2 The marriage of the kingís son. 11 The wedding garment. 15 Of paying tribute. 23 Of the resurrection.
ND Jesus answered and spake unto them again by parables, and said,
Douay Rheims Version
The parable of the marriage feast. Christ orders tribute to be paid to Caesar. He confutes the Sadducees, shews which is the first commandment in the law and puzzles the Pharisees.
ND Jesus answering, spoke again in parables to them, saying:
8. Then he saith to his servants: The marriage indeed is ready; but they that were invited were not worthy.
17. Tell us therefore what dost thou think? Is it lawful to give tribute to Caesar, or not?
And Jesus answered, &c., refuting the incredulity of the Scribes. The meaning is: it is the same in the kingdom of Heaven, i.e., in the Church militant here on earth, as if a king made a marriage for his son, &c. For in other respects the kingdom of Heaven is not directly and precisely like a king, but a kingdom. S. Gregory treats this parable at length (Hom. 38, in Evang.).
The parable is similar to that which Luke records (xiv. 16). Maldonatus thinks it is the same with that, and that Matthew has not here observed the historical order. With more reason S. Augustine (l. 2, de consens. Evang. c. 71), S. Thomas, Jansen, and others think that this is a different parable from that in Luke; or if the same, that they were uttered upon two occasions, and in different words. It is clear on comparison that they have numerous differences. For, not to speak of other things, Luke says that the parable was spoken in the house of a Pharisee. Matthew here asserts that it was spoken publicly in the temple. This is plain from ver. 23. Again, Luke calls this marriage feast a supper; Matthew, a dinner.
And sent his servants, &c. For marriage, the Syriac version has throughout feast, meaning marriage feast.
The whole parable may be expounded and applied as follows:ó1st The king is God the Father; the son of the king, the bridegroom is Godís Incarnate Son, Jesus Christ, whose spouse is the Church, whose nuptials were begun in the Incarnation of Christ, for in it Christ espoused human nature to Himself, hypostatically, and the Church, that is, all faithful people, mystically, to be His Spouse by grace. But in Heaven these nuptials shall be consummated with glory. So Origen, SS. Hilary, Jerome, Gregory, and others. Wherefore, tropologically, “by marriage, understand,” says Origen, “the union of Christ with the soul; and by offspring, good works.”
2d. God the Father made a marriage feast for Christ, since in Judea, and in the whole world, He hath, through Christ, spread a table of evangelical doctrine and sacraments, especially the Sacrament of the Eucharist.
3d. To this nuptial feast the Jews were invited by God, through Moses and the prophets, as the servants of God, both before and after the incarnation of Christ, that they might believe first that it was about to take place, and then that it had taken place; that so, believing in Christ, repenting and seeking grace from Him, they might obtain justice and salvation.
4th Bulls and fatlings have only the general signification of rich provision for a banquet. They denote the grandeur of the doctrines of the Gospel, says S. Jerome, and of the Sacraments.
Moreover, fatlings (altilia, Vulg.) do not mean winged creatures, birds and fowls, but bulls and calves, and other creatures which are fed up. Altilia is derived from alo, to nourish. The Greek is σιτιστά, fatlings. Wherefore the Arabic translates, and my calves are now fed, and have been killed, Gr. τεθυμένα, i.e., have been immolated. For in olden time, as now, weddings were wont to be inaugurated by a sacrifice, and marriage feasts were kept with victims slain and offered in sacrifice. So also the marriage feast of Christ, which is here parabolically described, took its beginning from the sacrifice of the Cross. Symbolically, by bulls (Vulg.) S. Gregory understands the Fathers of the Old Covenant, who, by the permission of the Law, smote their enemies with the horn of corporeal strength. But the fatlings, saith he, are the Fathers of the New Testament, raised by contemplation from the things of earth to things above. But Chrysostom says, “fatlings are Prophets; bulls, those who were both Prophets and Priests.” As bulls are leaders of the herd, so are Priests the princes of the people. S. Hilary says, the bulls are martyrs, who, like victims, have been immolated. The fatlings are spiritual persons, filled as it were with spiritual bread. Lastly, Origen says, the dinner is the word of God. Bulls signify the strong meat of the word; fatlings its sweeter portions.
5th. The field, the farm, whither those who were invited went away, despising the invitation, signify temporal good things, which drew away the Jews from the faith of Christ, and from heavenly good things; and which led them to slay the servants of God, yea, even Christ Himself. Wherefore, God sent Titus, who slew the Jews as being murderers, and burnt up their city, namely, their capital, Jerusalem.
Christ in this parable has an allusion to Isa. xxv. 6, “And in this mountain shall the Lord of hosts make unto all people a feast of fat things, a feast of wines on the lees, of fat things full of marrow, of wines on the lees well refined;” and Isa. xxx 23, 24, “Then shall he give the rain of thy seed, that thou shalt sow the ground withal; and bread of the increase of the earth, and it shall be fat and plenteous: in that day shall thy cattle feed in large pastures. The oxen likewise and the young asses that ear the ground shall eat clean provender, which hath been winnowed with the shovel and with the fan.”
Learn from hence that Christ always sets before us in the Church a rich spiritual banquet of holy doctrine and grace, abundantly seasoned with sacred lections, sermons, exhortations, and with innumerable examples in every kind of virtue, of Apostles, Martyrs, Confessors, Virgins, with frequent receiving of the Sacraments, especially the Eucharist, which is “the corn of the elect, and the wine that maketh virgins,” as Zechariah saith (ix. 17); with the Sacrifice of the Mass, with such great adornment of the sacred ministers, altars, and temples, and with the heavenly harmony of music and organs, and many other things which feed, delight, inebriate the souls of the faithful, so that Christianity is to the pious one continual banquet, according to the words in Isa. lxvi. 23, “The feast of the new moon shall be from one month to another, and from sabbath to sabbath.”
Lastly, Christ Himself, Incarnate, is the perennial food and joy of the faithful. For He, through the Incarnation, really communicates to them not only all the gifts of His grace, but Himself, in all His fulness, and therefore His very Deity itself. And this He gives them to taste, to eat, to enjoy, as it is said in S. John vi 51, “I am the Living Bread, who came down from heaven. Whosoever shall eat of this Bread, shall live eternally.” This is the reason why Isaiah, when declaring beforehand the delights and happiness which were to come to the new Church from Christ Incarnate, everywhere rejoices and exults, and invites all Christians evermore to rejoice and exult with him. See chaps. ii. vii.; chaps. xxx., xxxv., lx., lxi., lxii., &c. Let Christians therefore, and especially Priests and Religions, take care to feed in these feasts in their souls; and serve Christ in righteousness and holiness, that thus they may begin that life of beatitude with Him now, which by and by will be perfected and consummated in Heaven.
Ver. 8. Then saith he, &c. This is the second part of the parable of the guests. Then, that is to say, when these who were invited, meaning the Jews, refused to come to the nuptial table of the evangelical doctrine of Christ, because they were not worthy of it, because they despised itóthen saith the King, that is God, to His servants, the Apostlesó
Go ye into the highways; Vulg. the ends of the ways; Gr. διεξόδους όδω̃ν, the passages, the outlets of the ways. The meaning is, Traverse and run through all the ways, and the turnings, and corners, and bendings of the roads. Let there be no nook which you do not traverse. Do ye, 0 ye Apostles, travel over the whole world; go into all the countries of the nations, that ye may preach the faith of Christ to them, and invite all men to it. He also bids the Apostles to transfer the Gospel from the invited guests, that is the Jews, to all nations. Wherefore He addsó
And his servants went out, &c. The Apostles were to go and preach the Gospel in all nations unto the ends of the earth, according to the words in Ps. xix., “Their sound is gone out into all lands, and their words unto the end of the world.” Mystically: the servants are angels who preside over the conversion of the Gentiles, says Origen.
Symbolically: the highways are the various and contradictory errors and sects of the Gentiles, which the Apostles destroyed. So Remigius. 2d. S. Chrysostom says, The ways are the various professions of men in the world, as the profession of philosophy, arms, &c. Christ therefore bids that men of every profession shall be invited to believe. 3d. S. Hilary says, “The way is the time of the world. They are bidden to go out to the end, because the past is forgiven to all.” 4th. S. Gregory says, The ways are actions: their terminations (exitus) are defects.
They gathered together all, &c. This is an ornament (emblema) of the parable, and only signifies that all men, without any distinction whatsoever, are invited to the faith of Christ.
And the wedding, &c. The Church has been filled with a copious multitude of all nations.
When the king came in, &c., that he might survey and examine them. This shall take place when God shall come to the general judgment at the end of the world, to judge, and reward or punish all mankind. So Origen, &c.
And he saw . . . wedding garment; Syr. a festal garment. The garment for the wedding, that is, one which is clean, precious, and splendid, is not faith, as the heretics say. For all who were at this feast of the Church, indeed, could not have entered in except by faith. Therefore this garment is charity, and holiness of life. A pure and holy life is like a clean and splendid robe, woven of virtues and good works, which are a glorious adornment of a man. So SS. Jerome, Hilary, Tertullian, and others. S. Gregory explains the not having a wedding garment to mean faith without works of charity, by which the Lord comes to unite the Church in marriage with Himself. But S. Augustine (lib. 2, contra Faust. c. 19) explains it to mean one who seeks his own, not the Lordís glory. But S. Hilary says, the wedding garment is the grace of the Holy Spirit, and the brightness of heavenly conversation, which being received by the good answer of confession, is preserved spotless for the celestial company. S. Jerome says, works which are fulfilled out of the Law and the Gospel, form the garment of the new man.
Many in the day of judgment who believed in Christ shall be found without this robe of charity and sanctity; yet one only is mentioned, because this matter is spoken of, as it were, by the way. For the direct object of Christ in this parable was to declare that when the unbelieving Jews were rejected, the Gentiles were called to Christ. This one, however, denotes all who are like Him. It also signifies that not even one wicked person can lie hid in the day of judgment, or go away unpunished.
And said to him, Friend (Syr. my comrade), &c. The word friend signifies that God will speak thus to the wicked, not out of hatred, or a desire to condemn them, but in a friendly manner, from zeal of justice. S. Jerome adds, he calls him friend, because he was invited to the wedding feast. Therefore he rebukes him for his impudence, because he came in a rude manner without a wedding garment. Whence S. Gregory says, “It is marvellous how he calls him friend, and yet rejects him.” It is as though he said plainly, “Friend, and not friend; friend by faith, but not friend by works.”
But he was speechless. For, says S. Jerome, that was no place of denial; for God shall there “bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and make manifest the counsels of the heart,” according to the words, “I will search Jerusalem with candles.” (Zeph. i. 12).
Then said the kingóto his servants, his angels, as is plain from Matt. xiii. 39. And as Daniel saith concerning them, “Thousand thousands ministered unto Him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before Him.”
Bind him, &c. This is an emblem, signifying that the damned cannot resist the sentence of God, nor from thenceforth do any good thing; altogether as if they had their hands and feet, their mouth and souls, their will and judgment bound. For as S. Augustine says (lib. II, de Trin.), “The binding of an evil will is a chain.” And S. Gregory says, “They who now are willingly in bonds to sin, shall then, against their will, be bound in punishment.”
Cast him . . . teeth. These are the teeth which delighted in gluttony, says S. Gregory. And again the same S. Gregory says appositely, “The inner darkness is the darkness of the heart; the outer darkness is the night of eternal damnation.”
Many are called, &c. Because all who were first invited and refused to come were rejected, that is to say, all the Jews, who would not believe in Christ, to whom this parable bears special reference. Besides these, one was rejected, even of those who were called, and did come, who entered in, not having a wedding garment, who represents all wicked Christians. For inasmuch as Christ did not intend in this place specially to refer to these, it sufficed that by naming one, He should refer to that matter by the way, to signify that not all who believe in Christ shall be saved, but those only who adorn their faith with a wedding garment, that is, with love and holy works. This saying of Christ ought to raise great fear and awe. For no one knoweth whether he be elect or reprobate. Every one therefore ought to strive, by means of good works, to make his calling and election sure.
S. Gregory gives the example of his three paternal aunts. The first of these was named Tharsilla. She lived in holy virginity, and was called away to Heaven by her grandfather, who was already among the blessed, in these words, “Come, that I may receive thee into this mansion of light.” Then she, looking up, beheld Jesus, and cried aloud, “Depart ye, depart ye, Jesus cometh,” and so delivered up her soul to Him to be eternally blessed. The second sister, Emiliana, was called away to Heaven by Tharsilla herself on the Feast of the Epiphany; and being anxious about her third sister Gordiana, she answered, “And if I come alone, to whom shall I leave Gordiana?” Again she heard her sisterís voice saying, “Come, for Gordiana hath chosen her lot with the world.” For, shortly afterwards, Gordiana, forgetful of her consecration to virginity, married her bailiff.
Ver. 15. Then went the Pharisees . . . entangle, &c. For entangle, the Greek has παγιδεύσωσιν, i.e., ensnare; for παγίδες are snares. And so the Syriac has prepare gins like bird-catchers. The Pharisees put captious questions to Christ with the design that whatever way He might answer, He should incur blame; and that so they might, as it were, entrap Him in His answer, and that He might be open to the charge of treason against either human or Divine Majesty. “They laid a plot by means of a dilemma,” says S. Augustine (l. I, contra Crescen. c. 17), that whichever He should choose of its two horns, He might be caught. If He answered that it was lawful, He would he a traitor to the people of God; but if He said it was not lawful, He would be punished as an enemy to Cæsar.
With the Herodians; Syr. with those who were of the house of Herod.
The Herodians were a Jewish sect, who favoured the Roman Cæsar, and the payment of tribute to him. They were named from the first Herod of Ascalon, the infanticide, who was entirely devoted to Cæsar, inasmuch as he had been made king of Judea by Augustus Cæsar and the Roman Senate. So S. Jerome, Origen, and others. S. Epiphanius (lib. I, hæres. 20) and S. Jerome (Dialogo cont. Luciferanos) add that these Herodians were Jewish sectaries, or heretics, who held that Herod of Ascalon was the Messiah or Christ promised by the prophets, because they saw that in him the sceptre had failed from Judah. Herod eagerly encouraged these flatterers. And the reason why he slew the infants at Bethlehem was that he might kill Christ, that no one but himself might be accounted Christ. For the same reason, he built a most magnificent temple for the Jews, vieing with that of Solomon, as Josephus shows (Lib. Ant. 15, c. 14). Listen to S. Jerome briefly enumerating the Jewish sects, “I say nothing about the Jewish heretics, who, before the coming of Christ, made light of the law delivered to them. There was Dositheus, prince of the Samaritans, who rejected the prophets. There were the Sadducees, sprung from his root, who went on to deny the resurrection of the flesh. There were the Pharisees, divided from the rest of the Jews on account of certain superfluous observances. There were the Herodians, who took Herod for their king instead of Christ.” Theophylact, Euthymius, and Philastrius say the same, with the exception, that for Herod of Ascalon, they substituted his son, Herod Antipas, who put John the Baptist to death. But they are mistaken in their assertion that Herod Antipas was ever regarded by the Jews as Messiah.
The Pharisees, therefore, who took the opposite side, namely, that Herod was not the Messiah, and that tribute ought not to be paid to the Roman Cæsar, who put themselves forward as vindicators of the law of Moses and of Jewish liberty, suborned these Herodians to go together with their own disciples to Jesus, as to a prophet and teacher, and proposed this question to Him concerning giving tribute to Cæsar. This they did with the crafty design that if Christ should assert that tribute ought to be given to Cæsar, He would incur the hostility of the Jewish populace; if, on the other hand, He should say that it was not to be paid, He might fall under the anger of Cæsar and the Romans, who would condemn Him to death as being guilty of sedition.
Master; Heb. Rabbi. Rabbi means not only a doctor of the law, such as are the Rabbins, but a potentate and a prince, endowed with authority.
We know . . . the way of God, i.e., the law of God For the law is the way by which we go to God, and to His grace and glory. For the law teaches what is pleasing to God, what He wills us to do, that we may be justified and blessed by Him.
And carest not, &c. Thou fearest neither the anger of Herod nor the power of Cæsar, so as to be afraid to give a true answer, and deliver your opinion in behalf of your countrymen, even though you should expose yourself to the hostility of Herod and Cæsar; even as John the Baptist, when he rebuked Herodís adultery, did not shrink from incurring his anger. For they trusted that Christ would pronounce in favour of the Jews, as being faithful against Cæsar, an unbeliever. So S. Chrysostom, “By means of flattery they hope to urge Him on to boldness, that He might say something against the existing institutions, and the existing state of things;” “that He might come into collision with Cæsar on a charge of rebellion.”
For Thou regardest not the person; Syr. the face, &c. To look whether it be the face of a rich man and a prince, or a poor man and a plebeian, so that Thou shouldest flatter and defend a prince, and condemn a poor man. Rather wilt Thou, as it were, shut Thine eyes, and give sentence in favour of truth and justice, and say, Cæsar is My friend, but truth is a greater friend.” The Gr. πζόσωπον signifies both person and face.
Tell us therefore . . . tribute; Syr. capitation-tax, because each head or each person was assessed. The Jews, as Godís faithful people, held aloof from the Gentiles, as idolaters. And many of them thought that it was not lawful for them to acknowledge Cæsar as their lord, and pay him tribute; because God alone was their Master, to whom they paid tithes and tribute. By Cæsar, Tiberius Cæsar, the successor of Augustus, is meant.
The occasion of this question being propounded to Christ, was as follows. About this time one Judas, of Galilee, had taught that it was not lawful for the Jews to be in subjection to the Romans, and pay them taxes. Now Christ and the Apostles were regarded as Galilæans; and the Jews professed to look upon them as upholders of this teaching of Judas the Galilæan, as being their countryman. And for this reason they frequently repudiated this error of theirs. Hear S. Jerome (in cap. 3, ad Tit. ver. I), “I think,” says he, “this precept was given by the Apostle, because at that time the teaching of Judas the Galilæan was still in vogue, and had many followers. Among their other tenets, they held it probable that, according to the law, no one ought to be called lord, except God only; and that those who paid tithes to the Temple ought not to render tribute to Cæsar. This sect increased to so great an extent as to influence a great part of the Pharisees as well as the rest of the people, so that they referred this question about the lawfulness of paying tribute to Cæsar to our Lord, who answered prudently and cautiously, Render, &c. S. Paulís teaching is in agreement with this answer, in that he bids believers be in subjection to princes and powers.”
When Jesus knew, &c. It is as though He said, “You pretend to be friends, and to desire to maintain a good conscience, that you may know what you ought to do in this case truly and justly, according to the law of God, when all the while you are My enemies, and are thirsting for My blood.” “The prime virtue,” says S. Jerome, “in one who gives an answer is to know the mind of him who asks the question.”
Ver. 19. Show Me the coin of the census. That is, Show me the coin which Cæsar exacts as a tax from each person. The Arabic has, Show Me the figure of the denarius. And they brought unto Him a denarius. You will say that, according to chap. xvii. 17, it appears that the Jews paid a capitation-tax of a didrachma, or a half-shekel. But the Roman denarius was only worth about half a didrachma, or ninepence. My answer is, that the didrachma was, for the sake of convenience, divided into two denarii, and that each individual paid two denarii, or one didrachma. So Jansen and Maldonatus. Lastly, it would appear that Tiberius and the other emperors ordered a denarius of this value to be struck off, which coin they required to be paid by the Jews in the way of tribute. As Baronius shows from Lampridius, the Romans were in the habit of striking off coins of such weight and value as they required to be paid in the way of tribute, and of greater or less value, according to the necessity of times and requirements.
And Jesus saith . . . superscription; Gr. ε̉πιγραφή; for which the Vulg. in Mark has inscription. For coins are wont to be stamped with the name and image of the prince who coins them. Hence the Arab. has, Whose figure and inscription is this?
They say unto Him, Cæsarís, i.e., Tiberius Cæsarís, who then reigned. Christ already knew this, but He put the question that He might draw from their own mouth a reply which He could turn against them and convict them. The cognomen Cæsar was first given to Julius Cæsar, from whom it passed to the succeeding emperors. Servius and Spartianus, and from them Charles Sigonius (lib. de Nomin. Rom.), say that Cæsar was called originally from the slaughter of an elephant. For Caesar signifies elephant in the Punic tongue. I have seen on some silver coins, on one side an elephant, with the inscription Cæsar; on the reverse, instruments by means of which the Romans were wont to slay elephants.
Then saith He, &c. As though He said, “Since ye, 0 ye Jews, are now subject to Cæsar, and use his coins, do ye not so much give as render or restore (reddite) to him the denarius which is due to him as tribute. But spiritual things, that is to say, worship and piety, give ye (date) to God. For this God exacts as what is rightly His due. So shall it come to pass that ye will offend neither against God nor Cæsar.”
Observe: that Christ is here unwilling to enter into the question whether the Jews were justly or unjustly subjects and tributaries of the Romans. For this was a doubtful question. For prima facie, the negative, that they were not justly subject, would seem the more correct. For Pompey, who first reduced the Jews under the Roman yoke, was only called in by Hyrcanus and Aristobulus, the grandsons of Simon the high priest, to decide between them which of the two was to succeed to the Jewish sovereignty and high-priesthood. By what right then did Pompey pass them over, and transfer the sovereign power over Judea to the Romans? For this is Turkish justice. For when the Turk is called in to aid them by Christian princes quarrelling between themselves, he seizes upon and enslaves both. And yet, if we examine what happened more carefully, we shall perceive that the contrary proposition is the more probable, namely, that Pompey seized upon Judea by the right of a just war. For when Pompey had justly decided in favour of Hyrcanus, as being the elder, his younger brother, Aristobulus, attacked Jerusalem, and filled it with his soldiers, who fought against both Pompey and Hyrcanus. Then Pompey took Jerusalem by storm, and made it subject, with the consent of Hyrcanus, to the Roman yoke. Hyrcanus being unable to keep it by himself, delivered it to Pompey, with the consent of the elders and nobles of the Jews, who preferred to be subject to the Romans rather than to Hyrcanus and Aristobulus. For they saw that without the Romans, the Jewish state would be annihilated by schisms and seditions. See the relation in Josephus (lib. 24, c. 5, &c.).
Lastly, prescription was on the side of the Romans, for they had been in peaceful possession of Judea for about a hundred years, with at least the tacit assent of the Jewish people. And without doubt the position of the possessor is the stronger. Wherefore, if the Pharisees wished to deprive the Romans of this possession, the onus probandi lay upon them of showing that they had acquired it unjustly. Since they were not able to do this, the Romans rightly retained possession. For when the accuser does not prove his charge, the accused is absolved. In this case the accusers were the Pharisees, the accused the Romans, whom the accusers wished to deprive of their possession. Christ therefore, in this place, does not choose to enter into the question whether the Roman dominion over Judea, and their imposition of tribute, was just or unjust: but He takes for granted that, as a matter of fact, that which was strengthened and confirmed by the various titles specified above was just. For the Pharisees, in propounding this question about the payment of tribute to the Romans, did not put forward the plea of justice, but of religion and piety; that is to say, that it was neither lawful nor becoming that they, who were the alone people of God, should pay tribute to Cæsar, a Gentile and a heathen. They do not ask, “Are we bound to pay tribute to Cæsar?” but, “Is it lawful to pay tribute to Cæsar?” And they imply that to do so was contempt of God, a disgrace to the Jews, and an injury to their religion. Christ answers, on the contrary, that it was not an injury to God and the faith, nor an indignity to a faithful nation, if the people of God were subject to Cæsar, a Gentile; and that the Jews themselves might both profitably and honourably obey both God and a Gentile prince, if they would but render to both their due; and if they would do this with prudence, so as to arouse against them neither God nor Cæsar, and so destroy their whole nation, as they did not long afterwards. For it is better to pay money than to lose life and everything.
Render therefore, &c. That is, give to Cæsar the didrachma, which he rightly exacts from you to sustain the burdens of the state, and especially to maintain soldiers to defend you against the attacks of enemies. But give God also the didrachmaótithes, oblations, victims, as S. Jerome says, such as are prescribed in Leviticus, which He, by the right of supreme dominion, demands of you as His creatures, and as faithful to Him. “Because,” says Origen, “a man renders to Cæsar what belongs to Cæsar, it is not a hindrance to him in rendering to God what belongs to God.” The rights which belong to Cæsar are different from those which belong to God. Political obligations are not adverse to religion; neither is religion adverse to political duties. “Wherefore, since Tiberius Cæsar reigns over you, and you are his subjects, which clearly is the case, because he has the right of coining money, I mean the denarius of such a weight and value as seems good to him; and inasmuch as you yourselves, by receiving the coin of the census from Tiberius, as your prince, acknowledge that you are his subjects, and bound to pay his taxes, ótherefore by this very fact you are under obligation to pay.” “What Christ spoke with His mouth,” says S. Bernard (Epist. 42), “He was careful to fulfil in act. This Creator of Cæsar delayed not to pay tribute to Cæsar.” Hear Tertullian (lib. de idololat. c. 15), “Render to Cæsar the things of Cæsar, and to God the things of God, i.e., the image of Cæsar, which is in money, to Cæsar; and the image of God, which is in man, to God; so that thou mayest give money to Cæsar, to God thyself.” And S. Chrysostom, “When thou hearest that the things of Cæsar must be rendered to Cæsar, doubt not that those things only are spoken of which do no harm to piety and religion to pay thein. For the tribute, or toll, which is opposed to virtue or the faith, is the tribute and revenue of the devil” And S. Hilary says, “If we have nothing in our possession which belongs to Cæsar, then we are free from the obligation of giving him that which is his.” Which is as though Christ said, “If ye wish to be exempt from tribute, renounce all things, as I and the apostles have done; for where there is nothing, there Cæsar hath no right.”
Politically: Christ here tacitly admonishes Cæsars and sovereigns that, being contented with what belongs to them, they must not intermeddle with the affairs of God and the Church. Wisely and piously did Constantine the Great, as Eusebius testifies (Vita Constant. iv. 24), say to the prelates of the Church, “You are bishops within the Church; I have been appointed by God a bishop without the Church.” And Valentinian the Elder said, “It is not lawful for me, who am a layman, to interfere in such matters as this.” When his son, Valentinian the Younger, was instigated by his mother, Justina, who was an Arian, to ask for a church from S. Ambrose (as he himself relates, Epist. 33 ad Marcellinam), he heard the following reply: “Do not burden yourself, 0 emperor, by thinking that you have any imperial rights over things divine. Do not lift up yourself; but if you desire a long reign, be subject to God; for it is written, ĎGive the things of God to God, the things of Cæsar to Cæsar.í To the emperor pertain palaces, but churches to the priest. You have authority over fortifications, not sacred buildings.” And Hosius of Cordova said to the Arian emperor Constantius, “Do not intermeddle with matters ecclesiastical, neither give us orders with respect to such things, but rather learn them from us. To thee God has entrusted the imperial power, to us the things of the Church.” And Theodosius the Younger said (Epist. ad Conc. Ephesin.), “It is wickedness for one who has not been enrolled in the catalogue of the holy bishops to thrust himself into ecclesiastical affairs and deliberations.”
Tropologically: S. Hilary says, “We are bound to render unto God the things of God, our body, soul, and will; for the coin of Cæsar is in gold, in which his image is engraven; but Godís coin is man, in whom is the image of God. Give your money then to Cæsar, but keep for God the consciousness of your innocence.” And S. Augustine says, “To God must be given Christian love, to kings human fear.” And S. Bernard, or whoever was the author of the book on the Lordís Passion, says (cap. 3), “Render unto Cæsar the penny which has Cæsarís image; render unto God the soul which He created after His own image and likeness, and ye shall be righteous.”
Symbolically: the author of the sermon to the Brethren in the wilderness (apud S. Augus. tom. 10, sum. 7) says, “Then do we render to Cæsar the things of Cæsar, when we pay to the Saints the reverence (dulia) which is due to them; and we give the things of God to God, when we render unto Him that Divine worship (latria) which is due to Him alone.”
Lastly: S. Augustine (in Sententiis, Sent. 15) rightly applies these words to vows, and those who make vows. “Whosoever thinks well of what he may vow to God, and what vowing pay, let him vow and render himself. This is required, and this is due. Let Cæsarís image he rendered to Cæsar, Godís image to God. This is what the Psalmist commands when he says, ĎVow, and pay unto the Lord your God; all ye who are round about Him bring presents.í” (Ps. lxxvi. 12).
Ver. 22. And when they heard, they marvelled, &c. They marvelled at the wisdom of Christ, who thus easily extricated Himself from the snare which to the Pharisees seemed so impossible of escape, and twisted it round their own necks, who had laid it, according to the words of the Psalm, “In their own net which they laid privily is their foot taken.” And again it is said (Prov. xxi. 30), “There is neither wisdom, nor prudence, nor counsel against the Lord.”
Ver. 23. Then there came unto Him, &c The Sadducees had heard Christ teaching the Resurrection, and by means of it persuading men to repentance and a holy life. They oppose Him therefore with this question, which seemed to them unanswerable, in order that they might confute and overthrow Christ and His doctrine by the absurdities in which they thought to involve Him.
Ver. 24. Saying, Master, &c. Seed, i.e., posterity, a son, as the Syriac translates, who should be called after the name of the dead, that so the dead man might seem still to survive in him. This law is found in Deut. xxv. 5.
The Sadducees expected by this question to confound Christ. For if He should say the woman was the wife of one of the men, it would incite the other brothers to wrath, and envy, and perpetual strife, since there was no reason why she should be given to one more than another. For the first husband, who might seem to have had the best right to her, lost his right by death. If, on the other hand, Christ had said that she was the wife in common of all the seven, they would have accused Him as a teacher of shameful doctrine and public incest. It was as though they said, “Such are the absurdities which follow from the doctrine of the Resurrection. Thou therefore, 0 Christ, ought not to assert it. And thus your silly followers imagine, in their stupidity, that you are wise.” Then Christ, by a word, brushes aside their fallacy, as it were a spiderís web, and shows them their ignorance, by adding what these men with their crass and carnal minds never took into consideration, namely, that in the world to come this widow would be no oneís wife at all.
Know not the Scriptures, which clearly declare the Resurrection, as Job xix. 25; 2 Macc. vii. 9 et seq. and xii. 44; Isa. xxvi 19 and lxvi. 14; Ezek. xxxvii. 1, 9; Dan. xii. 12, &c.
The power of God; Gr. δύναμις. He means, “Ye know not that God is omnipotent, and therefore can raise to life again the bodies which have been reduced to dust, even as He created them out of nothing at the beginning. For greater power is required to create a thing out of nothing than to raise it from the dead.” Christ here touches upon the double root of the Sadducean error. The first was ignorance of the Scriptures, which clearly teach the Resurrection. The other was ignorance, or want of consideration, of the omnipotence of God. This caused them to interpret the Scriptures which treat of the Resurrection as referring to a mystical resurrection from vice to virtue.
In the Resurrection, i.e., in the world to come, in Heaven, and celestial bliss. Nor are given in marriage; for women who are good and modest do not choose husbands for themselves, but are given to husbands by their parents.
But they shall be as the angels, &c. The blessed in Heaven after the Resurrection shall be like the angels, not by nature, but, 1, by purity; 2, by spiritual life, for they live by spiritual not corporeal food; 3, by incorruption and immortality; 4, by happiness and glory, in which, like the angels, they will continue for all eternity. Wherefore there will be no need then of marriage and generation; for these things have been instituted for the perpetuation of the race and the individual, by means of children. Because the father is mortal, therefore he begets a son, that after death he may live and continue in his son. But in Heaven there shall be no death, and they shall live for ever. Marriage, therefore, and procreation of children would be without an object there. Wherefore S. Luke adds (xx. 35), Neither can they die any more. Appositely says S. Augustine (Quæst. Evang. in Luc. xx. 35), “Marriage is for the sake of children, children for the sake of succession, succession on account of death. Where, therefore, death is not, marriage is not.”
S. Luke adds, And they are the sons of God, being the sons of the Resurrection. Blessed are they that rise again; they shall be like God both in body and soul; for they shall he spiritual, glorious, immortal, and eternal as God is, forasmuch as they are born the sons of the Resurrection, and are born again to a blessed and endless life, wherefore they shall neither need nor delight in the procreation of children.
From this passage Auctor Imperfecti teaches that chastity is the most angelic of all the virtues. The angels know not by experience the meaning of lust. And S. Cyril of Jerusalem (Cat. 12) calls “virginity the conversation of angels and the purity of incorporeal nature.” Wherefore S. Basil (de Virginit. 79) teaches that virginity is the seed of future incorruption; yea, that virgins anticipate here, and begin that future likeness with the angels in Heaven, and desire to be rewarded with its perfection there, by constant struggling with and victory over the flesh here. S. Basil adds that chastity makes us like not only to the angels, but to God Himself. “How great and glorious a thing,” saith he, “is virginity, which makes a corruptible man most like unto God, that he should receive the similitude of God in himself, as in a most clear mirror, from God Himself, with His favours flowing unto him after the manner of a most sweet ray (of light)!”
Elegantly and piously saith S. Bernard, “What is more beautiful than chastity, which makes clean what hath been conceived unclean, which makes a servant of an enemy, and, in short, an angel of a man? For a chaste man differs from an angel only in felicity, not in virtue. Although the chastity of the one has more happiness, the chastity of the other is stronger. Chastity stands alone in thisóthat in the place and time of mortality it represents the state of immortality. In the midst of marriage rites, it alone asserts the customs of that blessed country, in which they neither marry nor are given in marriage, affording here on earth some experience of that celestial converse.”
Lastly, from this place S. Hilary, S. Athanasius (Serm. 3, cont. Arian), S. Basil (in Ps. cxiv.), S. Jerome (in Eph. iv. 13), upon the words, “until we all come . . . to a perfect man,” seem to assert that after the Resurrection, in Heaven, there will be no female sex, as there is none in the angels, so that all females will be changed into males, and rise again in the male sex. S. Augustine testifies that many held this opinion in his own day (de Civit. xxii. 19).
But S. Augustine himself teaches the contrary. So does S. Chrysostom in this passage and Tertullian (lib. de Resurrect.), also S. Jerome and the Scholastics, passim. The a priori reason is, that the female sex is not a defect (vitium), but a natural condition. It existed in a state of innocence in Paradise. For Eve was created by God to be “the mother of all living,” as Adam was created a man. Now, in the Resurrection the same nature shall rise again altogether in every one whatsoever; and with this the difference of sex has much to do. Sex, therefore, shall then remain, lest different individuals, different men from what they were in this life, should seem to rise again. The same thing is clear from the words of Christ. They neither marry nor are given in marriage. They neither marry, spoken of males, nor are given in marriage, of females. Christ, therefore, so far from denying, presupposes that there will then be females; but in such manner that sex will not be used for the purposes of marriage and generation. And this is what is to be understood as the meaning of the Fathers above cited, who seem at first to hold a different opinion.
Vers. 31, 32. But concerning the resurrection of the dead, &c. Christ, not satisfied with having refuted the Sadducean objection to the Resurrection, proceeds to prove it to them by the words of God to Moses, I am the God of Abraham, &c. Although Christ might have cited clearer proofs of the Resurrection from Job, Isaiah, &c., He preferred this from the Pentateuch, because it only did the Sadducces receive. They rejected the Prophets. So Origen, Bede, and others. Josephus says of the Sadducees, “They are of opinion that nothing besides the Law is to be observed.” Although in that passage Josephus may be more properly taken as speaking of the Law as opposed, not to the Prophets, but to traditions (Ant. 18. 2), and to include the Prophets under the Law. For otherwise they would have been manifest heretics, and would have been disavowed as such by all the rest of the Jews. Wherefore a better reason for this quotation would seem to be, that the authority of Moses was of greater weight with the Jews than that of the Prophets. The highest veneration was given to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, as their great forefathers, whom also they regarded not as dead, but as living with God, and taking care of the Hebrews, their posterity. Whence no one would dare openly to assert that they had ceased to exist.
I am the God of Abraham. First, as though it were said, “I am God, who boast of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as of My faithful prophets and friends; and who entered into covenant with them, to give the land of Canaan to them, that is, to their descendants. And this, dwelling with Me in the Limbus of the Fathers, they continually ask of Me. And I should not glory in them unless they were alive, forasmuch as I am especially the living God, and the Giver of life. They therefore themselves live as to the soul, and in consequence shall live in the Resurrection as to the body also; and that too in a very short time, even as it were in a few days, when I shall rise from death. Then shall I raise them also from the dead, and shall carry them with Me in triumph to Heaven.” See S. Matt. xxvii. 52.
Here observe that the Sadducees and Epicurean philosophers denied the Resurrection, because they denied the immortality of the soul. The two things are closely connected. For if the soul is immortal, since it naturally has an interpendence with that (propendeat) of which it is the form, it verily behoves that the body should rise again. Otherwise the soul would continue always in an unnatural condition, and would only possess, as it were, a semi-existence.
2d. S. Chrysostom, Irenæus (l. 4, c. 11) say that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob do not signify the souls only of those Patriarchs, but the entire men. They therefore, though they be dead to men, are living unto God. They are, as it were, asleep; and God shall shortly awake them out of sleep, to a blessed and eternal life. Thus Luke adds, by way of explanation, For all live unto Him.
But when the Pharisees had heard, &c. They wished to humble Him, as imagining Him to be puffed up with His victory over the Sadducees, and to hurl back upon Himself the charge of ignorance of the Scriptures which He had brought against the Sadducees. But these foolish men only kicked against the pricks. For Christ is the eternal Truth and Wisdom, who reveals to all men the darkness of their ignorance.
And a certain lawyer asked Him, &c. This was one of the Pharisees, who put himself forward to propose a most difficult question to Jesus, in order to try whether or not He was skilful in the Law and in the Scriptures; not only in speculative matters, such as was the question of the Sadducees, but in practical matters likewise. The word tempting means the same as trying, making proof. For this man, although he pretended, in the presence of the Pharisees, that he wished to catch and entrap Jesus, yet in his heart desired to hear what Jesus would reply to this most difficult question, about which he himself hung in doubt. So, when he heard Jesus answer, that love of God and our neighbour is the greatest of the commandments, he immediately expressed his approval by saying, Well, Master, Thou hast said the truth, &c. And Jesus said to him, Thou has answered wisely: thou art not far from the kingdom of God.
Master, which is the first commandment in the Law? Bede says (in Mark c. 12) that this was a much debated point of controversy among the Jews in the time of Christ. Many of them thought that the chief commandment of the Law was concerning sacrifices and victims to be offered to God according to the Levitical Law, beceause by these God is properly worshipped as Lord above all. And this was why the Pharisees told children to say to their parents, corban. This, too, shows why the lawyer, when he heard Christís answer, said accordingly, To love (God), and oneís neighbour as oneís self, is more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices (Mark xii. 33).
Ver. 37. Jesus saith to him, &c. Moses, in Deut. vi. 5, and from thence Mark and Luke add, with all thy strength. The Persian has, with the utmost power of thy mind. This answers to the Hebrew meodecha of Deuteronomy.
Observe, as against Calvin, that this precept is in every oneís power as possible to keep. For the complete and highest love of God, in its utmost extent, is not that which is here spoken of, but that only which is to be understood comparatively. Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and soul, and mind, is the same thing as to say, Thou shalt love God with thy whole will, namely, 1st. Comparatively, that thou shalt give no portion of thy love to an idol, or to anything whatsoever that is contrary to God. 2d. Finally, that altogether thou shouldst wish God to be the final object of all thy thoughts, actions, and thy love; and that thou shouldst choose Him as thy chief good and Last End, before all things whatsoever. 3d. Appreciatively, that thou shouldst esteem nothing as of so much worth as God, in such manner that thou shouldst apply thy whole heart, that is, thy will, to fulfil all His precepts, and to be obedient to Him in all things. What is here spoken of as the whole heart, is called in other passages an entire and perfect heart. Hence the expression so often repeated, His heart was perfect with God. (See 1 Kings xiv. 8, &c.) This is what S. Bernard says in his Treatise on the love of God “The measure of loving God is to love without measure.”
Ver. 38. This is the greatest and first commandment. For the greatest virtue, and the queen of all virtues, is charity. Wherefore charity is more noble than religious worship (religione). For it is more noble to love God with all the heart than to offer Him sacrifices. You may add that charity, like a queen, commands sacrifices and all other acts of religion. Lastly, love is the most noble affection and act (of the soul), and is more excellent than fear, honour, and all others.
The second is like, &c., as thyself; Syr. as thy soul. Secondónot in order of legislation, but of dignity and perfection, although far below the first. For God is far more to be loved than all angels and men, and all creatures whatsoever. But after God, among creatures, our neighbour is to be loved above all things. Like, in love and affection, and in the duties and offices which spring from them.
Christ here omits love of ourselves. For this is innate with all, and a natural property, as it were; in such wise, that if thou hast charity towards others, thou shouldst exercise it first to thyself. “For he who is bad to himself, to whom will he be good?” Whence Christ here presupposes that love of oneself, yea, appoints it, as it were, the ideal and the measure of love to our neighbour, saying love as thyself. Wherefore S. Augustine says (lib. 1, de Doct. Christ. c. 27), “Love of thyself is not here omitted, for it is said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.”
In the first place, then, God is to be loved with the whole heart above everything. Secondly, oneís own self. Thirdly, oneís neighbour. In the expression, as thyself, the word as does not signify equality, but similarity of love. For we ought to love ourselves more than our neighbour; but yet the same things which we desire for ourselves we ought to desire for our neighbour. (See Lev. xix. 18, where I have expounded the law.) The Hebrew רצ properly signifies companion. But the Vulgate translates neighbour, in order to give a great stimulus of love to every one; because every man, which is what is here meant, is very near, and most closely united to us, and, as it were, our brother. This is both by creation, for mankind have been created by the same God the Father; as also by recreation, because we have been regenerated by the same Father, Christ, in baptism; and we are fed by His Body and Blood in the Eucharist.
He commands, therefore, that God shall be loved with the whole heart; and our neighbour, not with the whole heart, but as ourselves. This does not meanó1st That thou shouldst love thyself only, and neglect thy neighbour, which is what self-love, arising from a nature corrupted by sin, suggests; but that thou shouldst extend to thy neighbour the love wherewith thou lovest thyself. 2d. That as thou dost not love thyself frigidly, nor feignedly, but ardently and sincerely; so, in like manner, shouldst thou love thy neighbour. This is what Christ sanctioned when He said, “Whatsoever ye would that men should do unto you, do likewise unto them.” And what Tobias, when he was dying, commanded his son (Tob. iv. 16), “What thou hatest that another should do unto thee, take heed that thou do not to another.” “For this is the law of love,” says S. Augustine (de Vera Religion. c. 46), that the good things which a man wishes to come to himself, he should wish likewise for his neighbour. And the evils which he wishes not to happen to himself, he should be unwilling for them to happen to him.” Dost thou wish that thy property, thy honour, thy wife, thy life should be taken from thyself? Do not take them from others. Dost thou wish that they should be given and preserved to thyself? Do thou likewise preserve them for others.
On these two, &c. All the precepts of the Law and the Prophets rest upon these two commandments of love. Indeed, they spring and grow out of them, just as many branches spring from one tree and one root. Wherefore in these two precepts all are contained, as in their principles and premisses. For all commandments are included in the Decalogue. And the Decalogue contains nothing else except precepts of love to God and our neighbour. The three commandments of the first Table deal with love to God. The seven commandments of the second Table deal with love to our neighbour, as S. Augustine says (lib. 8, de Ttin. c. 7). Wherefore the Apostle says (Rom. xiii. 9), “For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” For all the precepts of mercy, and of all the other virtues, natural and supernatural, have to do with these two commandments of love to God and our neighbour, and are contained in them. The precepts of faith, hope, and charity, and of religious worship, are included in love to God. The precepts of justice, truth, fidelity, friendship, mercy, gratitude, are included in love to our neighbour. Christ, therefore, signifies that these two precepts ought to be always in every oneís heart, and ought to direct their whole life.
Ver. 41. When the Pharisees were gathered together, &c. This was in the Temple, as appears from Mark xii. 35. Christ made use of this occasion of the Pharisees tempting Him to instruct them concerning the Person and dignity of Messiah, that He might teach how to return good for evil, and turn a temptation into an occasion of instruction. He taught them that Messiah, or the Christ, was not a mere man, as they supposed, but the God-Man. They must not wonder, therefore, that He asserted Himself to be the Son of God.
Ver. 42. Whose Son is Christ? They say unto Him, Davidís. They ought to have said, that Christ, as God, will be the Son of God; Christ, as man, will be the son of David. But as to the first, the Pharisees were either ignorant or unbelieving. Wherefore they only made the second reply. But even from it Christ draws and proves the former. When Peter was asked, whom he thought Christ to be, being inspired by God he answered, Thou art the Christ the Son of the Living God. But the Pharisees were devoid of the Divine inspiration, wherefore they savoured only of human things, and believed Christ to be only a man.
Observe: Luke and Mark relate these things somewhat differently; but the apparent discrepancy is to be reconciled by considering that the meaning of the two former Evangelists is, that Christ, in the first place, asked the Pharisees, “Whose son was Christ?” They replied that the Scribes, or Doctors of the Law, said, “that He was the son of David.” Then Christ rejoined, “How say the Scribes that Christ is the son of David, when David calls Him his Lord?”
David in Spirit, being, inspired by the Holy Ghost. For the Holy Ghost dictated the Psalms to David, endued him with their living sense. Therefore it was not so much David in Spirit, as Spirit in David, which thus spake.
Calleth Him lord, for the son is less than his father. Wherefore the father is not wont to call the son his lord, but the son his father, as is common with the Italians and other nations. From this passage the modern Rabbins are confuted, who expound this 110th Psalm not of Messiah, or Christ, but of Abraham, or David, or Hezekiah. For the Scribes and Pharisees of Christís time understood it of Christ, and regarded it as a prophecy of Him. For had they not done so, they would have replied that Christ wrongly applied the Psalm to Messiah, when it ought to be understood of Abraham or David, &c. That it does apply to Christ is evident from the 4th verse of the same Psalm, With Thee is the beginning (secum principium, Vulg.), the headship, which is the force of the Heb. נדבוֹת, nedabot, and the Gr. α̉ρχή, in the day of thy strength, in the splendours of the saints: from the womb, before the day-star, I have begotten Thee (Vulg.). This can refer to no one save Christ. Lastly, Jonathan, the Chaldee, Rabbi Barachias, R. Levi, and the ancient Rabbins take it as referring only to Christ.
Ver. 44. Saying, The Lord said, &c. From this verse Christ clearly proves that the Messiah was not a mere man, as the Pharisees believed, but that He was Davidís God, and therefore his Lord. The meaning therefore is as if David said, “The Lord God hath said to my Lord, even Christ, Sit on My right hand, in that after the Death and Resurrection of Christ He will raise Him up, and exalt Him above all powers and principalities, and will set Him next to Himself in Heaven, that He may reign with the most perfect happiness, glory, and authority over all created things.”
The Heb. for said is נאם, neum, i.e., pronounced, spoken prophetically, decreed by the Lord concerning Davidís Lord, and therefore something fixed, certain, immutable. For neum is, by metathesis, the same as Amen, or sure and faithful. And the meaning is, that “God the Father from eternity hath firmly and inviolably decreed concerning Christ His Son, not as He is God, but in that He became Incarnate and was made man (for this is the force of the Heb. אדונ׳, Adoni), that He is, by virtue both of the Hypostatic Union and of the Redemption which He accomplished on the Cross, of all men, and therefore of David, the Lord.” He hath said, interiorly in His own mind, from all eternity. But He said also, in the sense that He will say at the time of the Ascension of Christ in triumph into Heaven, “Come and sit on My right hand; reign and triumph in the glory of My majesty.” So S. Jerome, Theodoret, and others. For this 110th Psahn celebrates the most “glorious Kingdom of Christ both in Heaven and earthóthat kingdom in which Christ, after His Ascension, began from Zion and Jerusalem to reign over all nations, and by His Apostles to bring them to His faith and worship, until He shall put down all His enemies, that is, all the wicked, under His feet in the day of judgment.”
Thy footstool. This means, reign with Me in glory, until I make all Thine enemies subject unto Thee. Thus it is said that Sapor, king of Persia, made use of the Emperor Aurelian, whom he had taken captive in battle, to mount upon his horse, placing his foot upon the back of the emperor, as upon a kind of footstool.
The expression until here does not signify end or conclusion, but continuation and amplification of sitting and reigning. Reign even in the time which seems contrary and opposed to Thy Kingdom, even when Thine enemies shall seem to reign rather than Thee. Reign even in the midst of crosses, persecutions, and the tumults of Satan and his ministers.
And no one was able to answer Him a word; Syr. to give Him a reason; because, as I have said, they believed Messiah to be a mere man. “They were silent,” says S. Chrysostom, “being smitten with a mortal blow.” “They preferred,” says S. Augustine, “to be broken to pieces in their swelling taciturnity, rather than to be instructed by lowly confession.”