will happen towards the approach of the last judgment, and will fall upon the Church in every part of the world; that is, the whole city of Christ will be persecuted by the whole city of the devil, as far as both are extended upon earth.  De civit. l. xx. c. xi.  But our Saviour will put a stop to these calamities on account of his elect, unwilling that they should be tempted above their strength; for he will descend himself from heaven, and, as S. Paul tells us, will kill the wicked man, Antichrist, with the breath of his mouth, and shall destroy him with the brightness of his coming.

Ver. 24.  In the day of judgment the luminaries of heaven shall be darkened, not by the privation of their light, but by the approach of the true light of the world, i.e. the great Judge.  And what cause for wonder can there be, that man should be terrified at the thoughts of the last day, when the angelic powers shall tremble; or, how will these mortal habitations of ours stand the shock, when the very pillars of heaven shall be moved? what will the tender osier suffer, when the lofty cedars of Paradise bend their head!  Ven. Bede.

Ver. 32.  But how can the Son be ignorant of that last day?  Were this the case, we must thence conclude that his nature was imperfect: since he was under the necessity of a second coming, and yet was ignorant when that time should be.  But we must remember, that the meaning of this sentence is not, that Christ was really ignorant of this circumstance, but only that it was not then a convenient time to disclose the secret.  S. Austin. — Not as if Christ were ignorant himself, as certain Eutychian heretics, called Agnoitæ, held; but because he knew it not as our teacher, to teach it others, as being not expedient.  S. Ambrose de fide, l. v. c. viii. — The Son of God is ignorant of this day, not according to his divinity, which sees and knows all things; but according to his humanity, which does not know it of itself, of its own light, but by revelation which is made to it by the divinity, which is intimately united to it.  In naturâ quidem divinitatis novit, says S. Gregory, non ex naturâ humanitatis.  See S. Matt. xxiv. 36.

Ver. 33.  Some will perhaps think, that it would have been much better, if the Almighty had not left the hour of death uncertain; as in that case, they would not have been so solicitous with regard to its arrival.  But S. Austin, S. Gregory, and other saints assure us, on the contrary, that it is a very great mercy of God to keep us in this ignorance, that we may always be prepared for it.  For, if we knew the precise period, this assurance would give occasion of living more unguardedly, and of sinning more freely.  If, with this uncertainty of the hour of our death, we live notwithstanding, so very remissly; what should we do, were we assured that we were not to die for some years?  SS. Gregory, Austin, and Bonaventure say, that God chose to leave us in this uncertainty, purposely to prevent all attachment to temporal things; that, seeing every hour, nay every moment, we may lose them, we may not be tied to them, but aspire to those we shall always possess, when once we have obtained them.  Fool, says the Son of God to the rich covetous man, (Luke xii. 20.) this night thy soul shall be required of thee, and what then will become of all these riches thou hast amassed.  S. Bonaventure.

Ver.  35.  At even, at midnight, or at the cock-crowing, or in the morning.  These are generally referred to the different ages of man’s life; infancy, youth, manhood, and old age.  We are exhorted to be always in readiness, for we know not at what hour the Judge will come.  Nic. de Lyra. — We are taught to watch, because we are charged with the care of our soul, which is the temple or house of God, and which is to be his temple for all eternity.  V.

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MARK 14

CHAPTER XIV.

 

Ver. 1.  Though the evangelists generally use the words pasch and azymes promiscuously, yet S. Mark distinguishes them, being really different.  The pasch is used for the 14th day of the moon of the first month.  But the 15th day, on which they departed out of Egypt, was the feast of the azymes, or the unleavened bread; which continued seven days, till the 21st day of the moon inclusive.  Ven. Bede. — Pasch is also used for the sabbath day within the seven days of the solemnity; (Jo. xix. 14.) and also for all the sacrifices made during the seven days of the feast.

Ver. 2.  They were not so much afraid of the sedition itself, as of the people delivering Christ out of their hands.  Ven. Bede.

Ver. 3.  Of precious[1] spikenard.  This was a perfume extracted and distilled from the leaves, tops, or stalks, of the plant or herb called nard.  It was the custom of the eastern people to pour such precious perfumes on their own heads, or on the heads of their guests whom they had a mind to honour.  Wi. — This happened six days previous to the pasch.  The woman here mentioned was Mary, sister of Lazarus.  John xii. 3.

Ver. 4.  It was chiefly Judas Iscariot that murmured here.  S. John only mentions him; perhaps some others had been excited to complain, by the traitor.  This is certain, that if any concurred in murmuring with Judas, they afterwards repented, on hearing the answer given immediately by our Saviour.  D. Dionys.

Ver. 7.  Christ here answers the apostles, by informing them that he should not always be with them, but would shortly leave them, as to his corporal presence, though he spiritually will remain with them, and their successors, to the end of time.  Mat. xxviii. — Behold I am, &c.  He will not always be with them, so as to want their services.  Ven. Bede.

Ver. 10.  Many of the present day shudder at the thought of the horrid and inexpressible crime of Judas, in betraying his Master, his Lord, and his God, and yet do not take care to avoid the like wickedness themselves; for, as often as for a little gain they neglect the duties of faith and charity, they become traitors to God, who is charity and faith.  Ven. Bede.

Ver. 12.  Whither wilt thou, &c.  By these words the disciples teach us to direct our every step according to the will of God; therefore does their Lord tell them, with whom he would eat the pasch, to go two of them into the city.  S. Jerom.

Ver. 14.  Were is my refectory:[2] where I may eat the pasch, or the paschal supper of the lamb sacrificed?  Lit. in the Lat. where is my eating, or my refection? but it is generally agreed that here is meant a place to eat in.  Wi.

This is my Body.

 

Ver. 22.  This which I now give, and which you now receive; for the bread is not the figure only of Christ, but is changed into the true body of Christ; and he himself says, The bread, which I will give you, is my flesh.  S. John vi.  But the flesh of Christ is not seen, on account of our infirmity; for if we were allowed to see with our eyes the flesh and blood of Jesus, we should not dare to approach the blessed sacrament.  Our Lord therefore condescending to our weakness, preserves the outward species of bread and wine, but changes the bread and wine into the reality of flesh and blood.  Theophy. — S. Chrysostom, in his thirtieth sermon on the treason of Judas, says: “Christ is also now present to adorn our table, (altar) the same that was present to adorn that table.  For it is not man that causes the elements to become the body and blood of Christ, but the very Christ, the same that was crucified for us: oude gar anqrwpoV estin o koiwn ta prokeimena ginesqai swma kai aima cristou all autoV o staurwqeiV uper hmwn cristoV.  The priest stands his vicegerent, and pronounces the words, but the power and grace is of God.  He says, this is my body, and the word changes the elements: and as the sentence ‘increase and multiply, and fill the earth, was spoken once, but still imparts fecundity to human nature throughout all time: so these words (of consecration) once spoken, constitute an absolute, perfect sacrifice upon every altar of the Church from that day to this, yea even to the time when Christ shall come again at the last day.”  Schma plhrwn esthken o iereuV, ta rhmata fqeggomenoV ekeina h de dunamiV, kai h cariV tou qeou esti.  touto mou esti to swma, fhsi touto to rhma metarruqmizei ta prokeimena.  Kai kaqaper h fwnh ekeinh h legousa  ²auxanesqe, kai plhqunesqe, kai plhrwsate thn ghn,² erreqh men apax, dia pantoV de tou cronou ginetai ergw endunamousa thn fusin thn hmeteran proV paidopoiian.  outw kai h fwnh auth apax lecqeisa, kaq ekasthn trapezan en taiV ekklhsiaiV, ex ekeinou mecri shmeron, kai mecri thV autou parousiaV, thn qusian aphrtismenhn ergazetai.  S. Chrysostom, Serm. xxx, on the treachery of Judas.

These words are so plain, that it is difficult to imagine others more explicit.  Their force and import will however appear in a still stronger light, if we consider the formal promise Christ had made to his apostles, as related by S. John, that he would give them his flesh to eat, that same flesh he was to deliver up for the life of the world.  He on that occasion confirmed with remarkable emphasis of expression the reality of this manducation, assuring them that his flesh was meat indeed, and his blood drink indeed; and when some of the disciples were shocked at such a proposal, he still insisted that unless they eat his flesh, they should have no life in them.  The possibility of it he evinced from his divine power, to be exemplified in his miraculous ascension; the necessity of it he established, by permitting those to abandon him who refused to believe it; and the belief of it he enforced on the minds of his disciples, from the consideration that he, their teacher, was the Son of God, and the author of their eternal salvation.  The apostles were deeply impressed with these thoughts, previously to the institution of the holy Eucharist; consequently when they beheld Jesus Christ, just before his death, taking bread into his sacred hands; when after blessing it with solemnity, they heard him say, Take, eat; this is my body, which shall be given for you; they must necessarily have concluded, that it was truly his body, which he now gave them to eat, according to his former promise.  And though their reason or senses might have started difficulties, yet all these were obviated by their belief of his being God, and consequently able to effect whatever he pleased, and to make good whatever he said. —— Moreover, if we consult tradition, we shall find that the Greek, as well as the Latin Church, has uniformly declared in favour of the literal sense of Christ’s words, as may be seen at large in all Catholic controvertists.  The learned author of the Perpetuité de la Foi, and his continuator, Renaudot, in the two additional quarto volumes, have invincibly demonstrated, that the belief of all the Oriental Christians perfectly coincides with that of the Catholic Church, respecting the real presence.  Dr. Philip Nicolai, though a Protestant, candidly acknowledges, in his first book of the Kingdom of Christ, p. 22, “that not only the churches of the Greeks, but also the Russians, the Georgians, the Armenians, the Judæans, and the Ethiopians, as many of them as believe in Christ, hold the true and real presence of the body and blood of our Lord.”  This general agreement amongst the many Churches of the Christian world, affords the strongest evidence against Secker and others, who pretend that the doctrine of the real presence is a mere innovation; which was not started till 700 years after Christ’s death.  For, how will their supposition accord with the belief of the Nestorians and Eutychians, who were separated from the Church of Rome long before that period, and who were found to agree exactly with Catholics concerning this important tenent? — See this point clearly given in Rutter’s Evangelical Harmony.

This is my Blood.

Ver. 24.  Which shall be shed.  With words so explicit, with the unanimous agreement of the Eastern and Western Churches, how can any Dissenters bring themselves to believe that there is nothing more designed, or given, than a memorial of Christ’s passion and death?  Catholics, who believe in the real presence, do certainly renew in themselves the remembrance of our Saviour’s death and passion, with more lively sentiments of devotion than they who believe it to be mere bread and wine.  The outward forms of bread and wine, which remain in the Eucharist, are chiefly designed to signify or represent to us three things; viz. 1. The passion of Christ, of which they are the remembrance; 2. the body and blood of Christ, really, though sacramentally present, of which they are the veil; and 3. everlasting life, of which they are the pledge. — N. B. In speaking of the real presence in the Eucharist, Catholics hold that Christ is corporally and substantially present, but not carnally; i.e. not in that gross, natural, and sensible manner, in which or separated brethren so frequently misrepresent our doctrine.

Ver. 25.  This vine represents the Synagogue, according to Isaias.  The vine, or vineyard of the Lord of hosts is the house of Israel.  Of this vine Christ drank for some time; and though many of the branches were become useless, there were yet many that still brought forth fruit.  But Christ now going to his passion, declares that it would be no longer acceptable to him, since the figures were not to pass into reality.  Ven. Bede.

Ver. 26.  Jesus Christ is seized upon Mount Olivet, whence he ascended into heaven; that we might know that the place on earth where we watch and pray, where we suffer chains without resistance, is the place whence we are to ascend into heaven.  S. Jerom.

Ver. 27.  Christ permitted his disciples to fall, that they might learn not to trust in themselves.  To strengthen his prediction, he adduces the testimony of Zacharias the prophet, (xiii. 7.) I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep shall be dispersed.  Theophy. . . . This text is expressed in other words, being there spoken in the person of the prophet: Strike the pastor, and the sheep shall be dispersed.  Ven. Bede. — By these words, the prophet prays for the passion of the Lord.  The Almighty Father answers his prayer: I will strike the shepherd.  The Son is sent by the Father, and is stricken by becoming incarnate and suffering death.  S. Jerom.

Ver. 37.  You who were ready to die for me, cannot watch with me!  We are here taught a great duty of a Christian life, and that is, to beg of God, that he would give us strength to observe and follow the motions and inspirations of his Holy Spirit, and never to resist the calls of heaven.

Ver. 45.  Our Lord received the kiss of the traitor, that he might not appear to avoid being delivered up; and at the same time he fulfilled that of the Psalmist, with those who hated peace, I was peaceful.  Ps. cxix. 7.

Ver. 46.  Here is Joseph betrayed and sold by his brethren, and pierced in his soul with a sword.  S. Jerom.

Ver. 47.  This was Peter, as we learn from S. John xviii. 10.  He is here actuated with his usual ardent zeal, calling to mind the example of Phinees, who by executing justice on the wicked, merited the reward of justice, and a continual priesthood.  Ven. Bede. — S. Mark conceals his master’s name, lest he should seem to be publishing the ardour of his zeal for Christ.  Theophy.

Ver. 51.  This probably was the owner, or the son of the owner of the garden, who hearing the tumult came to see what was the cause.  It must have been a young man from the Greek word neaniskoV.  T.

Ver. 55.  Though the law prescribed there should be only one high priest, yet at this time there were many, being appointed yearly by the Roman governor; and those are here called chief priests who had once been invested with the dignity of high priest, but were at that time out of office.  Theophy.

Ver. 56.  Their evidence did not agree.  Others translate, their testimonies were not sufficient; that is, so as to amount to a crime that made him guilty of death.  The Greek, as well as the Latin text, may be taken in either sense.  The high priest, vexed at this, stood up, and asked him questions, hoping to make him appear guilty by his own confession.  Wi. — This latter sense is given to the same expression, v. 59. infra.

Ver. 57.  Thus has iniquity lied to itself, (Ps. xxvi.) as formerly in the case of the wife of Putiphar against Joseph, (Gen. xxix.) and the elders against Susanna.  Dan.  S. Jerom.

Ver. 61.  Our Redeemer was silent, because he knew they would not attend to his words; therefore does he say in S. Luke, If I shall tell you, you will not believe me.  Theophy.

Ver. 63.  Caiphas, in order to excite their hatred against what was said, rent his garments, and thus deprived himself of the priestly dignity, by transgressing the precept; which, speaking of the high priest says: He shall not uncover his head, and his garments he shall not rend.  Lev. xxi. 10.  S. Leo the Great. — By the high priest rending his garments he shews, that the Jewish priesthood, on account of their crimes, was now dissolved; whereas the tunic of Christ, by which the one true Catholic Church is prefigured, was seamless, and not to be divided.  Ven. Bede.

Ver. 71.  In this one apostle, Peter, the first and chief in the order of apostles, in whom the Church was figured, both sorts were to be signified, viz. the strong and the weak, because the Church is not without both.  S. Austin, Serm. xiii. de verb.  Do. — Again, our Saviour would shew by the example of the chief apostle, that no man ought to presume of himself, when even S. Peter was not secure and immoveable.  Idem. tract. lxvi. in Evan. Joan. and S. Leo. serm. ix. de Pass.  Do.

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[1]  V. 3.  Unguenti nardi spicati pretiosi, murou nardou pistikhV polutelouV.  Both here in S. Mark, and also in S. John, C. xii. 3. we read pistikhV, which by the Greek agees with nard, and not with ointment.  The interpreters are much divided about the signification of the word pistikhV: some late writers would needs have pistikhV to come from piw or pinw, and to signify liquid, but this does not seem well grounded.  Others, with S. Aug. would have pistikhV to be taken from the name of some country or place from whence this precious nard was brought.  The most common opinion seems that of S. Hierom, with whom agree Theophylactus, and Euthymius, that pistika, derived from pistiV, signifies true and genuine nard, and so of the greatest price and value.

[2]  V. 14.  Ubi est refectio mea, ubi pascha manducem?  pou esti to kataluma, opou pasca . . fagw.

[3]  V. 56.  Convenientia testimonia non erant.  isai ai marturiai ouk hsan.  The word isai may either signify that they did not agree together, or that they were not sufficient to get him condemned, which latter is the opinion of Erasmus, who translates, non erant idonea.

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MARK 15

CHAPTER XV.

Ver. 1.  It was customary with the Jews to bind and deliver over to the Roman governors those whom they had condemned in their own councils; but we must not suppose that this was the first time they bound Jesus; for, as S. John informs us, when first they apprehended him, they put manacles upon him.  Ven. Bede.

Ver. 2.  It may be remarked upon this answer of our Lord, that he was not unwilling to answer the questions put to him by the governor, who condemned him contrary to his inclination, though he would not condescend to return an answer to the question of the high priests, as they were not worthy of the favour.  Theophy.

Ver. 6.  This practice of releasing to the people any prisoner they might think proper, was instituted in order to captivate the will of the people; which was most commonly done on the festival day, when the Jews were assembled from the different provinces to Jerusalem.  But that the blindness and malice of this people might be more apparent, the evangelist here describes the atrocious wickedness of the man they preferred to the Son of God.  Gloss.

Ver. 10.  Since envy put to death the Author of life, Jesus Christ, how watchful should all Christians be against every degree of that sin.  S. Chrysos. hom. xl. in Matt.

Ver. 21.  S. Jerom thinks Alexander and Rufus were disciples of Christ, and on this account the name of their father is here expressed.  S. Jerom. in D. Diony.

Ver. 23.  S. Matt. says mixed with gall; for gall is here used for bitterness, and wine that has myrrh in it is a very strong bitter; although, perhaps, both gall and myrrh might have been ingredients to increase the bitterness.  S. Austin. — Or, in the confusion that was occasioned, some might have offered him one thing, some another; one person giving vinegar and gall, another wine mixed with myrrh.  Theophy. — Wine mingled with myrrh may perhaps be used for vinegar.  S. Jer. — This was given to criminals, to lessen their torments.  Our Lord was pleased to taste the bitterness, but he would not permit the relief which the admittance of the same into his stomach might have afforded.  Thus also were the scriptures fulfilled: they gave me gall for my food, and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.  Ps. lxviii.  Ven. Bede.

Ver. 25.  S. Mark is the only evangelist who says it was the third hour.  S. John says it was the sixth.  But these may easily be reconciled by supposing that he was crucified towards the end of the third hour, that is, about eleven of the clock, or half-past eleven, which being near the sixth hour, or twelve, the evangelist might say it was the sixth hour.  Nic. de Lyra. — The third hour.  The ancient account divided the day into four parts, which were named from the hour from which they began: the first, third, sixth, and ninth hour.  Our Lord was crucified a little before noon; before the third hour had quite expired; but when the sixth hour was near at hand.  Ch.

Ver. 26.  It was written on a board, or rather on parchment fixed to a board, (as Leipsius informs us) expressing the cause why he was crucified, viz. because he was the King of the Jews.  And, indeed, Pilate himself was fully persuaded that he was the Messiah promised to the Jews: and though he knew him to be innocent, he connived the more at his death through fear lest he might attempt something against the Roman empire, if he were permitted to continue.  At the same time, by putting up his cause, he wished to revenge himself of the Jews, for their importunity and obstinacy in compelling him, partly against his will, to condemn him to death.  For what could be more ignominious to the Jews than to see their king crucified at their own request, and for no other reason than because he was their king, and they did not wish him to reign over them.  Thus did they receive the king for whose coming they had so long sighed, and from whom they had expected delivery from the Roman yoke, and the subjugation of the whole world to their own power.  Sirinus.

Ver. 28.  This text of Isaias regards the Messias according to the very letter.  V.

Ver. 32.  Afterwards they saw Him arising out of the sepulchre whom they thought unable to descend from the cross.  Where, O Jew, is thy infidelity?  I ask you yourselves.  You shall be your own judges.  How much more astonishing is it to be able, when dead, to rise again, than, when living, to descend from the cross?  You desired a small exertion of power, and a much greater is here performed: but still your infidelity would not be cured.  All have turned out of the way, all have become useless.  S. Jer. — If the Scribes and Pharisees did not believe in Christ when he rose from the dead, neither would they have believed in him had he left the cross.  Though the scripture had foretold in many places that he was to suffer, Ps. xxi.  They have dug my hands and feet; and Ps. xcv, They shall look upon him whom they have pierced; He shall reign from the tree: (and which St. Justin assures us the Jews had erased from the psalm) yet where can the Jews point out that it was foretold he should descend from the cross? Tir.

Ver. 39.  The centurion considered the crying out of our Saviour as an effect not of human, but divine power, since it generally happens that people at the moment the soul quits the body are reduced to so debilitated a state, that they are scarce able to utter the least word.  Although Jesus was truly the natural, not the adoptive, Son of God, it is nevertheless probable that the centurion, being a Gentile, did not speak in this manner as if he knew Jesus to be the natural Son of God.  He did not know that the Son of God was really true God, equal to the Father, but called him Son of God, as if adopted, on account of his extraordinary sanctity; or, perhaps, he might have called him the Son of God, in order to oppose the Jews, who called our Saviour a blasphemer, because he made himself the Son of God.  D. Diony.

Ver. 42.  Ven. Bede thinks the word parasceve is derived from the Greek paraskeuh, signifying a preparation.  It was the day before the sabbath, on which the Jews were accustomed to prepare two meals, one for the parasceve, and another for the sabbath; the Jews not being allowed to dress any meat on the latter day, on account of its great solemnity.  The Jews learnt this word of the Greeks, who lived among them in Jerusalem.  Ven. Bede.

Ver. 43.  A noble Decurion.  The Decurions among the Romans were first called so as having ten men under them, as the centurions were over a hundred.  But some of the Decurions were also Counsellors in towns, as is here signified by the Greek word BouleuthV.  Wi.

Ver. 46.  According to the description of those that have seen it, it is a kind of small chamber, the height of which, from top to bottom, is eight feet and an inch, its length six feet and one inch, and its breadth fifteen feet ten inches.  Its entrance, or vestibule, which looks towards the east, is but four feet high, and two feet four inches wide.  The place within, where our Lord’s body was laid, takes up a whole side of the cave.  The stone which was laid to secure the door of the sepulchre is still remaining, and according to Mr. Maundrell, is two yards and a quarter long, one broad, and one thick: but the particular parts of it are not visible, being all incrusted over with white marble, except in five or six little places, where it is left bare to receive the kisses and other devotions of pilgrims.  Mark Luke’s Voyage to Asia Minor, Vol. II. p. 12. and Maundrell’s Journey from Aleppo to Jerusalem.

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MARK 16

CHAPTER XVI.

Ver. 1.  Saturday evening, after the sun was set, for the sabbath began and ended with the setting sun.

Ver. 2.  S. Mark says very early, the sun being now risen, whereas S. John tells us that it was yet dark.  But when S. Mark says the sun was risen, he means that it began, by its approach to the horizon, to enlighten the heavens, at which time there is still darkness remaining, (according to S. John) which decreases as light approaches the earth.  S. Austin.

Ver. 5.  S. Matthew says the angel was sitting on the stone, whilst S. Mark says that they saw him sitting on the right side of the sepulchre.  This must not surprise us; for the angel which first appeared sitting upon the stone, might have been afterwards seen by him sitting on the right side of the sepulchre.  Theophy. — Perhaps the angel mentioned by S. Matthew is different from the one mentioned by S. Mark.  Or it may be understood, that the women entering the monument, which may mean the enclosure of it, saw the angel sitting on the stone, which was placed on the right side of the sepulchre.  S. Austin.

Ver. 9.  This appearance of our Saviour is more fully related by S. John.  Our Lord arose early from the monument in which he had been placed late in the evening, thus fulfilling the words of the psalmist: In the evening weeping shall have place, and in the morning gladness.  Ps. xxix.  Ven. Bede. — Rising early.  It appears from this that our Saviour arose early, about sunrise, as was the sentiment of S. Austin; though S. Gregory seems to think that he arose at midnight, in the same manner as Samson, who was a figure of Christ, arose in the middle of the night and carried away the gates of Gaza.  If we follow this opinion, we must understand the word early as referring to the verb appeared, not to the participle rising, and then the sentence will be: he rising, (having arisen) appeared early the first day of the week.  The first interpretation, however, of S. Austin seems more agreeable to the text: he rising early the first day of the week, appeared, &c.

Ver. 12.  He had appeared to Magdalene in the form of a gardener, and to two disciples in the form of a traveller.

Ver. 14.  At length, &c. in the Latin text, taken according to the letter, is lastly, or last of all: but if we examine and compare the four gospels, this was not the last time that Christ appeared to his disciples after his resurrection.  We can only then understand it of the last time mentioned by this evangelist. — To the eleven.  If this apparition (as it was the opinion of S. Augustine) was made when S. Thomas was not with them, they were only then ten, without S. Thomas and Judas.  The evangelist here calls them eleven, because the apostolical college (Judas being dead) consisted of no more than eleven.  And this way of speaking may be justified by diverse examples: one instance may suffice.  A meeting of the Jewish sanhedrim might be called the Council of the Seventy-two, though it many times happened that all the seventy-two were not there present.  Wi. — Some think that this was the last apparition of Jesus Christ, after which he quitted the earth, and ascended into heaven.  V.

Ver. 16.  Let those weep and lament who have not yet seen him, and in a short time they shall receive consolation.  Blessed are they that weep, for they shall be comforted, S. Mat. v.  S. Jerom. — Perhaps some one will say within himself, I have already believed, I shall be saved: he says true, if his faith be supported by good works; for that only is true faith, which does not contradict in works what is believed in words.  S. Greg.

Ver. 19.  By these words it is not to be understood that Jesus is to be confined to that particular posture of body, or that the Father has any hands, or any human shape; for God is a pure, incorporeal, and all-perfect Spirit.  The image of God, as he is in himself, comes not within the reach of our mortal senses.  When the Scripture, therefore, speaks of God, it uses such imagery of language as is adapted to our senses, that it may thereby convey to us some imperfect knowledge of those sublime mysteries, which are ineffable in themselves, and incomprehensible to our understanding.  Thus we are informed that Jesus Christ sits at the right hand of God, the Father Almighty, to signify that, as man, our Lord is raised to the height of glory, and to that supreme beatitude, than which there is nothing higher, and nothing greater in the whole bliss of heaven; and that he moreover holds the same sovereign dominion with the Father over all creatures; because, as God, he is equal to the Father in power, in wisdom, and in all perfection.  See Pouget, p. 256. ed. in fol. — On the right hand of God.  Jesus Christ, our Redeemer, was not man only, but truly God, the same God with his eternal Father: and hereby is signified that the person, who took upon him human nature, and became man, is equal in dignity with the Father: he, who, as man, ascended into heaven.  [2]When S. Jerom says that most Greek copies wanted this chapter, he speaks not of chapters according to our present division, but only of the last 12 verses, which formerly made what was called a little chapter: yet these twelve verses must have been omitted in those MSS. by some negligent transcribers.  Now they are found in all, both Latin and Greek copies.  They are found in the Canons of Eusebius on the Gospels; in S. Jerom in several places; in S. Amb. l. iii, in Luc. tom. iii, p. 292. Ed. Paris, an. 1582, in S. Aug. l. iii, de consensu Evang. c. xxv, tom. 3, part 2, p. 142, &c.  Wi. — S. Gregory of Nyssa, (orat. 2. de Resurr.) says, that the best copies of S. Mark’s gospel finished with the 8th verse, a trembling and fear had seized them: En toiV akribesteroiV to Kata Markon Euaggelion mekri tou efobounto gar, ecei to teloV.  It is the very generally received sentiment of the learned, that the last 12 verses were given by S. Mark; and the most probable reason yet offered for the omission of them in various copies is, that the transcribers followed a mutilated copy, where the last page was wanting.  V.

Ver. 20.  Let us here take notice, that, as the apostles confirmed their words by the signs that followed, so also in us must our words be confirmed by works. “Grant, O Jesus! that the discourse we deliver, concerning virtue, may be confirmed by works and actions; that thus, by thy co-operation, we may become perfect in word and work; for to Thee is due the glory of our discourses and actions.”  Theophylactus.

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[1]  V. 14.  Novissimè, usteron, posterius.

[2]  V. 19.  S. Hieron. Ep. ad Hebidiam, q. 3, tom. 4, part 1, p. 172: omnibus Græcis Libris penè hoc capitulum non habentibus.

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LUKE

THE

HOLY GOSPEL OF JESUS CHRIST,

ACCORDING TO S. LUKE.

PREFACE.

S. Luke was a physician, a native of Antioch, the metropolis of Syria, and well skilled in the Greek language, as his writings sufficiently evince.  In some ancient MSS. he is called Lucius, and Lucanus.  Some conjecture that he was at first a Gentile and a pagan, and was converted by the preaching of S. Paul, at Antioch; others, that he was originally a Jew, and one of the seventy-two disciples.  SS. Hippolitus and Epiphanius say, that hearing from our Lord these words, he that eateth not my flesh, and drinketh not my blood, is not worthy of me, he withdrew, and quitted our Saviour, but returned to the faith at the preaching of S. Paul.  But, to leave what is uncertain, S. Luke was the disciple, travelling companion, and fellow-labourer of S. Paul.  Of him S. Paul is supposed to speak: (2 Cor. viii. 18.) We have sent also with him (Titus) the brother, whose praise is in the gospel, through all churches: and again, Luke, the most dear physician, saluteth you: (Coloss. iv.) and, only Luke is with me.  2 Tim. iv.  Some are of opinion that as often as S. Paul, in his Epistles, says according to my gospel, he speaks of the Gospel of S. Luke.  This evangelist did not learn his gospel from S. Paul only, (who had never been with our Lord in the flesh) but from the other apostles also, as himself informs us in the beginning of his gospel, when he says, according as they have delivered them unto us; who, from the beginning, were eye-witnesses, (autoptai) and ministers of the word.  His gospel, therefore, he wrote as he heard it; but the Acts of the Apostles, from his own observations; and both, as some believe, about the same time in which his history of the Acts finishes, towards the year of Christ 63.  But the received opinion now is, that S. Luke wrote his gospel in Achaia, in the year 53, ten years previously to his writing of the Acts, purposely to counteract the fabulous relations concerning Jesus Christ, which several persons had endeavoured to palm upon the world.  It does not appear, as Calmet observes, that he had ever read the gospels of S. Matt. and S. Mark. . . He chiefly insists in his gospel, upon what relates to Christ’s priestly office; hence the ancients gave, of the four symbolical representations, mentioned in Ezechiel, that of the ox, or calf, to S. Luke, as an emblem of sacrifices.  He lived 84 years in the state of celibacy, was crucified at Elœa, in Peloponnesus, near Achaia, and was buried in the church of the apostles, at Constantinople, to which city his remains were translated, together with those of S. Andrew and S. Timothy, in the year 357, by order of the emperor Constantius.  When this church was repaired, by an order of Justinian, the masons found three wooden chests, in which the bodies of these saints were interred.  Baronius mentions, that the head of S. Luke was brought by S. Gregory from Constantinople to Rome, in the year of Christ 586.  S. Luke writes purer Greek than any of the other hagiographers; yet many Syriac words, and turns of expressions, occur in both his gospel and Acts of the Apostles; some also that imitate the genius of the Latin tongue.  He cites Scripture according to the Septuagint, and not after the Hebrew text.  S. Paul, in his Epistles, generally quotes the gospel in a manner the most conformable to S. Luke, as may be seen in the following instances; 1 Cor. xi. 23. and 24.  c. xv. 5.  The Marcionites would only receive the gospel of S. Luke, and from this they retrenched the first two chapters, with regard the birth of Jesus Christ, and only admitted ten of S. Paul’s Epistles, as Tertullian and S. Epiphanius have remarked.  Marcion embraced the errors of Cerdon: to these he added others, the offspring of his own brain.  He began to disseminate his novel opinions at Rome, about the year of Christ 144.  He could not bring himself to believe how a spirit, such as the human soul, could be shut up in a body, be subject to ignorance, to weakness, to pain; nor in what manner, or for what end, the great and good Lord, the Creator of spirits, could have thus degraded them.  Revelation, which teaches us the fall of the first man, did not appear to the Marcionites, to solve the difficulty, since the first man was composed of a spiritual soul and a terrestrial body; they, moreover, imagined that an all-good, an all-powerful God, ought to have prevented the fall of man.  No wonder then, that they refused to adopt the first two chapters of S. Luke, which contain the miraculous births of Jesus and his precursor; as also sundry texts of the very scanty portions of holy Scriptures which their party chose to retain.  But what does this shew?  that tradition, in the first instance, must be admitted, to inform us what is authentic scripture; and, secondly, an infallible Church-authority, to inform us what is the genuine interpretation of the genuine text.  Without the assistance of apostolical tradition and Church-authority, could any Seeker (even with the assistance of Brown’s Self-interpreting Bible, in 2 vols. 4to.) rest secure, that he properly understood the disputed points of holy writ; that his, and no other interpretation, was the genuine sense of these mysterious words, when he was informed that by far the greater part of learned societies, and learned individuals, gave a widely different interpretation to the same texts.  This freedom of expounding Scripture, by unassisted reason and private spirit, was the first germ of the daily increasing spread of sects and heresies; this is the nucleus, which, after enveloping itself like the comet, in much nebulous obscurity, terminates in a fiery tail, of portentous magnitude, the ruinous effects of which can only be prevented by a speedy return to first principles, apostolical tradition, and Church-authority.

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LUKE 1

CHAPTER I.

Ver. 1.  That have been accomplished.[1]  In the Prot. translation, of things most surely believed.  They have followed Beza, and Erasmus: but other learned critics have shewn that the same Greek word often signifies to fulfil; and it is clearly proved by S. Chrysostom.

Ver. 3.  Having diligently obtained.  Here we see, that although the Holy Ghost regulated the pen of the holy writers, that they might not err; they still employed human means to search and find out the truth of things they mentioned.  Even so do general councils, and the president thereof, the holy pontiff, discuss and examine all causes by human means, although they have the promise from Jesus Christ of the aid, assistance, and direction of his holy Spirit; (S. John xvi. 13,) as is manifest from the very first council of the apostles, held at Jerusalem.  Acts xv. 7. and 28. — Most excellent Theophilus.  This word, Theophilus, by its etymology, signifies a lover of God: but here we may rather understand some particular person, by the title given him of most excellent, or best: which, at that time, was given to persons in dignity; as to to Felix, Acts xxiii. 26. and to Festus, Acts xxvi. 25.  Wi. — Kratiste, may signify most powerful from KratoV, strength, or Kratein, to conquer; or, as most generally given, from Kreittwn. — QeofiloV, may be interpreted either a lover of God, or one beloved of God.  Whoever, therefore, loves God, and desires to be beloved by Him, should consider this gospel as penned for himself, and should preserve it as a pledge deposited in his hands.  Ven. Bede.

Ver. 5.  The Almighty appointed to Moses, that there should be but one high priest at a time, to whom, at his decease, a successor should be chosen.  This rule obtained till the time of David, by whom, by the inspiration of God, many were appointed at once.  1 Paralip. c. xxiv.  According to this regulation, Zachary is said to perform the office of priest, according to the order of his course.  Ven. Bede. — Zachary seems here to be described as high priest, who once a year entered alone in the inward sanctuary with the blood of the victims, which he offered for himself and the sins of the people.  S. Ambrose. — He was not chosen by a fresh lot to offer up incense, but by a previous lot, according to which the family of Abia succeeded to the office of high priest.  The people waited without, according to Levit. xvi. 12.; whilst the high priest carried the incense into the holy of holies, on the 10th day of the 7th month.  Ven. Bede. — Of the course of Abia.[2]  What we read in the Greek for course, is commonly put for the employment of one day, but here for the functions of a whole week.  For by appointment of David, (1 Paral. xxiv,) the descendants from Aaron were divided into 24 families; of which the eighth was Abia, from whom descended this Zachary, who at this time was in the week of his priestly functions.  Wi. — It is worthy of remark, that there were three Herods.  The first was the one here spoken of, (surnamed Ascalonite, from his palace in the city of Ascalon, in Palestine) the same who murdered the Innocents.  The second was the son of the first, (surnamed Antipas) who derided Christ at the time of his passion, the same who beheaded the Baptist.  The third was Herod Agrippa, who beheaded S. James, imprisoned S. Peter, and who was afterwards, for his great pride, stricken by an angel, and devoured by worms.  Our Saviour was born in the reign of the first Herod, by whom the prophecy of Jacob, related in the book of Genesis (c. xlix,) was fulfilled: The septre shall not be taken, &c.  Herod was an Idumæan, and made king of the Jews by the Romans.  The Jews, after they entered the land of promise, were first governed by judges, until Saul: then by kings, until the Babylonian captivity; after that by high priests, until the time of Hyrcanus, whom Herod having killed, succeeded.  From that period to the present day, they have been governed by strangers.  Ven. Bede, and D. Dion. Carth. — Elizabeth was of the race of Aaron, by her father; but her mother was probably of the race of David, from whom the blessed Virgin, cousin of Elizabeth, descended.  See infra, v. 36.

Ver. 6.  Both just, . . . walking . . . without blame.[3]  Not that in the sight of God they were exempt even from all lesser feelings, which are called venial faults; but only from such sins as might make them forfeit the grace and favour of God.  Wi. — Three things are here to be noticed: 1. that good men do keep all God’s commandments, which some moderns declare to be impossible; 2. that men are justified not by imputation only of Christ’s justice, nor by faith alone, but by walking in the commandments; 3. that keeping and doing the commandments, is properly our justification through Jesus Christ.  The Greek word dikaiwmata, is properly rendered by Catholics, justifications or commandments, because the keeping of them through Jesus Christ, is justification.  But our separated brethren purposely avoid this word against the justification of the Catholics, as one of their leaders in innovation blushes not to advance.  Hence Beza, in his annotations on the New Test. ann. 1556, uses the word constituta, which his scholars render into English by ordinances.  B.

Ver. 9.  It was his lot.  The priests drew lots for the different functions to be performed in the same week; and now it fell by lot to Zachary, to burn or offer up incense, morning and evening, in that part of the temple called the holy, where was the altar of incense: Zachary was in this part of the tabernacle.  Wi. — See Exod. xxx. 6, 8.

Ver. 10.  And all the . . people were praying without: i.e. in that part of the temple called the court of the Israelites.  For the Jews themselves were not permitted to enter into the first part of the tabernacle, called the holy, much less into the second part of it, called the holy of holies; the people then prayed, and performed their private devotions, in that division of the temple called the court of the Israelites, and were there waiting for the coming out of the priest Zachary.  Wi. — We here see that the priest’s functions profited the people, though they neither heard nor saw the priest, but only joined in intention with him; and so may the prayers of the priest in the Catholic Church, though offered up in an unknown tongue.

Ver. 12.  The cause of this fear, was the general sentiment that obtained with the Jews, that they would die immediately on seeing an angel.  V.

Ver. 13.  Thy prayer is heard.  We cannot suppose, as S. Aug. observes, (l. ii. QQ. Evang. c i, tom. 3, part 2, p. 249.  Ed. Ben.) that he was praying to have children, when his wife was so advanced in years; that he did not think possible; but he was praying for the people, and for the coming of the Messias.  See S. Chrys. hom. ii. de incomprehensibili, tom. 1, p. 454.  Nov. Ed. Ben.  Wi. — Zachary so far despaired of having any offspring, that he did not believe the angel, when he made him the promise.  When therefore the angel says, thy prayer is heard, we must understand it of the prayer he offered in behalf of the people, to whom salvation and remission of sins were to be brought by Christ.  The angel, moreover, told him of the birth of his son, who was to be the precursor of Christ.  S. Austin. — The son that is to be born of thee, will shew that thy prayer is heard, when he cries out, behold the Lamb of God.  S. Chrysos. — It is always a mark of singular merit, whenever the Almighty either appoints or changes the name of a man.  Ven. Bede. — The name of John is derived from the Hebrew word, Jochanan, which frequently occurs in the Old Testament, as 1 Par. iii. 15. and vi. 9. and xii. 12. &c. and signifies, blessed with grace or divine favour; see also in Isai. xxx. 18, 19.

Ver. 14.  This was fulfilled not only at his birth, but ever after by the Catholic Church, celebrating his nativity.  A.

Ver. 15.  After the angel had assured him of the joy this son should bring to many, he acquaints him of the excellency of his virtue.  He shall be great before the Lord.  He did not extend the boundaries of empire; he did not obtain the triumphs of war, and force captive and degraded kings to pay him homage: but, what is much greater, preaching in a desert, he renounced the pleasures of the world, and with the greatest fortitude repressed and subdued the concupiscence of the flesh.  Therefore it is said, he shall drink no wine, nor strong drink.  S. Ambrose. — And shall drink no wine, nor strong drink:[4] lit. sicera, by which is signified any liquor that is apt to make a man drunk, according to S. Jerom.  Wi. — This prohibition of the angel was a part of the consecration of the Nazarites.  See Numb. vi. 3.  The word sicera properly signifies wine of the palm-tree; and next to wine of the grape, there was no more common liquor, none more intoxicating.  V. — And he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother’s womb; from which words some conjecture, that S. John the Baptist, though conceived in original sin, yet might have been freed from the guilt of it before he came into the world.  Of this see S. Aug. Ep. lvii. now Ep. clxxxvii. ad Dardanum. t. ii, p. 685. Ed. Ben.  Wi.

Ver. 17.  Turn the hearts of the fathers, &c.  The angel applies these words (Malach. iv. 6.) to S. John the Baptist; telling his father, that he shall convert many of the children of Israel, &c. by bringing them to the knowledge of Christ. Secondly, that he shall go before him, or be his precursor and forerunner. — In the spirit and power of Elias; i.e. S. John shall be the forerunner of Christ’s first coming to redeem mankind, as Elias shall be the forerunner of Christ’s second coming to judge the world.  Thirdly, that S. John, by converting the Jews, shall also turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, &c.  The meaning of which obscure words seems to be, that whereas Moses, Abraham, and the prophets, (whose souls were in a place of rest) knew by a revelation from God, that their children, the Jews, lived in sin and disobedience to the laws of God; and on this account were offended and displeased at them: now when they shall know that they have been converted by the preaching of S. John, they shall rejoice, and be reconciled to their children, the Jews: for as our Saviour tells us, (Luke xv. 7.) there is joy in heaven upon any one sinner that doth penance.  The angel, to explain the foregoing words, adds, and the incredulous to the wisdom and prudence of the just; i.e. S. John’s preaching shall make them truly wise and just.  Wi. — With reason is he said to precede Christ, who was his forerunner both in his birth and in his death.  In the spirit of prophecy, and in the power of abstinence, and patience, and zeal, they resembled each other; Elias was in the desert, S. John was in the desert also.  The one sought not the favour of king Achab, the other despised the favour of Herod.  The one divided the Jordan, the other changed it into a laver of salvation.  The one is to be the forerunner of Jesus Christ’s second coming, as the other was of his first.  S. Ambrose.

Ver. 18.  Whereby shall I know this?  Zachary could not question the Divine Power, but he doubted of what the angel told him.  Wi. — It was customary with the Jews, when they heard that any wonderful event was to take place, to inquire whether the Almighty had manifested his will by any supernatural sign.  Zachary puts this question to the angel, not through any doubt concerning the omnipotence of God, but because what was promised could not be compassed in the natural order of things: for, I am an old man and my wife is advanced in years.  D. Diony.

Ver. 19.  The name Gabriel signifies, the strength of God; or, God is my strength.  The angels are sometimes styled by proper names, in order to shew their respective duties; thus, no angel could better be appointed to declare the precursor, as also the Messias himself, than he who was styled the power of God: since he came to declare the coming of one who was to destroy the power of the devil, and overthrow his kingdom.  Nic. de Lyra.  See Tob. xii. 15.  Apoc. i. 4. and viii. 2.

Ver. 20.  On account of the many signs the angel had given, that what he said was true, the unbelief of Zachary seemed inexcusable; for the angel appeared in a holy place, in the temple, and during divine service: he, moreover, foretold what related to the redemption of all the people, and to the glory of God; from all which circumstances, Zachary ought to have concluded, that it was a good angel, and that what he said would eventually come to pass.  Nic. de Lyra. — Shalt be dumb, &c.  He seems to have been both dumb and deaf by the Greek text, and by what we may learn from v. 62; where we find, that those who were present did not speak, but rather made signs to him.  Wi.

Ver. 23.  After the days of his office were accomplished; i.e. the weekly ministry; for during that time, the priests lodged in buildings joining to the temple, separated from their wives.  Wi. — When it fell to the lot of any of the priests to offer incense, they not only separated from their wives, but left their houses; wherefore it is said, as soon as the day, &c.  As it was ordained that the priesthood should continue in the family of Aaron, it was necessary they should have wives.  But, as we do not now so much seek after priests of the same family, as those who are virtuous, it has been decreed, that priests should observe perpetual continency, that they may be able to assist at all times at the altar.  Ven. Bede. — For the law of perpetual celibacy of the clergy, See S. Jerom, l. i. c. ix. 19. advers Jovin. et. ep. 50; also S. Ambrose, in 1 Tim. iii.

Ver. 27.  The word Miriam, or Mary, is expounded by S. Jerom from different etymologies, to signify in Hebrew, star of the sea, and in Chaldaic, lady.  Both interpretations admirably well agree with her, who is the glorious Queen of heaven, our patroness and star, to direct us in the stormy ocean of this world. — “O you,” cries out S. Bernard, “who find yourselves tossed to and fro in this tempestuous life, turn not your eyes away from the brightness of this star, if you would not be overwhelmed in these storms.  If the winds of temptations arise; if you fall among the rocks of tribulation; look up to the star, call upon Mary.  If you are agitated, and hard driven with the surges of pride, ambition, detraction, jealousy, or envy; look up to the star, call upon Mary.  If anger, covetousness, or lust, beat furiously on the vessel of your soul; look up to the star, call upon Mary.  If you are beginning to founder, and are just sinking into the gulph of melancholy and despair; think on Mary.  In dangers, in distresses, in perplexities, think on Mary, call on Mary.  Let her name be never absent from your mouth; from your mouth let it constantly descend into your heart; and, that you may obtain the suffrage of her prayers; both in life and death, never depart from the example of her pious conversation.”  S. Bernard, hom. ii. super Missus est.

Ver. 28.  Hail, full of grace:[5] by the greatest share of divine graces granted to any creature.  This translation, approved by the ancient Fathers, agrees with the ancient Syriac and Arabic versions.  There was no need therefore to change it into gracious, with Erasmus; into freely beloved, with Beza; into highly favoured, with the Prot. translators.  For if seven deacons (Acts vi. 3.) are said to be full of the Holy Ghost, as it is again said of S. Stephen, (Acts vii. 55.) and also of the same S. Stephen, (Acts vi. v. 8.) that he was full of grace, (as the learned Dr. Wells translates it in his amendments made to the Prot. translation) why should any one be offended at this salutation given to the blessed mother of God; who would not have been raised to this highest dignity, had not her soul been first prepared for it by the greatest share of divine graces? — The Lord is with thee, by his interior graces; and now, at this moment, is about to confer upon thee the highest of all dignities, by making thee truly the mother of God.  Wi. — The Catholic Church makes frequent use of these words which were brought by the archangel from heaven, as well to honour Jesus Christ and his virgin Mother, as because they were the first glad tidings of Christ’s incarnation, and man’s salvation; and are the very abridgment and sum of the whole gospel.  In the Greek Church, they are used daily in the Mass.  See the Liturgy of S. James, and that of S. Chrysos.

Ver. 29.  When she had heard.  In the Greek text, when she had seen; as if she also saw the angel, as S. Ambrose observed.  Wi.

Ver. 31.  It may perhaps in the first instance of reflection, appear shocking to our ideas, that a God should dwell in a human body; but does not the sun emit its rays into all kinds of places, without any detriment to its purity?  How much more would the Sun of justice, assuming a most pure body, formed of the purest blood of the spotless Virgin, not only remain free from every the least stain himself, but even impart additional sanctity to his virgin Mother.  S. Thos. Aquinas.

Ver. 32.  He . . shall be called; i.e. according to the style of the Scriptures, he shall truly be the Son of God.  Wi.

Ver. 33.  Those are here called of the house of Jacob, who out of the multitude of the Jews believed in Christ.  This is conformable to that text of S. Paul: All are not Israelites that are of Israel, but the children of the promise are accounted for the seed.  Rom. ix. 6, 8.  S. Chrysos. hom. vii. on S. Matt. — And of his kingdom there shall be no end: which clearly shews it was not to be a temporal, but a spiritual and an eternal kingdom.  Wi.

Ver. 34.  How shall this be done?  She only asks about the manner. — Because I know not man.[6]  This answer, as S. Aug. takes notice, would have been to no purpose, had she not made a vow to God to live always a virgin.  Wi. — Listen to the words of this pure Virgin.  The angel tells her she shall conceive; but she insists upon her virginity, holding her purity in higher estimation than the promised dignity.  S. Greg. of Nyssa. — She did not doubt the truth of what the angel said, (as Calvin impiously maintained) but she wished it might not happen to the prejudice of her vowed virginity.  Ambrose, Austin, Bede, Theophylactus, &c. &c.

Ver. 35.  The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, &c.  By the divine power thou shalt bring forth, and yet remain always a pure virgin. — And therefore also the Holy which shall be born of thee, shall be called (shall be) the Son of God.  The second person of the ever blessed Trinity, being united to our human nature, remaining unchangeably the same God, and being born of the Virgin Mary; it must needs be true to say that God was born, that God suffered and died for us; and consequently that the blessed Virgin Mary was truly the mother of God, or of him that is truly God; though not the mother of the Godhead: as the Catholic Church declared in the council of Ephesus, (431) against the heretic Nestorius.  Wi. — Seek not for natural order in things that transcend nature. You ask, how shall this be done, since you know not man?  This, your ignorance of man, is the very reason why this will take place within you.  For had you not been pure, you never would have been deemed worthy of so great a mystery.  Not because marriage is bad, but because virginity is far more excellent.  The common Lord of all ought in his birth to have something common with all mankind, and still something different.  He was conceived and born in the womb like the rest of mankind, but he differed from them in being born of a virgin.  S. Chry. xlix. in Genes.

Ver. 36.  We find that Aaron, who was of the tribe of Levi, took a wife of the tribe of Juda, viz. Elizabeth, the sister of Naasson.  In the successors of David we find that Joiada, the chief priest, took a wife of the family of David, viz. the daughter of Joram; from which it appears that both the royal and sacerdotal tribes were united, and that Mary and Elizabeth were relatives.  It was certainly proper that Christ should be born of both these tribes, because he was in himself both king and priest.  Ven. Bede.

Ver. 38.  Behold the handmaid.  With all modesty and humility of heart and mind, the blessed Virgin consented to the divine will: and from that moment in her was conceived the Saviour and Redeemer of the world.  Wi. — Thus ought the virgin, who brought forth meekness and humility itself, to shew forth an example of the most profound humility.  S. Amb.

Ver. 39.  This city is generally supposed to be Hebron, a sacerdotal town, (Jos. xxi. 11.) situated in the mountains, to the south of Juda, and about 120 miles from Nazareth.  V.

Ver. 41.  The infant leaped in her womb.[7]  According to the general opinion of the interpreters, this motion of the child at the time was not natural: and some think that God gave to S. John, even in his mother’s womb, a passing knowledge of the presence of his Redeemer.  See S. Aug. in the above cited letter to Dardanus.  Wi.

Ver. 42.  In the same words she is pronounced blessed by Elizabeth, and by the angel Gabriel, both inspired by the Holy Ghost, and this not only to the praise of Jesus, but for his sake, to the praise of Mary, calling her blessed, and her fruit blessed; and thus, as Ven. Bede asserts, holding her up to the veneration of both men and angels.

Ver. 43.  The mother of my Lord.  A proof that Christ was truly God, and the blessed Virgin Mary truly the mother of God.  Wi. — Elizabeth was a just and blessed woman; yet the excellency of the mother of God does so far surpass that of Elizabeth, and of every other woman, as the great luminary outshines the smaller stars.  S. Jerom præf. in Sophon.

Ver. 47.  In God my Saviour, as appears by the Greek text,[8] though literally in Latin, in God my salvation.  Wi.

Ver. 48.  The humility of his handmaid,[9] i.e. the humble, low, and abject condition; as perhaps might be translated both in this and in v. 52.  For the blessed Virgin does not here commend and praise her own virtue of humility; as divers interpreters observe.  See S. Francis of Sales, in his introduction to a devout life, part 3, c. vi.  Wi. — As death entered into the world by the pride of our first parents, so was it proper that the path to life should be opened by the humility of Mary.  Ven. Bede. — Not Elizabeth only, but all nations of believers are to call her blessed.  Theophy.

Ver. 51.  The wise men of the Gentiles, the Pharisees and Scribes, were powerful; but these the Almighty cast down, and exalted those, who humbled themselves under his powerful hand.  1 Peter v.  The Jews were proud in their strength, but their incredulity brought on them their humiliation; whilst the low and mean among the Gentiles, have by faith ascended to the summit of perfection.  S. Cyril Alex. in S. Thom. catenâ aureâ.  Wi.

Ver. 53.  The Jews were rich in the possession of the law, and the doctrines of the prophets; but, as they would not humbly unite themselves to the incarnate word, they were sent away empty, without faith, without knowledge, deprived of all hopes of temporal goods, excluded from the terrestrial Jerusalem, and also from that which is in heaven.  But the Gentiles, oppressed with hunger and thirst, by adhering to their Lord, were filled with all spiritual gifts.  S. Basil in Ps. xxxiii.

Ver. 63.  As then in circumcision, so now in baptism, names are given.  And as we see here, and is all the Old Testament, great respect was had of names, so must we be aware of profane and secular names, and rather, according to the catechism of the council of Trent, take names of saints and holy persons, which may put us in mind of their virtues.  De Bap. in fine.

Ver. 69.  As Christ was born of the race of David, he is here called the horn of salvation in the house of David.  As Isaias says, a vineyard is planted in the horn, c. v. — A powerful salvation.[10]  According to the letter both of the Latin and Greek text, a horn of salvation.  But as it is generally agreed, that by horn, in the phraseology of the Scriptures, is understood strength and power, and that horn sounds awkwardly in English, and other languages, I hope it may be literally enough translated, a powerful salvation.  Wi.

Ver. 71.  That he would save us, &c.  Lit. salvation from our enemies.  The construction and sense is, that God, as he had declared by his prophets, would grant us salvation, or would save us.  Wi. — This is not to be understood of temporal, but of spiritual enemies.  For the Lord Jesus, strong in battle, came to destroy all our enemies, and thus to deliver us from their snares and temptations.  Origen, hom. xvi. — He is that King of Glory, the Lord strong and powerful, the Lord powerful in battle.  Ps. xxiii.

Ver. 72.  To remember his holy covenant, i.e. of his promise, or of the covenant made with Abraham, that he would bless all nations in his seed.  Wi. — At the coming of Christ, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were made partakers of his mercy.  For, we cannot suppose that they who saw his day, and were glad, should not participate in the fruit of his coming; since S. Paul says: he maketh peace through the blood of the cross, both to the things that are on earth, and the things that are in heaven.  Col. i. 20.  Origen, hom. x.

Ver. 73-4.  According to the oath which he swore.[11]  The words according to, are no addition to the letter of the text: they only barely express what is here signified; to wit, that God swore to Abraham, that he would grant us, or make it come to pass, that being delivered from our enemies, sin and the devil, we should be in a condition to serve him without fear, in holiness, &c.  Wi.

Ver. 75.  It is possible, we here see, to have true justice, not only in the sight of man, or by the imputation of God, but in his sight; and the coming of Christ was to give men such justice.

Ver. 77.  Jesus is our salvation, and S. John was sent to give to the people the knowledge of this salvation: he bore testimony of Christ; (Theophy.) by whom alone remission of sins can be obtained.

Ver. 78.  The rising light,[12] or the rising sun, hath visited us from on high.  The Rheims translation hath the Orient, the Prot. the day-spring.  Both seem more obscure than they need be.  The Latin, as well as the Greek, hath a noun substantive, by which Christ himself is signified.  Yet the same word, in both languages, is sometimes taken for a rising light, and sometimes for a bud, or branch; in which latter sense it is expounded by S. Jerom.  Comment in Zachar. p. 1737, tom. 3, Ed. Ben.  But in this place it is rather taken for a light that riseth, by the following words, to enlighten them that sit in darkness, &c.  Wi. — The Orient. It is one of the titles of the Messias, the true light of the world, and the sun of justice.  Ch. — By this he shews that God has forgiven us our sins, not through our merits, but through his own most tender mercy; (Theophy.) and that we are to solicit this forgiveness through the bowels of his most tender mercy.

Ver. 79.  The Gentiles were in darkness, and given to the adoration of idols, till the light arose and dispelled the darkness, spreading on all sides the splendour of truth.  S. Basil on Isai. — With reason it is said in this place, who sit in darkness; for we did not walk in darkness, but sat down, as if destitute of all hopes of being delivered.  S. Chrys. hom. xiv. on S. Matt. . . . Then our steps are directed in the paths of peace, when in our every action we act conformably to the grace of the Almighty.  S. Greg. hom. xxxii.

Ver. 80.  S. John remained in the desert till the 30th year of his age.  The reason why he concealed himself so long was because he feared the cruelty of Herod; for, though he was not under his jurisdiction, not being on the confines of Bethlehem, yet on account of the remarkable events that took place at his birth, by which he was declared the precursor of the Messias, he had reason to dread the cruelty of the jealous and suspicious Herod.  Peter of Alexandria, Nicephorus, Baronius, and others, say, that when he was yet in his mother’s arms, he was conveyed into the desert, and there concealed in the caves and fissures of the rocks, where people concealed themselves on the approach of their enemies.  Cedrinus adds, that 40 days after their flight, the mother of S. John died; after which, an angel is said to have undertaken the care of the Baptist; but most probably this office was performed by some attendant on S. Elizabeth.  Tirinus. — The Baptist remained in the desert till he began his public ministry, which by a law of the Jews could not be much before he had attained his 30th years.  He is styled by antiquity the first hermit.  See S. Jerom in Vita Pauli.

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[1]  V. 1.  Completæ sunt.  peplhroforhmenwn.  I know the pretended differences betwixt plhroforeisqai, and plhrousqai.  But divers learned critics, after S. Chrys. take notice, that they are many times taken for the same.  So 2 Tim. iv. 5. Ministerium tuum imple.  plhroforhson, toutesti, says S. Chrys.  plhrwsou. log. q. p. 371.  Ed. Savil. and on the 17th v. of the same chapter, ut per me impleretur, plhroforhqh, toutesti, plhrwqh.  Ibid. p. 376.

[2]  V. 5.  De vice Abia, ex efemeriaV.

[3]  V. 6.  Sine querala, amemptoi, irreprehensibiles.

[4]  V. 15.  Siceram, sikera, from the Hebrew shecar, or shacar, ebrius fuit.

[5]  V. 28.  Gratia plena.  See Lucas Burgensis on this place.

[6]  V. 34.  Quia virum non cognosco.  S. Aug. quod profecto non diceret, nisi Deo Virginem se ante vovisset.  De Virginitate, c. iv, tom. 6, p. 343.  Ed. Ben.

[7]  V. 41.  Exultavit, eskirthse.  Which signifies to leap, or skip like lambs, &c.

[8]  V. 47.  Salutari meo, swthri mou, Salvatori meo.

[9]  V. 48.  Humilitatem, tapeinwsin, not tapeinofrosunhn.  By which latter word is signified the virtue of humility of mind and heart.  But humilis, and humilitas, in Latin, even in Cicero, is put to signify vilem et abjectam conditionem: and so also tapeinoV, and tapeinwsiV in Greek, as in the 70.  1 K. i. 11. the Latin Vulgate for tapeinwsin, has afflictionem famulæ tuæ.  And this is the sense in this and the 52d verse; as it is confirmed by the antithesis, or opposition, betwixt those of a high, and of a low state or condition.

[10]  V. 69.  Cornu salutis, keraV swthriaV.  Abscissum est cornu Moab.  Jer. xlviii. 25.  Cornu David. Ps. lxxiv. 5.  See also Ps. cxxxi. 17, &c.

[11]  V. 73.  Jusjurandum quod juravit, orkon on in the accusative case, for kat orkon, secundum juramentum.  Ibid. daturum se nobis, i.e. se effecturum, &c. tou dounai hmin, &c.

[12]  V. 78.  Oriens.  h anatolh.  Vulgò ortus Solis.  See Mr. Legh Crit. Sacra on anatellw, orior, germino, S. Hierom on Jeremy, c. xxiii. ver. 5. tom. 3, p. 634. suscitabo David germen justum, sive orientem justum.  And on Zach. vi. 12, p. 1737.  Ecce vir, oriens nomen ejus, where he expounds it by anatolh, anafuh, and blasthma.

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LUKE 2

CHAPTER II.

Ver. 1.  By the whole world, is understood the Roman empire.  Wi. — This decree was promulgated in the 752d year of Rome, in the 3970th year of the world, and the 42d year of the reign of Augustus, when there was universal peace, and the temple of Janus remained shut for 12 years.  Jans. concord. Evan. — It was the custom among the Jews to be numbered according to their tribes and families.  Hence arose the necessity of the journey of the Holy Family to Nazareth.  This enrolment probably included the number, as well as the property of each family, that the taxes might be proportioned.  Idem. ibid.

Ver. 2.  By Cyrinus, or Publius Sulp. Quirinus.  Wi. — This was the first census made by Quirinus, governor of Syria: nine years after the birth of Christ, this same Quirinus was charged to make a second, when Judea was reduced to a Roman province, by the deposition and exile of Archelaus.

Ver. 3.  Into his own city, i.e. the city of every one’s family.  Now Joseph and Mary, being both of the family of David, were obliged to go to Bethlehem, the city of David, where by Providence, according to the predictions of the prophets, the Messias was to be born.  Wi. — This decree took place by a special providence of the Almighty, that every one might be compelled to go to his own country; and that thereby the Saviour of Israel might more easily escape the snares of the treacherous Herod.  Ven. Bede. — This circumstance, moreover, was a public testimony, to be kept in the archives of the country, of the birth and descent of the Messias.  Augustus only meant to enumerate his subjects, but among them was numbered his God.

Ver. 4.  The evangelist here mentions the city of David, to remind us how exactly that was fulfilled, which God promised to David, that an everlasting king should be born of him: and the reason why the inspired writer was content to mention the relationship between Joseph and David, omitting that of the Blessed Virgin and the royal prophet, was, because in the law it was commanded that persons of the same family should intermarry; hence it is added in the subsequent verse, with Mary, his espoused wife.  S. Irenæus hær. l. iii. c. 11.

Ver. 7.  In a manger within a stable, or place where beasts were sheltered.  And it is the common opinion that an ox and an ass were there at that time.  See Baronius, Tillemont, &c.  Wi. — O wonderful mystery!  O astonishing condescension of a God-man!  From his birth he takes upon himself poverty.  Had such been his pleasure, Christ might, at his birth, have shaken the heavens by his power, and terrified all nature by his majesty.  But these were not the attendants of his coming; for he came not to destroy, but to save; not to display riches, but to teach us a contempt of human grandeur.  He therefore condescended not only to become man, but even the vilest of men.  Metaphrastes.

Ver. 11.  Because the light of life is risen to us, dwelling in the region of the shadow of death.  Ven. Bede.

Ver. 12.  On the eastern side of the town of Bethlehem, say S. Justin, S. Jerom, &c. there was a cave cut in the side of a rock, in which was a manger used by the people of those environs; so that these shepherds easily understood the angel, who told them they should find him laid in a manger.  SS. Jer. Greg. Naz. Cyril, say that they found the child between an ox and an ass, according to the version of the Septuagint.  Habac. iii. 2.: You shall find him laid between two beasts.  In the place where this crib was, S. Helen built a magnificent church in honour of the blessed Virgin Mary.  Ven. Bede says that she built another in honour of the tree shepherds; whence S. Bernard concludes, that there were only three shepherds that came to adore the divine infant in the manger.  Tirinus. — It might be necessary to give them notice of this humble appearance of the Messias, to encourage them to go and pay him their homage.  Barradius.

Ver. 14.  And on earth, peace to men of good will.[1]  I had translated, peace to men of his good will, looking upon the sense to be, that a peace and reconciliation were offered, and given to men from the good will and mercy of God.  The ordinary Greek copies altogether favour this exposition.  And Bellarmine (l. ii, de Verb. D. c. 11.) is so convinced of this sense, that he brings it for an instance of one of those places, in which the true sense of the Latin is to be found by the Greek text; which is many times true: but Bellarmine might not take notice, that several of the best Greek MSS. are conformable to the Latin Vulgate, and have peace to men of good will; as it is also expounded by divers of the ancient Fathers, that peace is offered to men of good will, to those who by the grace of God are disposed to believe and obey the Gospel-doctrine.  And upon this, having advised with others, I did not think fit to change the former Rheimish translation.  Wi. — The reason why the will is designated in preference to any other power of the soul, is, because the will moves the rest; consequently the goodness or badness of an action depends chiefly on the will.  By this also the angels wished to shew, that the peace which Christ came to bring into the world, was the internal peace of our souls, of which the external peace that subsisted under Augustus, was a figure.  Nic. de Lyra. — Peace is made on earth, since human nature, before an enemy of God, is now reconciled and united to him by his incarnation.  Theophy. — In this hymn of the angels there is a remarkable difference observable in some of the Greek and Latin copies.  The latter have it according to this text, men of good will; the former, good will among men, or to men.  Eudokia, signifies the gratuitous benevolence of God towards man.  So that this sentence seems divided into three parts: glory to God, peace on earth, and good will to men.  Jans.  conc. Evang. — The birth of Christ giveth not peace of mind, or salvation, but to such as are of good will, because he worketh not our good against our wills, but with the concurrence of our will.  S. Aug. quæst. ad Simplic. l. 1. q. 2. t. 4.

Ver. 15.  The word which always was, let us see how it is made for us; that which we could not see, when it was the word, let us see because it is made flesh.  V. Bede. — See how particularly the Scripture weighs the meaning of every word.  The shepherds hastened to see the word, for when the flesh of the Lord is seen, the word is seen, which is the Son.  S. Amb.

Ver. 17.  They saw this with the eyes of their body, but with their internal eyes they discovered other wonders, viz. that he, who lay there in such great poverty, was their Messias, their great King, and the Son of God.  Barradius.

Ver. 19.  Mary kept all these things, and compared what was accomplished in her, concerning the Lord, with what had been written of him by the prophets.  V. Bede. — She considered in her heart the arguments of faith.  S. Ambrose.

Ver. 21.  Should be circumcised; which might be done not only in the temple, or in a synagogue, but in any house.  Wi. — Many reasons may be alleged why our Saviour submitted to the painful and humbling knife of circumcision: 1. to manifest to the whole world the reality of his human nature, and the difference between his divinity and humanity; 2. to shew he approved of circumcision, which he had instituted; 3. to prove that he was of the seed of Abraham; 4. to teach us humility and obedience, by observing a law to which he was not bound; 5. that by receiving the burthen of the law, he might free those that were under the law, (Gal. iii.); and lastly, that the Jews might have no excuse for rejecting him, because he was uncircumcised.  S. Epiph. and Nic. de Lyra.

Ver. 22.  Of her purification.  The blessed Virgin mother stood not in need of this ceremony, to which she submitted herself, as her Son did to that of circumcision.  Wi. — Whence S. Laur. Justin. in his sermon on the purification, very well observes: grace raised the Virgin above the law; humility subjected her to it.  Jesus Christ, in subjecting himself to the law of Moses, has left an example to princes and magistrates, to obey their own laws; for then they may expect them to be observed by others, when themselves shew respect to them.  Barradius.

Ver. 23.  Every male opening the womb.[2]  This translation is more conformable to the doctrine of the Fathers, that Christ was born without opening the womb; which Bede calls the doctrine of the Catholic Church.  Wi. — See Exod. xiii. 2. and Num. viii. 16.

Ver. 24.  This was the offering of the poorer classes.

Ver. 25.  A man . . named Simeon, whom some conjecture to have been one of the Jewish priests. — Waiting for the consolation of Israel, for the happy coming of the Messias. — And the Holy Ghost was in him, by the spirit of grace and of prophecy.  Wi. — The consolation here expected by Holy Simeon, was the coming of the Messias, and the consequent redemption of mankind from sin and the devil; not a redemption only, as some carnal Jews thought, from the power of temporal enemies.  These supposed the Messias was to come in order to raise them in power above all nations, to whom before his coming they had been subject.  S. Greg. of Nyssa in Diony. — Many have pretended that Simeon was a priest; the best and oldest interpreters say he was a laic.  V.

Ver. 26.  And he had received an answer, . . . that he should not see death; i.e. die.  Wi.

Ver. 27.  And he came by the spirit, or moved by the holy Spirit.  Wi.

Ver. 30.  Thy salvation; i.e. the Saviour, whom thou hast sent.  Wi.

Ver. 31.  Before the face of all people; not of Israel only, but also as a light to be revealed to the Gentiles, the spiritual children of Abraham: to whom also the promises were made.  Wi.

Ver. 33.  In the Greek, Joseph and the mother of Jesus.  V.

Ver. 34.  Is set for the ruin.  Christ came for the redemption and salvation of all men: but Simeon prophesies what would happen in consequence of the wilful blindness and obstinacy of many.  Wi. — Not that God sent his Son for the fall of any man; but that many, by their own perverseness, in wilfully refusing to receive and obey him, would take occasion of falling.  Ch. — And for a sign which shall be contradicted, to signify that Christ, and his doctrine, should be as it were a mark, or butt, against whom the Jews should discharge the arrows and darts of their malice.  Wi. — Hence S. Paul, (2 Cor. ii. 16.) We are to one the odour of death unto death, but to the other the odour of life unto life.

Ver. 35.  And thy own soul a sword shall pierce.  These words, which figuratively express the grief of the blessed Virgin mother, when present at the death of her Son, are to be taken by way of a parenthesis. — That out of many hearts thoughts may be revealed, and these are to be joined with what went before; to wit, that child shall be a sign of contradiction, set unto the fall and resurrection of many, that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed and disclosed; when some shall believe, and others remain in their obstinacy.  Wi. — Bede, and many others, understand this of the sharp sorrow, which wounded the soul of the blessed Virgin Mary, at the time of Christ’s passion.  Barradius. — Carthusianus and Jansenius explain this passage as follows: Behold, this child is placed for a sign that shall be contradicted, which as a sword of most poignant grief will pierce thy soul, O Virgin!  But Christ shall be contradicted, that the thoughts of the Jews may be revealed from many hearts, and it may appear who among them are good, and who are wicked and hypocrites.  Barradius.

Ver. 36.  Anna, a prophetess.  She was another witness that Jesus was the Messias, venerable for age, and more for her piety. — And had lived with her husband seven years from her virginity; i.e. had been seven years a wife: and from the death of her husband, had remained always a widow: now 84 years of age: who departed not from the temple, but was constantly there at the times of prayer, with fastings and prayers, serving God day and night.  Wi.

Ver. 40.  The child grew, and waxed strong, full of wisdom, and (52) increased in wisdom and age.  The Arians from this, pretend to prove that Christ was not truly God, who cannot advance or increase in wisdom.  The true meaning is, that Jesus, as he advanced in age as man, gave greater marks of his divine wisdom, and discovered himself full of knowledge, wisdom, &c.  Wi.

Ver. 41.  How can we account for what is related in this verse, that his parents went up every year to Jerusalem, during the childhood of Jesus, when, as we are taught in other parts, his parents did not dare to fix their abode in Jerusalem, for fear of Archelaus: but this, says S. Austin, will not be very difficult to answer; for, it might be easier for them to ascend up to Jerusalem on these particular occasions, without being noticed in so numerous a crowd, and privately return; though it might not be prudent for them to fix their habitation there, lest they might be too much noticed: and, as no one has yet informed us how long Archelaus continued to reign, what S. Luke relates might have taken place after the death of that prince.  S. Austin.

Ver. 44.  It may be asked how the blessed Virgin and S. Joseph could possibly have come so far without missing him; but we must take notice, that when the people went up to the temple from remote parts of Judea, the men went in one company, and the women in a separate company, whilst the children went in either company indifferently: so that S. Joseph imagined that he was with Mary, his mother, whilst she imagined he was with S. Joseph.  Nic. de Lyra.

Ver. 49.  I must be about the things that are my Father’s?  By these words he shewed, that not S. Joseph, but only God, was his father.  Wi.

Ver. 50.  They understood not, &c.  That is, knew not when, or by what means, Christ designed to make himself known to the world.  Wi.

Ver. 51.  Was subject to them.  Astonishing humility! which the Son of God was pleased to teach by his example, as also obedience to parents.  Wi. — The evangelist relates nothing of our Saviour from the age of twelve till the age of thirty, except that he was subject to S. Joseph and the blessed Virgin.  The divine Spirit shewing by this, that nothing is so great and amiable in Christians, as ready obedience to the directions of their superiors.  Barradius. — All children are hereby taught what subjection and obedience is due from them to their parents.

Ver. 52.  Not that he was wiser at any future period of his life, than he was at the moment of his conception, but this is said, because he chose to manifest increasing signs of wisdom as he increased in years. — In the same manner also he increased in grace, by displaying, as he advanced in age, the gifts of grace with which he was endowed; and by this excited men to the praise of God, from the consideration of favours God had bestowed upon him; and thus he conduced to the honour of God, and the salvation of men.  S. Greg. — The sun, always equally brilliant in itself, is said to increase in splendour, till it has reached its meridian brilliancy.

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[1]  V. 14.  Pax hominibus bonæ voluntatis.  The Greek copies, eirhnh, en anqrwpoiV eudokia, hominibus bona voluntas; but the author of the Latin Vulgate must have read, anqrwpoiV eudokiaV, which reading is found in some ancient Greek MSS. in the Alexandrian, that called of Cambridge, and others.  The common reading of the Fathers is, bonæ voluntatis, and not bona voluntas; but then some expounded it thus: pas sit hominibus, qui habent bonam voluntatem, scilecet per Dei gratiam.  Others thus: sit pax bonæ voluntatis divinæ hominibus; which sense and construction Lucas Brugensis prefers.  And what confirms this exposition is, that eudokia, and eudokein, are commonly applied when the will of God is signified; yet sometimes also, eudokia signifies the good will of men; as Philip. i. 15.  Rom. x. 1. &c.

[2]  V. 23.  Omne masculinum adaperiens vulvam, pan arsen dianoigon mhtran, on which words Bede says: quod ait Lucas, adaperiens vulvam, consuetæ nativitatis more loquitur . . . sed juxta fidem Catholicam exiit clauso Virginis utero, &c.

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LUKE 3

CHAPTER III.

Ver. 1.  Pilate being governor of Judea, lit. procurator; i.e. with a subordination to the president of Syria.  Wi. — This was Herod Antipas, son of Herod the great, mentioned in C. i, v. 5.

Ver. 2.  Under the high priests, Annas and Caiphas.  There was properly but one high priest at a time; and Caiphas had this office and title all the ten years that Pilate governed Judea.  See Joseph. l. xviii. Antiq. c. iii. — In these short notes I shall not pretend to examine the chronological difficulties, as to Christ’s birth, death, &c.  Wi.

Ver. 3.  To all who read, it is plain, that S. John not only preached baptism, but likewise conferred it upon many; yet, he could not give baptism to the remission of sins.  S. Greg. hom. xx. — When the victim was not yet immolated, how could they obtain remission of sins?  How could S. Luke say, preaching the baptism of penance, for the remission of sins?  The ignorant Jews not considering the greatness of their transgressions, S. John came exhorting them to acknowledge their sins, and do penance for them; that being converted, and truly contrite, they might seek after their Redeemer, and thus obtain remission of their offences.  S. Chrys. hom. x. in Matt. — From these words originated an opinion, that the baptism of John remitted sins.  Thus Prudentius, in his hymn on S. John:

Hortatur ille primus, et Doctor novæ

Fuit salutis, nam sancto in flumine

Veterum pictas lavit errorum notas.

The fallacy of this sentiment, now universally exploded, may be detected from two passages of Scripture: 1. Where John himself declares that he does not baptize with the Holy Ghost; and secondly, in the Acts, (C. xix) where S. Paul orders those who had only been baptized by John, and had not heard of the Holy Ghost, to be rebaptized.  We must then conclude, that S. John’s baptism was only a ceremony or initiation, by which they enrolled themselves as his disciples, to do penance, as a preparation for the remission of sins by means of the second baptism, viz. of Jesus Christ.  Jans. Evan. Conc.

Ver. 5.  Every valley, &c.  If these words, in one sense, were a prediction of the deliverance of the Israelites from their captivity, (Isai. xl. 3.) and an admonition to level the roads for those that were to return, they also signified the redemption of mankind from the slavery of sin; and that all obstacles, which retarded this benefit, should be removed, and also that the proud should be depressed, and the humble receive graces.  Wi.

Ver. 6.  This text is given according to the Sept.

Ver. 7.  This saint of the desert, seeing all the inhabitants of Palestine surrounding and admiring him, was not elated with the honour, but openly and severely rebuked them.  S. Chrys.  hom. xi. on S. Matt. — According to S. Matt. the Baptist addressed these words principally to the Pharisees and Sadducees, there and then present.

Ver. 8.  It is one thing to bring forth fruits of penance, and another to bring forth worthy fruits.  We should know that the man who has committed nothing unlawful, may have a right to use the lawful things of the world, and can perform works of piety, without forsaking innocent enjoyments, unless he pleases.  But, if he has fallen into great crimes, let him abstain from what is lawful, as much as he has transgressed, by yielding to guilt.  Nor is equal penance required of him who has sinned little, and of him who has fallen into many crimes.  And let those, whose consciences convict them, labour to lay up a treasure of good works, proportioned to the injury they have done themselves by their sins.  S. Greg. hom. xx. in Evang. — It is not sufficient for penitents to forsake their sins, they must also bring forth worthy fruits, according to that of the psalmist, decline from evil, and do good.  Ps. xxxvi.  As it is not enough to extract the dart; and external application is also necessary.  He says not fruit, but fruits, to shew the abundance of good works we ought to perform.  S. Chrys. hom. x. on S. Matt. — He does not mean to say that they did not descend from Abraham, but that their descending from Abraham would avail them nothing, unless they kept up the succession of his virtues.  S. Chrys. hom. xi. and xii. on S. Matt. — What can those be thought but stones, who have given themselves to the adoration of stones; to which, says the psalmist, they are assimilated, who place their trust in them?  By this the Baptist prophesies, that faith shall be infused into the stony hearts of the Gentiles, who by faith shall become the children of Abraham.  S. Amb. — Consider, says S. Chrys. how S. John draws them from boasting of their pedigree, and trusting to their descent from Abraham, to place their hope of salvation in the practice of penance and a holy life.  hom. xi. ibid. — A lesson this for Catholics, not to expect to find mercy at the last day, for being members of the true religion, unless they live up to the maxims which it prescribes.  If I should have all faith, so that I could move mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.  1 Cor. xiii. 2.

Ver. 9.  By this example is meant that anger of God, which the Jews raised against themselves by their impiety towards their Messias.  The axe is laid to the root of the tree, for the branches are already lopt off; but the tree was not rooted up, for a remnant of Israel shall be saved.  S. Cyril. l. 3. on Isai. xl.

Ver. 11.  He that hath two coats, &c.  S. John exhorts them to works of charity towards the poor, by giving what is superfluous.  Wi. — Here we are taught that whatever we have more than our own wants require, must be bestowed on those who are in need; for the love of that God, of whom we have received all.  S. Basil, in Avar. — Charity to the poor is frequently recommended in Scripture, as a powerful method of redeeming sin, and reconciling us to divine mercy.  This was Daniel’s advice to king Nabuchodonosor: “May my counsel please thee, O king, and do thou redeem thy sins with alms and mercy to the poor.”  Dan. iv.  Hence S. Chrys. says: “The poor are physicians, and their hands are an ointment for your wounds.”  hom. xiv. in ep. 1. ad Tim. — See the unbounded love of God; he offers us his mercy, provided we will relieve our indigent brethren!  A.

Ver. 12.  The Baptist exhorts worldlings to abstain from every species of fraud, that by first restraining all desires of the goods of others, they may at length come to communicate some of their own to their neighbours.  Ven. Bede.

Ver. 13.  Do nothing more.  You who are military men, exact no more of the people than what is allowed and appointed you.  Wi.

Ver. 14.  The Baptist knew that such as engage in war, are not murderers, but ministers of the law; not avengers of injuries, but defenders of the public weal.  Had he thought otherwise, he would have said: “cast away your arms, abandon the service, never strike, maim, or destroy any one:” these are not the things which are blameable in the military, but their cruelty, their revenge, their implacable dispositions, and lust of power.  S. Austin, l. 22. cont. Faust.

Ver. 15.  Many reasons might have induced the people to think that John was the Christ: 1. The wonders that took place at his birth and conception, his mother being very old, and without any prospect of offspring: 2. the excellence of his preaching, his mortified life, and the novelty of his baptism; and thirdly, the report which then generally prevailed among the Jews, that the Messias was already come; on account of the coming of the magi, and the murder of the infants by Herod: both which circumstances were probably fresh in their memory; and several perhaps, who witnessed them, were still living.  Dion. Carth.

Ver. 16.  See Matt. iii. 11.  That baptism cannot be valid, in which the name of the Holy Ghost only is invoked.  For, the tradition concerning life-giving grace, must be preserved entire.  To add or to omit any thing, may exclude from life everlasting.  For, as we believe, so also are we baptized, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.  S. Basil, l. de Spirit. Sanc. c. xxii. — Fire.  This is a metaphor, to signify the Holy Ghost and his gifts, particularly the fire of divine love to the expiation of sins, and is very common in Scripture.  Sometimes also he is represented by water, as in S. John iv. 10, et dein. and vii. 38.-9. Isai. xliv. &c. &c.  Hence, in the hymn to the Holy Ghost, the Church uses both figures.

Thou who art call’d the Paraclete,

Best gift of God above,

The living Spring, the living Fire,

Sweet unction and love.

Ver. 17.  By the barn-floor is here prefigured the Church of Christ, in which many are called, but few are chosen.  This perfect cleansing of the floor, as it is in the Greek, is performed both here when the wicked, on account of their open crimes, are excluded from the communion of the faithful by the Church; or, on account of their hidden sins, are after death by infinite justice chastised; but most especially at the end of the world, when the Son of man shall send his angels to gather from his kingdom all scandals.  Ven. Bede.

Ver. 19.  See in S. Mark vi. 17.  The wife of his brother (Philip.)  The Greek adds the name, and he is also named in S. Mark; but he is a different person from the tetrarch, mentioned in c. iii. v. 1.  V. — It was not at this time that John was cast into prison; but, as S. John relates, after our Saviour had begun to work miracles, and after his baptism.  S. Luke anticipates this event, in order to describe more strongly the malice of Herod; who, whilst he saw multitudes flocking to hear the words of John, his own soldiers believing, and all the people receiving baptism, still could despise the Baptist, could imprison him, and put him to death.  Ven. Bede.

Ver. 21.  The motive of his baptism, as he himself informs us, was, that he himself might fulfil all justice.  What is here meant by justice, but that obligation of doing first ourselves what we wish others to do? — Let no one then refuse the laver of grace, since Christ did not refuse the laver of penance.  S. Amb. — Although all our sins are forgiven in baptism, still the frailty of the flesh is not yet perfectly strengthened.  For, after passing this red sea, we rejoice at the destruction of the Egyptians, but still we must fight with assurance of the grace of Christ, against the enemies we shall undoubtedly meet with in the desert of this world, till at length we arrive at our true country.  Ven. Bede. — It is said the heavens were opened, because they had been hitherto shut.  The sheepfolds of heaven and earth are now united under the one Shepherd of the sheep: heaven is opened, and man, though formed of the earth, is admitted to the company of angels.  S. Chrys.

Ver. 22.  The reason why the Holy Ghost shewed himself in the shape of a dove, was because he could not be seen in the substance of his divinity.  But why a dove?  To express that simplicity acquired in the sacrament of baptism.  Be ye simple as doves; to signify that peace bestowed by baptism, and prefigured by the olive branch which the dove carried back to the ark, a true figure of the Church, and which was the only security from the destructive deluge.  S. Amb. — You will object: Christ, though he was God, would not be baptized till the age of 30, and do you order baptism to be received sooner?  When you say, though he was God, you solve the difficulty.  For, he stood not in need of being purified at all; of course, there could be no danger in deferring his baptism.  But you will have much to answer for, if, being born in corruption, you pass out of this world without the garment of incorruption.  S. Greg. Nazian. orat. 40.

Remarks on the two Genealogies of Jesus Christ.

To make some attempt at an elucidation of the present very difficult subject of inquiry, we must carry in our minds, 1. That in the Scripture language the word begat, applies to the remote, as well as the immediate, descendant of the ancestor; so that if Marcus were the son, Titus the grandson, and Caius the great-grandson of Sempronius, it might, in the language of Scripture, be said, that Sempronius begat Caius.  This accounts for the omission of several descents in S. Matthew.  2. The word begat, applies not only to the natural offspring, but to the offspring assigned to the ancestor by law.  3. If a man married the daughter and only child of another, he became in the view of the Hebrew law the son of that person, and thus was a son assigned to him by law.  The two last positions shew in what sense Zorobabel was the son both of Neri and Salathiel, and Joseph the son both of Jacob and of Heli, or Joachim. — “S. Matthew, in descending from Abraham to Joseph, the spouse of the blessed Virgin, speaks of a son properly so called, and by way of generation, Abraham begot Isaac, &c.  But S. Luke in ascending from Jesus to God himself, speaks of a son properly or improperly so called.  On this account he make use of an indeterminate expression, in saying, the son of Joseph, who was of Heli.  That S. Luke does not always speak of a son properly called, and by way of generation, appears from the first and last he names; for Jesus was only the putative son of Joseph, because Joseph was the spouse of Mary, the mother of Christ; and Adam was only the son of God by creation.  This being observed, we must acknowledge in the genealogy in S. Luke, two sons improperly so called, that is, two sons-in-law, instead of sons.  As among the Hebrews, the women entered not into the genealogy, when a house finished by a daughter, instead of naming the daughter in the genealogy, they named the son-in-law, who had for father-in-law the father of his wife.  The two sons-in-law mentioned in S. Luke are Joseph, the son-in-law of Heli, and Salathiel, the son-in-law of Neri.  This remarks clears up the difficulty.  Joseph, the son of Jacob, in S. Mat. was the son-in-law of Heli, in S. Luke; and Salathiel, the son of Jechonias, in S. Mat. was the son-in-law of Neri, in S. Luke.  Mary was the daughter of Heli, Eliacim, or Joacim, or Joachim.  Joseph, the son of Jacob, and Mary, the daughter of Heli, had a common origin; both descending from Zorobabel, Joseph by Abiud the eldest, and Mary by Resa, the younger brother.  Joseph descended from the royal branch of David, of which Solomon was the chief; and Mary from the other branch, of which Nathan was the chief.  By Salathiel, the father of Zorobabel, and son of Jechonias, Joseph and Mary descended from Solomon, the son and heir of David.  And by the wife of Salathiel, the mother of Zorobabel, and daughter of Neri, of which Neri Salathiel was the son-in-law, Joseph and Mary descended from Nathan, the other son of David, so that Joseph and Mary re-united in themselves all the blood of David.  S. Mat. carries up the genealogy of Jesus to Abraham; this was the promise of the Messias, made to the Jews; S. Luke carries it up to Adam, the promise of the Messias, made to all men.”

Whatever the difficulties attending the genealogies may be, it is evident that they arise from our imperfect knowledge of the laws, usages, and idiom of the Jews, from our ignorance of the true method of reconciling the seeming inconsistencies, or from some corruptions that in process of time may possibly have crept into the text.  The silence of the enemies of the gospel, both heathen and Jewish, during even the first century, is itself a sufficient proof, that neither inconsistency nor corruption could be then alleged against this part of the evangelical history.  If the lineal descent of Jesus from David were not indisputable, he could not possess the character essential to the Messias, nor any right to the Jewish throne.  We may confidently then assert, that his regular lineal descent from David could not be disproved, since it was not even disputed at a time when alone it could have been done so successfully; and by those persons who were so deeply interested in falsifying the first Christian authorities.

Ver. 36.  Who was of Cainan.  Notwithstanding the veneration due to the Latin Vulgate, which is to be esteemed authentic, Corn. a Lapide calls it a chronological problem, whether the word Cainan be the true reading, or whether it hath slipt into the text.  It is true Cainan is found in the Sept. Gen. x. 24. Gen. xi. 44. and 1 Paral. i. 18; though, in this last place, a Lapide says, it is wanting in one edition of the Sept. by Sixtus V.; at least it is not read in all those places, neither in the Hebrew, nor Latin Vulgate.  Some say that here in S. Luke’s text, is found Cainan, because his citations are conformable to the Sept.  Others conjecture that Cainan and Sale were only different names of one and the same person, so that the sense may be, who was of Sale, who is also Cainan.  Qui fuit Sale, qui & Cainan.  Wi.

Ver. 38.  What could be more beautiful, than that this holy race should begin from the Son of God, and be continued up to the Son of God; that the creature might go before in figure, and the Son of God might follow after in reality; that he who was made after the image of God, might first appear, that the true image of his eternal Father may descend from his glory.  Thus did S. Luke mean to refer the origin of Christ to God, of whom he was the true and eternal Son.  To shew this still more evidently, the evangelist had before introduced the Almighty speaking from heaven: This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.  S. Amb.

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LUKE 4

CHAPTER IV.

Ver. 2.  In collating the present narrative with that of S. Mat. it appears that Jesus Christ was not tempted till the expiration of forty days.  V. — Many reasons may be assigned why Christ permitted himself to be tempted.  1st. To merit for man the grace of overcoming temptations.  2d. To encourage us under temptations.  3d. To teach us not to be cast down with temptations, however grievous they may be, since even Jesus Christ submitted to them.  4thly.  To point out to us the manner in which we ought to behave in time of temptation.  D. Dion.

Ver. 3.  The tempter here appears to endeavour to discover by stratagem whether Christ was the Son of God.  He does not say, if thou be the Son of God, “pray” that these stones be made bread, which he might have said to any man; but “command,” effect by thine own authority, that this come to pass.  If Christ had done this, the tempter would have instantly concluded, that Jesus Christ was the Son of God, since only God could effect such a miracle.  D. Dion.

Ver. 10.  We have the devil here again citing Scripture, (Ps. xc. v. 11.) [Read what is given on this subject in note on v. 6, c. iv. of S. Matthew’s gospel] which shews how very dangerous a thing it is to put the Scripture, in the first instance, indiscriminately into every, even the most illiterate person’s hands, without any previous disposition of the mind and heart, by study and prayer.  How much more satisfactory must it be to be guided by the Church of God, which Christ has promised to secure against all error, and which he commands all to obey!  How much more rational to begin with distributing elementary catechisms, approved by the Catholic Church as conformable to the word of God, and then only opening to them the sacred mystic book, when their minds and hearts are better prepared to avail themselves of the inestimable treasure, and of justly appreciating and exploring the golden lore.  If humility be a virtue that renders us most pleasing to God, it is a virtue particularly necessary for the proper understanding of Holy Writ. This will teach us to submit (whenever the Scripture is either silent or obscure in points of faith) our own private and unassisted judgment to the judgment and comments of the Church.  This was the sentiment of a great philosopher of this nation, who, when charged with scepticism and a love of novelty by his contemporaries, replied: “However fanciful I may be esteemed in matters of philosophy, in religious concerns I like to go the beaten road.  Where the Scripture is silent, the Church is my text.  Where that speaks, it is but the comment; and I never refer any thing to the arbitration of my own judgment, but in the silence of them both.”

Ver. 13.  For a time, viz. until his Passion, in which he again most grievously tempted him, by the hands of impious persecutors, whom he could not overcome with sensuality, covetousness, or vanity.  The devil now deals with men in the same manner.  He tempts them, and, being overcome, leaves them for a time, to prompt them to rest in a fatal security; that indulging indolence, they may at some future period be attacked, with greater certainty of success, when unprepared.  Knowing, therefore, the trick and design of our infernal enemy, how much does it behove us to be on our guard; and having overcome in one temptation, prepare ourselves for another; never resting in the presumptuous thought, that we are sufficiently strong in virtue to resist the enemy, without fresh preparation.  D. Dion. — This history of the various temptations to which our Saviour subjects himself, as related by S. Luke, is exactly the same as that given by S. Matt. with this only difference, that the order in which the temptations took place is not the same in both evangelists: but it does not matter what order is observed, where all the circumstances are related.  S. Austin.

Ver. 17.  As he unfolded the book:  and again, (v. 20) when he had folded the book.  Books at that time where not like our now-a-days, but were skins or parchments, rolled or folded up.  Wi. — Some are of opinion that the Jews of Nazareth, having heard of the miracles and fame of Jesus, and that he was accustomed to teach in the synagogues, though he had never been instructed in any learning, when he rose to speak, purposely gave him the book of Isaias, which was esteemed the most difficult to be explained, in order to try his learning; though it is probable that it was done by the all-directing interposition of Divine Providence.  Maldonatus.

Ver. 18.  By the poor are to be understood the Gentiles; who might truly be called poor, since they possessed neither the knowledge of the true God, nor of the law, nor of the prophets.  Origen. — Isaias in this place speaks of himself, as a figure of the Messias.  The captivity of Babylon, which is the literal object of this prophecy, was a figure of the then state of mankind; the return from this captivity announced by the prophet, and effected by Cyrus, represented the redemption of man, effected by Jesus Christ.  V.

Ver. 19.  To set at liberty them that are bruised, or oppressed.  These words are not in the prophet; but are added by S. Luke, to explain the others. — To preach the acceptable year, as it were the jubilee year, when slaves used to be set at liberty.  Wi.

Ver. 20.  To observe and admire a person that had never learned letters, and who stood up amongst them an experienced teacher.  Menochius.  See John vii. 15. and Maldonatus.

Ver. 21.  By this Christ wished to shew that he was the Messias foretold by the prophet Isaias, whom they so anxiously expected: he declares himself to be the person pointed out by the prophet.  There seems also to be a secret reprehension in these words of Christ; as if he were to say: Why are you so desirous to behold the Messias, whom, when he is before your eyes, you will not receive?  Why do you seek him in the prophets, when you neither understand the prophets, nor perceive the truth of their predictions, when they are fulfilled before you eyes?  Maldonatus.

Ver. 23.  I see you will object to me this similitude, (parabolhn) or trite saying, applied to such as attended to the concerns of others, and neglected their own.  Menochius.

Ver. 30.  Passing through the midst of them, went his way.  Perhaps by making himself on a sudden invisible, or by striking them with blindness, or by changing their minds, and hearts, as he pleased.  Wi. — All commentators observe on these words, that the evangelist wished to shew that Christ worked a miracle on this occasion, and by it proved his divinity.  This is the opinion of SS. Euthymius, Ambrose, and Thomas.  S. Ambrose says, we must observe that Christ did not suffer from necessity, but because he wished it.  He was not taken by the Jews, but delivered up himself; at his own pleasure he is seized, and at his own pleasure he escapes; when he wills it, he is condemned; and when he wills it, he is freed.  The most common opinion is, that he rendered himself invisible on this occasion; though others imagine that he changed their wills, or withheld their hands.  Maldon. — When we observe the outrageous treatment Jesus Christ met with from the people of Nazareth, we are not surprised that he should shut up the fountain of his beneficence against them for their incredulity, and return to Capharnaum.  A.

Ver. 31.  Although Christ was well acquainted with the obduracy of the Jews, nevertheless, like a good physician, he condescends to pay them another visit, and try what a fresh medicine might effect in this their last stage, as it were, of existence.  He publicly preaches therefore in the synagogue, according as Isaias had declared of him, and struck amazement into every heart.  The Jews themselves considered him as something very extraordinary; as one of the prophets, or ancient saints.  But Christ, that they might conceive a higher opinion of his person, does not make use of the expressions they did, but speaks as Lord and Master of the law.  S. Cyril.

Ver. 38.  It is evident that S. Peter was married; but after his call to the apostleship, he left his wife, as S. Jerom writes, in ep. xliii. C. ii. ad Julianum, and l. i. adv. Jovin.  See Matt. xix. 29.

Ver. 40.  The evangelist mentions this circumstance, because these distressed people did not dare to bring their sick before that time, either through fear of the Pharisees, or of violating the sabbath.  Origen.

Ver. 41.  It appears, that when the devil expresses himself thus, it is less through conviction than artifice.  He suspected the fact; and to certify the same, he said to him in the desert, if you be the Son of God, change these stones into bread.  In the same manner by saying here, you are the Son of God, he wished to give him an occasion of explaining himself on the subject.  V. — But Jesus Christ would not accept of the testimony of evil spirits, lest he might be suspected of some intelligence with them, to cause himself to be acknowledged the Son of God.  Ibid.

Ver. 43.  From the apparent good dispositions of these people, we might be induced to think, that if Christ had yielded to their solicitations, and remained with them, he could have drawn all to himself; yet he did not choose to do this, but has left us an example worthy of our imitation, in seeking out the perishing and strayed sheep; for by the salvation of one soul, our many sins will be remitted.  S. Chrys. in cat. Græc. Pat. hom. in Matt.

Ver. 44.  Our divine Redeemer frequented the Jewish synagogue, to shew he was no seducer.  If he had inhabited wilds and deserts, it might have been objected to him, that he concealed himself, like an impostor, from the sight of men.  S. Chrys. Ibid.

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LUKE 5

CHAPTER V.

Ver. 1.  What S. Luke here gives till v. 10, is mentioned purposely to shew on what occasion, and by what miracle, Peter, Andrew, James, and John, were called.  Maldon.

Ver. 2.  Washing their nets.  See S. Matt. iv. 18. and S. Mark i. 16, where it is said, that Christ saw them when they were casting their nets; i.e. some of them were casting, others washing, or mending, their nets.  Wi.

Ver. 3.  Why is it mentioned that there were two ships; that one of them was Simon Peter’s, that Christ went into that one, and sat down in it, and sitting he taught out of that ship?  No doubt, answer many of the ancient commentators, to shew that the Church was figured by the bark of Peter, and that in it is the chair of Christ, a permanent authority, prefigured by Christ’s sitting down, and the true word of God.

Ver. 4.  Epanagage eiV to baqoV.  Put back from whence you have just now returned.  Where you failed without Christ, with Christ you will prove successful.  Now is the proper time, when you act in my presence, and according to my orders; before it was not, when you followed your own, and not my will.  Maldon. — S. Austin interprets the text, Launch out into the deep, as spoken of distant nations, to whom the gospel was afterwards delivered: tolle signum in gentes, ad eas, quæ propè, et ad eas quæ longè.  Isai. v. 26. and xi. 12.

Ver. 5.  Though these words of S. Peter seem to express his little hope of success, as he had been toiling (kopiasanteV) the whole night, the most favourable time for fishing, yet they were intended by S. Peter to shew his great confidence, that notwithstanding his bad success, he was willing to obey; he relied on his words, and let go his net in the same place where before he had been disappointed; and the event proved that the obedience and confidence of Peter were not in vain.  Maldon. &c.

Ver. 6.  When Christ commanded Peter to let go the net, as great a quantity of fishes were taken as this Lord of the land and sea wished.  For the voice of the Lord is the voice of power, at the command of which, in the beginning of the world, light and every created thing sprang into existence.  This it was that so much astonished Peter.  S. Greg. Naz. c. xxxi. — The net is broken, but the fishes are not lost, because the Lord preserves his servants among the scandals (schisms and heresies) of his enemies.  Ven. Bede.

Ver. 7.  The other ship was probably at such a distance from them, that they could not be heard, had they called out to them; and this also is another proof of the greatness of the miracle, that though the other ship was fishing in the same place, though a little removed, they could catch nothing.  Maldonatus. — This also shews that Peter was to call in other co-labourers, and that all were to come into Peter’s ship.  S. Ambrose in Luc.

Ver. 8.  Such was the excess of S. Peter’s humility, that he judged himself unworthy the presence of Christ, and by this rendered himself more worthy.  So the centurion, for a similar act of self-abasement, merited to hear from Truth itself, that he was preferred to all Israel.  Euthymius is however of opinion, that S. Peter desired Christ to leave him through fear, lest some evil should befall him, because he was not worthy of his presence.  In the same manner as the widow of Sarepta thought her son had died, because she was not worthy of the presence of Elias.  3 Kings xvii. 18.  Maldonatus.

Ver. 10.  Jesus Christ answers the thought of S. Peter, that instead of any loss or evil coming to him, he should, on the contrary, receive a great reward, by being appointed a fisher of men; and, as he had taken so many fishes by the divine assistance, so he should take in his net innumerable souls, not so much by his own industry, as by the divine grace and assistance.  Maldonatus.

Ver. 11.  We may suppose that these four apostles, like Andrew, followed Jesus Christ at the first call, but without attaching themselves to him; and that now they attached themselves to him, never to leave him more.

Ver. 12.  By falling on his face, he shewed his humility and modesty, that all men might learn to be ashamed of the stains of their lives; but this, his bashfulness, did not prevent him from confessing his misery; he exposed his wound, he solicits a cure: Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean.  He did not doubt the goodness of the Lord, but in consideration of his own unworthiness, he durst not presume.  That confession is full of religion and faith, which places its trust in the will of God.  S. Ambrose.

Ver. 13.  The law forbade lepers to be touched; but he, who is the Lord of the law, dispenses with it.  He touches the leper, not because he could not cleanse him without it, but in order to shew that he was not subject to the law, nor to fear of any infection.  At the touch of Christ leprosy is dispelled, which before communicated contagion to all that touched it.  S. Ambrose.

Ver. 14.  Because men in sickness generally turn their thoughts towards God, but when they recover, forget him, the leper is commanded to think of God, and return him thanks.  Therefore is he sent to the priest, to make his offering, (Lev. xiv. 4.) that, committing himself to the examination of the priest, he might be accounted among the clean.  S. Chrys. hom. xxvi. in Matt. — By this our Saviour would testify to the priest, that this man was healed not by the ordination of the law, but by the power of grace, which is above the law.  He likewise shews that he did not come to destroy, but to fulfil the law.  S. Amb. — Jesus Christ seems here to approve of the legal sacrifices, which the Church does not receive; and this he did, because he had not yet established that most holy of all holy sacrifices, the sacrifice of his own body.  The figurative sacrifices were not to be abrogated, before that, which they prefigured, was established by the preaching of the apostles, and the faith of Christian believers.  S. Austin, quest. ii. b. 3. de quæst. evang. — By this leper is represented the whole human race, which was covered with a spiritual leprosy, and languishing in the corruption of sin; for all have sinned, and need the glory of God; (Rom. iii.) therefore he stretched forth his hand, i.e. he clothed himself with our human nature, that we might be cleansed from our former errors, and might offer in return for this favour our bodies, a living sacrifice to God.  Ven. Bede.

Ver. 16.  Christ did not stand in need of this retirement, since, being God, he was free from every stain, and likewise present in every place.  But, by this his conduct, he wished to teach us the time most proper, both for our active employments, and for the more sublime duties of prayer and contemplation.  S. Greg.Naz. Orat. xxviii. — hn upocwrwn, he withdrew after his great prodigies, to avoid the praise of the multitude, and to pray assiduously, and with fresh instance, for the salvation of man.

Ver. 17.  But the fame of Jesus had now spread far and wide.  It was for this reason that it is here said, the Pharisees and doctors of the law came out of every town in Galilee, &c. not indeed through any intention of becoming his disciples, but through a spirit of envy; as they now saw every one leaving them, and following our Saviour.  Perhaps also to calumniate him, as we often find them to have done, when they beheld him making converts from them.  D. Dion. Carth.

Ver. 19.  Let us learn from this example, how diligent we should be in procuring spiritual health, both for ourselves and for our friends.  A.

Ver. 20.  Great is the Lord, who pardons men on account of the merits of others.  If you are diffident of the pardon of your grievous sins, have recourse to the Church.  She will pray for you; and the Almighty, at her intercession, will grant you that pardon he might have denied to your prayers.  S. Ambrose, l. v. in Luc.

Ver. 21.  How great is the madness of this unbelieving people, who confessing that God alone can forgive sins, will not believe God when he grants pardon.  S. Ambrose. — They indeed spoke the truth, for none can forgive sins but God only, who forgives our offences by the ministry of others, to whom he has committed this power, both in baptism and penance.  But Christ, by forgiving sins as God, i.e. with his own power, clearly proves to all his divinity.  Ven. Bede.

Ver. 24.  The Son of man . . on earth.  By which act, says S. Cyril, it is clear that the Son of man hath power on earth to remit sins; which he said both for himself and us.  For he, as God-man, the Lord of the law, forgiveth sins; and we also have obtained by him that wonderful grace when he said to his disciples: Whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them.  John xx. 23.  And how should he not be able to remit sins, who gave others the power to do the same?  B.

Ver. 26.  At the sight of the exertion of divine power, the Jews would rather fear than believe; for had they believed they would never have feared, but rather loved; for perfect love excludes fear.  S. Ambrose.

Ver. 28.  The profane Julian charged S. Matthew with levity, in leaving all and following a stranger at one word.  But hereby is seen the marvellous efficacy of Christ’s word and internal working, which in a moment can alter the heart of man, and cause him to despise what before was most near and dear to him.  And this was done not only whilst Christ was living on earth, but daily in his Church.  Thus S. Anthony, S. Francis, and others, hearing this word in the Church, forsook all and followed Jesus.  S. Jer. in Matt. ix.  S. Athan. in vita. S. Anton.  August. Confess. l. viii. c. 11.  Bonav.  in vit. S. Francisci.

Ver. 29.  And Levi made him a great feast, to testify his gratitude to Jesus for the favour he had done him.  It appears that both S. Mark and S. Luke affect, through consideration for S. Matthew, to designate him here by his less known name of Levi; whereas he designates himself, through humility, in this same circumstance, by his more known appellation of Matthew.  See Matt. ix. 9.  V.

Ver. 31.  Jesus Christ gives them here to understand, that they were of the number of those who languished under a severe indisposition, and that he was come to act as their Physician.  S. Chrysos. hom. xxxi. in Matt.

Ver. 33.  S. Matt. says, it was S. John’s disciples themselves that objected this to Christ.  Most probably both they and the Pharisees endeavoured all they could to press this objection.  S. Austin de cons. Evang. l. ii. c. 27. — Why do you not fast, as is customary with all that wish to regulate their lives according to the law?  The reason why the saints fasted was, that they might, by afflicting their bodies, subdue their passions.  Jesus Christ, therefore, had no need of fasting, being God, and of course free from every, the least, disorderly motion of concupiscence.  Neither did his attendants stand in need of fasting, for being enriched with his grace, they were strengthened in virtue, without the help of fasting.  When, therefore, Christ fasted forty days, he fasted to set an example to carnal men.  S. Cyril. — As long as the Spouse is with us, we are in joy, we cannot fast, we cannot mourn.  But when he has been driven away by sin, then we must both fast and weep.  Ven. Bede.

 

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LUKE 6

CHAPTER VI.

Ver. 1.  As this chapter is almost verbally like to the 5th, 7th, and 12th of S. Matthew, and the 3d of S. Mark, the reader is referred to these for further explanation. — On the second-first sabbath.  An obscure passage, on which S. Jerom says to Nepotianus,[1] that he consulted his master, S. Greg. Nazianzen, but in vain.  S. Chrys. Hom. xl. in Matt. takes it for a double feast, or a double rest: by which we may either understand a sabbath, and another feast concurring on the same day; or a sabbath and a feast immediately succeeding to each other.  Theophylactus says the same; and that then the latter day, on which they were to rest, was called the second-first.  Others say, that when the Jews kept their solemn paschal feast for seven days, the last day was called the second-first, because it was kept with equal solemnity as the first day had been.  See Maldonatus.  Later interpreters have found out other expositions, of which the most plausible seems to be, that by the second-first sabbath may be understood the feast of Pentecost (which also happened when corn was ripe in Palestine).  To understand this we must take notice, that the Jews had three great and solemn feasts:  1. That of the Pasch, or the great paschal feast, with the seven days of unleavened bread; the 2d. was the great feast of Pentecost; and the 3d. was the feast, called of tabernacles.  It is supposed then that the paschal feast was called the first-first sabbath, that Pentecost was called the second-first sabbath, and that of tabernacles the third-first, or great sabbath.  Wi.

Ver. 2.  The Scribes and Pharisees boasted much, as do many modern teachers, of their great knowledge of Scriptures, but our Saviour often sheweth their profound ignorance.  B.

Ver. 13.  These twelve Christ chose as individual companions and domestics.  To these he committed the charge of founding and governing his Church.  He sent them as legates, or ambassadors, (for this is the import of the word apostle) to all the world.  Hence their power was more universal than that of bishops, which is confined to their own dioceses or districts.  The jurisdiction of the apostles was not limited to place.  Tirinus. — This power which Jesus Christ delegated to his apostles, and which was for the benefit and regulation of the universal Church in all future ages, the apostles, in their turn, delegated to their successors in the ministry, with such regulations and limitations as have been judged in the Holy Ghost necessary for the proper government of the spiritual kingdom of God upon earth.  And it is the height of presumption to question any ordinations that come to us with the authority of the Catholic Church: for, “whatever the Church says, is true; whatever she permits is lawful; whatever she forbids, is evil; whatever she ordains, is holy; whatever she institutes, is good.”  S. Augustine. — How futile then is the objection of Calvin, who pretends, that an apostle, being nothing but a legate, can make no laws, nor prescribe or teach any thing not expressed in his mandatum!  Calv. Inst. l. iv. c. 8.

Ver. 16.  Judas, surnamed Thaddeus in S. Matt. x. 3. and in S. Mark iii. 18.  At the head of his epistle he styles himself Judas, brother of James.  V.

Ver. 17.  To a more extended and even part of the mountain, as we learn from comparing this text with S. Matt. v. 1. as it was from the mountain that Jesus Christ addressed to the people the following discourse.  V.

Ver. 20.  S. Matt. (v. 3. 10.) mentions eight beatitudes, S. Luke only four; but S. Luke only gives an abridgment in this place of the discourse, which S. Matt. gives more at length.  We are also to remark, that in these four the whole eight are comprised, and that both evangelists place poverty in the first place, because it is the first in rank, and, as it were, the parent of the other virtues; for he who hath forsaken earthly possessions, deserves heavenly ones.  Neither can any man reasonably expect eternal life, who is not willing to forsake all in affection, and in effect also, if called upon for the love of Jesus Christ.  S. Ambrose. — Not that every one under great poverty is happy, but that the man who prefers the poverty of Christ to the riches of the world, ought certainly to be esteemed such.  Many indeed are poor in worldly substance, but are avaricious in affection; to such as these poverty is no advantage.  Nothing that is against the will, merits reward; therefore all virtue is known by the will.  Blessed, therefore, are the poor, who bear poverty for the sake of Christ: he himself hath already trodden the path before us, and taught us by his example that it leads to honour and enjoyment.  S. Cyril, ap. T. Aquin.

Ver. 24.  Jesus Christ having declared how meritorious poverty of spirit was to eternal life, proceeds to denounce heavy chastisements upon the rich and proud.  Idem Ibidem. — Although in great riches there are great inducements to sin, yet there are not wanting even in that state great incitements to virtue; neither is this wo aimed against those who abound in affluence; but against “those who abuse that affluence which Providence has bestowed upon them: Non enim census, sed affectus, in crimine est.”  S. Ambrose.

Ver. 25.  As before he promised blessings to those that hunger, that weep, that are outcasts for Christ’s sake; so here, and in the next verse, he denounces curses to such as are filled, that laugh, and are praised; i.e. to such, as so far seek their beatitude in present enjoyment, as to become indifferent with regard to the good things of the next world.  A.

Ver. 26.  Wo to you, when men shall bless you.  The ministers of the gospel must not value themselves, when they are applauded by men; for so did the fore-fathers of the Jews, formerly commend the false prophets, when they flattered the people, and spoke things that were pleasing to them.  Wi.

Ver. 30.  Jesus Christ does not order us never to refuse a petition: but the meaning of his words is, that we are to give what is just and reasonable, what will be neither injurious to yourself nor your family; for what is unjustly asked, may be justly denied.  S. Austin, l. x. c. 40. de serm. Dom. in Monte. — But in this, the sin we commit is often far from trivial; particularly, when to the refusal of a just request, we add also reprehensions and complaints.  For why, say we, does he not labour? why has he reduced himself to penury, through his own indolence?—But, tell me, do you live upon the fruits of your own industry?  On the supposition that you do, is it not that you may have some plea to reprehend another for the morsel of bread he begs at your hands?  You give him no charitable relief, give him then no contumelious words: if you have no compassion for him yourself, do not prevent others from shewing him commiseration.  Abraham, in the number of guests he received, had the honour of receiving under his roof even angels.  Let us not, therefore, be strict and unfavourable judges in regard of our suffering and distressed neighbours, lest perhaps we ourselves come to be more severely judged.  S. Chrys. collected from hom. xxi. in ep. ad. Rom. — Hom. xi. in ep. ad. Heb. and hom. ii. de Lazaro.

Ver. 35.  Hoping for nothing, but merely impelled by a desire of doing good.  They who only give when sure of having a greater return, do not give, but traffic with their generosity; in which there is no charity.  A.

Ver. 37.  What can be imagined more kind, what more merciful, than this conduct of our Sovereign Lord, that the sentence of the judge should be left in the hands of the person to be judged?  Jans. Comment. in sanct. Evang.

Ver. 38.  Here all solicitude of diffidence, all delay of avarice, is cut off; for what truth promises to repay, humility may safe expend.  S. Leo. Serm. vi.

Ver. 48.  That man buildeth safely who hath both faith and good works; whereas the man that trusteth to his faith alone, to his reading or knowledge of Scripture, and doth not work and live accordingly, buildeth on sand.  B.

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[1]  V. 1.  In Sabbato secundo-primo  en sabbatw deuteroprwtw.  See S. Chrys. Hom. xl. in Matt. in the Latin edition, in the Greek of Savil om lq p. 262, tom. ii. otan h argia h, kai tou sabbatou tou kuriou, kai eteraV eorthV diadecomenhV.  See S. Hieron. ad Nepotianum. tom. iv, part 2, p. 262.  Ed. Ben.

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LUKE 7

CHAPTER VII.

Ver. 1.  It was not immediately after he had spoken the preceding words that Christ entered Capharnaum, for in the interim he healed the man afflicted with the leprosy, according as S. Matthew related it in its proper place.  S. Austin.

Ver. 2.  This history, though different in some circumstances from that related by S. Matt. c. viii. is most likely a relation of the same event, and the apparent discrepancies may be easily reconciled.  S. Matt. says it was the centurion’s boy; S. Luke calls him his servant: but in these terms there is no necessary contradiction.  And whereas the former says the centurion went himself to Christ, S. Luke mentions that he sent the ancients, or senators, of the Jews.  Here, as in other places, we may suppose, that the former evangelist, for the sake of brevity, attributes to the centurion what was done in his name and with his authority; and through the whole narrative he represents our Saviour answering the centurion as if personally present.  Jans. concord. Evan.

Ver. 3.  When S. Luke says that the centurion begs of our Lord to come to him, he must not be supposed to contradict S. Matt. who says, that the centurion objected he was not worthy to receive him under his roof.  S. Luke seems here to relate the words of the Jews, who most probably would stop the centurion as he was going to Christ, and promise to intercede with our Lord for him.  S. Chrysos. hom. xxvii. in Matt. — Some pretend that the centurion, after having sent to Jesus, went himself; but there is no necessity for such a supposition.  We see in another case, that the petition of the sons of Zebedee, made by them to Jesus Christ, according to S. Mark (x. 35.) was made to him by the mouth of their mother, according to S. Matt. xx. 20.  And this the old adage also teaches: qui facit per alium, facit per se; what a man does by another, he does by himself.

Ver. 6.  Jesus Christ went with them, not because he could not cure him, when absent, but that he might set forth the centurion’s humility for our imitation.  He would not go to the child of the ruler of the synagogue, lest he might appear to be induced by the consideration of his consequence and riches; but he went to the centurion’s servant, that he might appear to despise his humble condition.  S. Amb.

Ver. 9.  Our Lord does not speak of the patriarchs, but of the Israelites of his own time, with whose faith he compares and prefers that of the centurion, because they had the assistance of the law and of the prophets; but this man, without any such instruction, willingly believed.  V. Bede.

Ver. 11.  Naim is a city of Galilee, about two miles from Mount Thabor.  It was by divine dispensation, that so very great a multitude was present on this occasion, in order to witness this stupendous miracle.  Ven. Bede. — The burying-places of the Jews were out of the precincts of the city, as well for the preservation of health as decency.  Thus Joseph of Arimathea, had his sepulchre in the rock of Mount Calvary, which was out of the city.  Tirinus.

Ver. 12.  The evangelist seems to relate this miracle, as if it had happened by mere accident; though, beyond a doubt, divine Providence disposed all things to increase the splendour of the miracle.  Jesus Christ would not raise this young man to life before he was carried out to be buried, that he might meet him near the gates of the city, where the assembly of the people took place.  Besides this, there were present both the multitude that followed Jesus, and the multitude that followed the corpse, to the end that all these might be eye-witnesses to the miracle, and many might praise God, as Ven. Bede remarks.  It was very proper that Christ should work this miracle just as he was entering the city, that he might preach the gospel with better success, from the opinion they must form of him, after beholding so great a miracle, and so great a favour bestowed upon them.  Maldonatus. — In a few words, the evangelist paints to life the affliction of this distressed widowed parent: a mother and a widow, without the least hopes of children, deprived of him who was her only support, the life of her habitation, the source of all her maternal tenderness and satisfaction, now in the prime of health, the only branch of her succession, and the staff of her old age.  S. Greg. of Nyssa, de hominis opificio.

Ver. 14.  Here Christ shews that he raised the dead by his own power, and at his own command: I say to thee, arise.  This shews that it is the voice of God that speaks; for the dead can hear the voice of him alone, according to S. John.  Amen, I say to you, the hour cometh, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God; and they who hear shall live.  S. John v. 25.  Maldon. — Our Saviour is not like Elias, weeping for the son of the widow of Sarepta; nor Eliseus, who applied his own body to the body of the dead child; nor Peter, who prayed for Tabitha: but he it is that calls the things that are not, as those that are; who speaks to the dead as to the living.  Titus Bostrensis.

Ver. 16.  And there came a fear on them all; i.e. a certain reverential awe and trepidation seized them, and an uncommon degree of astonishment at the divinity which appeared to them.  Menoch. — And they glorified God: (edoxapan) they gave praise and glory to God for thus visiting his people, by sending them the Saviour he had promised them.  Polus synop. crit.

Ver. 20.  The men; (oi andreV) viz. the two disciples sent by John, who delivered their master’s message; but, before Jesus Christ undertook to reply to their question, he performed on the spot various kinds of miracles.

Ver. 22.  Then addressing himself to these disciples of John, he ordered them to go and relate to their master all they had seen and heard; and to tell him, that he declared all those to be happy, who, strong in faith, should not take occasion to doubt of his divine power, (the proofs of which they had so recently seen) from the weakness of his flesh, which he had taken upon himself for the love of man. — Jesus Christ alludes to the known and full testimonies that had been given of him by the prophets.  The Lord giveth food to the hungry, the Lord looseth them that are in fetters, the Lord enlighteneth the blind, he lifteth up them that are cast down, . . . . . . and he who does these things, shall reign for ever thy God, O Sion, from generation to generation.  Ps. cxlv.  S. Ambrose. — The words of the prophet Isaias are not less descriptive of the promised Messias:  God himself will come, and will save you.  Then shall the eyes of the blind be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped.  The lame man shall leap as a hart, and the tongue of the dumb shall be free.  Isai. xxxv. 4, 5, 6.  Theophylactus.

Ver. 26.  Because the Scripture styles him an angel; or, because he is the immediate precursor of him whom all the prophets announced at a distance.

Ver. 29.  Justified God; i.e. feared and worshipped God, as just, merciful, &c.  Wi. — There are only two different sets of men, who glorified God for the baptism of John, and these seemed the most remote from works of piety; viz. the ignorant multitude, who scarcely knew the law; and the publicans, who were in general the most avaricious of mortals, and were looked upon as public sinners.  If the preaching of the Baptist had such an effect upon these men; what kind of hearts must not the Scribes have had, who, with all the advantage of the knowledge of the law, still refused to believe?  This verifies the saying of our Lord, in S. Matt. c. xxi. 31:  Amen, I say unto you, that the publicans and harlots shall go into the kingdom of heaven before you.  Maldon. — God has hidden these things from the wise and prudent, and has revealed them to little ones; (S. Luke, x. 21.) for so it hath seemed good in his sight.  Ibid.

Ver. 32.  Speaking one to another: (prosfwnousin allhloiV) they seem to have been alternate choirs of youths, answering each other in the above words.  Menochius.

Ver. 36.  And one of the Pharisees, by name Simon, as we learn in v. 40.

Ver. 37.  A woman in the city, who was a sinner.  Some say she had only been of a vain airy carriage; one that loved to be admired for her beauty and wit; but the common exposition and more conformable to the text, is, that she had been of a lewd, debauched life and conversation.  Wi. — Mary Magdalene.

Ver. 38.  Jesus Christ was then at table, after the manner of the Orientals, reclined at length on a couch, a little raised from the ground, having his face turned towards the table, and his feet extended.  He had quitted his sandals, according to the custom of the country, before he had laid himself on the couch.  V.

Ver. 39.  The Pharisee was egregiously deceived.  1. In thinking that Christ was ignorant of the character of the woman, when he not only clearly saw the past bad conduct of the woman, but the present unjust thoughts of the Pharisee; 2. in his erroneous inference that Christ could not be a prophet; for all things are not necessarily revealed by God to his prophets; 3. by judging of Christ, after his own and the other Pharisees’ treatment of sinners; who, elated with pride, and thinking themselves just, kept all public sinners at a respectful distance; whereas not those who are well, but such as are sick, need the physician.  Menochius.

Ver. 42.  Which will love him most?  as we read in the Protestant version, and in the Greek, agaphsei.  But Christ, seeming to require love as a previous disposition to the remission of sins, as appears from v. 47 infra, the Catholic Church has adopted the version of S. Austin, hom. xxiii. in the present tense: quis ergo plus eum diligit?  Jans. Comment. in Evang.

Ver. 43.  In proportion to our sins, should be our grief, says S. Cyprian: ut pœnitentia non sit minor crimine.  l. de lapsis.

Ver. 47.  Many sins are forgiven her, because she hath loved much.  In the Scripture, an effect sometimes seems attributed to one only cause, when there are divers other concurring dispositions; the sins of this woman, in this verse, are said to be forgiven, because she loved much; but (v. 50,) Christ tells her, thy faith hath saved thee.  In a true conversion are joined faith, hope, love, sorrow, and other pious dispositions.  Wi.

Ver. 50.  This is one of those places upon which modern sectaries lay so much stress, in order to prove that faith alone can save us.  But if they will attentively consider the different parts of this history, they will easily discover the fallacy of their argument.  Because, before Christ spoke these words: thy faith, &c. he had said to Magdalene: many sins are forgiven her, because she hath loved much.  Therefore she was justified not so much through her faith, as her charity: still she had faith, or she would not have come to Jesus, to be delivered from her sins.  It was therefore her faith, working by charity, that justified her: and this is the doctrine of the Catholic Church.  Nevertheless, she had not that faith, which modern sectaries affirm to be necessary for their justification, viz. a belief that they are already justified, and that their sins are forgiven: this faith the woman here mentioned had not before Christ spoke those words to her; for it was to obtain the remission of her sins, that she performed so many offices of charity, washing his feet with her tears, &c.  But is may be asked, why then does Christ attribute her salvation to her faith?  The answer is easy, and has often been given, viz. that faith is the beginning of salvation; for it was her faith that brought her to Christ: for had not the woman believed in him, she never would have come to him to obtain the remission of her sins.  Maldonatus.

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LUKE 8

CHAPTER VIII.

Ver. 2.  Mention is made in the gospels, of a woman who was a sinner, (Luke vii.) of Mary of Bethania, the sister of Lazarus, (John xi. and xii.  Mark xiv.  Matt. xxvi.) and of Mary Magdalene, who followed Jesus from Galilee, and ministered to him.  Many think all this to belong to one and the same person: others think these were three distinct persons.  See the arguments on both sides in Alban Butler’s Lives of Saints, July 22d; and also more at large in the dissertations upon the three Marys, at the conclusion of the harmony in the Bible de Vence.

Ver. 3.  The wife of Chusa, Herod’s steward.  Lit. his procurator, as in the Rheims translation.  The Greek signifies one that provides for another, or manages his concerns.  The same word is used, Matt. xx. 8. and Gal. iv. 2.  Wi. — The Greek word is epitropou.  It was the custom of the Jews, says S. Jerom, that pious women should minister of their substance, meat, drink, and clothing, to their teachers going about with them.  But as this might have given cause of scandal among the Gentiles, S. Paul mentions that he allowed it not.  1 Cor. ix. 5. 12.  They thus ministered to our Lord and his apostles of their worldly substance, from whom they received spiritual riches.

Ver. 8.  Ears to hear, let him hear, &c.  i.e. he that is willing to hear the word of God, and diligently comply with what is therein commanded, let him be attentive to the words of Christ.  For the sight, hearing, and other senses, were not given to man to be used only as beasts use them, but likewise that they might profit his soul to eternal life.  Tirinus.

Ver. 9.  After the multitude had left our divine Saviour, his disciples wishing thoroughly to understand the meaning of his instructions, came to him, and desired he would give them an explanation of the parable.  Tirinus.

Ver. 14.  The sense of the Greek text is: they produce no fruit that arrives at maturity.  V.

Ver. 16.  Our Lord calls himself the lighted candle, placed in the middle of the world.  Christ was by nature God, and by dispensation man: and thus, not unlike a torch placed in the middle of a house, does our Lord, seated in the soul of man, illumine all around him.  But by the candlestick, is understood the Church, which he illuminates by the refulgent rays of his divine word.  S. Maximus. — By these expressions, Jesus induces his audience to be very diligent, and quite alive in the momentous affair of salvation; informing them that they are placed in the public view of the whole world.  S. Chry. hom. xv. in Matt.

Ver. 18.  He here exhorts his audience to attend to what he was about to deliver, and to apply themselves with all their attention to the divine word; for he who has a desire of hearing the word, shall also receive the grace and power of understanding it.  But the man who has no desire of hearing it, though from his learning he might expect to understand it, shall not understand it, because he does not willingly attend to the divine admonitions; hence it is said, Whosoever hath, to him also shall be given.  Ven. Bede.

Ver. 20.  These brethren were not the sons of the blessed Virgin Mary, mother of God, as Helvidius wickedly taught; nor yet the sons of Joseph, by another wife; for, as S. Jerom writeth, not only Mary, but Joseph also, observed virginity.  Contra Helvidium, c. ix. et ibidem, c. viii. — In the scriptural idiom, cousins are called brethren.  B.

Ver. 21.  There is no tie of affinity and friendship so proper, and so becoming man, as that made by faith in Christ, and strengthened by charity.  Tirinus.

Ver. 22.  And they launched forth: lit. they went up.  The sense is, being gone abroad, they set forward, or launched forth, as in the Prot. translation.  Wi.

Ver. 23.  And they were filled; i.e. the little ship was filled with water.  Wi.

Ver. 24.  In this Christ evidently shews two distinct natures; his human nature, denoted by his sleep; and his divine nature by stilling the tempest at sea.  Ven. Bede.

Ver. 25.  After Christ had appeased the storm at sea, the disciples, all astonishment at the miracle, began to whisper to each other, saying, Who is this?  not that the disciples were ignorant of whom they were speaking, but they wondered at his mighty works, and at the glory of his divine power.  S. Amb.

Ver. 26.  Here S. Matt. relates the history of the two demoniacs, whilst S. Mark and S. Luke speak only of one; but the man mentioned in these two evangelists, was a man of some consideration and consequence, for whose cure the country was deeply interested.  S. Austin de concord. evang.

Ver. 28.  This is not a voluntary confession, which merits a reward, but a forced acknowledgment, extorted against their wills.  Like fugitive servants, who, when they meet their masters, think of nothing but of deprecating punishment.  The devils think our Lord is come down upon earth to judge them.  S. Jerom. — The torment from which this devil desires to be freed, is the pain and affliction he would suffer by being forced to yield to the power of Christ, in leaving the man; not the general torment of hell, to which he knew he was unchangeably and irrevocably condemned.  He was also tormented with the fear, lest he should be now consigned to those eternal pains before his time, as it is expressed in S. Matt.  For, though the evil spirits are unavoidably condemned, and already suffer the chief torments of hell, yet the rigorous fulfilment of all is deferred to the day of judgment.  Jans. conc. Evang.

Ver. 30.  He did not put the question through ignorance of his name, but that his answer might shew forth the divine power in a more glorious manner; as also for our instruction, that knowing the great number of our invisible enemies, we might work out our salvation with fear and trembling, placing all our confidence in God.  Dion. Carth.

Ver. 32.  If, says S. Athanasius, the infernal spirits have no power over such impure beasts as swine, with much greater reason then are they deprived of power over man, who is made after God’s own image, and redeemed by the blood of his son, Christ Jesus.  We should therefore fear only God, and despise the devil.  In vit. S. Ant.

Ver. 33.  This event shews what was before asserted, that many devils had possession of the man.  The obstinacy of the Sadducees, who denied the existence of evil spirits, was thus likewise refuted; as well as the cavils of certain moderns, who pretend that these effects which appeared in the demoniacs, were not produced by the power of the devil, but were the consequences of some violent natural malady.  Jans. conc. Evang.

Ver. 41.  See this explained in Matt. ix. and Mark v.

Ver. 43.  All her substance; (olon ton bion) i.e. all that she had to live upon.

Ver. 45.  All denied that they had designedly touched him, though, on account of the pressure of the crowd, many unwillingly touched him.  Menochii Commentaria.

Ver. 48.  Para tou arcisunagwgou, which some interpret, from the house of the ruler.  M. — In vain do you trouble him.  Idem. Ibid.

Ver. 55.  This returning of the souls again, to reanimate the bodies of those whom Christ and his apostles raised from death, (and especially Lazarus, who had been dead four days) doth evidently prove the immortality of the soul.  From this place we may also conclusively infer against our adversaries, who say, that every one goeth straight to heaven or hell, that it is not probable that they were called from the one or the other; and therefore from some third place.

 

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LUKE 9

CHAPTER IX.

Ver. 1.  Over all devils; so that none should be able to resist them.  For all were not equally easy to be expelled, as we shall see in this same chapter, in the person of a possessed child, whom the apostles could not heal, because they did not use prayer and fasting against it; and because their faith was not sufficiently strong and ardent.  Calmet.

Ver. 4.  And depart[1] not from thence.  In the ordinary Greek copies we find, and depart from thence.  The sense appears, by the other evangelists, (Matt. x. 11. and Mark vi. 10.) that Christ gave this admonition to his disciples, not to change their lodging from house to house; but while they staid in a town, to remain in the same house.  And though the negative be here omitted in the Greek, interpreters bring it to the same, by telling us that the sense is, stay here, and depart from thence; i.e. stay in that house, so that leaving the town, you may depart from the same house.  Wi.

Ver. 8.  Risen from the dead.  Herod was perplexed and in suspense about the report, that it was John that was risen from the dead. . . . . . From this it appears, that some of the Jews, and Herod himself, believed in some kind of metempsychosis, or transmigration of souls.  Josephus says, (Antiq. lib. xviii, c. 2.) that the Pharisees believed the soul to be immortal; and after death, to depart to some subterraneous places, where they received the recompense of good, or evil, according to their actions.  There the souls of the wicked remain for ever, without the power of departing thence.  The souls of the good sometimes returned, and entered other bodies.  Herod probably thought that the soul of John Baptist was united to that of Christ, in the same body, and was thence enabled to perform new and more extraordinary functions.  Such were the reveries of some of the Rabbins; who, as S. Jerom remarks, abused the passages of the gospel we are now explaining, in support of this Pythagorean doctrine.  Most of the Jews believed the true doctrine of the resurrection, viz. that of the body; which must one day be renewed to life by the same soul which now animates it: and this is the doctrine of faith and of the Church, which she teaches you from both the Old and New Testament, instead of that transmigration of souls, which has no foundation or appearance of truth.  It is probable that this error was widely diffused among the Jews, in our Saviour’s time.  It was a doctrine suited to the taste of the Orientals.  Some think they can see traces of it in the history of Elias.  That prophet being taken away, and the Jews seeing Eliseus perform the same miracles, said, that the spirit of Elias had rested on him.  Calmet.

Ver. 18.  As he was alone praying: i.e. remote from the people, though his disciples are said to have been with him.  Wi.

Ver. 27.  Kingdom of God.  This is generally understood of the transfiguration, in which Christ shewed to the three disciples an essay of his glory.  Calmet.

Ver. 28.  Mountain, &c. — Since Christ has ascended the mountain, both to pray and to be transfigured, all of us who hope for the fruit of his resurrection, and long to see the king in his glory, must dwell in heaven by our thoughts, and apply our minds to continual prayer.  Ven. Bede.

Ver. 30.  And behold two men.  Moses and Elias, by ministering to our Lord in his glory, shewed him to be the Lord of both the Old and New Testament.  The disciples also, upon seeing the glory of their fellow-creatures, would be filled with admiration at the condescension of their divine Master; and considering the delights of future happiness, be stirred up to a holy emulation of those who had laboured before them, and be fortified in their ensuing conflicts; for nothing so much lightens the present labour, as the consideration of the future recompense.  S. Cyril.

Ver. 31.  They spoke of his decease,[2] or his departure out of this world.  S. Peter useth the same Greek word for his death.  2 Pet. i. 15.  Wi.

Ver. 33.  It is good for us.  It is not good, O Peter, for Christ to remain always.  Should he have remained there, the promise he had made thee would never have been fulfilled.  Thou wouldst never have obtained the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and the reign of death would not have been destroyed.  Seek not for joys before the time, as Adam sought to be made like God.  The time will come, when thou shalt for eternity behold him, and reign with him who is life and light.  Damasus Orat. de Transfigurat. Domini. — Three tabernacles.  The Lord does appoint thee the builder, not of tabernacles, but of his whole Church.  Thy disciples, thy sheep, have fulfilled thy desire, by erecting tabernacles for Christ and his faithful servants.  These words of S. Peter, let us make, &c. were not spoken of himself, but by the prophetic inspiration of the Holy Ghost.  Therefore it is added, he knew not what he said.  Damasus, ut supra. — S. Peter knew not what he said, because by proposing to make three tabernacles for these three personages, he improperly ranked together, the servants and their Lord, the creature and the Creator.  Titus Bostrensis.

Ver. 35.  And a voice, &c.  This is the voice of the Father from the cloud, as if he should say, “I call him not one of my sons, but my true and natural Son, to the resemblance of whom all others are adopted.  S. Cyril. — Not Elias, not Moses, but he whom you see alone, is my beloved Son.  S. Ambrose. — Therefore, it is added: and when the voice was heard, Jesus was alone, lest any one should imagine these words, This is my beloved Son, were addressed to Moses or Elias.”  Theophylact.

Ver. 45.  They understood not this word.  They understood well enough what was meant by being delivered into the hands of his enemies, and being put to death; but they could not comprehend how Jesus Christ, whom they knew to be the Messias, and the Son of God, and whom they believed to be immortal, and eternal, could suffer death, or affronts and outrages from men.  These ideas seemed incompatible; they perceived in them some mystery, which they could not penetrate.  Calmet.

Ver. 46.  And there entered a thought, &c. It is improbable that all the disciples had fallen into this fault: but the evangelist, that he might not point out any in particular as guilty of it, says indiscriminately, that this thought had entered among them.  S. Cyril. ex D. Thom.

Ver. 49.  We forbade him.  S. John having the most love for his Lord, and being particularly beloved by him, thought all were to be excluded from these gifts, who were not obedient to his divine Master.  S. Aug. — But we must remember, that not the minister is the author of these miracles, but the grace which is in him, who performs these wonders by virtue of the power of Christ.  S. Cyril. — How wonderful is the power of Christ, who by his grace works miracles in the persons of the unworthy, and those that are not disciples; as men are sanctified by the priest, though the priest should not be in the state of grace!  Theophylact.

Ver. 50.  Forbid him not.  Our Lord is not moved by this event, to teach us that perfect virtue entertains no thoughts of revenge, and that anger cannot be found where the fulness of charity reigns.  The weak must not be driven away, but assisted.  Let the breast of the religious man be ever unmoved by passion, and the mind of the generous undisturbed by desires of revenge.  S. Ambrose.

Ver. 51.  The days of his assumption, i.e. of his ascension into heaven.  See the same Greek word.  Mar. xvi. 19. and Acts i. 11. — He steadfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem, or literally, he fixed[3] his countenance to go up to Jerusalem. — And (v. 53.) because his face was of one going to Jerusalem.  These expressions come from the style of the Hebrews.  See 4 Kings xii. 17.  Jerem. xlii. 15.  Ezech. iv. 3.  The sense is, that the Samaritans perceived that he and his company were going up to adore in Jerusalem, at which they were displeased, having an antipathy against the Jews and their temple.  Wi. — It is not here said, as some interpreters have believed, that his journey to Jerusalem was the last of his life, in which he was crucified.  It appears from the context, that there were still many months before the death of Christ, and that this journey was probably for the feast of Pentecost.  But that year was the last of the life of Jesus Christ  and he already knew the dispositions of the Jews, and what was to befall him shortly.  These words, he set his face, are often used in Scripture for obstinacy and hardness in evil.  Prov. vii. 13. 21. 29.  Jeremy xlii. 15. &c.  But we may likewise take them to signify a strong resolution, and intrepid and inflexible firmness, to perform what you have resolved.  Jesus Christ shewed by his air, by his conduct and discourse, that notwithstanding the malice of his enemies, he was determined to go to Jerusalem.  Calmet.

Ver. 52.  Messengers, &c.  S. Jerom believes that Christ sent true angels before him to announce his coming.  The Greek word aggeloV, generally signifies an angel; but it likewise means a messenger.  Most interpreters believe he sent James and John, to prepare what was necessary for provisions and lodging.  This precaution was necessary, as he was always followed by great crowds.  The history, from verse 51 to the end of the chapter, is mentioned by none of the evangelists, except S. Luke.  Calmet.

Ver. 54.  Wilt thou that we command fire, &c.  In the Greek is added as Elias did.  These words might be first in the margin, and thence by transcribers taken into the text.  The two apostles, called the sons of thunder, knew their Master was greater than Elias; and therefore they are for calling for fire from heaven, as he had done.  Wi. — It was probably this trait in the life of James and John, which gained them the name of boanerges, the sons of thunder.  Their too great zeal for the glory of Jesus Christ, and the spirit of revenge, of which they were not yet healed, caused them to make this petition; which seemed in some manner justified by the example of Elias, 4th book of Kings, chap. i. 10.  Many editions have the addition of these words, as Elias did.  Calmet.

Ver. 55.  You know not of what spirit you are, i.e. that my Spirit, which you ought to follow, is the Spirit of mercy, mildness, and patience.  Wi.

Ver. 56.  But to save souls.  It might be translated, to save men’s lives;[4] but is seems better here to stick to the letter, especially since in most Greek copies we read, the souls of men.  Wi.

Ver. 57.  Follow thee, &c.  Although the Sovereign Lord of all is most munificent, yet he does not lavish his gifts on all without distinction, but bestows them on the worthy only.  When, therefore, this man offered to follow Christ, he answers him by telling him, that all who follow him, must daily take up their cross, and renounce the conveniences of this life.  Thus he mentions what was reprehensible in his person.  There appears likewise great presumption in his conduct, as he did not petition to be admitted, as other Jews did, but seems to claim the honour of the apostleship; an honour which none must assume, but such as are called by God.  Heb. v.  S. Cyril in Divo Thoma.

Ver. 60.  Bury their dead, &c.  Though this was an act of religion, yet it was not permitted him; that we may learn to prefer always the concerns of God to all human considerations.  S. Ambrose. — However necessary this might appear, however easy, however short the time which it would take up, might be, it is not permitted him.  Not the least delay can be allowed, although a thousand impediments stand in the way; for spiritual things must be preferred to things even the most necessary.  Chrys. hom. xxviii. on S. Matt.

Ver. 62.  Putting his hand to the plough.  A proverb and metaphor, to signify that nothing must hinder a man from God’s service.  Wi. — Christ seems here to allude to the call of Eliseus by Elias.  The former was at the plough, and the latter called him.  Immediately Eliseus quits his plough, runs with Elias’s permission to bid adieu to his father and mother, sacrifices two of his oxen, roasts them with the wood of the plough, and joins the company of the prophets.  Jesus Christ wishes that all who follow him, should in like manner think of nothing else.  Calmet.

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[1]  V. 4.  Et inde ne exeatis, but in the ordinary Greek copies, without ne, kai ekeiqen exercesJe.

[2]  V. 31.  Excessum, exodon.  Mr. Bois, the canon of Ely, shews it a proper word for death.  So 2 Pet. i. 15. post obitum meum, meta thn emhn  exodon.

[3]  V. 51.  Faciem suam firmavit, ut iret in Jerusalem, to proswpon autou esthrixe tou poreuesJai. — Facies ejus erat euntis in Jerusalem, to proswpon autou hn poreuomenon.

[4]  V. 56.  Animas in most Greek copies, yucaV anqrwpwn.

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LUKE 10

CHAPTER X.

Ver. 1.  Other seventy-two.  Most Greek copies, and the Syriac version, have seventy, as in the Prot. translation.  Yet there seems no doubt but the true number was seventy-two.  For seventy-two may be called seventy; but had they been only seventy, they could never have been called seventy-two.  This was also the exact number of the judges chosen to assist Moses; (Exod. xxiv. 1.) though called seventy, (Numb. xi. 16.) as it is evident, because there were six chosen out of every one of the twelve tribes.  In like manner the exact number of the interpreters called the Sept. must have been seventy-two; and also the just number of the Sanhedrim. — Two and two, that one might be a help and comfort to the other; as also a witness of the carriage and behaviour of his companion.  Wi.

Ver. 4.  As Moses formerly chose twelve elders as princes and fathers of the twelve tribes of Israel, and afterwards gave to each of these elders six others, to assist them in the arduous work of governing the people, so our divine Saviour chose twelve apostles to govern his Church.  He likewise afterwards gave six disciples to each apostle, which makes 72, to serve as priests, and assist in governing the Church.  Tirinus. — Salute no man, i.e. go forwards promptly, and do not stay to amuse yourselves with vain compliments and useless civilities towards those whom you meet.  This was a proverb.  Eliseus said the same to Giezi, when he sent him to restore life to the child of the widow of Sunamis.  If any man meet you, salute him not; think of nothing but of executing the orders I give you. Calmet.

Ver. 15.  And thou, Capharnaum, &c.  Capharnaum is situated on the western coast of the sea of Tiberias.  Christ having left Nazareth, made the former city the usual place of his abode.  There was no city in which he had preached so much, or wrought so many miracles.  On this account, he said it was exalted to the heavens; but for its incredulity he threatens it shall be cast down even unto hell.  Calmet.

Ver. 18.  I saw Satan as lightning, &c.  Many expound it in this manner: I, who am from eternity, saw Satan with all the rebellious angels, as glorious as they were, fall from heaven; fear then, and tremble, though you have received such favours from God.  Others take it in this sense, that Christ, by his incarnation, hath seen the power of the devils lessened and confounded, according to what he also said, (Jo. xii. 31.) Now shall the prince of this world be cast out.  Wi. — What connexion have these words with what goes before?  Some understand them thus: the reign of the devil is near at an end; this prince of darkness is going to be overturned; he will fall from the air, where he reigns, with the same precipitation as lightning, which cuts the clouds and presently disappears.  It is almost the same thing he says in other places.  “The prince of this world is already judged; behold now is the judgment of this world; behold now the prince of this world shall be cast forth!  When I sent you to preach the gospel to the poor, I saw Satan fall; I saw his empire overturned.  The last effort which this empire of darkness shall make is the death of our Saviour, as he himself says: This is your hour, and the power of darkness.  Since his resurrection he has bound the dragon in the abyss for a thousand years; he has shut up the entrance, and sealed it with his seal.”  Apoc. xii. 9. xx. 2.  Others think that Jesus speaks here of the fall of Lucifer, at the beginning of the creation.  Wishing to give his disciples a lesson in humility, on account of the vain complacency which he saw they took in the miracles they wrought, he says to them: Beware of pride, that precipitated the first angel from heaven: I have seen him in the glory with which he was surrounded, and I have seen him hurried into the abyss.  Fear, lest the same should happen to you.  The former explanation appears to us more simple and literal.  Calmet.

Ver. 19.  Given you power, &c.  By these words our Saviour seems to insinuate, that the venom of serpents, and the other noxious qualities of some animals, proceed from the malice of the devil.  These are the arms and the instruments he makes use of to kill us, being the prince of death and a murderer from the beginning, as the Scripture styles him.  The Jews attributed sickness, poisons, and every thing of the same kind to evil spirits.

Ver. 21.  He rejoiced in the Holy Ghost.  In almost all Greek copies, we read in spirit, without holy.  And it is expounded of Christ’s own spirit.  Wi. — I give thanks, &c.  In this verse we see plainly refuted the heretical Marcion, and his follower Manicheus, who asserted that God was not the creator of the earth, or of any thing existing on the earth.  S. Epiphanius says, that in a gospel written by Marcion, the words Father and earth were entirely omitted.  Who does not here deplore the blindness of heretics, who, in order to spread their errors, do not hesitate thus to corrupt the original Scripture received by the whole Christian world!!!  D. Dion. Carth.

Ver. 25.  Eternal life?  The law of Moses does not expressly promise eternal life to the observers of it, but confines its promises to temporal blessings during this life.  Still we always find that the Jews hoped in another life after this.  This opinion is clearly observable in the books of Scripture, written both before and after the captivity, and in Josephus and Philo.  Calmet.

Ver. 29.  Neighbour?  It appears this was a celebrated controversy among the doctors of the law; some probably affirming, that the Jews only were so; while others maintained that their friends alone were their neighbours.  Maldonatus.

Ver. 30.  A certain man, &c.  This some would have to be a history: others rather judge it spoken by way of parable, to teach us to perform offices of charity towards all men without exception.  Wi. — Were we to adhere to the mere words of this parable, it would seem to follow, that only those who do us good were to be esteemed our neighbours; for the context seems to intimate, that the Levite and the priest were not neighbours to the man who fell among the robbers, because they did not assist him.  But according to the opinion of most fathers, the intent of this parable is the shew, that every person who has need of our assistance is our neighbour.  Maldonatus.

Ver. 31.  Our Saviour here shews the Jewish priests how preposterous was their behaviour, who, though scrupulously exact in performing all external acts of religion, entirely neglected piety, mercy, and other more essential duties.  The Jews despised the Samaritans as wicked and irreligious men; but our Saviour here tells them that they were less exact in works of charity towards their neighbours than the very Samaritans.  Tirinus.

Ver. 34.  This is the allegorical meaning of the parable: The man that fell among robbers, represents Adam and his posterity; Jerusalem, the state of peace and innocence, which man leaves by going down to Jericho, which means the moon, the state of trouble and sin: the robbers represent the devil, who stripped him of his supernatural gifts, and wounded him in his natural faculties: the priest and Levite represent the old law: the Samaritan, Christ; and the beast, his humanity.  The inn means the Church; wine, the blood of Christ; oil, his mercy; whilst the host signifies S. Peter and his successors, the bishops and priests of the Church.  Origen, S. Jerom, S. Ambrose, S. Austin, and others.

Ver. 40.  Calvin here ridicules the professors of evangelical poverty, because they gather from this place that there are two states of life, viz. the active and the contemplative, figured by Martha and Mary.  But what will he answer, when he is informed, that this is the opinion not merely of monks, but even of a S. Austin, (Serm. xxvii, De verbis Domini,) of a S. Jerom, (Com. 3 cap. of Jeremiah,) of a S. Greg. and many others?  Not that they were ignorant that there was another more natural explanation; but they were of opinion that nothing could be found more proper for the illustration of these different states of life.  Maldonatus.

Ver. 42.  One thing is necessary.  Some think that Christ’s meaning was, that Martha was preparing many dishes, when one was sufficient.  But others, that this one thing necessary, was to learn, and comply with the will of God; which Mary was employed about.  Wi.

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LUKE 11

CHAPTER XI.

Ver. 2.  Father, hallowed be thy name, &c.  See Matt. vi.  In the ordinary Greek copies here are all the seven petitions, as in S. Matthew: and so they are in the Prot. Testament.  Yet S. Aug. in his Enchiridion, (c. i. tom. 6, p. 240,) says there were read seven petitions in S. Matt. and only five in S. Luke.  We may also take notice, that though in the Greek copies here in S. Luke are all seven petitions of the Lord’s prayer, yet the doxology, for thine is the kingdom, &c. is omitted in all Greek copies, and by the Protestants; which is a new argument and proof, that the said doxology is an addition from the Greek liturgy.  Wi.

Ver. 3.  In the Greek it is called epiousion; i.e. supersubstantial.  This is not the bread that goeth into the body, but the bread of eternal life, that supports the life of the soul.  It is here called daily bread.  Receive then daily, what will daily profit you; and continue so to live, that you may be daily in proper dispositions for receiving it.  All who are under sin, have received a wound, and must seek for a cure.  The cure is this heavenly and most venerable sacrament.  S. Austin, Serm. ii. de verbo Dei.

Ver. 4.  Christ does not teach us to pray for afflictions of the body, but always enjoins us to pray, that we may not enter into temptation.  When, therefore, temptation attacks us, we must beg of God grace to withstand it, that the promise in S. Matthew (chap. x.) may be fulfilled in us, he who perseveres to the end shall be saved.  S. Bede in Reg. Brev. 221.

Ver. 5.  This parable is not found in any one of the evangelists, except S. Luke.  Our Saviour having taught his disciples the aforesaid form of prayer, now shews them the utility and efficacy of prayer in general.  He wishes to inculcate the necessity of perseverance in prayer.  A friend comes to borrow of another friend at an unseasonable hour; his request is refused; he insists, and obtains, by his perseverance, what he could not have gained without it.  Thus also the Almighty wishes to be importuned; he wishes us to pray with zeal and perseverance.  This is the model we ought to follow.  Calmet. — God would not exhort us so earnestly to pray, unless he was ready to grant our petitions.  Let us blush at our sloth: he is more ready to give than we are to receive.  S. Austin.

Ver. 8.  After our Saviour had given his apostles this form of prayer, knowing that men would recite it with remissness and negligence, and then on account of not being heard, would desist, he teaches here to avoid this pusillanimity in prayer; perseverance in our petitions being the most advantageous.  S. Cyril, ex Divo Thoma.

Ver. 9.  Our petitions are frequently not immediately granted, that our earnestness and assiduity may be increased; that we may learn to esteem the gifts of God, and preserve them with care, for whatever we procure with labour, we preserve with care, lest by losing it we lose our labour also.  S. Basil in Con. Mon.

Ver. 10.  How comes it to pass then, that many pray, and receive not?  To this we answer, that if they approach in a proper manner, and observe the necessary conditions of the petition, they will undoubtedly receive what they ask for; but if, on the contrary, they deviate from this rule, and ask not, as they ought, they will not receive; because as S. James says, you ask, and receive not, because you ask amiss.  Chap. i.  By asking for things that are prejudical to your well-being; or, if for spiritual blessings, you do not receive them, on account of your evil motives.  Origen ex S. Thoma.

Ver. 14.  This possessed person is said in S. Matthew to have been also blind.  Upon him, therefore, were wrought three wonders: the blind saw, the dumb spoke, the possessed was delivered; which daily takes place in the persons of such as are converted to the number of true believers: the devil is expelled, and they both receive the light of faith beaming upon their eyes, and having the strings of their silent organs loosed to sound forth the praises of God.  Ven. Bede. — And the multitude, &c.  The multitude, though devoid of learning, were constant admirers of the actions of our Lord, whilst the Scribes and Pharisees either denied them, or by a sinister interpretation, ascribed them to the power of the unclean spirit.  Ven. Bede.

Ver. 17.  And house upon house shall fall.  He speaks of a house or family divided, which thereby shall fall to ruin.  Wi.

Ver. 19.  Your judges.  They will condemn you of injustice, envy, and hatred against me, and blasphemy against God; because when they perform any exorcisms, though they appear but little more than human in their actions, yet you ascribe them to the virtue of God; but when I perform any miracle, though there always appear most evident signs of the power and virtue of God, you ascribe all to the hand and machinations of the devil.  Tirinus.

Ver. 24.  Man, &c.  By this one man is meant the whole Jewish people, out of whom the unclean spirit had been driven by the law.  S. Ambrose. — For as long as they were in Egypt, they lived after the manners of the Egyptians, and were the habitation of the unclean spirit; but it was expelled from them, when they slew the paschal lamb in figure of Christ, and escaped destruction by sprinkling themselves with its blood.  S. Cyril ex Divo Thoma. — But the evil spirit returned to his former habitation, the Jews, because he saw them devoid of virtue, barren, and open for his reception.  And their latter state is worse than their former; for more wicked demons possessed the breasts of the Jews than before.  Then they raged against the prophets only; but now they persecute the Lord himself of the prophets: therefore have they suffered much greater extremities from Vespasian and Titus, than from Egypt and Babylon; for besides being deprived of the merciful protection of Providence, which before watched over them, they are destitute of all grace, and delivered up to a more poignant misery, and a more cruel tyranny of the devil.  S. Chrys. hom. xliv. on S. Matt.

Ver. 26.  The last state, &c.  But these words are also addressed to us Christians, who may often, and with reason, fear lest the vice we think extinguished in us, again return and seize on our slothful and careless souls, finding them cleansed indeed from the filth of sin by the grace of baptism, but destitute of every ornamental and protective virtue.  It brings with it seven other evil spirits, by which we must understand every vicious inclination.  V. Bede. — The latter state of these souls is worse than the former; because having been delivered from all former sins, and adorned with grace, if they again return to their iniquities a much more grievous punishment will be due for every subsequent crime.  S. Chrys. hom. xliv. on S. Matt.

Ver. 28.  Menounge, imo vero, yes indeed.  Our Saviour does not here wish to deny what the woman had said, but rather to confirm it: indeed how could he deny, as Calvin impiously maintained, that his mother was blessed?  By these words, he only wishes to tell his auditors what great advantage they might obtain by attending to his words.  For the blessed Virgin, as S. Augustine says, was more happy in having our Saviour in her heart and affections, than in having conceived him in her womb.  Tirinus.

Ver. 29.  But the sign of Jonas.  Instead of a prodigy in the heavens or in the air, I will give you one in the bosom of the earth, more wonderful than that of the prophet Jonas, who came out alive from the belly of the fish, which had swallowed him.  Thus I will return alive from the bosom of the earth three days after my death.  Calmet. — He gave them a sign, not from heaven, for they were unworthy to behold it, but from the deep; the sign of his incarnation, not of his divinity; of his passion, not of his glory.  V. Bede.

Ver. 31.  Queen of the South shall condemn this generation, not by exercising the power of judgment against them, but by having performed an action which, when put in competition with theirs, will be found superior to them.  V. Bede.

Ver. 34.  If thy eye be single.  As when the eyes of the body are pure, and free from the mixture of bad humours, the whole body is lightsome; so if the eyes of the mind, viz. reason, faith and understanding, are not infected with the pestiferous humours of envy, avarice, and other vices, the whole mind will be illuminated by the presence of the Holy Ghost.  Take care, therefore, lest by giving way to these vices, the light which is in thee be turned into darkness.  Barradius.

Ver. 36.  The whole shall be lightsome.  Not only all thy body, but all about thee; all thy ways and actions.  Wi.

Ver. 38.  Washed, &c.  There was nothing ordained by the law concerning this washing of the hands, which the Pharisees observed before taking meat.  Christ and his apostles washed their hands when they pleased, without looking for any mystery in such things, or making to themselves vain obligations in frivolous and indifferent things.  They did not neglect what was ordained by the law in certain cases for purification; but beside that, they observed nothing more.  Calmet.

Ver. 41.  But yet that which remaineth, give alms.[1]  The sense seems not to be of what remaineth, give alms, as some expound it; but by the Greek, the sense is, give alms of what you have, i.e. of your goods, according to your abilities; and as Toby said to his son, If thou hast much, give much; if little, give a little willingly.  Tob. iv. 9. — All things are clean unto you.  Not that alms without other pious dispositions, will suffice to your salvation; but that other necessary virtues will be given you, by the mercies of God.  Wi. — These are the means I propose to you to gain that interior purity I am speaking of.  But will alms suffice to expiate all sorts of crimes?  Is it enough for the murderer, the homicide, &c. to give alms?  Undoubtedly not.  Our Saviour only compares alms-deeds with the exterior washing which the Pharisees affected.  As if he had said, “It is not by the washing in common water that you will take out the stains of your souls, but by the works of charity.  Charity will be more efficacious to cleanse you than all the waters of the rivers and of the sea.”  Or, according to Euthymius, if you wish to cleanse yourselves truly, bring forth worthy fruits of penance, give up ill acquired possessions; and as for the rest, redeem you sins by alms.  Thus shall all things be made clean to you, as well within as without the vase.  Calmet.

Ver. 43.  Salutations in the market-place, &c.  Such as wish to be saluted, and have the first places, that they may appear great, are likened to sepulchres, which are covered externally with ornaments, but are filled inwardly with rottenness.  S. Cyril ex D. Thoma.

Ver. 44.  Sepulchres that appear not.  This comparison is partly different from that of Matt. xxiii. 27.  For there Christ compares hypocrites to whitened sepulchres, which may be seen and avoided; here he compares them to sepulchres covered with grass, which appear not: yet the comparison, in the main, is the same; that whether they appear or not, still under them is corruption: as the interior of the Pharisees was always full of vice and corruption.  Wi. — Men that walk, &c.  Because they bear with them a fair outside, but are made up of nothing but corruption.  S. Ambrose.

Ver. 45.  Then one of the lawyers, &c.  Correction, which turns to the advantage of the meek, appears always more intolerable to the wicked.  Christ denounces woes against the Pharisees for deviating from the right path, and the doctors of the law found them equally applicable to themselves.  S. Cyril ex D. Thoma. — How miserable is the conscience which, upon hearing the word of God, thinks itself insulted, and always hears the punishment of the reprobate rehearsed as the words of its own condemnation.  Ven. Bede.

Ver. 47.  Wo to you who build, &c.  Not that the building of the monuments of the prophets was in itself blameworthy, but only the intention of these unhappy men, who made use of this outward shew of religion and piety, as a means to carry on their wicked designs against the prince of prophets.  Ch.

Ver. 48.  Build, &c.  See the notes Matt. xxiii. 29.  Wi.

Ver. 49.  The wisdom of God said.  In S. Matt. it is, Behold I send to you prophets and wise men; and in this passage of S. Luke, the wisdom of God saith, I will send, &c.: thus is Christ truly the wisdom of the Almighty God.  S. Ambrose.

Ver. 51.  Blood of Zacharias, &c.  This Zacharias was, according to some Zacharias the son of Joiada, whom the Jews slew between the temple and the altar.  Theophylactus,—also S. Jerom, who moreover mentions that some editions had Zacharias, son of Joiada. — This generation.  Not that this generation of the Jews should be punished for the crimes of others, but that having before their eyes the severe chastisements their ancestors had received, in punishment of their wickedness, they had not grown better, but had imitated their perversity.  S. Chrys. hom. lxxv. in Matt.

Ver. 52.  You have taken away the key of knowledge.  A comparison of a master that locks others out.  As if Christ said: you pretend, as masters and teachers, to open and expound the law and the prophets; and by your false doctrine and interpretations, you neither observe the law, nor permit others to observe it.  See Matt. xxiii. 13.  Wi. — The key of knowledge is faith; for by faith we come to the knowledge of truth, according to that of Isaiah, How shall they understand, if they have not believed? Cap. vii, (according to Septuagint) these doctors of the law took away the key of science, by not allowing the people to believe in Christ.  S. Cyril ex D. Thoma.

Ver. 53.  And to oppress (i.e. stop) his mouth about many things.[2]  This is the literal signification of the Greek: they started one question upon another, to raise confusion and confound the answers.  Wi.

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[1]  V. 41.  Verumtamen quod superest, date eleemosynam plhn ta enonta dote elehmosunhn; quæ adsunt, quæ penes vos sunt.  It is not to loipon, &c.

[2]  V. 53.  Et os ejus opprimere de multis: apostomatizein auton peri pleionwn.

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LUKE 12

CHAPTER XII.

Ver. 1.  Beware ye of the leaven, &c.  Christ calls the hypocrisy of the Pharisees heaven, which changes and corrupts the best intentions of men; for nothing is more destructive than hypocrisy to such as give way to it.  Theophylact.

Ver. 3.  House-tops.  Our divine Saviour speaks here according to the custom of his own nation, where it was not uncommon for men to preach from the house-top, when they wished to deliver any thing to the public; for their houses had flat roofs.  Ven. Bede.

Ver. 8.  Whosoever shall confess me.  By these words we are informed, that more than bare inward protestations of fidelity will be demanded of us; for he moreover requires an exterior confession of our faith.  S. Ambrose.

Ver. 13.  The inheritance.  This man might think, that Jesus being the Messias, would act like a king and a judge.  Wi. — Speak to my brother, &c.  See in this the spirit of this world, at the very time Jesus is teaching disinterestedness, and the contempt of riches, he is interrupted by a man, who begs him to interfere in a temporal concern: deaf to every thing else, this man can think of his temporal interest only.  Calmet. — He begged half an inheritance on earth; the Lord offered him a whole one in heaven: he gave him more than he asked for.  S. Aug..

Ver. 14.  Judge, &c.  Our Saviour does not here mean to say that he or his Church had not authority to judge, as the Anabaptists foolishly pretend; for he was appointed by his Father, the King of kings, and the Lord and Judge of all.  He only wished to keep himself as much detached as possible from worldly concerns: 1. Not to favour the opinion of the carnal Jews, who expected a powerful king for the Messias.  2. To shew that the ecclesiastical ministry was entirely distinct from political government, and that he and his ministers were sent not to take care of earthly kingdoms, but to seek after and prepare men for a heavenly inheritance.  S. Ambrose, Euthymius, Ven. Bede.

Ver. 19.  Much goods, &c.  It is evident how far this poor man was mistaken, when he called these things goods, which with more reason ought to be esteemed evils.  The only things that can rightly be called goods, are humility, modesty, and its other attendants.  The opposite to these ought to be esteemed evils; and riches we ought to consider as indifferent.  S. Chrys.

Ver. 22.  Therefore I say to you, &c.  Our Lord proceeds step by step in his discourse, to inculcate more perfect virtue.  He had before exhorted us to guard ourselves against the fatal rocks of avarice, and then subjoined the parable of the rich man; thereby insinuating what folly that man is guilty of, who applies all his thoughts solely to the amassing of riches.  He next proceeds to inform us that we should not be solicitous even for the necessities of life: wishing by this discourse to eradicate our wicked propensity to avarice.  Theophy.

Ver. 29.  And be not lifted up on high.[1]  S. Aug. (l. ii. QQ. Evang. q. 29. t. 3, part 4, p. 257.) expounds it thus: do not value yourselves for the plenty and variety you have of things to eat.  Others, by the Greek, look upon it as a metaphor, taken from meteors in the air, that appear high, and as it were in suspense whether to remain there or to fall down; so that they expound it: be not distracted and disturbed with various thoughts and cares how to live.  Wi.

Ver. 32.  Christ styles the elect in this place, his little flock, on account of the greater number of the reprobate; or rather through his love of humility, because though the Church be most numerous, yet he wishes it to continue in humility to the end of the world, and by humility to arrive at the reward which he has promised to the humble.  Therefore, in order to console us in our labours, he commands us to seek only the kingdom of heaven, and promises us that the Father will bestow it as a reward upon us.  Ven. Bede.

Ver. 33.  Be not solicitous that whilst you are fighting for the kingdom of heaven, the necessities of this life will be wanting to you, on account of his command.  Sell what you possess, that you may bestow charity; which those do, who having left all things, nevertheless labour with their hands for their livelihood, and to bestow the rest in charity.  Ven. Bede.

Ver. 35.  Let your loins be girded; i.e. be prepared to walk in the way of virtue; a comparison taken from the custom of the eastern people, who girded up their long garments, when they went about any business.  Wi. — After our divine Saviour had given his disciples such excellent instructions, he wishes to lead them still farther in the path of perfection, by telling them to keep their loins girt, and to be prepared to obey the orders of their divine Master.  By lamps burning in their hands he wished to insinuate, that they were not to pass their lives in obscurity, but to let their lights shine before men.  Theophy.

Ver. 38.  In the first watch is childhood, the beginning of our existence, and by the second is understood manhood, and by the third is meant old age.  He, therefore, who does not comply with our divine Master’s injunctions in the first or second watch, let him be careful not to lose his soul by neglecting to be converted to God in his old age.  S. Greg. in S. Tho. Aquin.

Ver. 39.  Some have imagined that the devil, our implacable enemy, is designated by the thief, and our souls by the house, and man by the householder: yet this interpretation does not agree with what follows; for the coming of our Lord is compared to the thief, as if surprising us on a sudden.  This latter opinion, therefore, seems to be the more probable one.  Theophylactus.

Ver. 48.  Shall be beaten with few stripes.  Ignorance, when it proceeds from a person’s own fault, doth not excuse, but only diminisheth the fault.  Wi.

Ver. 49.  I am come to send fire on the earth.  By this fire, some understand the light of the gospel, and the fire of charity and divine love.  Others, the fire of trials and persecutions.  Wi. — What is the fire, which Christ comes to send upon the earth?  Some understand it of the Holy Ghost, of the doctrine of the gospel, and the preaching of the apostles, which has filled the world with fervour and light, and which was signified by the flames of fire which appeared at the descent of the Holy Ghost upon the apostles.  My words, says the Lord, in Jeremias, (C. xxiii. 29.) are as a fire, and as a hammer, that breaketh the rock in pieces.  Others understand it of the fire of charity, which Christ came to enkindle upon the earth, and which the apostles carried throughout the whole world.  But the most simple and literal opinion seems to be, the fire of persecution and war.  Fire is often used in Scripture for war: and our Saviour declares in S. Matt. that he is come to bring the sword, and not peace; that is, the doctrine of the gospel shall cause divisions, and bring persecutions, and almost an infinity of other evils, upon those who shall embrace and maintain it.  But it is by these means that heaven must be acquired, it is thus that Jesus Christ destroys the reign of Satan, and overturns idolatry, superstition, and error, in the world.  So great a change could not be made without noise, tumult, fire, and war.  Calmet.

Ver. 50.  I am to be baptized, with troubles and sufferings. — And how am I straitened? &c. not with fear, but with an earnest desire of suffering.  Wi.

Ver. 54.  In these words he reproaches them, that they knew well enough how to judge of the weather by the appearance of the heavens; but were ignorant how to distinguish the times: i.e. could not discern that the time marked by the prophets, for the coming of the Messias, was accomplished.  In Palestine, the Mediterranean Sea, which was to the west, was accustomed to send clouds and rain; and the south winds, which came from Arabia and Egypt, very warm countries, caused dryness and heat.  Calmet.

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[1]  V. 29.  Nolite in sublime tolli, mh metewrizesJe;  See S. Augustine, incipit superbire de talibus. l. v. QQ. Evang. Q. 29.

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LUKE 13

CHAPTER XIII.

Ver. 1.  Whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices.  These seem to have been some of the seditious followers of Judas, the Galilean, or Gaulonite, who denied that God’s people were to pay taxes; and it is thought that some of them, coming to offer up sacrifices in the temple, Pilate caused them to be slain at that very time, so that their blood was mixed with the sacrifices.  Wi. — Whose blood, &c. i.e. whom he had caused to be massacred in the temple, at the time they were offering sacrifices.  The history, to which allusion is made in this place, in not well known; but there is great probability that these Galileans were disciples of Judas, the Galilean, who taught that they ought not to pay tribute to foreigners.  As they were spreading this doctrine in Jerusalem, and perhaps even in the temple, Pilate laid violent hands upon them, and caused them to be murdered amidst the sacrifices.  Calmet. — Galileans, &c.  These were the followers of one Judas, a Galilean, of whom S. Luke makes mention in the Acts of the Apostles, (C. v.) who held it unlawful to call any one lord.  Many of this sect were punished by Pilate, because they would not allow this title to be given to Cæsar; they also maintained that no other sacrifices could lawfully be offered, except such as were prescribed by the law, by which opinion they forbade the accustomed sacrifices offered up for the emperor and people of Rome.  Pilate, irritated by these their opinions, ordered them to be slain in the midst of their sacrifices, and this was their blood mixed with that of the victims.  Cyril ex D. Thoma.

Ver. 2.  Sinners, &c.  People are naturally inclined to believe, that those who are unfortunate, and afflicted with calamities, must likewise be culpable and impious.  The Jews were very much given to these sentiments, as we see in many places of Scripture; John ix. 2 and 3.  Our Saviour wishes to do away with this prejudice, by telling them that the Galileans, who are here spoken of, were not the most culpable among the inhabitants of that country; shewing by this, that God often spares the most wicked, and sends upon the good the most apparent signs of vengeance, that he may exercise the patience, and crown the merit of the latter, and give to the former an example of the severity which they must expect, if they continue in their disorders.  Neither can it be said, that in this God commits any injustice.  He uses his absolute dominion over his creatures, when he afflicts the just; he procures them real good, when he strikes them; and his indulgence towards the wicked, is generally an effect of his mercy, which waits for their repentance, or sometimes the consequences of his great anger, when he abandons them to the hardness of their reprobate hearts, and says, “I will rest, and be angry with you no longer.”  Ezechiel, C. xvi. 42.  This is the most terrible mark of his final fury.  Calmet.

Ver. 3.  This prediction of our Saviour upon the impenitent was afterwards completely verified; for Josephus informs us, that under the government of Cumanus, 20,000 of them were destroyed about the temple.  Antiq. lib. xx, c. 4.  That upon the admission of the Idumeans into the city, 8,500 of the high priest’s party were slain, insomuch that there was a flood of blood quite round the temple.  De Bello Jud. lib. iv, c. 7.  That in consequence of the threefold faction that happened in Jerusalem before the siege of the Romans, the temple was every where polluted with slaughter; the priests were slain in the exercise of their functions; many who came to worship, fell before their sacrifices; the dead bodies of strangers and natives were promiscuously heaped together, and the altar defiled with their blood.  De Bel. Jud. lib. vi, c. 1.  That upon the Romans taking possession of the city and temple, mountains of dead bodies were piled up about the altar; streams of blood ran down the steps of the temple; several were destroyed by the fall of towers, and others suffocated in the ruins of the galleries over the porches.  De Bel. Jud. lib. vii, c. 10.

Ver. 4.  Or those eighteen, &c.  The Almighty permitted these people to be thus chastised, that the others might be filled with fear and apprehension at the sight of another’s dangers, and thus become the heirs of the kingdom of heaven.  But then you will say, is another punished that I may become better?  No; he is punished for his own crimes; but his punishment becomes to those that witness it the means of salvation.  S. Chrys. Concio. 3. de Lazaro.

Ver. 5.  Unless you do penance, &c.  The Jews did not penance; and therefore, forty years after our Lord’s Passion, the Romans came, and beginning with Galilee, destroyed this impious nation to its roots, and polluted not only the court of the temple, whither the sacrifices were carried, but the inner sanctuary, with human blood.  Ven. Bede.

Ver. 6.  A certain man, &c.  Each one, inasmuch as he holds a place in life, if he produce not the fruit of good works, like a barren tree encumbers the ground; because the place he holds, were it occupied by others, might be a place of fertility.  S. Gregory.

Ver. 9.  And if happily it bear fruit.  It is a way of speaking, when a sentence is left imperfect; yet what is not expressed, may be easily understood; as here we may understand, well and good, or the like.  Wi.

Ver. 14.  The president of the synagogue, when he saw the woman, who before crept on the ground, now raised by the touch of Christ, and hearing the mandate of God, was filled with envy, and decried the miracle, apparently through solicitude for keeping the sabbath.  But the truth is, he would rather see the poor woman bent to the earth like a beast, than see Christ glorified by healing her.  S. Cyril ex D Thoma Aquin.

Ver. 19.  Our Lord was this mustard-seed, when he was buried in the earth; and He became a tree, when he ascended into heaven; but a tree that overshadowed the whole creation, in the branches of which the birds of heaven rested; that is, the powers of heaven, and all such as by good works have raised themselves from the earth.  The apostles are the branches, to repose in whose bosoms we take our flight, borne on the wings of Christian virtue.  Let us sow this seed (Christ) in the garden of our hearts, that the grace of good works may flourish, and you may send forth the various perfumes of every virtue.  S. Amb.

Ver. 21.  The flour represents us Christians, who receive the Lord Jesus into the inner parts of our soul, till we are all inflamed with the fire of his heavenly wisdom.  S. Ambrose.

Ver. 24.  Shall seek, &c.  Shall desire to be saved; but for want of taking sufficient pains, and not being thoroughly in earnest, shall not attain to it.  Ch. — Our Lord answers here in the affirmative: viz. that the number of those who are saved, is very small, for a few only can enter by the narrow gate.  Therefore does he say, according to S. Matthew, (C. vii.) Narrow is the way that leadeth to life, and few there are that enter therein.  This does not contradict what is said in the 8th chapter of S. Matthew: That many shall come from the east, and sit down in the kingdom of God; for many indeed shall join the blessed company of the angels, but when considered with the number of the slain, they will appear but few.  S. Aust. ser. xxxii. de Verb. Dei.

Ver. 25.  When the Almighty casts any off, he is said not to know them: in the same manner as a lover of truth may be said not to know how to tell a falsehood, being withheld powerfully from it by his love of truth.  S. Greg. mor. c. 8.

Ver. 26.  These words are addressed particularly to the Jews, because Christ was born of them according to the flesh, eat and drank with them, and taught publicly in their streets; but they apply to us Christians also, for we eat the body of Christ, and drink his blood, when each day we approach the mystical table, and we hear him teaching us in the streets of our souls.  Theophylactus. — Many very fervent at the beginning afterwards grow lukewarm; and many, though at first frozen, have suddenly glowed with virtue; many, who in this world were contemned, have received glory in the next; while others, in honour amongst men, have passed to eternal torments.  Ven. Bede.

Ver. 32.  It is rather surprising that Christ should make use of these opprobrious words, which could be of no service to himself, but which would only serve to irritate king Herod, should they come to his ears.  But Christ, by these words, probably wished to shew that he was not the least afraid of him whom the Pharisees feigned to have a design on his life: for it is supposed that the Pharisees had invented this fiction, in order to compel him to leave them quiet.  Maldonatus.

Ver. 33.  Nevertheless I must walk, (i.e. labour in the mission, teaching, &c.) to-day, and to-morrow, &c. i.e. for a while. — It cannot be that a prophet,[1] &c.  Not that all the prophets suffered in Jerusalem, though many did; and it is rather to prophesy, that he himself, the great Prophet, and their Messias, should be put to death at Jerusalem.  Wi.

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[1]  V. 33.  Quia non capit prophetam, &c. ouk endecetai, non contingit.

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LUKE 14

CHAPTER XIV.

Ver. 1.  This was the Hebrew expression for taking a meal; their frugality probably suggested this method of expression, bread being the principal part of their repast.  Calmet. — What a contrast here between the actions of the Pharisees and those of our Saviour!  They watched all his actions, in order to have an opportunity of accusing him, and of putting him to death; whilst he, on the contrary, seeks after nothing but the salvation of his enemies’ souls.  Tirin.

Ver. 2.  Our divine Saviour, regardless of the wicked designs which these Pharisees meditated to destroy him, cures the sick man, who did not dare to ask the favour of him, for fear of the Pharisees.  He could only persuade himself to stand in his presence, hoping that Christ would at length cast a compassionate look upon him: who being well pleased with him, did not demand of him if he wished to be cured, but without demur proceeded to work this stupendous miracle in his behalf.  S. Cyril. — In which Christ did not so much consider whether the action would give scandal to the Pharisees, as whether it would afford the sick man comfort; intimating, that we ought ever to disregard the raillery of the fools, and the scandal which men of this world may take at our actions, as often as they are for the honour of God, and the good of our neighbour.  Theophy.

Ver. 3.  Is it lawful?  Jesus knew their thoughts, and that they would blame him as a sabbath-breaker: yet he healed the man, and confounded them by the example and common practice of pulling an ass out of a pit on the sabbath-day.  Wi.

Ver. 5.  By this example Christ convicts his adversaries, as guilty of sordid avarice, since, in delivering beasts from the danger of perishing on the sabbath-day, they consult only their own advantage, whilst he was only employed in an act of charity towards his neighbour; an action they seemed so warmly to condemn.  Ven. Bede.

Ver. 7.  A parable.  What parable?  In the text there is no parable, but only instruction.  Maldonatus thinks that our Saviour spoke a parable on this occasion, which S. Luke has omitted, giving us only the moral and the substance of the instruction conveyed by it.  Calmet. — To take the lowest place at a feast, according to our Saviour’s injunctions, is certainly very becoming; but imperiously to insist upon it, is far from acting according to our Saviour’s wishes, particularly when it is destructive of regularity, and productive of discord and contention.  S. Basil.

Ver. 9.  The lowest place.  A person of the first quality is not to do this literally, which would be preposterous; but it is to teach every on humility of heart and mind.  Wi.

Ver. 12.  Christ does not here forbid the invitation of friends and relatives, since that would be acting directly contrary to his own maxims and spirit, which breathe nothing but charity and union.  He merely wishes to purify our motives in the disposal of our charity, by insinuating that there is more merit in giving to the indigent, from whom we can expect no remuneration.  Calmet. — It is only an effect of avarice, to be liberal to those who will repay us, says S. Ambrose.  It is our duty as acknowledged even by heathens (Cicero de Off. l. i.) to assist those who stand most in need of it; but our practice says the same author, is to be most obsequious to those from whom we expect most, though they want our services the least.  S. Ambrose, Ven. Bede, and S. Chrys. are of the same opinion.

Ver. 16.  By this man we are to understand Christ Jesus, the great mediator between God and man.  He sent his servants, at supper-time, to say to them that were invited, that they should come; i.e. he sent his apostles to call the people of Israel, who had been invited to his supper on almost innumerable occasions: but they not only refused the invitation, but also murdered the Lord who had invited them.  We may remark, that the three different excuses exactly agree with what S. John says: All that is in the world is the concupiscence of the flesh, and concupiscence of the eyes, and the pride of life.  The one says, I have married a wife, by which may be understood the concupiscence of the flesh; another says, I have bought five yoke of oxen, by which is denoted the concupiscence of the eyes; and the pride of life is signified by the purchase of the farm, which the third alleges in his justification.  S. Aug. de verb. Dei.

Ver. 23.  Compel them to come in.  This is almost the only expression in the New Testament, which can give to the intolerant a plea for persecution.  The spirit of the gospel is the spirit of mildness, and the compulsion which it authorizes to bring infidels or heretics into the Church, is such as we use towards our friends, when we press them to accept of our hospitality.  The great pope, S. Gregory, forbade the Jews to be persecuted in Rome, who refused to receive the faith of Christ. “That is a new and unheard of kind of preaching,” says he, “which demands assent by stripes.”  A.

Ver. 26.  Hate not, &c.  The law of Christ does not allow us to hate even our enemies, much less our parents: but the meaning of the text is, that we must be in that disposition of soul so as to be willing to renounce and part with every thing, how near or dear soever it may be to us, that would keep us from following Christ.  Ch. — The word hate is not to be taken in its proper sense, but to be expounded by the words of Christ, (Matt. x. 37.) that no man must love his father more than God, &c.  Wi. — Christ wishes to shew us what dispositions are necessary in him who desires to become his disciple; (Theophy.) and to teach us that we must not be discouraged, if we meet with many hardships and labours in our journey to our heavenly country.  S. Gregory. — And if for our sakes, Christ even renounced his own mother, saying, Who is my mother, and who are my brethren?  why do you wish to be treated more delicately than your Lord?  S. Ambrose. — He wished also to demonstrate to us, that the hatred he here inculcates, is not to proceed from any disaffection towards our parents, but from charity for ourselves; for immediately he adds, and his own life also.  From which words it is evident, that in our love we must hate our brethren as we do ourselves.

Ver. 28.  For which of you, &c.  The similitude, which our divine Saviour makes us of, represents the offices and duty of a true Christian, for he has to build within himself and conduct others by his example to war with the devil, the world, and the flesh; and he has to season, purify, and keep all his actions free from corruption by the spiritual salt of mortification and prayer.  Tirinus.

Ver. 29.  Lest after, &c.  Here he wishes to shew us, that we are not to embrace any state of life, particularly that of an ecclesiastic, without previous and serious consideration, whether we shall be able to go through with the difficulties and dangers which will inevitably befall us: lest afterwards we find ourselves constrained to yield to our enemies, who will deride us, and say: This man began to build, and was not able to finish.  Tirinus.

Ver. 34.  But if the salt, &c.  Man, after he has once been illumined with the light of faith, should he be so unfortunate as to fall into the sink of his former evil habits, what remedy is there remaining for him?  He is, as our Saviour says, neither profitable for the land nor for the dunghill, but shall be cast out.  Luke xiv. 35.  Ven. Bede.

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LUKE 15

CHAPTER XV.

Ver. 4.  What man, &c.  Christ left the ninety-nine in the desert, when he descended from the angelic choirs, in order to seek last man on the earth, that he might fill up the number of the sheepfold of heaven, from which his sins had excluded him.  S. Amb. — Neither did his affection for the last sheep make him behave cruelly to the rest; for he left them in safety, under the protection of his omnipotent hand.  S. Cyril de D. Thoma Aquin.

Ver. 7.  Joy in heaven, &c.  What incitement ought it not to be to us to practise virtue, when we reflect that our conversion causes joy to the troops of blessed spirits, whose protection we should always seek, and whose presence we should always revere.  S. Amb. — There is greater joy for the conversion of a sinner, than for the perseverance of the just; but it frequently happens, that these being free from the chain of sin, remain indeed in the path of justice, but press not on eagerly to their heavenly country; whilst such as have been sinners, are stung with grief at the remembrance of their former transgressions, and calling to mind how they have forsaken their God, endeavour by present fervour to compensate for their past misconduct.  But it must be remembered that there are many just, whose lives cause such joy to the heavenly court, that all the penitential exercises of sinners cannot be preferred before them.  S. Gregory, hom. xxxiv.

Ver. 8.  In the preceding parable, the race of mankind is compared to a lost sheep, to teach us that we are the creatures of the most high God, who made us, and not we ourselves, of whose pasture we are the sheep.  Ps. xcix.  And in this parable mankind are compared to the drachma, which was lost, to shew us that we have been made to the royal likeness and image even of the omnipotent God; for the drachma is a piece of money, bearing the image of the king.  S. Chrysos. in S. Tho. Aquin.

Ver. 10.  Before the angels.  By this it is plain that the spirits in heaven have a concern for us below, and a joy at our repentance, and consequently a knowledge of it.  Ch.

Ver. 11.  A certain man had two sons.  By the elder son is commonly expounded the Jewish people, who for a long time had been chosen to serve God; and by the younger son, the Gentiles, who for so many ages had run blindly on in their idolatry and vices.  Wi. — Some understand this of the Jews and Gentiles, others of the just and sinners.  The former opinion seems preferable.  The elder son, brought up in his father’s house, &c. represents the Jews; the younger prodigal is a figure of the Gentiles.  Calmet.

Ver. 12.  It is very probable, from this verse, that the children of the family, when come to age, could demand of their parents the share of property which would fall to their lot.  For these parables suppose the ordinary practices of the country, and are founded on what was customarily done.  Grotius thinks this was the common law among the Phœnicians. — The Gentiles, prefigured by the prodigal son, received from their father, (the Almighty,) free-will, reason, mind, health, natural knowledge, and the goods which are common to mankind, all which they dissipated and abused.  Sinners who have besides received the gift of faith and sanctification, by baptism, and who have profaned the holiness of their state, by crimes, are more express figures of the bad conduct of this son.  Calmet.

Ver. 16.  Husks.  This expresses the extreme misery of his condition.  There is no need of seeking any other mystery in this word.  Horace, by a kind of hyperbole, (B. ii, Ep. 1.) represents the miser as living upon husks to be able to save more.

Vivit siliquis et pane secundo.

And no man gave unto him; i.e. gave him bread, mentioned before; for as for the husks, he could take what he pleased.  Wi.

Ver. 18.  How merciful is the Almighty, who, though so much offended, still does not disdain the name of father. — I have sinned.  These are the first words of a sinner’s confession to the author of nature.  God knows all things; still does he expect to hear the voice of your confession.  It is in vain to think of concealing your sins from the eyes of him whom nothing can escape; and there can be no danger of acknowledging to him what his infinite knowledge has already embraced.  Confess then that Christ may intercede for you, the Church pray for you, the people pour forth their tears for you.  Fear not that you cannot obtain pardon, for pardon is promised to you; grace, and a reconciliation with a most tender parent, are held out to you.  S. Ambrose. — Before thee, &c.  By this does our Redeemer shew, that the Almighty is here to be understood by the name of father: for the all-seeing eye of God only beholds all things, from whom even the secret machinations of the heart cannot be concealed.  S. Chrys. ex D. Tho.

Ver. 22.  The first;  i.e. the best robe: by it, is meant the habit of grace.  Wi.

Ver. 24.  Was dead, and is come to life again.  A sinner, in mortal sin, is deprived of the divine grace, which is the spiritual life of the soul.  At his conversion it is restored to him, and he begins to live again.  Wi.

Ver. 25.  His elder son, &c.  We have already remarked, that this son represents the Jews.  He boasts of having always served his father faithfully, and of never disobeying him.  This is the language of that presumptuous people, who believe themselves alone holy; and despising the Gentiles with sovereign contempt, could not bear to see the gates of salvation laid open also to them.  The 28th, 29th, and 30th verses express admirably the genius of the Jewish people; particularly his refusing to enter his father’s house, shews their obstinacy.  Calmet.

Ver. 29.  I have never transgressed, &c.  With what face could the Jews, represented here by the eldest son, say they have never transgressed the commandments of their father?  This made Tertullian think that this was not the expression of the Jews, but of the faithful Christians; and, therefore, he interprets the whole parable as applied to a disciple of Christ.  But we should recollect, that it is not uncommon for presumption to boast of what it never has done.  The whole history of the Jews is full of numberless details of their prevarication and disobedience.  Calmet. — A kid, &c.  The Jews demanded a kid, but the Christians a lamb; therefore was Barabbas set at liberty for them, whilst for us the lamb was immolated.  S. Amb.

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LUKE 16

CHAPTER XVI.

Ver. 1.  There was a certain rich man, &c.  By this parable, our Saviour advises his disciples to accompany their penitential works with deeds of mercy to the poor.  Ven. Bede. — There is a certain erroneous opinion, that obtains pretty generally amongst mankind, and which tends to increase crimes, and to lessen good works: and this is, the foolish persuasion that men are not accountable to any one, and that we can dispose as we please of the things in our possession.  S. Chrys. — Whereas we are here informed, that we are only the dispensers of another’s property, viz. God’s.  S. Amb. — When, therefore, we employ it not according to the will of our Master, but fritter and squander it away in pleasure, and in the gratification of our passions, we are, beyond all doubt, unjust stewards.  Theophylactus. — And a strict account will be required of what we have thus dissipated, by our common Lord and Master.  If then we are only stewards of that which we possess, let us cast from our minds that mean superciliousness and pride which the outward splendour of riches is so apt to inspire; and let us put on the humility, the modesty of stewards, knowing well that to whom much is given, much will be required.  Abundance of riches makes not a man great, but the dispensing them according to the will and intention of his employer.  A. — The intention of this parable, is to shew what use each one ought to make of the goods which God has committed to his charge.  In the three former parables, addressed to the murmuring Scribes and Pharisees, our Saviour shews with what goodness he seeks the salvation and conversion of a sinner; in this, he teaches how the sinner, when converted, ought to correspond to his vocation, and preserve with great care the inestimable blessing of innocence.  Calmet. — A steward, &c.  The parable puts us in mind, that let men be ever so rich or powerful in this world, God is still their master; they are his servants, and must be accountable to him how they have managed his gifts and favours; that is, all things they have had in this world.  Wi.

Ver. 2.  And he called him, &c.  Such are the words which our Lord daily addresses to us.  We daily see persons equally healthy, and likely to live as ourselves, suddenly summoned by death, to give an account of their stewardship.  Happy summons to the faithful servant, who has reason to hope in his faithful administration.  Not so to the unfaithful steward, whose pursuits are earthly: death to him is terrible indeed, and his exit is filled with sorrow.  All thunder-stricken at these words, “now thou canst be steward no longer,” he says within himself, what shall I do!  Ex D. Thoma.

Ver. 8.  And the lord commanded, &c.  By this we are given to understand, that if the lord of this unjust steward could commend him for his worldly prudence, though it were an overt act of injustice; how much more will the Almighty be pleased with those who, obedient to his command, seek to redeem their sins by alms-deeds?  Ex D. Thoma. — “Give alms out of thy substance,” says holy Toby to his son, “and turn not thy face from any poor person: for so it shall come to pass, that the face of the Lord shall not be turned from thee.  According to thy abilities be merciful.  If thou hast much, give abundantly; if thou hast little, take care, even of that little, to bestow willingly a little.  For thus thou storest up to thyself a good reward, for the day of necessity.  For alms deliver from sin, and from death, and will not suffer the soul to go into darkness.”  Tob. iv. 7, 8, &c.  Ibidem. — Children of this world, &c. are more prudent and circumspect as to what regards their temporal concerns, than they who profess themselves servants of God, are about the concerns of eternity. — Commended the unjust steward.[1]  Lit. the steward of iniquity: not for his cheating and injustice, but for his contrivances in favour of himself. — In their generation; i.e. in their concerns of this life.  They apply themselves with greater care and pains, in their temporal affairs, than the children of light, whom God has favoured with the light of faith, do to gain heaven.  Wi.

Ver. 9.  Make for yourselves friends, &c.  Not that we are authorized to wrong our neighbour, to give to the poor: evil is never to be done, that good may come from it.  D. Thoma. — But we are exhorted to make the poor our friends before God, by relieving them with the riches which justly indeed belong to us, but are called the mammon of iniquity, because only the iniquitous man esteems them as riches, on which he sets his affections; whilst the riches of the virtuous are wholly celestial and spiritual.  S. Aug. de quæst. Evang. — Of the mammon of iniquity.  Mammon is a Syriac word for riches; and so it might be translated, of the riches of iniquity.  Riches are called unjust, and riches of iniquity, not of themselves, but because they are many times the occasion of unjust dealings, and of all kind of vices.  Wi. — Mammon signifies riches.  They are here called the mammon of iniquity, because oftentimes ill-gotten, ill-bestowed, or an occasion of evil; and at the best are but worldly, and false: and not the true riches of a Christian. — They may receive.  By this we see, that the poor servants of God, whom we have relieved by our alms, may hereafter, by their intercession, bring our souls to heaven.  Ch. — They may receive you into their eternal tabernacles.  What a beautiful thought this!  What a consolation to the rich man, when the term of his mortal existence is approaching, to think he shall have as many advocates to plead for his admittance into the eternal mansions of rest, as he has made friends among the poor by relieving their temporal wants.  The rich give to the poor earthly treasures, the latter return in recompense eternal and infinite happiness.  Hence we must infer, that the advantage is all on the side of the giver; according to the saying of our Lord, happier is the condition of him who gives, than of him who receives.  A.

Ver. 10.  He that is faithful in that which is least.  This seems to have been a common saying, and that men judged of the honesty of their servants by their fidelity in lesser matters.  For example, a master that sees his servant will not steal a little thing, judges that he will not steal a greater, &c. — And he that is unjust in that which is little, is unjust also in that which is greater.  The interpreters take notice, that here temporal goods are called little, and spiritual goods are called greater; so that the sense is, that such men as do not make a right use of their temporal goods, in the service of God, will not make a good use of spiritual graces as they ought to do.  See Maldonatus.  Wi.

Ver. 11.  If then you have not been faithful in the unjust mammon;[2] i.e. in fading and false riches, which are the occasion of unjust and wicked proceedings. — Who will trust you with that which is the true? i.e. God will not intrust you with the true and spiritual riches of his grace.  Wi.

Ver. 12.  And if you have not been faithful in that which is another’s: so again is called false worldly wealth, which passeth from one to another; so that it cannot be called a man’s own, who will give you that which is your own? i.e. how can you hope that God will bestow upon you, or commit to your care, spiritual riches or gifts, which, when rightly managed, would by your own for all eternity?  See S. Aug. l. ii. qq. Evang. q. 35. p. 263.  Wi. — That which is another’s.  Temporal riches may be said to belong to another, because they are the Lord’s; and we have only the dispensing of them: so that when we give alms, we are liberal of another’s goods.  But if we are not liberal in giving what is another’s, how shall we be so in giving our own?  Nothing one would have thought so properly belonged to the Jews, as the kingdom of heaven, the preaching of the gospel, and the knowledge of heavenly things.  But they were deprived of all for their infidelity in the observance of the law, which was first intrusted to them.  Calmet.

Ver. 13.  No servant can serve two masters, &c.  This is added to shew us, that to dispose of our riches according to the will of the Almighty, it is necessary to keep our minds free from all attachment to them.  Theophylactus. — Let the avaricious man here learn, that to be a lover of riches, is to be an enemy of Christ.  Ven. Bede.

Ver. 14.  Now the Pharisees, &c.  Christ had admonished the Scribes and Pharisees not to presume too much on their own sanctity, but to receive repenting sinners, and to redeem their own sins with alms.  But they derided these precepts of mercy and humility; either because they esteemed what he commanded them to be useless, or because they thought they had already complied with them.  Ven. Bede. — The Pharisees considered temporal riches as true goods, and the recompense which God had promised to such as observed his laws; they therefore laughed at the doctrine of Jesus Christ, which extolled liberality and alms-deeds, and despised the Master who, on all occasions, testified his great regard for poverty in his discourses, in his conduct, in the choice of his apostles, who were all poor, and had no pretensions whatever to exterior pomp or show.  Calmet.

Ver. 15.  Who justify yourselves, &c.  But our Lord, detecting their hidden malice, shews that their pretended justice is all hypocrisy.  Theophylactus. — But God knoweth, &c.  They justify themselves before men, whom they look upon as despicable, and abandoned sinners, and esteem themselves as not standing in need of giving alms as a remedy of sin; but he who shall lay open the secrets of hearts, sees the base atrocity of that pride which thus blinds them, and swells within their breasts.  Ven. Bede. — Yes, all those exterior actions which appeared great, and which were admired by men, being vitiated with improper motives and sinister designs, are an abomination in the sight of God.  A.

Ver. 16.  The law and the prophets, &c.  Not that the law was made void by the coming of John, but that what the law and the prophets had taught, had been suited to the very imperfect dispositions of the Jews, who as yet were incapable of relishing perfect virtue.  At the coming of John, the gospel began to be preached, and this called men to a life of perfect sanctity.  S. Tho. Aquin. — Our Saviour came not to destroy, but to fulfil the law and the prophets.  Matt. v. 17.

Ver. 19.  There was a certain rich man, &c.  By this history of the rich man and Lazarus, he declares that those who are placed in affluent circumstances, draw upon themselves a sentence of condemnation, if seeing their neighbour in want, they neglect to succour him.  S. Cyril, in Cat. Græc. patrum. — He that hath the substance of this world, and shall see his brother in need, and shut up his bowels against him, how doth the charity of God abide in him?  John, 1 Ep. iii. 17.  A received tradition of the Jews informs us, that this Lazarus was a beggar, then at Jerusalem, suffering in the most wretched condition of poverty, and infirmity: him our Saviour introduces, to manifest more plainly the truth of what he had been saying  S. Cyril, ut supra. — By this, we are not to understand that all poverty is holy, and the possession of riches criminal; but, as luxury is the disgrace of riches, so holiness of life is the ornament of poverty.  S. Ambrose. — A man may be reserved and modest in the midst of riches and honours, as he may be proud and avaricious in the obscurity of a poor and wretched life. — Divers interpreters have looked upon this as a true history; but what is said of the rich man seeing Lazarus, of his tongue, of his finger, cannot be literal: souls having no such parts.  Wi. — In this parable, which S. Ambrose takes to be a real fact, we have the name of the poor mendicant; but our Lord suppresses the name of the rich man, to signify that his name is blotted out of the book of life: besides, the rich man tells Abraham, that he has five brothers, who were probably still living; wherefore, to save their honour, our Lord named not their reprobated brother.

Ver. 22.  Abraham’s bosom.[3]  The place of rest, where the souls of the saints resided, till Christ had opened heaven by his death.  Ch. — It was an ancient tradition of the Jews, that the souls of the just were conducted by angels into paradise.  The bosom of Abraham (the common Father of all the faithful) was the place where the souls of the saints, and departed patriarchs, waited the arrival of their Deliverer.  It was thither the Jesus went after his death; as it is said in the Creed, “he descended into hell,” to deliver those who were detained there, and who might at Christ’s ascension enter into heaven.  Calmet.  See 1 Pet. iii. 19. — “Many shall come from the east and the west, and shall sit down with Abraham.”  Matt. viii. 11.

Ver. 25.  It appears from Philo, (de Execrat. p. 9, 37 b.) that the Jews not only acknowledged the existence of souls, and their state of happiness or misery after this life, but also that the souls of the saints and patriarchs interceded with God for their descendants, and obtained from them the succour they stood in need of.  Calmet.

Ver. 26.  Between us and you is fixed a great chaos, or gulf; i.e. God’s justice has decreed, that the bad should forever be separated from the good.  We may here take notice that the Latin and Greek word, (v. 22) translated hell, even in the Prot. translation, cannot signify only the grave.  Wi.

Ver. 27.  In this parable we are taught an important truth, viz. that we must not expect to learn our duty from the dead returning to life, nor by any other extraordinary or miraculous means, but from the revelation of truths, which have already been made known to us in the Scriptures, and from those to whom the tradition of the Church has been committed, as a most sacred deposit.  These, say the Fathers, are the masters from whom we are to learn what we are to believe, and what to practise.  Calmet.

Ver. 31.  If they hear not, Moses, &c.  We think that if we saw a man raised from the dead, who should tells us what he had seen and suffered in another world, it would make more impression upon us than past miracles, which we hear of, or the promises and threats of the prophets, apostles, and our blessed Saviour, which are contained in Scripture; but it is a false notion, a vain excuse.  The wicked, and unbelievers, would even in that case find pretexts and objections for not believing.  S. Chrys. hom. iv. — They would say that the dead man was a phantom; that his resurrection was not real; his assertions nugatory.  When Christ raised Lazarus from the dead, the miracle was known, evident and public; yet we find none of the Pharisees converted by it.  They were even so mad as to enter into a design to kill Lazarus, to get rid of a witness who deposed against their incredulity.  How many other miracles did he not perform in their sight, which they attributed to the prince of darkness, or to magic?  Christ raised himself from the dead.  This fact was attested by many unexceptionable witnesses.  And what do the hardened Jews do?  They object, that his disciples, stealing away the body, maliciously persuaded the people that he had risen again.  Such is the corruption of the human heart, that when once delivered up to any passion, nothing can move it.  Every day we see or hear of malefactors publicly executed, yet their example has no effect on the survivors, nor does it prevent the commission of fresh crimes.  Calmet. — “We have also the more firm prophetical word; whereunto you do well to attend, as to a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day-star arise in your hearts.”  2 Pet. i. 19. — We may learn many very instructive lessons from this affecting history of Lazarus. — The rich may learn the dreadful consequences to be apprehended from riches, when made subservient to sensuality, luxury, and ambition.  The poor may learn to make their poverty and sufferings, however grievous to nature, instrumental to their future happiness, by bearing them with patience and resignation to the will of heaven.  The former are taught that to expose a man to eternal misery, nothing more is required than to enjoy all the good things of this world according to their own will; the latter, that however they may be despised and rejected of men, they may still have courage, knowing that the short day of this fleeting life, with all its apparent evils, will soon be over; and that the day of eternity is fast approaching, when every one shall receive according as he has done good or evil in his body.  A.

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[1]  V. 8.  Villicum iniquitatis, i.e. iniquum, oikonomon thV adikiaV.

[2]  V. 11.  In iniquo mammonâ, en tw adikw Mammwna.

[3]  V. 22.  In sinum Abrahæ, eiV ton kolpon tou Abraam. — Ibid.  In inferno, en tw adh.  See Pearson on the Creed, (p. 236) and our Catholic controvertists.

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LUKE 17

CHAPTER XVII.

Ver. 1.  The world being corrupted as it is, and the spread of evil so wide, it is impossible that scandals should not come.  V. — It is impossible, morally speaking, with regard to the malice of men.  Wi.

Ver. 2.  It were better.  Christ here speaks after the manner of the Jews, who were accustomed to inflict this punishment only on the greatest malefactors.  So that we must be ready to undergo the most excruciating torments, rather than cause any scandal to our neighbour; though we must here observe, that if our neighbour take scandal at our good works, we ought not on that account to desist from doing good, or desert the truth.  Ven. Bede. — S. Luke, in this chapter, inserts four instructions, which have no connection with each other, and which by the writers of evangelical harmony, are given in different places; as in Matt. xviii. after v. 14, &c.

Ver. 5.  Increase our faith.  The disciples having heard our Saviour inculcating maxims hard to flesh and blood, such as avoiding scandal, and forgiving our enemies, humbly beg their faith may be increased, that they may be able to comply with these maxims; for they had heard Christ say, that every thing was possible to him that believed.  Theophy. — Christ compares faith to a grain of mustard seed; because, though the grain be small, it is nevertheless stronger than most herbs.  S. Chrysos.

Ver. 6.  To this mulberry-tree.  In S. Matthew, (xvii. 19.) we read, to this mountain.  Christ might say both at different times.  Wi.

Ver. 7.  The design and end of this parable is to shew that, rigorously speaking, we are useless servants with regard to God.  This sovereign Master has a right to exact of us every kind of service, and to make us apply ourselves to any task he may think proper, without our having any reason to complain either of the difficulty, trouble, or length of our labours; we are entirely his, and he is master of our persons, time, and talents.  We hold of him whatever we possess, and wo to us if we abuse his trust, by applying our talents to any use contrary to his designs.  But though he be Lord and Master, he leaves our liberty entire.  If he produces in us holy desires, if he works in us meritorious actions, gives us virtuous inclinations and supernatural gifts, he sets to our account the good use we make of them; and in crowning our merits, he crowns his own gifts.  S. Aug. lib. ix. Confes. and Serm. 131.  Calmet.

Ver. 10.  Unprofitable servants.  Because our service is of no profit to our Master; and he justly claims it as our bounden duty.  But though we are unprofitable to him, our serving him is not unprofitable to us; for he is pleased to give, by his grace, a value to our good works, which, in consequence of his promise, entitles them to an eternal reward.  Ch. — The word useless, when joined to servant, generally means a servant from whom his master does not derive the service he has a right to expect; as in S. Matt. xxv. 30.  Here the word is taken in a less odious sense.  It means a servant who does not testify sufficient zeal and ardour in his master’s service, who is not very eager to please him.  With regard to God, we are always useless servants, because he wants not our services; and without his assistance, we can neither undertake nor finish any thing to please him.  Calmet.

Ver. 14.  To the priests.  Jesus sends them to the priests, to convince the latter of the reality of the cures which he wrought, and oblige them by that to acknowledge him for their Messias; 2ndly, that the lepers might enjoy the fruit of their cure, by returning to the society of their fellow men, after they had been declared clean, and satisfied all the demands of the law; for there were may ceremonies previous to be gone through.  Calmet. — And lastly, to shew that in the new law, such as are defiled with the leprosy of sin, should apply to the priests.  Hence, says S. Austin, let no one despise God’s ordinance, saying that it is sufficient to confess to God alone.  Lib. de visit. infirm.

Ver. 19.  Thy faith hath made thee whole.  Were not the others also made whole?  They were cleansed indeed from their leprosy, but it no where appears that they were justified in their souls like this Samaritan, of whom it said, thy faith hath made thee whole; whereas it was said of the others, that they were made clean, viz. of their leprosy in their body, though not justified in their soul: this the Samaritan alone seems to have obtained.  Maldonatus.

Ver. 20.  When the kingdom of God should come?  or when is it to come?  when will the Messias come?  The Pharisees might say this in a mocking and an insulting manner, to signify that he could not be their true Messias. — The kingdom of God cometh not with observation; that it, so as to be observed; not with great marks of temporal power, as you imagine.  Wi. — The Pharisees expected a Messias powerful according to this world, a conqueror, a monarch, a revenger of the injuries of Israel; one who would restore them to liberty, and bless them with temporal goods and prosperity.  In Jesus, they saw nothing, which corresponded to these magnificent hopes; and therefore asked him, by way of insult and reproach, when this kingdom of God would come, which he so often talked of and announced to his disciples.  He answers them, that the manifestation of the Messias, and the establishment of his kingdom, shall not be effected in a conspicuous, splendid manner.  It shall be brought about insensibly, and the accomplishment of the designs of the omnipotence of our Lord shall appear a casualty, and the effect of secondary causes.  You shall not see the Messias coming at the head of armies, to spread terror and desolation.  His arrival shall not be announced by ambassadors, &c. every thing in the establishment of my kingdom shall be the reverse of temporal power.  Calmet.

Ver. 21.  Is within you.  It is with you; your Messias is already come. — He standeth in the midst of you, as John the Baptist told you.  John i. 26.  Wi.

Ver. 22.  To see one day, &c.  Hereafter, when I shall be no longer visibly among you, you shall heartily wish for one day’s conversation with me.  Wi. — This verse is addressed to the disciples.  He insinuates that he will take from them this corporeal presence, and they shall be exposed to persecution and affliction: then they shall wish to see one day of the Son of man, and shall not be able to obtain it.  They shall wish ardently to see him, to entertain themselves with him, and consult him, but shall not have that happiness.  This was meant to excite the disciples to profit more of his presence whilst they enjoyed it.  Calmet.

Ver. 24.  For as the lightning, &c.  See Matt. xxiv. 27.  Wi. — Christ here alludes to the glory with which he shall appear when he shall come to judge the world, surrounded by his angels, &c. when he will appear like lightning, that shall penetrate the inmost recesses of our souls, and shall suffer no crime, not even the slightest thought of our souls, to pass unnoticed.  This is the time when he will manifest his glory, and not on his entry into Jerusalem, as the disciples imagined: for he informs them, that he will then have to suffer a cruel death.  Ven. Bede.

Ver. 27.  After having compared his second coming to lightning, in order to shew how sudden it will be, he next compares it to the days of Noe and Lot, to shew that it will come when men least expect it; when, entirely forgetting his coming, they are solely occupied in the affairs of this world, in buying and selling, &c.  He only mentions those faults which appear trivial, or rather none at all, (passing over the crimes of murder, theft, &c.) purposely to shew, that if God thus punishes merely the immoderate use of what is lawful, how will his vengeance fall upon what is in itself unlawful.  Ven. Bede.

Ver. 31.  When you see war lighted up in Judea, lose no time, but betake yourselves to flight for safety.  Indeed the Christians, forewarned by these predictions, and other prophecies of the apostles, according to Lactantius, (lib. iv. c. 21.) fled from the danger beyond the Jordan, into the states of Herod, to Pella and the neighbouring villages.  See Eusebius.  Eccles. Hist. lib. iii. c. 5.

Ver. 32.  As Lot only escaped destruction by leaving all things, and flying immediately to the mountain, whereas his wife, by shewing an affection for the things she had left, and looking back, perished; so those who, in the time of tribulation, forgetting the reward that awaits them in heaven, look back to the pleasures of this world, which the wicked enjoy, are sure to perish.  S. Ambrose. — Ta opisw epilanqanesqai, toiV de emprosqen epekteinesqai.  Philip. iii. 13.

Ver. 34.  By these different examples, Christ wishes to insinuate that good and bad men will be found in every state of life.  By those in bed, are understood the rich, by those in the mill, are understood the poor; whilst those in the field designate the pastors of his flock, who are labouring in the vineyard of the Lord.  S. Cyril and S. Amb.

Ver. 37.  To the question of his disciples in the preceding verse, our blessed Saviour only returns this enigmatical answer, which seems to mean, that where-ever there are guilty Jews, there shall their enemies pursue them and find them out, not only in Jerusalem, but in all the cities of Judea, Galilee, &c. every where the vengeance of the Lord shall follow them, and overtake them.  For the interpretation of other parts of this chapter, see S. Matt. c. xxiv.  Calmet. — If we observe some discrepancies between the precise words of our Lord, as given by S. Matt. and S. Luke, as in S. Matt. c. xxiv. v. 40, and in Luke xvii. 34, and alibi passim, we can reconcile those apparent variations, by supposing that our Lord, in the course of his conversation, made use of both expressions.  A.

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LUKE 18

CHAPTER XVIII.

Ver. 1.  Always to pray, i.e. to pray daily, and frequently; (Wi.) and also to walk always in the presence of God, by a spirit of prayer, love, and sorrow for sin.

Ver. 2.  This judge, who feared not God, nor cared for man, yet yielded to the importunity of the widow, represents the absolute and sovereign power of God.  But we must not suppose the Almighty has any of the faults we see in this iniquitous judge.  Comparisons are not meant to hold good in every particular.  The only consequence to be drawn from the present parable, is this: if a man, who has neither piety nor tenderness for his fellow creatures, yield to the importunity of a widow, who is not wearied out with repeating her petitions; how much more will God, who is full of bounty and tenderness to man, and only seek occasions to grant him his gifts, hear the prayers of the fervent, and fill with benedictions the petitioner, who can continue like the widow to importune his interference, and can beg without languor or discouragement?  Calmet.

Ver. 3.  Avenge me; i.e. do me justice.  It is a Hebraism.  Wi.

Ver. 4.  And he would not for a long time.  The Almighty does not always hear us as soon as we could wish, nor in the manner that seems best to us; but if we are not always heard according to our desires, we always are as far as is conducive to our salvation.  He sometimes delays, in order to exercise our patience, and increase our ardour: sometimes he grants, in his anger, what, in him mercy, he would refuse.  Let us then pray always, desire always, love always.  Desire always, and you pray always.  This is the continual voice of prayer, which the Almighty demands of you.  You are silent, when you cease to love.  The cooling of charity, is the silence of the heart.  S. Aug.  in Ps. xxxvii.  Wi.

Ver. 5.  She weary me out.[1]  This, as much as I am able to find out, seems the literal signification both of the Latin and Greek text.  Wi.

Ver. 8.  In the Greek, although he suffer for the present the elect to be oppressed.  V. — Our divine Redeemer adds, this, to shew that faith must necessarily accompany our prayers.  For whosoever prays for what he does not believe he shall obtain, will pray in vain; let us, therefore, entreat the Father of mercies to grant us the grace of prayer, and firmness in faith; for faith produces prayer, and prayer produces firmness of faith.  S. Aug. de verb. Dom. Serm 36. — But of this there is little left on the earth, and there will be still less at the second coming of the Son of God.

Ver. 9.  In this chapter we have three examples of prayer: one of the persevering widow; another of the poor publican, who solicits the divine mercy by the acknowledgment of his crimes; and the third of the proud Pharisee, who only goes to the temple to pronounce his own panegyric, and enter upon a accusation of his humble neighbour, whose heart is unknown to him.  Calmet.

Ver. 11.  The Pharisee standing.  The Greek is, standing by himself, i.e. separated from the rest.  Some understand this term, standing, as if in opposition to kneeling or prostrating, which they suppose to be the general posture in which the Jews offered up their prayers, and that of the humble publican.  The Christians borrowed this practice from them.  We see the apostles and disciples praying on their knees: Acts vii. 59, ix. 40, xx. 36.  In the Old Testament, we see the same observed.  Solomon, (3 K. viii. 54.) Daniel, (vi. 10.) and Micheas, (vi. 6.) prayed in that posture.  Others however, think that the people generally prayed standing, as there were neither benches nor chairs in the temple.  Calmet. — There are four ways by which men are guilty of pride: 1st, By thinking they have any good from themselves; 2nd, by thinking that though they have received it from above, it was given them as due to their own merits; 3rd, by boasting of the good they do not possess; and fourthly, by desiring to be thought the only persons that possess the good qualities of which they thus pride themselves.  The pride of the Pharisee seems to have consisted in attributing to himself alone the qualities of which he boasted.  S. Greg. mor. l. xxiii, c. 4. — He who is guilty of publicly speaking against his neighbour, is likewise the cause of much damage to himself and others.  1st, He injures the hearer; because if he be a sinner, he rejoices to find an accomplice; if he be just, he is tempted to vanity, seeing himself exempt from the crimes with which others are charged.  2nd, He injures the Church, by exposing it to be insulted for the defects of its members.  3rd, He causes the name of God to be blasphemed; for, as God is glorified by our good actions, so is he dishonoured by sin.  4th, He renders himself guilty, by disclosing that which it was his duty not to have mentioned.  S. Chrys. Serm. de Phar. et Pub.

Ver. 12.  See how the Pharisee here, by pride, lays open to the enemy his heart, which he had in vain shut against him by fasting and prayer.  It is in vain to defend a city, if you leave the enemy a single passage, by which he may enter in.  S. Greg. mor. l. xix. c. 12.

Ver. 14.  If any one should ask why the Pharisee is here condemned for speaking some few words in his own commendation, and why the like sentence was not passed on Job, who praised himself much more; the difference is evident: the former praised himself without any necessity, merely with an intention of indulging his vanity, and extolling himself over the poor publican; the latter, being overwhelmed with misery, and upbraided by his friends, as if, forsaken of God, he suffered his present distress in punishment of his crimes, justifies himself by recounting his virtues for the greater glory of God, and to preserve himself and others in the steady practice of virtue, under similar temptations.  Theophylactus.

Ver. 34.  They understood well enough the sense of the words he spoke to them.  But they could not understand how they could be reconciled with the idea they had previously conceived of the Messias.  They were scandalized in the first place, to think that God should suffer any thing inflicted by man; they were scandalized in the second place, to hear that sufferings and death could lead to victory and empire; and lastly, they were scandalized, (their own feelings taking the alarm) lest they should be forced to imitate their Master in this part which he had chosen for himself.  A.

Ver. 35.  This blind man is, according to some interpreters, different from the other two whom Jesus Christ cured as he was going out of Jericho.  V. — See Matt. xx. 29. and Mark x. 46. et dein.

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[1]  V. 5.  Sugillet me, upwpiazh me.  The Greek word literally signifies, lest she give me strokes on the face, that make me appear black and blue; which were called, upwpia.  This word, upwpiazein, is only used in one other place in the New Testament, (1 Cor. ix. 27.) where S. Paul says, castigo, or contundo corpus meum.  Now, as we cannot imagine that this judge feared lest the widow should beat him in this shameful manner, the word metaphorically seems to imply, lest she should injuriously upbraid and continually reproach me.

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LUKE 19

CHAPTER XIX.

Ver. 2.  What sinner can despair when he sees the Saviour of mankind seeking to save him; when he beholds even a publican and a rich man, at the same time, who, as our Saviour informs us in another place, are so seldom truly converted, brought to the light of faith, and the grace of a true conversion!  S. Ambrose. — Zacheus (who as a farmer of the customs, not a collector, as some falsely imagine) immediately hearkened to the interior voice of the Almighty, calling him to repentance; he made no delay, and therefore deserved immediately not only to see, but to eat, drink, and converse with Jesus.  S. Cyril. — Behold here the three steps of his conversion:  1. an ardent desire of seeing Jesus; 2. the honourable reception he gave him in his house; 3. the complete restitution of all ill-acquired property.

Ver. 9.  Zacheus is here styled a son of Abraham; i.e. his spiritual son, a partaker of the promises made to Abraham concerning the Messias: not that he was actually born of his seed, but because he imitated his faith; and as Abraham at the voice of God, left the land and house of his father; so Zacheus renounced his goods and possessions, by giving them to the poor.  Ven. Bede.

Ver. 11.  That the kingdom of God should immediately be manifested.  The disciples were full of the expectation of the temporal kingdom of the Messias, though he had divers times told them he was to suffer and die on a cross.  Wi. — Notwithstanding all that Jesus had said to them about his kingdom, his death, his consummation, and resurrection, they still believed that the kingdom of God was going to be manifested, and that Jesus, in this journey, would make himself be acknowledged king by the whole nation of the Jews.  They could not lay aside the ideas they had formed of the personal and temporal reign of the Messias.  Every thing which they could not reconcile with this standard, was completely impenetrable to them.  It was a language they could not comprehend.  Calmet.

Ver. 12.  This parable is an exact prophetic history of what happened to Archelaus Antipas, son of Herod the great, about thirty-six years afterwards.  Judea being then tributary, he was obliged to go to Rome to receive his kingdom from the hands of the emperor Augustus.  The Jews, who hated him for his cruelty, sent an embassy to the emperor, to accuse him of many crimes, and disappoint him in his hopes of gaining his crown.  But Augustus confirmed it to him, and sent him back to reign in Judea, where he revenged himself on those who had opposed his pretensions.  With regard to the instruction, which is meant to be conveyed by this parable; this nobleman is the Son of God, who came among the Jews to take possession of the kingdom, which was his due.  But being rejected and treated unworthily, and even put to a disgraceful death on the cross, he will one day come again, armed with vengeance, and inflict the effects of his anger upon them.  This was partly fulfilled at the destruction of Jerusalem, and will be completed at the general judgment.  Calmet.  V.

Ver. 13.  Ten pieces of money, each of which was called a mna.  To translate pounds, gives the English reader a false notion, the Roman coin called a mna not corresponding to our pound.  Wi. — A mna was 12½ ounces, which, at five shillings per ounce, is £3 2s. 6d.

Ver. 19.  All the disciples of Christ have not the same degree of honour in this world, nor in the next; because all do not make an equal use of the graces they receive.  Some are in the first rank, as apostles; then those, to whom the gift of prophecy has been committed; then doctors, &c. each exalted according to his merit.  For there are many mansions, and many degrees of glory, in the house of the heavenly Father.  Calmet. — For there is one brightness of the sun, another of the moon, and another of the stars; for star differeth from star in brightness.  1 Cor. xv. 41.

Ver. 34.  It may here be asked, how the owners of the colt knew who the Lord was, of whom the disciples spoke?  It may be answered, that perhaps they had already heard that Jesus of Nazareth, who the Jews thought was to be their temporal king, was coming about that time to Jerusalem, and that they saw from their dress, or other external marks, that they were the disciples of Jesus.  Dionysius.

Ver. 40.  The stones.  This is a proverb, as if he had said: God has resolved to glorify me this day, in order to fulfil the prophecies.  Nothing can hinder the execution of his decrees; if men were silent, he would make even the stones to speak.  Calmet. — At the crucifixion of our Redeemer, when his friends were silent through fear, the very stones and rocks spoke in his defence.  Immediately after he expired, the earth was moved, the rocks split, and the monuments of the dead opened.  V. Bede. — Nor is it any wonder if, contrary to nature, the rocks bespeak the praises of the Lord, since he was even praised by a multitude, much more insensible than the rocks themselves, in crucifying him only a few days after, whom they now salute with Hosannahs of joy.  S. Ambrose.

Ver. 41.  He wept.  S. Epiphanius tells us, that some of the orthodox of his time, offended at these words, omitted them in their copies, as if to shed tears, were a weakness unworthy of Christ: but this true reading of the evangelist is found in all copies, and received by all the faithful; and the liberty which those who changed them took, was too dangerous ever to be approved of by the Church.  Neither do these tears argue in Jesus Christ any thing unworthy of his supreme majesty or wisdom.  Our Saviour possessed all the human passions, but not the defects of them.  The Stoics, who condemned the passions in their sages, laboured to make statues or automata of man, not philosophers.  The true philosopher moderates and governs his passions; the Stoic labours to destroy them, but cannot effect his purpose.  And when he labours to overcome one passion, he is forced to have recourse to another for help.  Calmet. — Our Saviour is said to have wept six times, during his life on earth: 1st, At his birth, according to many holy doctors; 2ndly, at his circumcision, according to S. Bernard and others; 3rdly, when he raised Lazarus to life, as is related in S. John, c. xi.; 4thly, in his entry into Jerusalem, described in this place; 5thly, during his agony in the garden, just before his apprehension, when, as S. Luke remarks, (C. xxii.) his sweat was as drops of blood trickling down upon the ground; and 6thly, during his passion, when he often wept, on account of his great distress of mind, occasioned principally by the knowledge he had of the grievousness of men’s sins, and the bad use they would make of the redemption he was, through so many sufferings, procuring for them.  Dionysius.

Ver. 42.  If thou also hadst known.  It is a broken sentence, as it were in a transport of grief; and we may understand, thou wouldst also weep.  Didst thou know, even at this day, that peace and reconciliation which God still offers to thee.  Wi. — What can be more tender than the apostrophe here made use of by our Saviour!  Hadst thou but known, &c. that is, didst thou but know how severe a punishment is about to be inflicted upon thee, for the numberless transgressions of thy people, thou likewise wouldst weep; but, alas! hardened in iniquity, thou still rejoicest, ignorant of the punishment hanging over thy head.  Just men have daily occasion to bewail, like our blessed Redeemer, the blindness of the wicked, unable to see, through their own perversity, the miserable state of their souls, and the imminent danger they are every moment exposed to, of losing themselves for ever.  Of these, Solomon cries out; (Prov. ii. 13.) They leave the right way, and walk through dark ways.  We ought to imitate this compassion of our blessed Redeemer; and, as he wept over the calamities of the unfortunate Jerusalem, though determined on his destruction; so we ought to bewail the sins not only of our friends, but likewise of our enemies, and daily offer up our prayers for their conversion.  D. Dionysius.

Ver. 43.  And compass thee, &c.  Christ’s prophecy is a literal description of what happened to Jerusalem, under Titus.  Wi.

Ver. 48.  All the people, as they heard him with so great attention.  So Virgil said:

–pendetque iterum narrantis ab ore.  Wi.

The original Greek, exekremato autou akouwn, shews how eagerly they catched the words that dropped from his sacred lips, all enraptured with the wisdom of his answers, and the commanding superiority of his doctrines.  Seneca (Controv ix. 1.) uses a similar turn of expression: Ex vultu discentis pendent omnium vultus.  The chief priests and rulers were all apprehension lest the people, who followed Jesus with such avidity, and who had conceived such high sentiments of his character, might prevent the execution of their murderous designs. . . .

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LUKE 20

CHAPTER XX.

Ver. 1.  In one of the days.  This happened on the last week (on the Tuesday) two or three days before Christ suffered.  See the contents of this chapter, Matt. xxi. and xxii. and Mark xi. and xii.  Wi.

Ver. 2.  Authority?  By what authority do you make yourself a teacher of the people, a censor of the priests, a reformer of the laws and customs?  If Jesus Christ had not publicly given undeniable proofs of his mission, by his miracles, the Pharisees would have had a right to demand an answer to this question; but, after what had been done in their own sight, it was no longer excusable to oppose the preaching of the Son of God.  Calmet. — Our Saviour himself teaches, that if he had not proved the divinity of his mission by his doctrine and works, it had been no sin to disbelieve or reject him.  John v. 31. and 36. and also x. 25, 37, and xv. 22, 24.

Ver. 4.  Jesus does not gratify them by a direct answer; they did not deserve it, because they only interrogated him through captious and improper motives.  He only replies by casting on them the very difficulties with which they sought to entangle him.  Calmet. — Our divine Redeemer proposes to the chief priests a question concerning S. John the Baptist, to shew them how inconsistent was their uniform opposition to the ways of God.  Because, though they believed in what was preached by S. John, (at least outwardly, through fear of the Jews) yet they would not believe him, or his doctrines, to whom S. John had given testimony, “That he was the Lamb of God, that had come to take away the sins of the world.”  Theophylactus.

Ver. 9.  A long time.  Not that God (who is here represented by the man that planted a vineyard) confines himself to any particular place, either distant or near; but he only seems to absent himself in order that when he comes to receive the fruit of the vineyard, he may punish the negligent more severely, and reward the diligent with greater liberality.  Likewise God is more intimately present with the good, by continually showering down upon them his special graces; and less so with the wicked, by refusing them, on account of their indispositions, any of his favours.  S. Ambrose.

Ver. 15.  As this whole parable may be applied exactly to the Jews, to the prophets and Christ; so may this last part, with no less accuracy, be applied to our Saviour.  The husbandmen, before they killed the lord’s beloved son, first cast him out of the vineyard.  So the Jews did not kill the Son of God immediately themselves: they first cast him out from themselves, into the hands of Pilate, a Gentile, and then procured his death.  Theophylactus. — Thus sinners likewise act, by casting Christ out of their hearts, and crucifying him by sin.  Ven. Bede. — To reconcile S. Matt. and S. Luke, we must observe, says S. Austin, that this parable was not only spoken to those who questioned his authority, but to the people themselves; as S. Luke tells us.

Ver. 18.  Fall upon.  That is, whosoever sins against God, yet believes, will be spared by God for a short time to repent, though he kills his own soul by mortal sin: but, upon whomsoever it shall fall, that is, he who denies Christ, and continues on hardened in his sin, upon him the fury of God shall fall, and he shall be utterly destroyed.  It will grind him to powder, like the dust which the wind driveth from the face of the earth.  Psal. i.  Ven. Bede.

Ver. 19.  Lay hands on him.  Thus they themselves proved him to be the Lord’s beloved Son, as he had just described himself in the preceding parable.  Ven. Bede.

Ver. 20.  Of the governor, &c.  Of the governor, Pilate, who in the name of the Romans, exercised absolute authority in the country: for the Jews had lost the power of life and death, which was put into the hands of their presidents.  Calmet.

Ver. 22.  If our divine Saviour had returned them for answer, that they ought to give tribute to Cæsar, they would have accused him of being an enemy to the law; but if, on the contrary, he said it was not lawful, they would have accused him to Pilate as an enemy to the state.  Theophylactus. — For there was then a great misunderstanding among the Jews: some, who wished to keep peace with the Romans, said that it was lawful; but the Pharisees denied it, and said: “The people of God ought to be exempt from such a tax.  They were bound by the law to give tithes and first-fruits to God; therefore they ought not to be bound by human laws to give likewise tax to men who were heathens.”  S. Jerom.

Ver. 26.  We may here be astonished at the incredulity of the chiefs of the Jews, who, though they ought to have admired his wisdom, as something divine, and believed in him, are only surprised that he should have escaped their duplicity and snares.  Ven. Bede. — Their pride must have been a good deal hurt, to have been thus publicly refuted and confused by the wisdom of our Saviour’s answer.  Theophylactus.

Ver. 36.  The children of resurrection; i.e. of the just, who shall rise to a happy resurrection: not but that the wicked shall also rise, but to their condemnation and greater misery.  Wi. — Jesus Christ begins with stating the wide difference between the state of things in this mortal life and in that which is to come: that marriage necessary here, will be unnecessary hereafter.  For, in this life, they are children of men, subject to death, and therefore under the necessity of continuing their race by generation; but in the next life, they shall be children of resurrection, living for eternity, never to die, and consequently sons of God, and immortal.  Resurrection is a kind of regeneration to immortality.  Hence S. Paul explains to our Saviour’s rising again, these words of the 2nd Psalm: Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee.  Calmet.

Ver. 39.  The Scribes, seeing the Sadducees thus silenced, seemed to side entirely with our Saviour saying: Master, thou hast said well.  And, apprehensive of being exposed to a similar disgrace and discomfiture themselves, they were afraid to ask him any more questions.  But this was only an apparent and false conformity; for they afterwards procured him to be put to death by the Romans.  Thus mortal hatred or envy may indeed be smothered for a time, but can hardly ever be extinguished.  Theophylactus.

Ver. 44.  Christ indeed is both the Lord and Servant of David.  He is Servant, according to the flesh, being a descendant of David; and he is Lord, according to the spirit, being Lord of all.  S. Chrys. — We hear in our times of a new sect of Pharisees, who neither believe that Christ is the true Son of God, nor that he is God born of a pure virgin.  To such we object this question: How is he the Son of David, and his Lord?  Not by human, but by divine dominion.  S. Cyril. — He has two natures: the nature of man, according to which, David was his father; and the nature of God, according to which, he was Son of God, and Lord of David.  Thus is the difficulty solved.

Ver. 45.  How forcible are our divine Redeemer’s reasonings, when he uses any text out of the prophets.  When he performs the most stupendous miracles, his enemies generally have something to reply; when he cites a text of Scripture, they have nothing to say.  All are silent.  S. Chrys.

Ver. 46.  The reproach he makes the Scribes in this place, is similar to  what he had objected against the Pharisees.  S. Matt. xxiii. 5.  Both these sects were filled with the same spirit of pride and vanity, which shewed itself in their dress, in their exterior, and in every part of their conduct.  If our Saviour here attacks them upon their long trains, or other affected forms of their dress, he does not pronounce an absolute condemnation of things, which in themselves are indifferent, but of their abuse of them, making them serve only the purpose of vanity and affectation.  Calmet.

Ver. 47.  These shall receive a greater condemnation, because they not only commit ordinary evil actions, but also make their prayers, and virtue itself, a cloak to their hypocrisy and vanity, and the cause of their greater depravity, famishing the widows whom themselves ought to compassionate and relieve.  Theophylactus. — Or, the greater honours and rewards they received for their wickedness, the greater punishment must they endure to expiate it.  Ven. Bede. — Jesus Christ seems in this place to allude to the avaricious practice of the Jews, draining the purses of widows by their stipulated long prayers for their departed husbands, (see Matt. xxiii. 14.  Mark xii. 40.) and thus abusing so holy a thing as prayer, merely to gratify their avarice. . . .

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LUKE 21

CHAPTER XXI.

Ver. 3.  Whatever we offer to the Almighty with a good intention is acceptable to him; for he regards not the gift, but the heart of the giver.  Ven. Bede. — God does not appreciate the smallness of the gift, but the greatness of the affection with which it is offered.  S. Chrys. hom. i. ad Hebræos.

Ver. 6.  It was by the divine dispensation of Providence that this city and temple were destroyed; for had the ancient rites and sacrifices continued, some that were but weak in their faith, might have been filled with astonishment at the sight of these different modes of worship, existing at the same time, and thus have been lead astray from the path of truth.  Ven. Bede.

Ver. 7.  Master, when shall these things be? &c.  See the annotations, Matt. xxiv. 3.  Wi.

Ver. 8.  In my name.  They shall not say that they belong to me, or that I sent them: but they shall take to themselves my name, viz. Christ, or Messias, which title is incommunicable to any but myself.  In effect, in less than two centuries, there appeared many false Christs and impostors, who pretended to be the one that was to come, the desired of nations.  Calmet. — Perhaps this prophecy is yet to be more expressly fulfilled before the dissolution of the world.  Many pious and learned Christians suppose this passage to refer to the time of Antichrist.  A.

Ver. 11.  Terrors from heaven.  Josephus, in his history of this war, in which Jerusalem was destroyed by Titus, (lib. vii, c. 12) relates, at length, many of the prodigies which were the forerunners of the dreadful end of this unfortunate city.  During a whole year a meteor, like a flaming sword, was seen impending over the city.  There were likewise seen in the air, appearances of chariots and numerous armies, which pressed one upon another.  On the night of Pentecost, the priests, after a confused noise, heard distinctly these words, “Let us go hence;” which are supposed to have been spoken by the angels, who had hitherto guarded and protected the holy city, but now were taking their leave of it.  Josephus was in the Roman camp, before the city, during the siege, and an eye-witness of what passed on the occasion.  A.

Ver. 12.  This verse is spoken to the apostles alone; and was verified, by most of them having been martyred and put to death, before the destruction of Jerusalem.  Calmet.

Ver. 15.  I will give, &c.  In some parts it is said, that Christ himself will speak by the mouths of his disciples, as in this passage of S. Luke; in other places, as S. Matt. C. xvi. that the Father will speak; and S. Matt. C. x. that the Spirit of the Father will speak.  In these different texts there is no contradiction, but a most perfect harmony.  What one of the divine Persons says, all three say; for the voice of the Trinity is only one.  S. Ambrose.

Ver. 18.  A hair of your head, &c.  A hair shall not perish from the head of the disciples of Christ; because not only their most heroic actions, and their public confessions of his name, but even their passing thoughts shall be crowned with adequate rewards.  Ven. Bede.

Ver. 19.  In your patience, &c.  We then truly possess our souls, when we live in all things perfect, and from the citadel of virtue command and control all the motions of the mind and heart.  S. Greg. Mag. Moral. v. c. 13.

Ver. 22.  Days of vengeance, &c.  These are truly the days of vengeance; days, that will arise to punish this people for having spilt the blood of the Lord.  Ven. Bede.

Ver. 24.  Whoever reads Josephus’s history of the calamities which befell Jerusalem before its destruction, will find none of these terrible menaces unfulfilled.  Seventy thousand were carried away captives in this war.  After the soldiers were weary of killing, Titus ordered the finest of the young men to be kept to adorn his triumph.  The number of captive Jews was so great in Rome, as to make the heathen poet, Rutilius Numantianus, who lived about the year 410, complain of it as a great burden to the empire.

Atque utinam nunquam Judea subacta fuisset

Pompeii bellis, imperioque Titi;

Latius excisæ pestis contagia serpunt

Victoresque suos natio victa premit.

Trodden down, &c.  After Jerusalem had been taken and destroyed by the Romans, another city was built from its ruins, called Ælia, after the name of the emperor Ælius Adrian.  This was inhabited by pagans and some Christians for the Jews were forbidden even to come near it, for more than two or three centuries.  Tertullian informs us, that they even bought, at a great price, permission to see it at a distance, and drop a tear over the ashes of their ancient and ill-fated country.  Thus was Jerusalem trodden under foot, till the time of the nations was accomplished; that is, till Christianity, in every nation, had triumphed over the persecution of paganism.  Calmet. — Till the times of the nations be fulfilled.  According to the common exposition of this, and some other places, the Jews from the time of the destruction of their temple and city, under Titus Vespasian; and especially from their utter destruction under the emperor Adrian, in punishment of their obstinate blindness, shall remain dispersed through the world under miseries and oppressions, till the gospel hath been preached to all nations; then, not long before the end of the world, the Jews shall be converted, and acknowledge Jesus to be their true Messias.  See Rom. xi. 25.  Wi.

Ver. 26.  The powers of heaven, &c.  Some explain this of the angels, who shall be terrified and tremble at the sight of so many calamities.  Others understand it of the heavenly bodies, the sun, moon, stars, &c. which shall in some sort, likewise, be confused in the general dissolution.  The prophets often make use of such expressions, when speaking of the fall of monarchies, or the ruin of nations.  The heavens shall be astonished and moved, &c.  Ezech. xxxii. 7.  Joel iii. 15.  Calmet.

Ver. 27.  The Jews shall not see him corporally, but at the last judgment.  Then, says the Scripture, (Zach. xii. 10.) They shall see him whom they pierced with nails.  But in the ruin of Jerusalem, all who will compare his predictions with the event, can evidently see that this was the day of his coming, so plainly marked in his words.  Every body could see that this was evidently the hand of God that punished them.  Calmet.

Ver. 37.  In the mount that is called Olivet.  In this last week, Christ, after preaching in the day-time in the temple, when constantly in the evenings to pray in the garden of Gethsemani, as Judas knew very well.  See C. xxii. v. 39.  Wi.

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LUKE 22

CHAPTER XXII.

Ver. 3.  And Satan entered into Judas.  The meaning only seems to be, that the devil tempted and overcame him.  Wi. — Satan entered into Judas not all at once, but by degrees.  He first gained possession by avarice, next by theft, and lastly he impelled him to the blackest treachery and cruel parricide.  The Scripture only says that Satan had entered into him when he was entirely abandoned to iniquity, had hardened his heart against all grace, and shut his ears against every instruction of Jesus.  In like manner the Scripture says of a good man, who is strengthened in grace, that the Holy Spirit dwells in him.  Calmet.

Ver. 4.  Many even now shudder at the mention of the crime of Judas, and are surprised to think that he could be guilty of such ingratitude, when themselves are negligent in avoiding the like crimes.  For he who breaks the law of charity and truth, betrays Christ, who is charity and truth, and does it not through any infirmity or ignorance, but designedly and maliciously.  Ven. Bede.

Ver. 15.  With desire I have desired: lit. with a desire have I desired.[1]  The repetition expresseth a great and earnest desire.  Wi.

Ver. 17.  Taken the chalice.  This is not the chalice of his blood, (the latter is spoken of v. 20, and 1 Cor. xi. 25.) but it is the cup which the master of the repast blessed with ceremony, then drank of it, and gave it to all the guests.  The modern Jews still observe this custom; not only on the Pasch, but on all other great feasts.  The father of the family pours wine into a cup, takes it in his right hand, elevates it, blesses it, tastes, and gives it round to the invited.  Our Saviour on this occasion complies with the custom; and after supper takes the chalice, which he converts into his own blood.  Calmet.

Ver. 18.  I will not drink, &c. i.e. from this hour of the supper, to the time of his resurrection, in which he will come in the kingdom of God, he would not taste wine.  For S. Peter testifies, (Acts x. 41.) that he took meat and drink after his resurrection.  Ven. Bede.

Ver. 19.  THIS IS MY BODY.  See the annotations on the same words of consecration, Matt. xxvi. 26.  Mark xiv. 22. and 1 Cor. xi. 24. — Do this for a commemoration of me.  By these words he gave a power and precept to them, and their successors, to all bishops and priests, to consecrate and offer up the same; yet so, that they are only the ministers and instruments of Jesus Christ, who instituted this sacrifice, this and all other sacraments, who is the chief and principal Priest, or offerer.  It is Christ that chiefly consecrates and changes the elements of bread and wine into his own body and blood; it is he that chiefly and principally forgiveth sins in the sacraments of baptism, penance, &c.  It is what S. Aug. so often repeats against the Donatists, that it is Christ that baptizeth, though the instrumental minister be a sinner or a heretic; and this is what all Catholics confess and profess. — The holy sacrifice and sacrament is to be offered and received with a devout and grateful remembran