Ver. 1. And again He entered into Capernaum after some days. A few MSS. read, after eight days.
Ver. 2. And many came together, so that there was no room, &c. See what is said in the Introduction to this Gospel.
Ver. 5. Son, thy sins are forgiven thee. Hear Bede, “When He is about to heal, He first forgives the man his sins, to show that he was suffering for his faults.” For men are afflicted with bodily ills, either for the increase of merit, as Job and the martyrs; or for the preservation of humility, as Paul; or for the correction of sin, as the sister of Moses, and this paralytic; or for the glory of God, as the man who was born blind; or for a beginning of damnation, as Herod.
Bede adds that this paralytic was carried by four bearers, to signify that a man in the faith of his soul is lifted up by four virtues to deserve soundness, namely, by prudence, fortitude, justice, and temperance.
Ver. 14. He saw Levi (the son) of Alphæus, i.e., He saw Matthew, who by another name is called Levi before he was called by Christ, for after his vocation he is always called Matthew. 0f Alphæus, i.e., the son, as the Syriac expresses it. This Alphæus is a different person from the Alphæus who was the husband of Mary of Cleopas, who was the father of James the Less and Jude (Matt. x. 3). Luke and Mark call Matthew Levi, out of regard for his good name, because this name of Levi was known but to few. But he calls himself Matthew, to humiliate himself, and to profess openly that he was a sinner and a publican.
And rising up, &c., i.e., leaving everything. Wherefore Bede saith, “He left his own possessions who was wont to seize those of others. He left also the accounts of his taxes imperfect, and not cast up, because the Lord had so inflamed him that he straightway followed Him who called him.”
Ver. 26. Under Abiathar. You will say that it is said in I Sam. xxi. 6 that this was done under Ahimelech, the father of Abiathar. I answer, first, that Abiathar was even then the pontiff together with his father, because when his father was absent, or sick, or otherwise engaged, he discharged the High Priestís office; and he was shortly to succeed his father, at his death, in the pontificate. Listen to Bede: That the Lord calls Abiathar the High Priest instead of Ahimelech involves no discrepancy, for both were on the spot when David came and asked for and received the loaves. And when Ahimelech was slain by Saul, Abiathar fled to David, and was his companion through the whole of his exile. Afterwards, when David was king, he received the rank of the high-priesthood; and continuing in the pontificate during the whole of Davidís reign, he became much more celebrated than his father, and so was more worthy to be called High Priest by the Lord, even during his fatherís lifetime.
Second, and better, It is clear from Scripture that both father and son bore both names, and were called sometimes Abiathar, sometimes Ahimelech. This appears from 2 Sam. viii. 17, 1 Chron. xviii. 16 and xxiv. 6. So Jansen, Toletus, &c.
The Sabbath was made (Syr. created) for man, &c. That is, the Sabbath was instituted for the benefit of man, that man, by the rest of the Sabbath, should refresh and restore his body, fatigued by the continuous labour of six days of the week; and that he should apply his mind to the things which concern his eternal salvation, such as hearing and meditating upon the law of God. The force of the argument is this: Since the Sabbath was instituted for the sake of man, and not man for the sake of the Sabbath, therefore, if the Sabbatical rest be hurtful to man, it must be abandoned, and the labour undertaken that man may be benefited. Therefore rightly do I permit My disciples to engage in the moderate labour of plucking the ears of corn on the Sabbath, to satisfy their hunger. For it is better that the rest of the Sabbath should be broken than that men should perish.
Therefore the Son of Man, &c. Some understand the therefore in this place as properly inferential from what has gone before, thus: Since the Sabbath was made for man, and the Son of Man, that is, Christ, is Lord of all men, and of all things which pertain to manís health, therefore He is Lord also of the Sabbath, so as to be able to dispense from it. But it is better and simpler to take the therefore not as inferential, but as complementary for lastly, in short. Wherefore the Arabic so translates, and makes the passage of the following effect: “Lastly, the Son of Man, that is, I, Christ, because I am the Messias and God, am Lord of the Sabbath, I who instituted it at the beginning for manís benefit, and therefore am able for the benefit of man to order, to relax, or to abolish it. This is the fresh and final reason by which Christ proves to the Scribes that it was lawful to pluck the ears of corn on the Sabbath to satisfy hunger.”
Mystically: Says Theophylact, Christ healing on the Sabbath signifies that those who have rest in their passions are able to heal sinners agitated by their passions, and lead them to virtue. More fully Bede. The disciples, he says, are teachers. The corn means those planted in the faith, whom the teachers visit, and hungering for their salvation, pluck away from earthly things. And by their hands, i.e., by their examples, they bring them away from the lust of the flesh, as it were out of husks. They eat them, that is, they incorporate them as members into the Church. And they do it upon the Sabbath, because this is for the hope of future rest. Return to top
Ver. 4. And He saith to them, Is it lawful to do good on the Sabbath-days, or to do evil? to save life, or to destroy? But they held their peace. The translator reads άπολέσαι, that is, to destroy. We now read α̉ποκτει̃ναι, i.e, to kill. But to destroy is better. For the Gospel is speaking of a maimed person, who had a withered hand, not of one who was dead. With reference to healing this maimed person, the Scribes had proposed a doubt or scruple, Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath-days? Christ resolved this doubt by means of another question, not dubious, but plain, Is it lawful to do well on the Sabbath, or to do evil; to save a soul, or to destroy it? (Vulg.). A soul, i.e., a man, says S. Augustine. The meaning is, if any one should not succour or do a kindness to one who is sick or heavily afflicted, like this maimed man, on the Sabbath, when he is able to do it, as I, Christ, am able, he does him an injury; for he refuses him the help which is due to him by the law of love. In a similar sense S. Augustine says, “If thou hast not fed the hungry, thou hast killed him,” because thou hast allowed him to die of hunger. In like manner, if thou hast not delivered him who was about to be killed by a robber, when thou mightest have done so, thou hast slain him; for his death will be reckoned to thee by God for guilt and punishment, in exactly the same manner as if thou hadst killed him thyself. Christ, therefore, signifies that not to do good on the Sabbath to a sick person, when thou art able, is to do him evil. But it is never lawful to do evil. Therefore it is always lawful to do good to such persons, even on the Sabbath. For the Sabbath is devoted to God and good works. And thus it is a more grievous sin to do evil on the Sabbath than upon other days. For by this means the sanctity of the Sabbath is violated, even as by doing good upon it it is the better kept and hallowed.
Ver. 5. And looking round upon them with anger. Being angry at their unbelief, says the Interlinear, showing by His countenance that He was wroth with the blind, and obstinate, and perverse minds of the Scribes, in that they ascribed Christís miracles of goodness, which He wrought upon the Sabbath, to a breach of the law enjoining the observance of that day. From hence it is plain that there was in Christ real anger, sorrow, and the rest of the passions and affections, as they exist in other men, only subject to reason. Wherefore anger was in Him a whetstone of virtue. “Anger,” says Franc. Lucas, “is in us a passion; in Christ it was, as it were, an action. It arises spontaneously in us; by Christ it was stirred up in Himself. When it has arisen in us, it disturbs the other faculties of the body and mind, nor can it be repressed at our own pleasure; but when stirred up in Christ, it acts as He wills it to act, it disturbs nothing,óin fine, it ceases when He wills it to cease.”
This is what S. Leo (Epist. 11) says, “The bodily senses were vigorous in Christ without the law of sin; and the reality of His affections was governed by His soul and deity.”
Lactantius says (lib. de Ira Dei ex Posidon.), “Anger is the lust of punishing him by whom you think yourself to have been injured.” Wherefore anger in other men springs from self-love; but in Christ it sprang from love of God, because He loved God perfectly. Hence He was infinitely grieved and angry at offences against God by reason of sin, and committed by sinners, wishing to compensate for those offences by punishing or correcting sinners and unbelievers. Wherefore Christís anger was zeal, or seasoned with zeal, even as in the angels and the blessed it is not anger but zeal. (See S. Thomas, 3 p. q. art 9.)
Being grieved at the blindness, Syriac, hardness or callousness, of their hearts. Grieved, Gr. συλλυπούμενος, i.e., condoling with and commiserating them, because, being blinded and hardened by envy and hatred, they would not acknowledge Him to be the Messiah, but spake evil of His kindness to the sick upon the Sabbath-days. It is meant, therefore, that the anger of Jesus did not proceed from the desire of vengeance, but was mingled with pity; and that Jesus was angry with sin, but sorry for sinners, insomuch as He loved them, and strove to save them. Lastly, all such anger is mingled with sorrow; for he that is angry grieves for the evil at which he is angry. Thus the sorrow for the evil causes and sharpens anger, that it may strive to remove the evil at which it is grieved.
Ver. 9. That a little ship should wait upon Him. Gr. προσκαρτερη̃, i.e., should be close at hand, that He might betake Himself to it when the multitude pressed upon Him.
Ver. 10. Plagues, Gr.μάστιγας, i.e., scourgings, viz., strokes and diseases, with which God chastises and scourges men on account of their sins.
Ver. 11. And unclean spirits fell down before Him, i.e., they fell clown, kneeling at His feet, not out of love and devotion, but from fear, deprecating punishment, that He would not drive them out of the men, and banish them to hell.
Saying, Thou art the Son of God. You will ask whether the devils really knew that Jesus was the Messiah or the Christ, the Son of God? I answer, it is plain from this passage, and from S. Matthew viii. 29, and from S. Luke iv. 41, and from the Fathers and commentators generally, that the devils, although they did not fully know Christ at His baptism, and before His baptism, because they afterwards tempted Him, that they might learn who He was; yet subsequently they did recognise who He was, from the many and great miracles, which they clearly saw were true miracles, and far transcending their own power and that of the angels. They saw that what Christ did was wrought alone by the power of God, with this end in view, that He might prove, first, that He was the Messiah promised to the fathers; second, that He was God, and the Son of God. Wherefore, I say that the devils knew that Jesus was the Messiah and the Son of God, especially when they compared the Scriptures and the ancient prophecies with the miracles of Christ. For they saw that Jesus was to be such a person, and would work such miracles, as they had predicted.
Observe, however, that the devils did not so clearly know this truth, as not, on the other hand, when they thought of the greatness of the mystery, and of the infinite dignity and humiliation of Christ incarnate (which would appear a thing of itself incredible, especially to the devil, being most proud), somewhat to hesitate and be in doubt whether Jesus were really Messiah and the Son of God. They the more hesitated, yea, they were ignorant of the object and fruit of this mystery, that indeed by the incarnation and death of Christ men were to be redeemed, and that the kingdom of God was to be erected in them. Especially were they blinded by their hatred of Jesus, because they saw that many souls were delivered from them by Him. Hence they felt that He must be altogether opposed and crushed by them. Whence it came to pass that they, being blinded by their hatred of Jesus, did not understand the Holy Scriptures, otherwise so plain, concerning the cross of Christ and our redemption thereby. Thus, by means of the Jews, they crucified and slew Jesus as an irreconcilable enemy, and thus they ignorantly destroyed their own kingdom. Thus S. Leo (Serm. 9, de Pass.), “Nor did the devil himself perceive that by his rage against Christ he destroyed his own principality; who would not have lost the rights he had gained by his ancient fraud if he had refrained from shedding the blood of the Lord Jesus. But by his malice, being greedy of doing harm, when he rushes upon Him, he falls; when he would capture, he is taken; whilst he pursues a mortal, he stumbles against the Saviour.”
And Simon He surnamed Peter. Several Greek codices prefix to these words, πρω̃τον Σίμων, first Peter. The rest omit them. The same thing is sufficiently gathered from the fact that Peter is here first named by Christ, and his name changed, so that he who was first called Simon, is afterwards called in Syriac Cephas, in Greek and Latin Petrus, that is, a rock, because he was to be made by Christ the rock and foundation of the Church.
And James the son of Zebedee (James is named first because he was the elder), and John the brother of James. And he called the Boanerges, which is, Sons of thunder. He saith not name, but names, because they were two. They were thunderers, thundering forth, as it were, Christís Gospel and doctrines.
Boanerges: so the Arabic, Egyptian, and Persian. The Ethiopic has Baanerges. This name is a corruption, for in Hebrew, or rather in Syriac, it would be Banerges or Bonerges, as it is found in certain MSS., as Franc. Lucas attests in his Notation. For the Syrians, like the Bavarians and the Westphalians, pronounce the vowel a like o, and e like a. For Semuel they say Samuel, and for bene, or sons, bane. It may be that Banerges has been changed into Boanerges by persons ignorantly supposing that boa signifies the sound of thunder.
Banerges, as Jansen observes, is a compound word, consisting of כני, bane, sons, and כנש, regesch, a roaring, i.e., of thunder. Thus Jupiter is called by the Greeks ύψιβρεμέτης, loftily roaring, i.e., thundering on high. The Syriac version has in this place bane reges, sons of thunder, instead of the Hebrew expression, bene raam. For Christ here spoke in the Syriac of that age. There is here, then, a metathesis or transposition of the letters r and e, banerges, instead of bane reges. A similar transposition is common in many languages, as Angelus Caninius shows (Hellen. p. 64). Thus, for καρδία the Greek poets say κραδίη, κρατερός for καρτερός; for νεϋρον the Latins say nervus; for άρπαξ, rapax; for μορφή, forma. Punic has gerac for άκρα, i.e., arx, a citadel. Etruscan has bigr, virgo, a virgin; darag, gradus, a step; elmara, mulier, a woman; cabbirim, cherubim, &c.
The meaning, then, is as follows: Christ called James and John by a new name, Banerges, Sons of thunder, because He charged them above the rest of the Apostles with the glorious preaching of His Gospel, that by the holiness of their lives and their miracles they might be like thunderbolts, and might, by the power of their voices, shake as with claps of thunder unbelievers and barbarians, and bring them to repentance and a holy life. This appears in the history of S. James. Because of his liberty and zeal in preaching, he was the first among the Apostles to incur the wrath of Herod and the Jews, by whom he was beheaded (Acts xii.). The same converted the Spaniards, and by their means the inhabitants of the East and West Indies, to the faith of Christ. John preached for a very long period, and very efficaciously. He was the last of the Apostles to depart this life, which he did after he had subdued Asia and other provinces to Christ by his preaching. Hence, also, his Gospel begins with divine thunder, as it were an eagle of God crying with a voice of thunder, In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God (S. Epiphanius, Hæres. 73). Wherefore, when he was writing his Gospel, there were lightnings and thunderings from heaven, like as it lightened from Mount Sinai when God gave the law to Moses. So Baronius shows from Metaphrastes (A.D. 99 in fin).
See what I have said on Ezek. i. 14, on the words, “They went like a flash of lightning,” where I have given a threefold meaning to the expression, Sons of thunder. Thus Pericles, as an orator, seemed, says Quintilian, not so much to speak as to thunder and lighten. Wherefore he was called by the poets the Olympian, that is, the heavenly.
Ver. 21. He is beside himself. See what has been said on S. Matt. xii. 46. The Arabic has, saying that He is foolish. The Greek is ε̉ξέστη, i.e., He has gone out of his mind, through too great piety and zeal. The Syriac renders literally. Others render differently, saying that He has swooned, from hunger, because, on account of the multitude, He had no leisure to eat. (Top)
Ver. 10. And when He was alone: Gr. καταμόνας, Vulg. singularis, solitary, by Himself.
The twelve that were with Him asked Him. The Greek, Syriac, and Arabic have with the twelve, meaning that the seventy disciples, who, with the twelve Apostles, were followers of Jesus, asked Him what was the meaning of the parable of the Sower.
Ver. 21. Doth a candle come in, i.e., is it brought into a house, to be put under a bushel or under a bed? That it should be hidden under a vessel? No! but that it should be exposed publicly, and give light to all. Christ signified by this parable that it was not His will that the mysteries of this parable and the other doctrines of the Gospel should be concealed and hidden, but that His disciples should unfold them in their time, and communicate to others who at that time were not able to receive them. It was His will that they should publish and preach them openly. This is plain from what follows.
Ver. 22. For there is nothing hid which shall not be made manifest; neither was it made secret, but that it may come abroad. This is the Greek and Latin reading. Although the doctrine of the Gospel and My deeds and words are as yet hidden and secret, I do not wish them always to remain so. At the proper time they must be openly proclaimed by you, 0 My disciples. So SS. Jerome and Bede. This is what Christ says in S. Matt. x. 27, What I say unto you in darkness, that speak ye in light, &c.
Ver. 24. And He said unto them, Take heed what ye hear. The meaning, says Euthymius, is, “Attend to the things which ye hear of Me, that ye may understand them, and commit them to memory, that when the proper time shall arrive ye may communicate them to others.” And He assigns the reason, which, as Theophylact says, is, “That none of My words may escape you.” Hear Bede, “He teaches us carefully to hear His words, in such manner that we should carefully digest them in our hearts, and be able to bring them forth for the hearing of others.”
In what measure you shall mete, it shall be measured to you again, and more shall be given to you. He means, if ye largely and copiously communicate and preach My doctrine to others, I also will copiously impart to you more understanding and greater wisdom, grace, and glory, as a recompense and reward to you. Thus fountains, the more they pour out above, the more they receive from below. Therefore, let preachers, teachers, and catechists learn from this promise of Christ, that the more pains they bestow in teaching others, the more grace and wisdom they will receive from Christ themselves, according to the words, “He that soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly, and he that soweth in blessings,” i.e., abundantly, “shall reap also in blessings” (2 Cor. ix. 6), Vulg.
Ver. 25. For he that hath, to him shall be given; and he that hath not, that also which he hath shall be taken away from him. Hath, that is, uses, and shows that he hath by using. For such a one hath indeed, but he who useth not a gift or grace hath it but in name. This is what theologians say, that he who uses his grace hath it in a second act; but he who uses it not hath it only in the first act, that is, in power and possession. The meaning therefore is, he who, by study or by imparting to others, uses learning given him by God, an increase of learning shall be given; but from him who uses not his learning, shall God take it away.
Ver. 26. And He said, So is the kingdom of God, as if a man should cast seed into the earth. This is another parable, different from that of the Sower, which precedes it. Both, however, are taken from seed, but differently applied and explained. Moreover, by the seed, as SS. Chrysostom and Bede rightly explain, both here and in S. Matt. xiii., is signified evangelical doctrine. By the field, hearers; by the harvest, the end of the world, or each oneís death, is meant.
Ver. 27. And should sleep, that is to say, the sower, and rise, night and day, and the seed should spring and grow up whilst he knoweth not. Some refer the words rise night and day to the seed; meaning that the seed should germinate, it knoweth not how, that is, like a man sleeping. More obviously, S. Chrysostom, Theophylact, Maldonatus, and others refer the words to the sower, so that night pertains to the word sleep, day to the word rise. The meaning is, As the husbandman who has sowed is sleeping idly in the night, and is employed in various occupations during the day, and thinks not about the seed, that seed is germinating by its own innate force, and is growing up whilst the husbandman knoweth it not. So also it puts forth first the blade, then the ear, and then the full corn in the ear. So, too, in the same manner is the doctrine and preaching of the Gospel. They were sown by Christ and His Apostles, that is, they were preached from small beginnings. But by degrees they grew insensibly into the mature and mighty harvests of the faithful, whilst Christ was, as it were, sleeping in heaven, and permitting the Jews and unbelieving nations and tyrants to rise up against His Apostles, and persecute and kill them. It increases, I say, and propagates itself gradually, until it fills the world, when, the harvest being ripe, the corn, i.e., the elect, shall be gathered into the granary of heaven.
By this parable, then, is signified the power of the Gospel, which by degrees has pervaded the whole world, and is converting it to Christ. Tacitly, also, it is signified that preachers of the Gospel must not glory in their preaching, as though they by it were converting the world. For, as the Apostle saith, “Neither he that planteth is anything, nor he that watereth, but God that giveth the increase (1 Cor. iii. 7). Christ further intimates that preachers ought not to be downcast if they see small and tardy fruits of their preaching, because God will, by the few converted by them, gradually convert many more. So S. James, by means of seven, or, as some say, by nine, whom he converted in Spain, converted the whole country.
Ver. 28. For the earth of itself bringeth forth fruit; first the blade, then the ear, afterwards the full corn in the ear. Arabic, Because the earth alone bringeth forth fruit; . . . afterwards the ear is filled, and when the fruit is perfect, then the sickle is applied, because it is harvest. Thus, in like manner, by the preaching of the Gospel, the faith of Christ and His Church grew by various degrees of increase.
Moraliter: Expositors adapt these three expressions, blade, ear, full corn, to a threefold increment of virtues and merits. For the earth of our heart germinates, first, the blade, when it conceives good desires; secondly, the ear, when it proceeds to earnest working; thirdly, the grain, when it brings the works of virtue to full maturity and perfection. Theophylact says, “The blade is the beginning of good; the ear is when we resist temptations; the fruit is perfect work.”
Hear S. Gregory (Hom. 15, in Ezek.), “To produce the blade is to hold the first tender beginning of good. The blade arrives at perfection when virtue conceived in the mind leads to advancement in good works. The full corn fructifies in the ear when virtue makes such great progress that it has its perfect work.”
Christ here intimates that the Apostles, and those who work for the conversion of souls, ought with long-suffering to await the fruit of their labours, as husbandmen do. They ought to cherish those who are tender in the faith, and gradually lead them on to the height of virtue by teaching, admonishing, and exercising them. Let no one, therefore, says Bede, who is beheld to be of good purpose in the tenderness of his mind, be despised, because the fruit takes its rise from the blade, and becomes corn.
Symbolically: The Scholiast says the blade was in the law of nature, the ear in the law of Moses, the fruit in the Gospel.
Ver. 29. And when the fruit is brought forth, immediately he pulleth in the sickle. Greek, όταν δὲ παραδω̃ ό καρπός, that is, when indeed the fruit has brought itself forth; for fruit is here in the nominative case. The Syriac has, when it has become fat; Arabic, when it is perfect. This is a Hebraism, for in Hebrew verbs in the conjugation Hitpael have a passive, or reflex, signification, by which the agent receives the action in himself, so that the agent is the same as the recipient of the action. Wherefore some codices read, when the fruit has produced itself. Otherwise Maldonatus explains, “When the fruit, that is, the seed itself, which was the fruit of former seed, shall have brought forth, that is to say, other seed from itself.”
Ver. 33. And with many such parables He spake the word unto them, as they were able to hear it, that is, as they were worthy to hear, as Maldonatus says, from Bede and Euthymius. More simply and plainly, Theophylact and Franc. Lucas explain with such, i.e., common and easy parables, which all could understand, not with what was abstruse; so that they might take in their literal drift, and perceive that there was something heavenly and divine lying beneath the surface, although they did not comprehend each particular. Thus, by what was known of the parable they were stirred up by Christ to investigate what lay hid.
Ver. 36. As He was in the ship. The disciples took up Christ upon the deep sea, that they might cross over it with Him; Christ, I say, as He was in the ship, namely, sitting and teaching the people standing on the shore. This is plain from ver. 1, for afterwards it appears that He changed His position, sleeping in the ship. It marks the ready obedience of the disciples, and in turn Christís facile accommodation of Himself to their promptitude, that He might escape the tumult of the thronging multitude. The Syriac translates, when He was in he ship; the Arabic, they took Him up in the ship.
And there were other ships with Him. It happened by the counsel of God that the many persons who were carried in those ships should be spectators and witnesses of the miracle very shortly to be wrought by Christ, namely, the appeasing the tempest. (top)
Ver. 7. I adjure thee by God. Because the devil knew that Christ would grant nothing to his prayers or deserts, he inter-poses the name of God, to which he knew Christ gave the highest reverence. It was as though he said, “I entreat Thee, by the authority of the Divine name, and as far as I can, I constrain Thee, that Thou wilt not cast me out of this body, and banish me to hell.” For this was the greatest torment to a demon.
Ver. 9. My name is Legion; Syriac, our name, &c., adding, by way of explanation, for we are many. A legion contained properly 6666 soldiers. See what is said in Matt. xxvi. 53. In this place a certain number is put for an uncertain. Observe, the devil is Godís ape. Hence he imitates God, who is “the Lord of hosts,” that is, of angels. In a like way the devil calls himself legion, because he leads out many companions into line of battle to fight against God and His faithful people. Wherefore me have a right to dread that battle, knowing that their warfare is not with men, but devils, and those many in number, who conspire for their destruction. Therefore they ought to implore the help of God and the holy angels, as Elisha did (2 Kings vi. 17).
Ver. 25. And a woman which had an issue of blood, &c. This woman was of Cæsarea Philippi, which was formerly called Dan, and afterwards Paneas. This is the celebrated woman who, being healed by Christ of her issue of blood, erected in memory of so great a benefit that statue to Christ at Cæsarea Philippi from whose base grew an herb which cured all diseases (Eus. H. E. vii. 14). Julian the Apostate threw the statue down, and set up one of himself in its place. But this was shivered to pieces by lightning, as S. Jerome testifies, and the Tripartite History (l. vi. c. 19). Our innovators, who cast away, burn the relics of the saints, whilst they preserve and venerate the relics of their own leaders, act like Julian the Apostate. For the Zuinglians, or followers of Zuinglius, preserve with great devotion his heart, which was found among the ashes when he was burnt. So says Capito in his Life of Zuinglius.1
It is not probable that this woman who had the issue of blood was Martha, the sister of Mary Magdalene, as S. Ambrose thinks (lib. de Salom. c. v.). For Martha lived at Bethany, near Jerusalem, not at Cæsarea. The Gospel of Nicodemus says that her name was Veronica, the same who gave Christ a handkerchief to wipe the sweat when He was going to be crucified, and on which He left an impression of His face.
Ver. 28. For she said, If I shall touch but His garment, I shall be whole. Matthew (ix. 20), instead of garment, has the hem of His garment. This hem was a fringe of threads attached to the bottom of the robe, of a hyacinth or violet colour, which God commanded the Jews to wear, that it might put them continually in mind of Godís precepts and of heaven itself. This Christ wore, according to the law, as a mark that He belonged to the Jewish race and religion.
There is here an example and proof of the use and efficacy of holy relics. For of such a nature was the hem or fringe of Christ which healed her that had the issue of blood. Calvin replies that the woman was superstitious, and that a certain amount of superstition was mingled with what she did. But Christ and Mark refute this; for they ascribe her healing not to superstition, but to her faith, and commend her for it. For in the 30th verse it is said, And Jesus, immediately knowing in Himself that virtue was gone out from Him (de illo), i.e., from (de) His fringe. And 34, Daughter, thy faith hath saved thee, go in peace. Rightly says S. Hilary, “Like as the Author of nature has given to a magnet the power of attracting iron, so did Christ give to His garment the power of healing her who touched in faith.” And if it were so with a garment, how much more with the Eucharist? Hence S. Gorgonia was healed of a severe disease by touching the Eucharist. (See Nazianzen, Orat. 11.) So, too, was S. Catherine of Sienna, and many others. (See Salmeron, tom. 6, tract. 15.)
Tropologically: The issue of blood, says Bede, is fleshly delight, as gluttony, luxury. The most pure flesh of Christ heals these when piously received in the Eucharist.
Ver. 30. And Jesus . . . had gone out of Him, and had healed her; not as if any quality had gone out from Christís hem, or as if this virtue had gone from place to place, from the hem into the woman who had the issue of blood, but by reason of the effect which it produced in the woman. For the virtue abiding in Christ wrought the effect of healing in the woman. Like as, saith Theophylact, the learning of doctors is said to be communicated to their disciples, when, nevertheless, the learning itself remains in the doctors, and produces its effect only, that is, a like knowledge in the disciples.
Observe, this virtue of healing and working miracles conferred by the Word upon the humanity of Christ, was not a physical quality. For that would have been infinite, as having divine and infinite efficacy, of which the humanity of Christ was not capable, being created. But it was a moral quality, that is to say, an instrumental virtue. For the humanity of Christ did these things as an instrument of the divinity.
Who hath touched My garments? Christ asks this question, says Bede, that the healing which He had given to the woman, being declared and made known, might advance in many the virtue of faith, and draw them to believe in Christ.
Ver. 33. But the woman fearing and trembling, knowing what was done in her, came and fell down before Him, and told Him all the truth. Fearing and trembling, not because she had been guilty of an act of superstition, as Calvin would have it, but because she had approached secretly, and, unclean, had touched Christ the clean, and had, as it were, stolen a gift of healing from Christ without His knowledge. Therefore she was afraid lest Christ should rebuke her, or lest He should recall the benefit, or afflict her with a worse evil. Hence it is plain that she had not perfect faith and hope in Christ, or she would not have thought that she could be hid from Him, nor would she have been afraid of Him. Wherefore Christ said, to reassure her, Daughter, be of good courage, as Matthew says.
Ver. 34. But He said to her, Daughter, thy faint hath made thee whole. Christ here confirms the healing which had been conferred upon this trembling woman. It was as though He said to her, “Not My mere fringe, which with great faith of obtaining, healing thou hast touched, hath saved thee, but chiefly My omnipotence, but secondarily thine own faith. For this, either as a disposition or a meritorious cause, has delivered thee from the issue of blood, which deliverance I ratify and confirm.”
Go in peace. For God dwells in peace, that she may know that she is cleansed from her sins. For whom Christ healed in body, He likewise sanctified in soul.
Ver. 39. The damsel is not dead, but sleepeth. For although she is really dead, yet she shall be forthwith awakened by Me from death as from sleep. Or, as the Scholiast in S. Jerome says, “To you she is dead, to Me she sleepeth.”
Talitha cumi. In Hebrew a boy is called ieled, for which the Syrians and Chaldeans say tali, from whence comes the feminine talitha, that is, girl. Cumi means arise, that she being dead should arise from the bed. Moreover, that Mark might give greater emphasis, and express the sense of one who called and commanded, he added, I say unto thee, as S. Jerome says.
Ver. 42. And immediately the damsel rose up and walked, that she might show she was alive. Mystically, as Bede says, “The soul, when raised from sin, ought not only to arise from the filth of its wickedness, but should advance in good works.”
Ver. 43. And commanded that something should be given her to eat, that He might show that she not only had arisen, but was in good health and hungry. For boys and girls are wont, when they awake out of sleep, if they are well and strong, to ask for food. And death was to her in the place of sleep, as Christ says in the 39th verse. (Top)1Zuinglius fell in battle. Does à Lapide refer to his body being burnt after his death?ó(Trans.) (Back to the place)
Ver. 1. Going out from thence, i.e., from Capernaum, where He raised Jairusí daughter.
He went into His own country, i.e., to Nazareth, where He was brought up.
Ver. 2. They were in admiration at His doctrine: literally, they admired in His doctrine. This is a Hebraism. For the Hebrews use ב as a preposition of contact either corporal or mental in the place of an accusative. Thus they say, I touch in the hand, instead of, I touch the hand; I believe in God, instead of, I believe God; I admire in wisdom, for I admire wisdom.
Ver. 5. And He could not do any miracles there. Could not, i.e., would not, because He did not think it proper to give what was holy to dogs, that is, to force His miracles upon unbelieving and ungrateful citizens. So could not is used for would not (Gen. xxxvii. 4, and John vii. 7). “Because,” says Victor of Antioch on this passage, “two things must coincide for the attaining of health, namely, the faith of those who need healing, and the power of him who will heal; therefore, if either of these be wanting, the blessing of a cure will not readily be attained.”
Ver. 6. He wondered because of their unbelief. This seems to conflict with what is said in Luke iv. 22, And all bare Him record, and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of His mouth. I answer, that the inhabitants of Nazareth wondered, indeed, that Jesus, the son of a carpenter, their well-known neighbour, should be so wise and eloquent, and yet were incredulous with respect to His doctrine and person, that He was in very deed the Messias or Christ. And that this was so is plain from what Luke subjoins.
Ver. 13. They anointed with oil many that were sick, and healed them. Some are of opinion that this anointing was the same as that of which S. James speaks in his Epistle (v. 14), that is to say, the Sacrament of Extreme Unction. So Bede, Theophylact, Lyra, and others, who think that the Sacrament of Extreme Unction was at this time instituted by Christ, and that the Apostles by His command conferred it upon the sick, although they had not as yet been ordained priests.
But the contrary seems more probable. 1. Because the priest alone is the minister of this sacrament; but the Apostles were not yet priests, for Christ created them priests afterwards.
2. Because the Apostles here anointed all sorts of sick persons, those not baptized, and those not about to die. But Extreme Unction is conferred only upon those who are baptized, and in danger of death.
3. All who were here anointed by the Apostles were healed. But this is not the case in Extreme Unction, which has primary reference to the health and strength of the soul.
4. Because the Council of Trent (Sess. 14) says that the Sacrament of Extreme Unction was hinted at in S. Mark, but was commanded and promulgated to the faithful by S. James, the Lordís brother. This anointing, therefore, was a type, and as it were a prelude, of the institution of the Sacrament of Extreme Unction, not the sacrament itself. This, then, was a miraculous anointing, or a gift of miracles, bestowed upon the Apostles for a time, that they might by its means confirm their preaching of Christ. It was not the sacrament itself. So S. Genoveva and many holy authorites were wont to heal the sick by means of oil blessed by them and sent to the sick. Victor of Antioch gives the reason why they used oil rather than wine,ó“oil, amongst other things, assuages the affliction of labours, cherishes light, and promotes gladness.” Oil, therefore, which is used in the holy anointing, signifies the mercy of God, the healing of disease, and the enlightenment of the heart. In a similar way the baptism of John was not a sacrament, but a type and prelude of the Sacrament of Baptism.
Ver. 16. Which Herod hearing, said, John whom I beheaded, he is risen again from the dead. It was as if he said, The soul of John has passed into Jesus, and so there, as it were, by rising again, has become more divine, and works such great and stupendous miracles. Luke (ix. 7) says that Herod doubted at first, but afterwards, on account of the universal fame of the miracles of Jesus, believed that John had risen again in Him. So S. Chrysostom, Theophylact, Augustine, and others. For the opinion of Pythagoras concerning the metempsychosis or transmigration of souls was then very prevalent. S. Chrysostom says, “How great a thing is virtue! for Herod fears even the dead man.” For, as Rabanus says, “it is agreed by all that the saints shall have greater power when they rise again.” So also Bede.
Ver. 17. For Herod himself had sent and apprehended John, and bound him in prison for the sake of Herodias, the wife of Philip his brother, because he had married her. This Herod was not the Great, who was called Herod of Ascalon, who slew the infants of Bethlehem, but his son, surnamed Antipas, who arrayed Christ in a white robe and mocked Him. He it was who beheaded John the Baptist.
You will say, Herod Antipas was only a tetrarch, for so Matthew calls him (xiv. 1). Why, then, does Mark here call him a king? I reply, he calls him king because he was the chief potentate in his tetrarchy, equal to a king in his kingdom. Wherefore he assumed the name of king, and it was given him by others, even by S. Matthew himself (xiv. 9).
In prison. Josephus adds that John was incarcerated in the fortress of Macher, on the confines of Galilee and Arabia, where he was beheaded. This prison was made famous by S. John, for the place, says Philo (lib. de Joseph.), was not so much a prison as a school of discipline. Seneca says (in Consolat. ad Albinam), “When Socrates entered his prison, he was about to deprive the very place of ignominy, for that could not seem to be a prison where Socrates was.” Whence S. Cyprian (lib. 4, epist. 1, ad Martyr.) says, “0 blessed prison, which your presence has made illustrious: 0 darkness, brighter than the sun himself, where the temples of God have been!” The same (lib. 3, epist. 25) says concerning the chains of the martyrs, “They are ornaments, not bonds. They do not link the feet to infamy, but glorify them for the crown.” Wherefore S. Ambrose says (lib. de Joseph. c. 5) “Let not the innocent be distressed when they are the victims of false accusations. God visits His own, even in their prison. Then, therefore, is there the more help where is the greater peril. And what marvel is it if God visit those who are in prison, who speaks of Himself as shut up with His people in prison? I was in prison, He says, and ye visited Me not” (Matt. xxv. 44).
On account of Herodias. This Herodias was the daughter of Aristobulus, Herodís brother. Herod, then, had married her who was his niece, being his brotherís daughter. So Josephus. Herodias, therefore, was the sister of Herod Agrippa, who killed James, and who was himself slain by an angel (Acts xii.). Wherefore Rufinus, and following him S. Jerome, Eusebius, and Bede, are in error, who say that she was a daughter of Aretas, a king of the Arabians. For they confound Herodís first wife, who was the daughter of Aretas, with Herodias, his second wife. For Herod repudiated the daughter of Aretas to marry Herodias. For this reason Aretas made war upon him, and cut his army to pieces, as Josephus relates (lib. xviii. Antiq. c. 7), adding, “It was an opinion among the Jews that Herodís army was destroyed by the just vengeance of God because of John the Baptist, a holy man, whom he had slain.”
His brotherís wife. You will say that Josephus (lib. xviii. Ant. c, 7, 9) says that she was the wife of another Herod, who was the brother of Philip and Herod Antipas. I reply that Josephus is in error in this matter, as well as in many others; unless you choose to suppose that Herodias was previously married to Herod Antipas. Josephus falls into another mistake in the same place, when he says that John was put to death not because of Herodias, but because Herod was afraid lest, on account of the concourse of the people to John, an insurrection might occur.
Whether Herodias married Herod whilst her husband Philip was alive, or after his death, commentators are not agreed. But it is certain that either way it was an illicit marriage, and involved incest, to which was added adultery, if Philip were still alive. For by Leviticus (xviii. 16) it is forbidden for a brother to marry his brotherís wife if there were offspring of the marriage, and Philip had left this dancing daughter, whom Josepbus calls Salome. But I say that Herod did marry Herodias during his brotherís lifetime, and against his will, and so committed a threefold sin,óthe first, adultery; the second, incest; the third, violence. This is proved: 1st Because Josephus expressly asserts it (lib. xviii. Ant. c. 7). 2nd Because the incestuous marriage took place about the fifteenth year of Tiberius Cæsar; for that was when John began to preach, as is plain from Luke iii. 1; but Philip died in the twentieth year of Tiberius, as Josephus affirms (xviii. 6), where he praises him for his justice and modesty. 3rd Because the Fathers everywhere accuse Herod of adultery, because he took away his wife from his brother, who was of a meek disposition, whilst he was yet living. Thus Herod took advantage of his gentleness.
Ver. 20. For Herod was afraid of John, knowing him to be a just man and a holy. At first, therefore, it was only Herodias who wished to kill John, as the rebuker of her adultery. Herod did not assent, as Mark here signifies, and Luke (ix.). But afterwards she persuaded Herod, which she did the more easily, because, as Josephus asserts, he was of a malignant disposition, and prone to cruelty; and he was incensed against John on account of his frequent reproofs. “Herodias was afraid,” says Bede, lest Herod should some time or other come to a proper mind under Johnís rebuke, and dissolve the marriage, and restore Herodias to his brother Philip.”
Ver. 22. And when the daughter of the same Herodias had come in, and danced, and pleased Herod. That female dancers were formerly introduced into their feasts by the Jews out of luxuriousness appears from Josephus (lib. xii. Ant. c. 4). That there was a similar fashion among the Greeks we learn from Xenophonís Symposium, and from Lucianís Dialogue de Saltatricibus, where he shows by many examples, and by the opinions of philosophers, that dancing enervates even a manly mind. Truly saith Ecclesiasticus (c. 9), “Use not much the company of a female dancer, nor listen to her, lest perchance thou perish through her influence.” Truly saith Remigius (on Matt. xiv.), “The shameless woman brought up a shameless daughter, teaching her to dance instead of to be modest. Nor was Herod less to be blamed for allowing a woman to make a theatre of his palace-hall.”
Ver. 25. I will that forthwith thou give me in a dish the head of John the Bapist. You will say, John the Baptist was not, then, a martyr, because Herod slew him not because of his faith, nor because of his rebuking him for his adultery, but for the sake of pleasing this dancing girl, and fulfilling his promise. I answer by denying the conclusion. For, 1st This girl asked the head of John at the instigation of her mother, who wished to cut off John for reproving her adultery. Herodias, therefore, was the virtual cause of Johnís death, because she impelled Herod to behead him. 2nd Herod assented to her. Knowing the malignant disposition of his wife, he gave way to her, and killed John. 3rd Herod himself desired to kill John, as Matthew says expressly (xiv. 5); but he did not dare to do it through fear of the people, who made great count of John as a holy man. Lastly, many are of opinion that probably all was done collusively and of set purposeónamely, that Herod had suggested to Herodias that she should send her dancing daughter in to supper, and that she should ask for the head of John; that thus he might have from his promise a colourable pretext for killing him; and that this is the reason why Christ calls him a fox (Luc. xiii. 32). S. John, therefore, was a victim of chastity, because he died a martyr for it, like S. Paul, S. Matthew, S. Clement, and many others.
Moreover, S. Gregory Nazianzen assigns a loftier cause for the early death of John from the hidden counsel of God (Orat. 20). “Who,” saith he, “was the precursor of Jesus? John, as a voice of speech, as a lantern of light; before Whom also he leapt forth in strength, and was sent forward to Hades by Herod, that there likewise he might preach Him who was shortly to come.” The same Nazianzen (Orat. 39) teaches that S. John, by the spirit of prophecy, was aware of this his martyrdom. For he says, “I ought, 0 Christ, to be baptized by Thee; yes, and for Thee.” For he had found out that he was to be baptized by martyrdom. For he knew what was to come; that as after Herod Pilate would reign, so Christ would follow him after life was over.
Ver. 26. The king was sorry, i.e., he pretended to be so, say SS. Hilary and Jerome. For he really wished John to be killed, as Matthew says. Wherefore the Gloss on the fourteenth of S. Matthew says, “Herodís sorrow was like Pilateís repentance” And the Interlinear, “The dissembler showed sorrow in his face, but was glad in his heart.”
But more simply. S. Chrysostom and Euthymius think that Herod was really sorry is the meaning of SS. Matthew and Mark. For though he wished John to die, yet he was sorry for his cruel and shameful death, that he should have killed so great a prophet for the gratification of a dancing girl.
For his oathís sake. Herod made a pretext of his oath; for he knew that in such a case, that is, at such an iniquitous and sacrilegious a request of the girl, it was not binding. However, he thought it a kingís part not to retract it before the nobles, according to the saying, The word of the king is the king. Thus this worldling acted. Whence S. Augustine says, “A girl dances, and a mother rages, and there is rash swearing in the midst of the luxurious feast, and an impious fulfilment of what was sworn.” For, as S. Isidore says, faith ought to be broken in wicked promises; that is, an impious promise which is fulfilled by a crime.
Ver. 27. But sending an executioner, that is, a hangman; for soldiers were executioners and attendants of the prætors, and were armed with javelins (spicula). Hence they were called spiculators. (the word in the Vulgate translated executioner is spiculator). Our Gretzer (lib. 1, de Cruce, c. 25) is of opinion, from Suidas, that hangmen (carnifices) were called speculatores (for the Greek has σπεκουλάτωζα, which is really a Latin word, and the same as speculator), Gr. ο̉πτη̃ζας, because it was their office to spy out the plans and movements of an enemy, to be around princes as their bodyguard, and to execute those whom they condemned. So also Franc. Lucas on this passage, Lipsius on Tacitus, and some others. These assert that Suetonius and Tacitus call a carnifex, speculalar. But they cite no passage in support of what they say. Neither have I been able to find any in which the word speculator is used for an executioner (carnifex), with the exception of this one in S. Mark. Spiculator, then, becomes σπεκουλάτωρ in Greek. For the Greeks often change the vowel i into e, as the Italians also do.
He commanded his head to be brought in a dish. Thus did the savage season his feast with this horrible spectacle of cruelty. Bede adds, he wished all his guests to be associated with him in his cruelty. Moreover, S. Gregory says (Moral. lib. 3, c. 4), “God afflicts His own with infirmities, because He knows how to reward them in the highest. If God exposes to anguish those whom He loves, what are those about to suffer whom He rejects?”
S. John, then, has many laurelsó1st That of doctor; 2nd of virginity; 3rd of martyrdom; 4th of a prophet; 5th of a hermit; 6th of an apostle; 7th of the precursor, index, and baptizer of Christ.
You will ask, At what time was John put to death? 1st Abulensis says it cannot be determined.
2nd. Bede, and from him Baronius (A.C. 33), Maldonatus, and Barradi think that John was slain about the time of the Passover in Christís thirty-third year. They support this view, because Matthew says (xiv. 13) that Christ departed into the wilderness when He heard of the death of John, and there fed the 5000, an event which happened about the time of the Passover (John vi. 4).
3rd. And very probably, our Salianus (Annal. tom. 6, in fin. ad ann. Christi 32, num. 20) thinks that John suffered at the end of the thirty-second year of the life of Christ, probably in December. He proves this, because Nicephorus (lib. 1, c. 19) says that John at his death was thirty-two years and a half old; that is, at the completion of Christís thirty-second year. For John was born on the 24th of June, and was just six months older than Christ, who was born on the 25th of December of the same year. He gives us a second reason, because although Christís departing into the desert (Matt. xiv.) occurred about the time of the Passover, yet Johnís death preceded it by some considerable time. For Christ departed not so much on account of Johnís death, as because the fame of His own miracles had so greatly increased that many thought John had risen again in Him. But this took place when some considerable time, comparatively speaking, had elapsed after Johnís death. That is to say, Johnís being put to death took place in December, and Christís retiring into the desert about the following March. And the intervening period must have been taken up by the miracles which Christ wrought after Johnís death, and by the fame of them being so widely spread abroad as to lead Herod to suspect that John had risen again in Jesus. This led Jesus to retire into the desert lest Herod should kill Him also.
Lastly, some think that John suffered on the 29th of August, because the Church keeps the Feast of the Decollation of S. John the Baptist on that day. Baronius, however, thinks that this day is kept in memory of the Invention of the head of S. John.
Ver. 28. And brought his head in a dish: and gave it to the damsel, and the damsel gave it to her mother. S. Chrysostom (in Matt. Hom. 49), S. Austin (Serm. 36, de Sanctis), S. Ambrose (lib. 3, de Virgin.) enlarge upon the indignity, yea, the sacrilege, of this murder. Apostrophising Herod, the latter cries, “Behold his eyes, even in death the witnesses of thy cruelty! He turns them away from the sight of thy dainties. His eyes are closed, not so much by the constraint of death, as by horror at thy luxury. That lifeless golden mouth, whose sentence thou couldst not endure, is silent, and yet it is dreaded.”
S. Jerome says that Herodias insulted the severed head, and punctured his most holy tongue with a needle; upon which the Father exclaims, “Do not boast thyself so much because thou hast done what scorpions and flies do. So did Fulvia to Cicero, and Herodias to John, because they could not bear the truth; they pierced the tongue that spoke the truth with a needle” (S. Jerome, Apolog. cont. Rufin. sub finem).
Wherefore the just vengeance of God burned against all who were concerned in this crime. Herod was defeated by Aretas. Afterwards he was banished with Herodias to Lyons, and deprived of his tetrarchy and everything by Caligula, at the instigation of Agrippa, the brother of Herodias, as Josephus relates (xviii. 10). Moreover, the head of the dancing daughter was cut off by means of ice. Hear what Nicephorus says, “As she was journeying once in the winter-time, and a frozen river had to be crossed on foot, the ice broke beneath her, not without the providence of God. Straightway she sank down up to her neck. This made her dance and wriggle about with all the lower parts of her body, not on land, but in the water. Her wicked head was glazed with ice, and at length severed from her body by the sharp edges, not of iron, but of the frozen water. Thus in the very ice she displayed the dance of death, and furnished a spectacle to all who beheld it, which brought to mind what she had done.” Hear also L. Dexter (in Chron. A.C. 34), “ Herod Antipas, with Herodias his incestuous mistress, was banished first to Gaul, and afterwards to Ilerda in Spain. Herodias dancing upon the river Sicoris when it was frozen, fell through the ice, and perished miserably.”
Placed it in a tomb. S. Jerome says that the body of S. John was buried at Sebaste, the former Samaria, where also the prophets Elisha and Obadiah were buried. Moreover, S. John wrought so many miracles at Sebaste that Julian the Apostate ordered his body to be burnt, but the Christians secretly conveyed away his relics. (Top)
[Ver. 52. For they understood not concerning the loaves; for their heart was blinded. Ver. 53. And when they had passed over, they came into the land of Genezareth, and set to the shore. Identified in 1972 by Father José OíCallaghan on Qum Ran Dead Sea scroll no. 7q5.ótransciber]
Ver. 2. To eat with common, that is, with unwashen hands. Hands unwashed were called common, because unclean and profane things were common to both Jews and Gentiles, to clean and unclean persons alike.
Observe, the Apostles were not so boorish as not to wash their hands before dining or supping, which even husbandmen and artisans do before meals; but they abstained from the ceremonial, or rather the superstitious washing of the Pharisees, which they scrupulously observed from the tradition of their ancestors.
Ver. 3. Often washing: Syr. betilarth, i.e., diligently or carefully; Gr. πυγμη̃, zealously; Heb. caph el cabh, i.e., hand to hand, namely, by constant rubbing, as they do who wish to cleanse defiled hands.
Ver. 4. From the market. Because in the market are all kinds, both of persons and things, clean and unclean, by coming in contact with which they feared they had incurred pollution, and so they thought they could not cleanse themselves from such contamination except by washing, not their hands only, but their whole body. Whence it follows:
Unless they be baptized, i.e., unless they immerse and wash their whole body, as the Jews do frequently, even at the present time. For to be baptized is more than to wash the hands. Because, therefore, by conversing with and touching Gentiles in the market they were compelled to handle some things that were unclean, they washed themselves all over when they came home.
Of pots: Gr. ξεστω̃ν, i.e., of wine-drinking vessels. The Syriac has ænophororun, vessels in which wine is carried. Vatablus understands wooden vessels, which were turned and polished, or ornamented with carving.
And beds: on which they reclined at table.
Ver. 15. Make a man common (Vulg.), i.e., defile him, as some MSS. read.
Ver. 19. Because it entereth not into his heart, i.e., into his soul, and cannot therefore defile it. But goeth into the belly, where the purer portion of the food, being separated, proceeds to the liver and heart; but that which is impure and feculent into the draught, by its going forth, purging, i.e., leaving pure all meats. For in that it, the impure, goeth away, it cleanses and purifies the remainder of the food.
Ver. 26. A Gentile: Gr. έλλήνις, i.e., a Grecian woman, for where the Greeks bore sway, all Gentiles were called Greeks. Hence the expression in the first chapter of the Epistle to the Romans, “The Jew first, and also the Greek” i.e., the Gentile.
A Syrophonician, i.e., belonging to that part of Phúnicia which looks towards Syria.
Ver. 32. And dumb: Gr. μογιλάλον, i.e., speaking with difficulty or an impediment, stammering. For when he was healed by Christ he spake right, i.e., freely, as it is in the 35th verse. He was not, therefore, entirely dumb, as they are who are born deaf. These are called in Greek άλαλοι.
Ver. 33. And spitting, He touched his tongue. Christ wrought harmoniously, as though by His healing saliva He would moisten and loosen the dumb mouth, which was bound through drought.
Now He spat not upon the mouth of the mute, but upon His own finger, and by means of His finger applied the saliva to the mouth of the mute, as may be gathered from the Greek. This was required by propriety and decorum. Moreover, when Christ opened the ears and unloosed the tongue of the body, He opened also the ears and tongue of the soul, that they might listen to His inspiration, and believe that He was the Messiah, and that they might ask and obtain of Him pardon of their sins.
Tropologically: Every one ought to seek the same thing, and say with the Psalmist, “0 Lord, open Thou my lips, and my mouth shall show forth Thy praise” (Ps. li. 17). We ought to do the same as regards our ears, that we may be able to sing aloud with Isaiah (1. 4), “The Lord God hath given me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary: He wakeneth morning by morning, He wakeneth mine ear to hear as the learned.” Now this is done when He Himself with His own Finger, that is, the Holy Ghost (for He is “the Finger of God,” Exod. viii. 19), and the spittle of Heavenly Wisdom, which is He Himself proceeding forth from the mouth of the Most High, touches the tongue of the soul.
Ver. 34. And looking up to heaven (because from thence come words to the dumb, hearing to the deaf, healing for all infirmities, says Bede), He groaned; both because He sympathised with the misery of the deaf and dumb man, as because in groaning He prayed and obtained healing for him from God.
Ephpheta, which is, Be thou opened, ie., which so signifies. “Where,” says Bede, “the two natures of the one and the same Mediator between God and man are plainly set forth. For, looking up to heaven as man, He groaned, being about to pray to God; presently by a single word, as having the power of Divine Majesty, He healed.” For we all have eyes, but the blind have theirs shut and closed, which in the Syriac idiom are elegantly said to be opened when their shutters are unclosed, as Angelus Caninius says (in Nom. Heb. c. 10). Moreover, the Heb. patach signifies to open. From whence is the imperative passive, or Niphal, hippateach, by crasis hippatach, for which the Syrians use Ephpheta, be open.
Ver. 36. He charged them that they should tell no man. This was not properly a command, involving a fault if disobeyed, but merely a token of urbanity and modesty, that, indeed, He might signify He would not make a parade of His miracles, or by their means obtain the vain glory of men. Wherefore they did not commit sin who nevertheless divulged them. Wherefore it follows, the more He charged them, so much the more a great deal did they publish it. “We are taught by this,” says Theophylact, “that when we confer benefits we should not seek for applause therefrom; but when we have received benefits we should praise our benefactors, even though they are unwilling to be praised.” And S. Augustine says, “By His prohibition the Lord wished to teach us how very fervently they ought to preach to whom He has given a command to preach, when they who were commanded to be silent could not hold their peace”
Ver. 37. He hath done all things well: Gr. καλω̃ς, i.e., beautifully, becomingly, harmoniously. Christ did nothing which the Pharisees or such like fault-finders could justly blame. Again, the Heb. for well is heteb, i.e., beneficently, because He gave hearing to the deaf, speech to the dumb. Indeed, Christís whole life was one continuous beneficence. (Top)
1 Christ feedeth the people miraculously: 10 refuses to give a sign to the Pharisees: 14 admonisheth his disciples to beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, and of the leaven of Herod: 22 giveth a blind man his sight: 27 acknowledgeth that he is the Christ, who should suffer and rise again: 34 and exhorteth to patience in persecution for the profession of the gospel.
Ver. 15. Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the leaven of Herod. The leaven is the doctrine of the Pharisees, by which they taught children to say to their parents corban, as well as other things contrary to the law of God. The leaven of Herod is the doctrine of the Sadducees, for with them Christ had had His most recent controversy, as appears from Matt. xvi. 1-12. For Herod, as well as many of the principal people at that time, were Sadducees (see Jos. xviii. c. 2). They denied the immortality of the soul, and lived as Atheists. So Herod lived in adultery, killed John, and committed many other crimes, having no fear of God. For although he thought that John had risen again in Christ, yet that opinion did not arise, out of faith, but was wrung out of him by fear. Others, with Origen and S. Jerome, understand by leaven the sect of the Herodians, who flattered Herod, saying that he was the Messiah. But that referred to Herod of Ascalon, not Herod Antipas, as I have shown on Matt. xxii. 16.
Ver. 23. And taking the blind man by the hand, He led him out of the town, i.e., outside of Bethsaida, as is plain from ver. 22. He led him forth for the same reason that when He was about to heal the deaf and dumb man He took him aside from the multitude. This was, 1st For the sake of prayer, that, being alone, He might collect His thoughts, and unite Himself wholly to God, and pray the more intently and collectedly. 2nd To fly from the applause of men, and teach us to do the same. 3rd Because the citizens of Bethsaida were unworthy of the miracle of Christ; for although they had seen Him work so many miracles, they would not believe in Him.
And spitting upon his eyes. Fasting spittle does good to the purblind, but does not illuminate those who have actually lost their sight. The saliva, therefore, of Christ was not a natural but a supernatural remedy for blindness, being the instrument by which Christís Godhead wrought.
S. Hilarion imitated this miracle by which Christ gave sight to a blind man, as S. Jerome relates in his Life. “A blind woman was brought to S. Hilarion, who said that she had expended all her substance upon physicians. Hilarion said to her, If thou hadst given to the poor what thou hast thrown away upon physicians, Christ the true Physician would have healed thee.”
Laid His hands, i.e., when He had placed His hands upon the eyes of the blind man, and again removed them. For that is improbable which the Scholiast in S. Chrysostom says, that this blind man saw people (ver. 24) when Christís hands were over his eyes. For this would have been a new and uncalled-for miracle.
Ver. 24. And looking up, he said, I see men as it were trees, walking. As much as to say, I see something obscurely and confusedly; for I see men walking, but in such a way that I cannot distinguish whether they are men or trees. Just as it happens to ourselves, says Bede; when we see people at a great distance, we can only distinguish men from trees by their motion, because men walk, but trees do not. The word walking must be referred to men, not to trees, as is plain by the Greek. The word walking in the Latin text, however, might refer to trees in this sense: I see men as it were trees split, and therefore two-footed, and so walking. This blind man, therefore, as yet in darkness, saw men as it were through a mist and cloud, in which they appeared greater than they really were, it might be as thick and tall as trees, as by means of magnifying glasses letters appear larger than they are in reality.
It is related of S. Gregory Thaumaturgus, that in the Decian persecution he fled with his deacon to a certain hill. A certain traitor made known where they were to the persecutors, who carefully searched the whole hill to discover Gregory. With strong faith in God, he stood in prayer, with eyes immovable and hands stretched out. But God smote the persecutors with inability to see. They returned and reported that they had seen nothing on the hill except two trees a little distant from one another. When they had gone away, the traitor himself went up the hill and saw two men, Gregory and his deacon, instead of the trees. He acknowledged that it was the work of Divine power that they had appeared to the persecutors to be trees, and he fell down at their feet, and from a traitor became a confessor of the faith. (S. Greg. Nyss. in Vita.)
Mystically: The Scholiast in S. Jerome says, “The blind man is a penitent sinner. He sees men as trees walking, because he esteems every one superior to himself. With David he counts himself unworthy to be called a man, deeming himself to be a dead dog and a flea” (2 Sam. xvi.).
Ver. 25. After that again He laid His hands upon his eyes, and he began to see, and was restored, so that he saw all things clearly. Christ wished not suddenly, but by degrees, perfectly to illuminate this blind man: 1st That He might exhibit miracles of every description. 2nd That this miracle might be more esteemed. 3rd And principally, That He might accommodate Himself to the imperfect faith of the blind man and those who brought him, their faith increasing as the miracle proceeded; and that He might the more kindle in them faith, hope, and desire that it might be brought to a perfect work. “In the first place, He cured this blind man imperfectly,” says Euthymius, “inasmuch as he believed imperfectly, that he who as yet had but a little vision might by means of the little light believe more perfectly, and be healed more completely; for He was the wise Physician.” And by and by he says, “Increase of faith deserved increase of healing.”
Tropologically: Christ wished to teach us that the unbeliever and the sinner are gradually illuminated by God, and that they ought correspondingly to make gradual increase in the knowledge and worship of God. “He did it,” says Bede, “that He might show the greatness of human blindness, which is wont to arrive step by step, and by certain grades, as it were, of progression, at the light of the Divine knowledge.” For as the Scholiast says, “There are degrees of knowledge; neither can any one arrive in a single hour, or, indeed, without considerable time, at perfect knowledge.” We have experience of this in children and scholars, who must be taught and instructed step by step. For if the teacher, being impatient of delay and trouble, should wish to teach them everything at once, he would crush their memory and intellect, so that they would take in nothing. It is like wine when it is poured into a vessel with a narrow neck; if you try to pour it all in at once, you pour in scarcely anything, but nearly the whole is spilled. Worthy of note is the Italian proverb, “Gently, gently, if you would go far;” or the saying of the philosopher, “Progression is by degrees.”
Symbolically: The Scholiast in S. Jerome says, “Christ laid His hands upon his eyes, that he might see all things clearly, that is, that by visible works he might understand things invisible, and which eye hath not seen; and that after the film of sin he might clearly behold the state of his soul with the eye of a clean heart. For blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”
Ver. 34. In this adulterous generation, of depraved Jews, who are sons of God, though not genuine ones, but like spurious children, the offspring of adultery. For they are degenerate from the faith of their fathers, the Patriarchs, since they will not receive Me, who am the Messiah promised to them. Therefore they are not so much children of God as of the devil. Such are called in Hebrew bene nechar, i.e., children born of a strange, alien, or adulterous father. See what has been said on S. Matt. x. 33.
Ver. 39. The kingdom of God, i.e., the glory of the kingdom of God, which is about to be in My transfiguration.
Coming, i.e., appearing, and showing itself to Peter, James, and John. In power, i.e., with great power, glory, splendour, and majesty. (Top)
2 Jesus is transfigured. 11 He instructeth his disciples concerning the coming of Elias: 14 casteth forth a dumb and deaf spirit: 30 foretelleth his death and resurrection: 33 exhorteth his disciples to humanity: 38 bidding them not to prohibit such as be not against them, nor to give offence to any of the faithful.
Ver. 12. And be despised: Gr. ε̉ξουδενωθη̃, i.e., be nothing accounted of. Understand, thus shall it happen to Elias, that when by his great labours he has restored the faith, he shall in return for such great benefits receive curses and ill-treatment from the ungrateful and the impious, and shall at last be killed by them.
Ver. 15. And presently all the people seeing Jesus, were astonished, and struck with fear: and running to Him, they saluted Him. They were astonished because they saw Jesus so unexpectedly present after His absence, and at so opportune a time, to defend His disciples against the scribes. Again, it was because they saw in the face of Jesus, who had a little while before been transfigured, some remaining rays of His splendour; just as there were in the countenance of Moses, after his converse with God, rays, and, as it were, horns of light.
Ver. 19. Troubled him. Gr. ε̉σπάραξεν, i.e., bruised, tore, convulsed his whole body. Wherefore it is added in explanation, and being thrown down upon the ground, he wallowed about foaming, because, in fact, the demon was experiencing the power of Christ, and foresaw that he would speedily be cast out, therefore with indignation and gnashing of teeth he thus grievously afflicted and tormented the energumen.
Ver. 29. They passed through Galilee, and He would not that any one should know it. Lest He should be detained by the Galileans from love of Himself and His benefits. For He was hastening to Jerusalem to His cross and death, about which He was speaking privately to His disciples, that He might accomplish the will of His Father, and redeem the human race.
Ver. 31. But they understood not the word. That is to say, in what manner, and for what cause, Christ was to die; and how these words concerning His near approaching death agreed with what He had often told them, that His kingdom was at hand. For otherwise the Apostles understood and believed that Christ would die (see Matt. xvii. 23), when they are said to have been sorry at this saying of Christ concerning His death. Unless you prefer to say that they were ignorant of the death of Christ, because they were in hesitation with respect to it on account of the different sayings of Christ, apparently inconsistent with one another, and that accordingly they inclined to the view which was the more pleasing to them. For it was this which they wished to be true. “For so lovers frame dreams for themselves.” So they endeavoured to persuade themselves that these words of Christ concerning His death had some other hidden meaning, and that they were not to be taken literally, but mystically.
Ver. 37. John answered Him, saying, Master, we saw one casting out devils in Thy name, who followeth not us, and we forbade him. It is as though he said, “Have we done well or ill?” John asks this question not out of envy, as Calvin would have it, but out of love and zeal for the honour of Christ. And it was occasioned by what He had said in the preceding verse, Whosoever shall receive one such little child in My name receiveth Me. As though he said, If he who receives a little one in Thy name receiveth Thy Father and Thyself, what must we think concerning him who works miracles in Thy name, and yet followeth not us, that is, is not Thy attendant and disciple, as we are? “Because,” says Cyril (in Catena in Luc. xi. 49), “the Saviour had given power to His Apostles to cast out unclean spirits, they thought that it had been conceded to none others save themselves to enjoy such dignity.” So Theophylact and Victor.
Here observe that those who thus cast out devils in the name of Christ, and yet did not follow Him, were believers, but imperfect ones, forasmuch as they shrank from the rugged poverty and renunciation of their goods, such as was the lot of the Apostles. They shrank from following Christ in His evangelical labours and His persecutions. Still they have some faith in Christ, by virtue of which they cast out devils. So S. Ambrose (in Luc. xi. 49). And in so doing Christ wrought and co-operated with them, that His power and glory might be the more made manifest, which wrought such great things by means of those who were so imperfect, and, as it were, aliens.
Observe, in the next place, that the Apostles did not forbid such people through hatred, but out of zeal for Christ, as though they were detracting from the glory of Christ and His ordinance, according to chap. iii. 15, where Christ gives to His Apostles only the power of casting out devils. But this zeal of theirs was indiscreet, especially because they had rashly, without consulting Christ, forbidden them. And Christ showed them that this was so for a double reason. The first is what He brings forward in the next verse. In a similar manner, when Joshua saw Eldad and Medad prophesying, he wished to forbid them, as if they were detracting from the glory of Moses, in that they had not received the spirit of prophecy from Moses. But Moses checked him by saying, “Enviest thou for my sake? Would that all the people were prophets, and that the Lord would put His Spirit upon them!” (Num. xi. 29). This is the Spirit of Christ, the spirit of love and of the Holy Ghost, which makes large the heart, and envieth none, but rejoices in all good things, by whomsoever and in what way soever they are wrought (see 1 Cor. xiii.).
Ver. 38. But Jesus said, Do not forbid him, for there is no man that doth a miracle in My name, and can soon (Gr.τάχα, i.e., easily) speak ill of Me. Do not hinder him in a good work, and one that honours Me; because even if he does not follow Me, yet he is doing the selfsame thing which you do, that is to say, he is celebrating My name, and he is making it known to men by casting out devils. Wherefore he does nothing that is against My name, but rather propagates and glorifies it.
Ver. 39. For he that is not against you is for you. This man, therefore, is not your adversary, in that he does the same that you do. He stands on your side. He helps you; he does not oppose you.
Ver. 40. For whosoever shall give you to drink a cup of water in My name, because you belong to Christ: Amen I say to you, he shall not lose his reward. This is Christís further reason to show why the man must not be forbidden to cast out devils. It is as though Christ said, “If he who gives you a drink of water in My name, and for My sake, does well, and shall receive a reward from God, so likewise shall he who drives out devils in My name. For both the one and the other do a good work, and are profitable to their neighbours in regard and respect of Me. But the one confers so much the greater benefit than the other, by as much as the devil whom he drives out is more hurtful than the thirst which the other alleviates by a draught of water.” So Theophylact.
Ver. 41. And whosoever shall scandalize one of these little ones that believe in Me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were east into the sea. This is antithetical to the 36th verse. For Christ returns after the question interposed by John to what He had said concerning those who should receive a little child in His name. For as he who receives and cherishes the little ones who believe in Me, receives Myself, and shall be rewarded by Me with eternal glory in heaven; so, on the other hand, whoso shall cause one of these little ones to offend, offendeth Me, and shall be by Me condemned to Gehenna.
Ver. 42. And if thy hand scandalize thee, cut it of. For a scandal is so pernicious that it harms not only the doer but the sufferer of it. Wherefore, if thou sufferest a scandal from thy hand, cut it off. That is, if any one, relative or friend, as useful and as dear to thee as thy hand, thy foot, thine eye, scandalize thee, that is, draw thee into sin, separate such an one from thy company, lest he drag thee with him into Gehenna.
Ver. 43. Where their worm dieth not. He quotes Isa. lxvi. 24. Christ repeats this saying three times, that He may impress these dreadful worms and these fires upon us, that through horror of them we may avoid every scandal and every sin.
Ver. 48. For every one shall be salted with fire: and every victim shall be salted with salt.
1st. Franc. Lucas and Maldonatus understand the fire of hell, that Christ gives the reason of what He had just said, where their worm, &c. The reason is, for every one, namely, such as are adjudged to Gehenna, shall be salted with fire, that is, shall be burnt and tormented with fire, but in such manner that by the same fire, as it were by salt, they shall be preserved incorrupt for everlasting torments. For salt possesses the properties both of burning and preserving. It burns and torments by burning; by its saltness it preserves from corruption. The fire of hell does the same thing, wherefore it is appropriately compared to salt.
And every victim: and, that is, like as. As though He said, As every victim of God is wont to be seasoned with salt, according to the Law (Lev. ii. 13), so whosoever shall be adjudged to Gehenna shall be a victim, as it were, of the justice and vengeance of God for ever, and so shall be salted with fire unquenchable as with salt, that is, shall be burnt and tormented, and shall at the same time remain unconsumed in the fire.” So Isaiah teaches that the wicked shall in their torments be victims of Godís vengeance (xxxiv. 6; see also Ezek. xxxix. 17, and Jer. xlvi 10). For the wicked are, as it were, victims immolated to the honour of Godís justice. This sense is very plain, apposite, and in accordance with the context.
2nd Others refer the words more remotely to what Christ said in the 42nd and following verses about avoiding scandals, and that to do so a hand or a foot must be cut off. It would be as though He said, “Cut off from thee the person who is as dear and as necessary to thee as a hand or an eye, if he scandalize thee; for every one who seeks to please God, and to offer himself to Him as a spiritual victim, must cut off from him, as by the fire of mortification, the man who causes him to offend, however dear he may be. He must, therefore, be salted by suffering tribulation, that is, he must be crucified and purified. He must be salted with the mystical salt of prudence, discretion, and evangelical wisdom, which teaches us that it is better to cut off our hand than to go into hell.” There is an allusion to, or, indeed, in a mystical sense, a citation of Lev. ii. 13, “Whatsoever thou shalt offer in sacrifice, thou shalt season with salt.” So Theophylact on this passage of S. Mark; Theodoret, Procopius, Bede, Radulphus, Ruperti, on Lev. ii., and Cyril (lib. 15, de Adorat.). Wherefore it is added, salt is good. Hear the Gloss, “To be salted with fire is for the love of Christ to deny ourselves of those who are nearest to us, and as dear as a hand or an eye.” Hear also Bede, “The heart of the elect is the altar, the victims are good works, the salt is wisdom.” Christ opposes the fire of mortification to the fire of hell, and the salt to the undying worm. As though He said, “That ye may escape the fire and the worm of hell, which concupiscence generates, be zealous for the fire of mortification and the salt of wisdom. For this shall take away the putridity of concupiscence, from which are generated the undying worms which shall be burned in the fire of hell.”
3rd By fire Bede understands charity and the Holy Spirit, and His gift of discretion, by which He guides us into all good.
Lastly, the Scholiast in S. Jerome by salt understands also the fire of Purgatory. Hear what he says, “The victim of the Lord is the human race, which in this life is seasoned with the season of wisdom, when the corruption of the blood, which is the source of putridity, that is, the mother of worms, is consumed, and after this life is tried by purgatorial fire.”
Salt is good, i.e., useful. “Ye, 0 ye Apostles, who have been chosen by Me to be the salt of the earth, are profitable to the world, that ye may season with your wisdom and evangelical doctrine all nations.” Hear the Scholiast, “It is a good thing to hear the Word of God; to season the heart with the salt of wisdom; yea, to be salt, like the Apostles, i.e., to minister wisdom unto others.” Also Theophylact, “Salt preserves flesh; so the speech of a doctor prevents the unquenchable fire from being generated in carnal men.”
But if the salt become unsavoury (the Gr. contains an elegant pun, άλς άναλον, i.e., saltless salt), wherewith (i.e., with what other salt) will ye season it? It is as if He said, “If ye, 0 ye Apostles, who are the salt of the earth, lose this virtue of saltness, and become unsavoury and insipid, that through love or fear of men, through cupidity or ambition, ye fall away from My doctrine and an evangelical life, who shall restore you to your former wisdom, vigour, and sanctity?” Christ plays upon the word salt. For salt in Lev. ii. 13 is to be understood literally, but here it is to be taken mystically for wisdom, and metonymically for the Apostles, who had in themselves this mystic salt. Hear the Scholiast in S. Jerome, “Salt is savourless which loves the chief place, and which dares not either to rebuke or confess, loving the praise of men more than the praise of God.” Christ has a reference to Judas, who being corrupted by the love of money, and becoming unsavoury, lost his Apostleship, and did not hesitate to betray the Lord.
Have salt in yourselves, i.e., the salt of wisdom and a Christian life, as humility, charity, contempt of the world, but especially peace; as Christ adds, saying, And have peace among yourselves. “Do not ambitiously contend among yourselves for the primacy, as ye have contended” (ver. 33), to which Christ refers. For such a contention will be a scandal to the whole world; and for that reason Christ subjoined what is said concerning the avoidance of scandal in verses 36 and 41. But if ye preserve peace and mutual concord, ye shall be for the edification of the whole world; and being united one with another in the bond of charity, ye will be invincible, and will draw all men to yourselves and Christ. Therefore by peace the Interlinear understands love. And the Scholiast thus expounds, Have salt in yourselves, “The love of oneís neighbour tempers the salt of correction; and the salt of justice preserves love.”
Have peace, &c. That is, let him who speaks eloquently greatly fear lest by his eloquence unity be broken. For, as Bede says, “to have salt without peace is not a gift of virtue, but a proof of condemnation; for the wiser any one is, the greater his sin if he fall.” “For there are many,” says the Gloss, “that whilst greater knowledge lifts them up, it separates them from the society of others; and the wiser they are, the more they fall from the virtue of concord.”
Lastly, the Gloss thus expounds, Have salt in you, i.e., have discretion: and have peace among yourselves. By wisdom and discretion peace is both acquired and preserved among men. For the prudent and discreet do nothing which may offend others and disturb peace. The same bear with the infirmities of others, while those who are impatient are angry, and strive with them. (Top)
2 Christ disputeth with the Pharisees touching divorcement: 13 blesseth the children that are brought unto him: 17 resolveth a rich man how he may inherit life everlasting: 23 telleth his disciples of the danger of riches: 28 promiseth rewards to them that forsake anything for the gospel: 32 foretelleth his death and resurrection: 35 biddeth the two ambitious suitors to think rather of suffering with him: 46 and restoreth to Bartimæus his sight.
Ver. 21. And Jesus regarding him, with a benignant and pleasant countenance, loved him, showed him marks of His love, taking his hand and smiling upon him, embracing and kissing him.
One thing is wanting unto thee, namely, for the perfection of a holy and evangelical life.
Follow Me. The Greek adds, Taking up thy cross. The Syriac has, Take thy cross, and come after Me.
Ver. 24. Little children (Vulg.); the Syriac, My sons. By His bland address He softens the hardness of the matter. He is like one who loves his children most dearly; and as such He would tell them the truth in sincerity, and persuade them to renounce riches as a bar to salvation.
That trust in riches. For rich men trust in their riches rather than in God, according to the saying in Proverbs (x. 15), “The substance of a rich man is the city of his strength” (Vulg.). With difficulty, therefore, are they saved, because salvation cometh only from God. Wherefore those who wish to be saved must put their trust in God, and must ask and wait for salvation from Him, as the poor do. For inasmuch as they have no riches in which to trust, they are obliged to place all their hopes in God, according to the words (Ps. xiv. 6), “Ye have shamed the counsel of the poor, because the Lord is his hope.” Therefore if rich men wish to be saved, let them turn their hope, their heart, their love from riches, and fix them upon God.
Ver. 30. Who shall not receive an hundred times as much, now in this time; houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions: and in the world to come life everlasting. I have explained this hundredfold in S. Matt. xix. 29. Mark here adds, with persecutions. The Arabic has, in tribulations. “Let him who has relinquished his possessions and friends for the love of Christ, and is set in the midst of persecutions, and is encompassed by them on every side, be faithful. For there will not be wanting a hundred, that is, very many, who will succour and cherish him, as brothers, fathers, and mothers.” So Jerome, Bede, &c.
This is added because in persecutions the believer especially needs the help and assistance of others. Also, because this is a rare and marvellous thing, that in persecution, when a man is wont to be left destitute of help and friends, and when all, through fear of danger, withdraw themselves from him, those who follow Christ experience the exact contrary, and find a hundred, i.e., very many to succour them.
Again, with persecutions may be taken thusóthat persecutions and tribulations undergone for Christís sake reward which shall be given, together with the hundredfold, to those who follow Christ. For to suffer for Christ is a great gift of God, as the Apostle teaches (Phil. ii. 19).
Ver. 32. They were in the way, from Jericho, . . . and Jesus went before them, as with alacrity, affording himself as a guide in the way to the frightened Apostles, who shrank from Jerusalem, because they knew that Jesus was there sought for by the princes to be put to death. Yea, a decree had been made to that effect by their great council, the Sanhedrin (John xi. 52). Whence it followsó
They were astonished, and following, were afraid. Gr. ε̉θαμβου̃ντο, i.e., they were astonished with great fear and dread. The imminent peril of death, says Bede, was the cause of their fear. They were amazed that Christ with so prompt and resolute a mind should bring Himself and His disciples into such open peril of death. They were afraid lest they might suffer and be put to death with Christ.
Ver. 38. Or be baptised with the baptism wherewith I am baptized. Christ calls His Passion a baptism, because He was to be evidently immersed and drowned in it, according to what David says of himself, but much more of Christ (Ps. lxix. 12), “Save me, 0 God; for the waters are come in unto my soul. I sink in deep mire, where there is no standing: I am come into deep waters, where the floods overflow me.”
Ver. 42. Ye know that they who seem to rule over the Gentiles lord it over them. Gr. κατακυριεύουσιν αυ̉τω̃ν, i.e, dominate over them, or against them. For who seem, the Gr. is οί δοκου̃ντες, i.e., who please themselves, and rejoice in ruling. For none rule more imperiously and harshly than those who are delighted with ruling and commanding. Whence the Arabic translates, they who think themselves princes of the people are their lords, i.e., they exercise, as it were, a tyrannical domination over them.
Ver. 46. Bartimæus, the son of Timæus. This blind man, then, was called by a proper name, Bartimæus, i.e., the son of Timæus, as Bartholomew is the same as son of Ptolemy. The same was called also by the same name as his father Timæus. Timæus was the name of that Pythagorean philosopher who wrote the life of Pythagoras.
Moreover, Bartimæus is interpreted by Pagnini in three ways (in Nom. Hebraicis). The first is from S. Jerome, to the effect that Bartimæus means the blind son, or the son of blindness. He says that it is a Syriac name, but corrupted from Barsemia, or Barsamæus. Bar is son, semaia, blindness.
The second opinion is, that it means the son of honour; as if compounded of the Syriac bar, a son, and the Gr. τιμή, honour.
The third is, that it means the son of the admirer, or admirable corn, or admirable purity. For this was what the blind man received from Christ. For being illuminated in body, he was far more illuminated in his soul. For bar means meal, or wheat, or purity, as well as son. Tamah is to admire.
And followed Him in the way. Moraliter: Says the Gloss, Let us consider the way in which He goeth, and follow Him by humility and labours. The way is that of which He saith, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” This is “the narrow way,” which leads to the heights of Jerusalem and Bethany, to the Mount of Olives, which is the mount of light and consolation; yea, which leads to Zion and the heavenly Jerusalem. The blind man therefore sees and follows, for he who rightly understands the life of Christ ought to follow and imitate it by his works. (Top)
1 Christ rideth with triumph into Jerusalem: 12 curseth the fruitless leafy tree: 15 purgeth the temple: 20 exhorteth his disciples to stedfastness of faith, and to forgive their enemies: 27 and defendeth the lawfulness of his actions by the witness of John, who was a man sent of God.
Ver. 10. Blessed be the kingdom of our father David that cometh. It means, blessed by the benediction and goodness of God, i.e., “let it be happy, propitious, flourishing, firm, and abounding in all good things, this kingdom of our father David, which is the kingdom of Israelóthat kingdom which was most ample and flourishing under David and Solomon his son, and which fell to pieces at the Babylonian captivity, and subsequently. Now does that kingdom come. It returns, and is restored by this our Messiah, the Son of David, who shall restore it to its pristine glory and beauty, yea, who shall make it far more strong and flourishing.”
Ver. 16. And He suffered not that any man should carry a vessel through the temple. Vessel, utensil, instrument, or furniture, for profane uses, such as basket, pot, ewer, or burden. Through the temple, i.e., through the outermost court of the temple, which was the court of the Gentiles, where the Gentiles might tarry and pray. For to those who wished to pass from the sheep-market, called Bethesda, or by corruption Bethsaida, to the upper city, or Solomonís palace, the nearest way was through this porch or court of Solomonís. For otherwise they would have to traverse the whole exterior boundary of this court. It was not surprising, therefore, that servants and children, who were carrying any burden, should take the nearer way through this court. But Christ forbade their doing so, both by His word and the gestures which He made with His hand, and compelled them to go back. What, then, would He have done with respect to the Holy Place itself? What with respect to our churches? (See Vilalpandus, tom. 2, in Ezek. l. 3, c. 9.)
Ver. 22. Have faith, i.e., full and perfect faith. (Top)
1 The parable of the vineyard. 13 Touching the paying of tribute. 18 The Sadducees confuted. 35 A difficulty proposed to the scribes.
Ver. 1. Planted a vineyard. Gr. ε̉φύτευσεν, Vulg. pastinavit. The verb pastinare is especially used of vines. It means to dig the soil of the vineyard, and prepare it for planting vines, So the word repastinare means to dig up vines when they are sterile.
And dug a lake (Vulg.), a receptacle into which the must pressed from the grapes might flow. The Gr. is ύπολήνιον, i.e., beneath the winepress. For ληνός means winepress. Hence the Arabic translates, and dug a winepress in it. S. Matthew (xxi. 33) uses the same expression. For torcular, or winepress, means not only the actual press itself, but the vat or receptacle beneath the press in which the grape juice was received. This last was said to be dug, or, as in Isa. v. 1, to be cut out.
Ver. 33. And to love oneís neighbour as oneselg is a greater thing than all holocausts and sacrifices. Holocausts were sacrifices in which the whole victim was burnt and sacrificed to God by fire. This is what God says, “I will mercy [prefer] and not sacrifice, and the knowledge of God more than holocausts” (Hosea vi. 6). This young man tacitly assents to the saying of Christ, and condemns the scribes, who preferred sacrifices, which yielded profit to themselves, to mercy and the love of our neighbour. And this was why they bade children say to their parents, when they were in need, corban, i.e., oblation (see on Matt. xv. 6).
Ver. 34. Thou art not far from the kingdom of God. Thou art not far from the way of salvation, for the love of God and our neighbour is the pathway to heaven. Again it means, thou art not far from My Church, by which, militant here on earth, we go to the Church triumphant in heaven. “Still, as yet thou lackest faith to believe in Me as the Messiah, the Saviour of the world, and to obey My commands, so that thou mayest indeed become a Christian. And if thou wilt be perfect, leave all things and follow Me, as the Apostles have done.” When, then, He says, thou art not far, “He shows,” says Victor of Antioch, “that he was still at some distance, and that he ought to reach forward to that which was before, and seek diligently for the things that were yet wanting unto him.”
Ver. 38. Who love to walk in long robes,óstolis (Vulg.). The stole was an elegant garment, flowing down to the heels. Wherefore the Scribes wore it for the sake of ostentation.
Ver. 40. Who devour, Gr. οί κατεσθίοντες, i.e., who altogether consume and lick up the houses of widows, both by reason of the sumptuous feasts which they ask of them, as well as by the gifts and money which they avariciously extort from them under the pretext of offering prayers for them. “When, therefore,” says Bede, “the hand is stretched out to the poor, it is wont to help prayer; but those men passed whole nights in prayer that they might take from the poor.”
These shall receive greater judgment. A severer sentence of God, and a heavier condemnation shall press upon the Scribes in the day of judgment, because by a pretence of probity they are aiming at wrong-doing; and being clothed in the garments of God, they are fighting on the devilís side. “Simulated holiness,” says S. Chrysostom, “is a double iniquity.”
Ver. 41. How the people cast money: æs, brass (Vulg.), i.e., all sorts of money, whether brass, silver, or gold. For the first money was made of brass, hence all money was afterwards called brass, even when made of silver or gold.
Into the treasury; gazophylacium (Vulg.). For gaza is a Persian word, meaning riches; and φυλάττειν is to keep. This was a chest into which gifts were cast by the people, and kept for the service of the Temple, and for supporting the priests and the poor. Hence, also, the porch in which the chest was kept was called by the same name. Thus it is said in John viii. 20, “These words spake Jesus in the treasury (gazophylacio), teaching in the Temple.” So Bede.
Ver. 42. A certain poor widow cast in two mites, which make a farthing. Not as if one mite made a farthing, as Euthymius understands, relying on Matt. v. 26. But two mites were equivalent to one farthing, as is here clearly expressed. For a farthing was the fourth part of a little ass; and ten small asses made a denarius. A mite was half a farthing.
Ver. 43. This poor widow hath cast in more than all. For although per se, and other things being equal, the greatest and best alms and oblations is that which is most, yet, per accidens, when other things are not equal, the greater alms is that which is offered with the greater devotion of charity and religion. For God does not so much regard the gift as the disposition of the giver. Again, the greater gift is not that which is of the greater value considered in itself, as that which is the greater and more difficult in respect of the giver. This widow, therefore, in giving a farthing, gave more than all, because she gave all that she had, although it was necessary for her life. And she would have given more if she had had more. For she trusted in God, that He in return would be more liberal to her, and provide for her necessity, according to the saying, “Give God an egg, and receive a sheep.” Others truly gave of their abounding superfluities, as Christ here says. As Titus of Bostra says on Luke xxi. 3, “With such magnanimity and devotion did she offer two mites, that is, all that she had, as if she counted her own life as nothing.” S. Paul gives the a priori reason (2 Cor. viii 12), “If there be a ready mind, it is accepted according to what a man hath, not according to that which he hath not.” As Victor of Antioch says on this passage, “For God does not so much consider the greatness of the gifts, as weigh the greatness and alacrity of the mind.” And Bede, “He weighs not the substance, but the conscience of the offerers.”
For, as S. Thomas says, inasmuch as the widow gave according to her ability, therefore it was the greater affection of charity which was valued in her. S. Ambrose thought the same (lib. 2, Offic. c. 30), “The two mites of that widow surpassed the offerings of the rich, because she gave all she had; but they offered only a small portion of their abundance.” Whence he infers, “The disposition therefore makes the offering poor or valuable, and sets their true price upon things.” (Top)
1 Christ foretelleth the destruction of the temple. 9 the persecutions for the gospel: 10 that the gospel must be preached to all nations: 14 that great calamities shall happen to the Jews: 24 and the manner of his coming to judgment: 32 the hour whereof being known to none, every man is to watch and pray, that we be not found unprovided, when he cometh to each one, particularly by death.
Ver. 6. Saying, I am (Vulg.). That is, “I am Christ or Messias,” as S. Matthew has (xxiv. 5).
Ver. 11. Be not thoughtful beforehand what you shall speak. Gr. πζομεριμνα̃τε, i.e, do not think anxiously beforehand. The Greek and Syriac add, neither do ye meditate, after what manner or arrangement ye shall speak and answer governors and tyrants. But whatsoever shall be given you (i.e., shall be suggested to you by the Holy Spirit) in that hour, that speak ye. The Arabic has, because ye shall be given in that hour what ye shall speak. (Top)
1 A conspiracy against Christ. 3 Precious ointment is poured on his head by a woman. 10 Judas selleth his Master for money. 12 Christ himself foretelleth how he shall be betrayed of one of his disciples: 22 after the passover prepared and eaten, instituteth his supper. 26 declareth aforehand the flight of all his disciples, and Peterís denial. 43 Judas betrayeth him with a kiss. 46 He is apprehended in the garden, 53 falsely accused, and impiously condemned of the Jewsí council: 65 shamefully abused by them, 66 and thrice denied of Peter.
Ver. 3. A woman having an alabaster box of ointment of precious spikenard. “Nard,” says Pliny. (l 12, c. 12), “is a shrub which has a heavy and thick, but short, black, and easily broken root. It has a strong smell, like cypress, and a pungent taste. The leaf is small and thick, and the tops unfold into ears, so that spikenard is spoken of as being doubly endowed with both leaves and ears.” From the leaves of nard ointment is madeóthat which is called foliated; but that made from the ears or spikes is called spikenard; and this is superior to the foliated, because it has more substance and marrow, so to say. Instead of nardus spicatus (Vulg.), the Syriac has nardus copitalis, i.e., chief, excellent, principal. As I have observed, the spikenard is superior to the foliated. The Greek has πιστικη̃ς, which the Vulg. of S. John translates pistici. Pisticus is the same as spiked. Wherefore the Arabic trans., the best.
Ver. 5. Three hundred pence. These were equivalent in value to thirty Roman aurei. So that for the thirty gold pieces which the miserable Judas accounted as lost in the anointing of Christ, he received thirty silver pieces for betraying Him.
Ver. 11. They were glad. Not only that they were about to apprehend Him without tumult, being opportunely betrayed by Judas, but also because He was beginning to be hated by His own disciples.”
Ver. 13. There shall meet you. “Observe the majesty of His Divinity,” says S. Ambrose (in Luc. xxii. 8). “He is speaking with His disciples, and yet He knows what is about to happen elsewhere.”
Ver. 14. Where is My refectory? That is, the place where I may refresh Myself with My disciples, and partake of the lamb. The Greek is κατάλυμα, or inn; the Syriac, place of dwelling; Arabic, place in which I may eat the Passover.
Furnished: provided with tables, couches, or beds and tapestry, decorated also with leaves and flowers, and all other requisites for celebrating the Passover. The Greek, Syriac, and Arabic add, έτοιμον, i.e., prepared. For God had put it into the heart of the master of the house to prepare the supper-room for the sake of Christ, that He might find a place well adorned for the celebration of the Passover, that as soon as evening came there might be no delay, but that the lamb might be roasted and eaten, and all the other things accomplished which were to be done by Christ.
Ver. 23. Giving thanks: the Syriac adds, He blessed.
And they all drank of it, namely, after Christ had consecrated the chalice, saying, This is My blood, as it follows. There is, therefore, a prolepsis, or anticipation, which Mark makes use of to show that the disciples fulfilled the command of Christ. Drink ye all of it, as Matthew has, xxvi. 28.
Ver. 33. He began to fear and to be heavy: ε̉κθαμβει̃σθαι καί α̉δημονει̃ν, i.e., to be affrighted and sore distressed. The Arabic is, to be very sorrowful and afraid.
Ver. 36. Abba Father: Gr. α̉ββα̃ ό πατήζ, where Father is in the nominative, as Mark interprets the Syriac word α̉ββ by the Greek πατήζ; or rather the nom. πατήζ is put for the voc. πάτεζ. For by a mark of affection, with the deepest feeling of the heart, Christ repeated the word Abba, or Father. Wherefore the Syriac has Abba Abi, i.e., Father, My Father. The Arabic has 0 Father. S. Augustine (lib. de Consens. Evang. l. 4) thinks that Christ used both the Greek and the Syriac word; and that He spoke precisely as Mark has it, namely, άββα̃ ό πατήζ. For so the Apostle speaks, “In whom we cry, Abba Father” (Rom. viii. 15, Vulg.). “We must think,” says S. Augustine, “that the Lord said ĎAbba Fatherí to intimate the mystery of His Church, which was to be gathered out of Jews and Gentiles.” And the Scholiast in S. Jerome says, “He speaks in Hebrew and Greek, because there is no distinction between Jew and Greek.”
Ver. 38. The spirit indeed is willing: Syriac, willing and prompt.
Ver. 41. The hour is come: Arabic, the end, i.e., of life, is present, and the hour is come.
Ver. 44. Lead Him away carefully: Gr. α̉σφαλω̃ς, i.e., securely, safely. Arab. Fear ye concerning Him; lest, that is, He glide away out of your hands, as He has done upon other occasions.
Ver. 47. One of them, namely, Peter. “Mark does not mention Peterís name,” says Theophylact, “that he may not seem to praise his teacher, Peter, for his greater zeal for Christ.”
Ver. 51. And a certain young man followed him having a linen cloth cast round about his naked body; and they laid hold on him. That is, he was clothed (amictus, Vulg.) with a linen vest over his naked body. It is plain, from the word amictus, that this piece of linen was a kind of linen garment, fitting the body, but so that it might easily be put on and off the back. This is also clear from Pollux, who calls the linen cloth πεζιβόλαιον, i.e., a veil, a cloak, a covering.
You will ask who this young man was: 1st S. Epiphanius (Hæres. 78) and S. Jerome, or whoever the author is on Ps. xxxviii., think that he was James the Lordís brother.
2nd Bede and S. Chrysostom, S. Ambrose, S. Gregory, and Baronius think it was S. John; for he was a youth, and the youngest of the Apostles. But that it was neither John nor James, nor any of the Apostles, is plain from this, that Mark has just before said, ver. 50, then all His disciples, meaning, Apostles, forsook Him and fled.
3rd Theophylact and Euthymius think that the young man was some one from the house of John Mark, in which Christ had eaten the Passover.
4th And more probably, Cajetan (in Jentaculis) and others conjecture that this young man was a member or servant of a house adjacent to the garden, who, being awoke by the noise made by those who were apprehending Christ as they passed by, rose up from his bed, and ran to see what was being done. That he was a favourer or disciple of Christ appears from what Mark says, he followed Him. Wherefore also the officers laid hold of him, i.e., they wished to hold him by seizing his garment. The Hebrew active verbs often signify commencement and effort.
Ver. 52. But he, casting off the linen cloth, fled from them naked. “As Joseph,” says the Scholiast, “left his garment in the hand of his immodest mistress, and fled from her naked.”
Mark adds this incident in order to make it plain from this hasty flight of the young man how great was the trepidation about Christ, and how intense was the hatred and fury of the Jews against Christ, who even tried to seize a stranger who was following Him. Hence it is evident that far more would they have seized the Apostles, if they had not immediately fled away.
Ver. 68. And the cock crew. Hear S. Chrysostom on S. Matt. xxvi. 70, “Mark signifies that neither by the crow of the cock was he led to remember, nor did it keep him from denial.” Chrysostom adds, “Mark only has written thus, most accurately detailing the gracious care of the Master for His disciple, and Peterís weakness. Wherefore we ought especially to admire him, because he not only did not hide his masterís fault, but wrote the account of it in greater detail than the others, for this very reason that he was Peterís disciple.”
Ver. 70. For thou art also a Galilæan. That is, by speaking in the idiom of the Galilæans thou showest thyself to be a Galilæan. The Arabic adds, And thy speech is similar to their speech.
Ver. 72. And he began to weep: Gr. ε̉πιβαλών έκλαιε, i.e., literally, adding he was weeping; which you may translate, 1st, he began to weep; 2nd, he added to weep, i.e., “he began to weep very violently,” says Theophylact. The Arabic is, and he betook himself to tears, not in the court before the Jews, that he might not betray himself to them, but when he was alone, having gone out of it as appears from S. Matt. xxvi. 75. (Top)
1 Jesus brought bound, and accused before Pilate. 15 Upon the clamour of the common people, the murderer Barabbas is loosed, and Jesus delivered up to be crucified. 17 He is crowned with thorns, 19 spit on, and mocked: 21 fainteth in bearing his cross: 27 hangeth between two thieves: 29 suffereth the triumphing reproaches of the Jews: 39 but confessed by the centurion to be the Son of God: 43 and is honourably buried by Joseph.
Ver. 25. And it was the third hour, and they crucified Him. The third, not beginning, but ending, and going on to the sixth. For that Christ was crucified at the sixth hour, or midday, appears from the 33rd verse. Some suspect that there is an error, and that the sixth ought to be read for the third. For the Hebrews had divided the day and also the night into four parts or hours, each of which contained three of our hours. The first began at sunrise, and lasted for three hours. When they were over, Terce began, and lasted for three hours, or until midday, when Sect began, and ended three hours afterwards, when None began, and lasted till Vespers, or evening. When Sect was beginning, or the sixth hour, Christ was crucified; and when None, or the ninth hour, was beginning, He died.
Ver. 28. And with the wicked he was reputed: Heb. נמנה, nimma, i.e., was numbered, was counted. See what I have said on Isa. liii. 12. The reason is, because Christ took to Himself our place, our account and reckoning. But we were wicked. He therefore was reckoned with the wicked, that He might make us, instead of wicked, just, righteous, and holy.
Ver. 42. Because it was the Parasceve, that is, the day before one Sabbath. The Greek is, which is the Prosabbatum. For Parasceve is the came as Preparation. Friday was so called because food and things needful for the Sabbath were prepared upon it. Hence it was called the Pro-Sabbath, i.e., the day before, or the vigil of the Sabbath. (Top)
1 An angel declareth the resurrection of Christ to three women. 9 Christ himself appeareth to Mary Magdalene: 12 to two going into the country: 14 then to the apostles, 15 whom he sendeth forth to preach the gospel: 19 and ascendeth into heaven.
Ver. 1. And when the Sabbath was past: that is to say, at the beginning of the night before the Lordís day. “After a sad week comes the radiance of a happy day,” says the Scholiast.
Mary of Jacob (Vulg.), i.e., Mary, the mother of James the Less and Jude, as the Arabic version gives it, and the wife of Cleopas.
And Salome: the wife of Zebedee, and mother of James and John.
That coming they might anoint Jesus. According to the custom of the Jews, says Theophylact; that the body might be preserved sweet. Spices are of a drying nature. They did not realise the dignity of Christís Divinity, nor His resurrection. But they loved Him very tenderly, both as a man and a prophet, although now dead.
Ver. 6. Who was crucified: He is risen; He is not here. “The angel is not ashamed of the cross,” says Theophylact, “for in it is the salvation of men.” The Interlinear says, “The crossís bitter root is gone; the flower of life with its fruits, which lay in death, has arisen in glory.”
Go, tell His disciples. “The women are bid,” says the Interlinear, “to announce it to the apostles, because as by a woman (Eve) death was announced, by a woman it might be told that life had risen again.”
And Peter. “That him whom a woman had made deny, a woman might make confess,” says Druthmar. The Scholiast in S. Jerome adds that “Peter was named especially because he counted himself unworthy of being a disciple, because he had thrice denied his Master.” And S. Gregory (Hom. 21, in Evang.) says, “If the angel had not named Peter, he would not have dared to come among the disciples. He is called, therefore, by name, that he might not despair.”
Ver. 8. For a trembling (of body) and fear (of mind) had seized them. Theophylact says, “έκστασις, that is, stupor, at the sight of the angel had come on them.” But this astonishment was mingled with intense joy. For they were astounded and were glad at the wonderful things which they heard, even that Jesus their beloved was risen from the dead.
For they were afraid. Not only because of the vision of angels, but also “on account of the Jews,” says Euthymius, “lest they should appear to have themselves stolen away Jesus; lest they should kill them when they heard that they had proclaimed the resurrection of Jesus: as shortly afterwards the Jews placed Mary Magdalene, Martha, and Lazarus in a ship without oars or sail, and sent them to what would have been certain destruction had not God brought them in safety to Marseilles.”
Ver. 9. Magdalene, out of whom He had cast seven devils. Mark adds this to show the power of repentance and love. With these was Magdalene the sinner so inflamed, that she deserved first to see Christ risen again, that from her sinners might learn not to despair, but vehemently to love; for so they shall surpass the Holy Innocents in grace and glory. So Bede, “Because where sin abounded, grace hath superabounded.” Bede adds, “A woman was the beginner of transgression. A woman first tasted death, but in Magdalene woman first saw the resurrection, that woman might not bear the perpetual guilt of transgression among men.” See what is said on Luke viii. 2.
Ver. 12. He appeared in another shape: Arabic, garment, i.e., of a traveller, as they were going into the country: Arabic, to the village; Gr. into the field, i.e., to a country-house at Emmaus. For, as S. Austin says (Consens. Evang.), “under the name of country not only villages, but towns and boroughs outside the capital, which was the mother city of all, were wont to be called.” These disciples, therefore, were going from Jerusalem into the country, that is, into the neighbouring small town of Emmaus. This place was made a famous city by the Romans, and called Nicopolis, as a monument of their victory in the capture of Jerusalem. This appearance of Christ is the same as that related by S. Luke (xxiv. 13), as is plain from the circumstances, which are the same in both cases. So commentators generally. Euthymius alone thinks they were different, because Mark adds that the Apostles did not believe them when they told them that Christ was risen, whilst Luke intimates the contrary, that they did believe. But the answer is easy, that some believed, but others did not believe.
Ver. 13. Neither did they believe them. This happened by the permission and providence of God. “For this their incredulity was not so much their weakness as it was to become our strength,” says S. Gregory. “For the resurrection itself was made manifest to them by many proofs, when they doubted of it. And when we read and acknowledge these things, what else is it but to be confirmed by their doubting?”
Ver. 14. At length He appeared to the eleven as they were at table. The Vulgate has novissime, last of all: Gr. ύστεζον. This was the last appearance of Christ on the day of the resurrection, for S. Mark only relates those appearances which took place on that day. You may say, But if so, He did not appear to the Eleven, but to the Apostles, for S. Thomas was absent. Wherefore Maldonatus thinks that this appearance was that which took place on the Sunday after the resurrection, when Thomas was present. But I say that they are here called the Eleven, although Thomas was absent, because the college of the Apostles after the treachery of Judas was reduced to eleven. That is why they are here called the Eleven, although Thomas was absent. Thus the Decemvirs were called by that name when gathered together, although one or two might be absent.
They did not believe. S. Jerome (lib. 2, cant. Pelag.) writes that in some Greek codices there is found added after these words as follows: “And they had content, saying, Substance is that world of iniquity which by means of evil spirits suffers not the true power of God to be apprehended: therefore now reveal Thy righteousness.” But the Church has expunged all this, for it savours of the heresy of Manes and Montanus.
Ver. 15. And He said unto them, Go ye into the whole world, and preach the Gospel to every creature. He said this not on Easter day, when He appeared to the Eleven as they sat at meat, but afterwards, when He showed Himself to them and others on a mountain of Galilee, as it is in S. Matt. xxviii. 16, &c. Or it may be that He committed this chief and peculiar office of preaching the Gospel to the Apostles more than once.
Go ye into the whole world, that is to say, not into Judæa only, as ye have done hitherto, but up and down in all directions throughout the world. For it does not seem probable that a few Apostles should have traversed and converted the whole world, especially because in America, lately discovered, no traces of the faith of Christ have been found.
Every creature, i.e., to all nations, as it is in Matt. xxviii. 19.
Ver. 16. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be condemned. This saying of Christ is abused to support their heresies, 1st, by the Lutherans, to prove that faith alone without good works is sufficient to salvation. But I reply that the meaning of Christ, as Euthymius, Theophylact, and others have observed, is, he that believeth, &c., i.e., “he that, believing in Christ and receiving His baptism, has been washed from his sins, imbued with the grace of God, and sanctified, he shall be saved,” understand, “if he die in that state, retaining the grace of God even unto death.” But it is impossible for the baptized to continue in this state of grace if they do not those good works which the law of Christ commands. Also, in the name of faith, or faith and babtism, as the prime requisites, and which, at the beginning of the Church were chiefly to be inculcated upon the Gentiles, all other things consequent upon them must be understood, such as hope, charity, and good works, as I have shown at length in the introduction to S. Paulís Epistles.
2nd The Anabaptists infer from this saying of Christ that little children must not be baptized, because they cannot believe. But I answer, Christ is here speaking of adults. For only adults are able to believe, and all the preceding words apply to adults only. That little children ought to be baptized is plain from the perpetual tradition and practice of the Church, and from the words in S. John iii. 5, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, unless any one be born of water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.”
S. Augustine adds, and reiterates in various passages, that these words of Christ do refer to infants also in a measure, for as they sinned by the will of Adam, not their own, so likewise they believe by the faith of the Church, in their parents, or those who present them for baptism, not by their own.
3rd The Calvinists gather from these words of Christ that baptism is not necessary for salvation, but that faith only is sufficient, because of it alone, they say, Christ subjoins, But he that believeth not shall be condemned. I reply that under the word believe, i.e., faith, baptism must be understood, which is the sacrament of faith, as well as all the other things which spring from and follow faith, as I have just said. For Mark, studying brevity, left it to the reader to gather from what he had said immediately previous, that these must be understood, or shall not be baptized. For otherwise the antithesis would be imperfect. To complete it we must read as follows, He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not, or is not baptized, shall be condemned, For that baptism is necessary for salvation is plain from the words of Christ in S. John iii. 5, already cited.
Ver. 28. They shall take up serpents. From the places which they infested, and as Euthymius says, “They, shall destroy them, or even take them up in their hands without harm,” as S. Paul did the viper. Therefore the Arabic translates, They shall take up serpents in their hands.
And if they shall drink any deadly thing. They shall drink poison unharmed, as the Apostles and many Saints have done.
They shall lay their hands upon the sick, &c. Observe that these signs were necessary in the Primitive Church for proving and strengthening the faith of Christ. Wherefore at that time almost all believers wrought miracles, at least of certain kinds; as, for example, the expulsion of devils from energumens. This is plain from Justinís Dialogue against Trypho, Tertullian (Apolog.), Lactantius, and others. Many also at that time received in baptism the gift of tongues. See Acts x. 47, &c.
Mystically: S. Bernard (Serm. de Ascens.) says, “The first work of faith which worketh by love is compunction of heart, by which, without doubt, devils are cast out when sins are rooted out of the heart. After that they who believe in Christ speak with new tongues when old things depart but of their mouth, and for the time to come they speak not with the old tongue of our first parents, who declined unto words of wickedness in making excuses for their sins. But when by compunction of the heart, and confession of the mouth, the former sins have been blotted out, in order that men may not backslide, and their latter end be worse than the beginning, it is needful that they take away serpents, that is, extinguish poisonous suggestions, &c. If they shall drink any deadly thing it shall not hurt them. This is, when they feel the stings of concupiscence, they shall not consent. They shall lay their hands upon the sick, and they shall recover. This is, they shall cover their evil affections by good works, and by this medicine they shall be healed.”
Ver. 19 He was taken up into heaven. By His divinity communicating to His body the qualities of lightness and fleetness.
“O kingdom of eternal blessedness, where youth never groweth old, where beauty never waneth, nor love groweth cold, where health knows no sickness, where joy never decreaseth, where life hath no end” (S. Augustine, in Solil. c. 39).