1 The temptation and fasting of Christ. 13 He overcometh the devil:14 beginneth to preach. 16 The people of Nazareth admire his gracious words. 33 He cureth one possessed of a devil. 38 Peter’s mother in law, 40 and divers other sick persons. 41 The devils acknowledge Christ, and are reproved for it. 43 He preacheth through the cities.
ND Jesus being full of the Holy Ghost returned from Jordan, and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness,
Douay Rheims Version
Christ's fasting and temptation. He is persecuted in Nazareth. His miracles in Capharnaum.
ND Jesus being full of the Holy Ghost, returned from the Jordan and was led the by the spirit into the desert,
9. And he brought him to Jerusalem and set him on a pinnacle of the temple and said to him: If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself from hence.
10. For it is written that He hath given his angels charge over thee that they keep thee.
Ver. 1.—And Jesus, being full of the Holy Ghost, returned from Jordan, having been there baptized by John a little time before, and having visibly received the Holy Spirit, whose fulness He had already obtained invisibly in the first instant of His conception.
Ver. 2.—Tempted of the devil. In the Greek πειζαξόμενος, suffering or sustaining temptation by the devil. See Commentary on Matt. iv. 5.
Ver. 5.—ln a moment of time. S. Ambrose says, “It is not so much the quickness of the view which is indicated, as the fleeting frailty of power which is expressed. For in a moment they all pass away. And often the honour of the world is gone ere it is come. For what can be lasting in the world when the worlds themselves are not lasting.”
Ver. 14.—And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee. In the Greek ε̉ν δυνάμει, in the power, strength, or force of the Spirit. Under a strong impulse of the Spirit, Jesus returned to Galilee. For the Holy Ghost was moving Him, and powerfully impelling Him to put forth at this time that spiritual power which He had received from the beginning of His conception, but which He had hitherto shut up and hidden within Himself, and to begin in Galilee with immense ardour and zeal, His ministry of preaching, and, confirm it by His admirable holiness of life and His stupendous miracles. Hence Theophylact renders it ε̉νθουσιω̃ν,driven and urged on by the enthusiasm and Divine afflatus of the Holy Ghost.
Ver. 16.—And He came to Nazareth. Note here that while Christ is said, in v. 14, to have gone into Galilee, He is not said to have entered Nazareth which is situated there, as S. Matthew (ch. iv. 13) has it, but Capernaum, and there to have done the things which S. Matthew relates in chaps. iv. to xiii., all of which S. Luke passes over here, and then He is said to have come to Nazareth. S. Luke wished at the very outset to state the reason why Christ would not teach in Nazareth, namely, that He was despised by His fellow-townsmen as being the son of a carpenter. And though this only happened subsequently, yet Christ foresaw that it would be the case, and therefore turned aside from Nazareth and went to Capernaum, which He made the seat of His ministry, as S. Matthew relates in iv. 13.
And stood up for to read. It was (and still is) the custom among the Jews that each one should read the Hebrew books of Holy Scripture in the synagogue on the Sabbath-day, both that he might learn the law of God from it, and also that he might be stirred up to the worship, love, and service of God. Moreover, it was the part of the Rabbin and the teachers, such as Jesus was, to read the Holy Scripture publicly, to interpret it, to preach, and to teach.
Ver. 17.—And there was delivered unto Him (by the attendant) the book of the prophet Esaias. This was done by the counsel and direction of God, that Jesus might show from Isaiah that He was the-Messiah described by that prophet.
And when He had opened the book, He found the place where it was written (Isa. lxi. i). Christ seems so to have opened the book that, without looking for it, He lighted upon this passage of Isaiah by the will and guidance of God. The Vulgate, “as He unrolled the book,” is better; and Vatablus, “when He had unfolded;” others, “when He had spread out,” for this is the meaning of the Greek α̉ναπτύξαζ. For the books of the Hebrews were not divided into leaves, but consisted of one long piece of parchment which was rolled round a cylinder from beginning to end, as maps are nowadays. In order to read this parchment it was therefore necessary to unroll it, and spread it out.
Ver. 18.—The Spirit of the Lord is upon me: because He hath anointed me. The Holy Spirit, who was in Me from the beginning, descending upon Me here in the baptism which I have now received from John the Baptist, descending visibly in the form of a dove, while the voice of God the Father spoke forth in thunder, “This is My beloved Son; hear ye Him,” has by this sign, as by a visible anointing, publicly declared, authorised, and, as it were, consecrated Me as the Teacher, Prophet, Saviour, and Lawgiver of the world, and especially of the Jews to whom I was promised, and therefore—
He hath anointed Me to preach the Gospel to the poor, for the rich Scribes and Pharisees despise My lowliness and My poverty.
Observe the words “hath anointed me;” for in Hebrew “Messiah,” and in Greek Χζιστὸς, mean “anointed.” This anointing of Christ was accomplished secretly in the Incarnation—
(1.) By the grace of the hypostatic union, which made Him in the highest degree holy and divine—nay, made Him God.
(2.) By the plenitude of graces which flowed from this union. For other saints are said to be anointed with the grace and the gifts of the Holy Ghost, but Christ was anointed with the Holy Ghost Himself, as though with the very fountain and plenitude of all graces, that the Man Christ might become a superabundant fountain pouring forth its grace into all the apostles, martyrs, virgins, and confessors, so says Basil (de Spiritu Sancto, ch. xxvi.). Christ was, as I have said, publicly anointed in His baptism, to heal them that are brokenhearted—heal and console those who, by reason of their sins, and the burden of the law of Moses, as well as their ignorance of the things of God, are afflicted in spirit, and pant for the knowledge of God, His pardon, His grace, and His salvation, and who, therefore, look for the Messiah. Hence Symmachus and Theodotus render it; so S. Jerome tells us in his Commentary on Isa. lxi., “to bind up the wounds of sinners.”
To preach deliverance to the captives—that I may preach, announce, and bring freedom, through penance and My grace, to those who are held captive by sin and the devil.
And recovering of sight to the blind. The Hebrew and Chaldee versions of Isaiah give “open to those bound,” i.e., as Symmachus has it, “loosening of those bound.” But the Septuagint, and S. Luke following them, render it in the Greek άνάβλεψιν, “looking again,” that they may see again. For the Hebrews call those that are blind bound, or shut, like the Latin idiom, “Moses seized in their eyes,” and consequently they call the illumination by which the eyes of the blind are opened “opening.” The meaning, therefore, is, Christ shall both restore sight to those who are physically, and illumine those who are spiritually, blind, and are ignorant of God and of the way of salvation. He shall teach them the knowledge of God and the way to save their souls. This was what Isaiah (xlii. 7) clearly foretold that the Messiah should do: “I will give Thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles, to open the eyes of the blind.” And hence it is plain that Isaiah in ch. xlii., is not speaking literally of the deliverance from the Babylonian captivity wrought by Cyrus, as Toletus would have it, but of the deliverance from the captivity of sin and of the devil wrought by Christ; for Cyrus restored sight to no one, but Christ to many. I confess, however, that there is an allusion to Cyrus, he being a type of Christ. To the Hebrews in Babylon who were “bound” he gave “opening and loosening,” as the Hebrew version has it, when he freed them from captivity and sent them back into Judæa.
To set at liberty them that are bruised—intoliberty and health. The Arabic has “to send thee bound into remission.” Pagninus, “that I may send forth the broken by remission.” So also Vatablus. These words are not in Isaiah lxi 1. in the Hebrew; they have been added paraphrastically by S. Luke or his interpreter, and seem to form another explanation of “to heal them that are brokenhearted.” So Forerius on Isaiah lxi., and Francis Lucas on this passage. Origen omits “to heal them that are brokenhearted,” and reads instead, “to send forth the broken into liberty;” and he adds, “What was so broken or shattered as the man who, when sent away by Jesus, was healed?”
For “broken” the Greek has τετζανσμένους, which Vatablus and others translate “broken.”
Ver. 19.—To preach the acceptable year of the Lord—the pleasing year—in Hebrew, רצון מנת scenat raston; in the Septuagint ε̉νιαυτὸν ε̉υδοκίας, that is, as S. Jerome renders it, “the placable year,” or, as others with propriety, “the year of the good pleasure,” of divine benevolence and liberality, such as was the year of the jubilee to which he here alludes. For the year of the jubilee was the type and figure of this evangelical year which Christ brought. So the whole time of the preaching of Christ, and thenceforward all the time of Christianity, is a year of jubilee to those who obey Christ and accept His liberty—a year of grace, mercy, peace, remission, liberality, and salvation, in which, after God’s long anger against us, we are restored to His grace, His favour, His heirship, His glory, and all the former blessings which we had in Paradise in the state of innocence. This is what S. Paul says in 2 Cor. vi. 2, “Behold, now is the acceptable time; behold, now is the day of salvation.”
The Vulgate adds, and the day of retribution, of vengeance. The year of the jubilee, that is, the time of Christianity, shall be to the enemies of Christ a time of vengeance, when God shall avenge the human race on its enemies and oppressors, the demons that oppress it; for Christ shall deliver men from the devils, and shall cast them down, according to Isaiah xxxv. 4, “Say unto the timid, Be comforted, and fear not; behold, your God shall bring the vengeance of retribution. God Himself shall come and shall save you.” Vulgate. And Christ says, in John xii. 31, “Now is the judgment of the world, now shall the prince of this world be cast forth.”
Ver. 20.—And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on Him. “That they might hear,” says Euthymius, “how He interpreted what He had read.” For already the fame of what He had said and done at Capernaum had been noised abroad everywhere, so that many held Him to be the Messiah; and they especially desired to hear this from Christ. For they knew that the passage of Isaiah read by Him was a prophecy of the Messiah, and so they listened with eagerness to Him while He explained it.
Ver. 21.—And He began to say unto them, This day is this Scripture (“which has sounded,” says Euthymius, and the Syriac version), fulfilled in your ears. This day is fulfilled in your hearing this prophecy of Isaiah, while you hear me preaching to you and to the rest of the poor of Galilee the year of full remission, and I am prepared to do, nay, I have already done in Capernaum, all that Isaiah has here foretold. I am the Messiah of whom Isaiah there prophesies, whom you, in accordance with the predictions of Jacob and Daniel, are already eagerly expecting every moment. For, though Jesus does not clearly say that He is the Messiah, yet He tacitly implies it.
Ver. 22.—And all bare Him witness, and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of His mouth. And they said, Is not this Joseph’s son? “Words of grace,” he calls them (1) gracious, beautiful, suave, and pleasant; (2) full of grace and the Holy Spirit; (3) efficacious to move and persuade; (4) full of wisdom and eloquence, so as to convince those that heard them. For Christ spoke with a tongue that was more than human. “He was teaching them as one having power, and not as the Scribes,” Matt. vii. 29.
Bore Him testimony—thatHe spoke well, not that He was the Messiah. Hence they call Him “the son of Joseph;” and, a little after, when they were rebuked by Him, they despised Him and wished to cast Him down headlong. So, nowadays, many people praise a preacher so long as he says to them what is pleasing and elegant, but when he attacks their vices they abuse and persecute him. Such is the way of the fickle multitude, who love themselves and their own desires. However, Bede takes this as meaning that they bore witness that He was the Messiah of whom Isaiah had prophesied these things; and he adds:—“How great their blindness, when, only on account of their knowledge of His origin, and because they had seen Him nourished, and that He had developed, through the stages of life among themselves, they set Him at nought whom, by his words and works, they knew to be Christ.”
Ver. 23.—And He said unto them. ye will surely say unto Me this proverb (in the Greek παζαβολὴν—parable, proverb, or adage, in common use), Physician, heal thyself—thatis, cure Thine own people and Thine own country, which should be as dear to Thee as Thyself; cure Thy fellow Nazarenes as Thou hast cured or art said to have cured the Capernaites. Thus it was that Christ presently explains it, He, by His Divine Spirit, seeing the hidden thoughts of the Nazarenes, and that they were wishing in their hearts for that which He now said. Anticipating their secret thought, He meets and answers it. “It was common among the Jews,” says Titus, “to taunt physicians who had caught any disease with this impudent and ironical saying, Physician, heal thyself.” For the common sense of mankind holds, and reason favours the opinion, that he who cannot cure himself, or neglects to do so, cannot cure others or should not attempt it. In point of fact, however, experience not seldom shows that the physician who cures others is unable to effect his own cure, but hands himself over to other physicians to be treated, because appetite often blinds the reason, and diseases obscure one’s scientific knowledge. Hence we judge better and more safely about the diseases of others than about our own. Self-love often perverts our judgment, so that Solomon warns us with the words, “Lean not unto thine own understanding,” Prov. iii. 5.
Tropologically, S. Anthony thus expounded the saying “Physician, heal thyself;” He that will cure the faults of others let him first cure his own. For they that will help others before they cure themselves shall relapse into their own faults. Indeed experience teaches us that they who remedy any fault in themselves easily cure it in others.
Whatsoever we have heard done in Capernaum, do also here in Thy country. Hence it is, plain that these events took place in Nazareth after Jesus had preached and worked many miracles in the city of Capernaum, as has been said at v. 16, and S. Augustine (De Consensu, bk. ii. cap. 42) observes. The Gloss interprets, “We do not believe what a vague rumour has published, seeing that among us, on whom favours of the kind would have been more fittingly conferred, Thou hast done no such work.” Here in Nazareth, Thy fatherland which conceived Thee, nourished Thee, and brought Thee unto manhood, Thou hast brethren, sisters, kinsfolk, and neighbours, some rich, others poor, some sick, others suffering in other respects. Why then dost Thou not miraculously succour these Thine own people, to whom Thou art bound by blood, by love of home, and by natural affection?
Ver. 24.—And He said, Verily I say unto you, No prophet is accepted in his own country. Ye, 0 Nazarenes, despise Me as your fellow-townsman, and the son of a carpenter; wherefore you are unworthy that I should confer benefits upon you., Therefore (says the Interlinear), I work not among you, not because I hate my own country, but because you are incredulous. S. Cyril adds that a citizen, being always near to his fellow-citizens, is deprived of the reverence which is his due at the hands of those who know him.
Thirdly, S. Chrysostom says, “Christ had abstained from miracles among the Nazarenes that He might not provoke them to envy.” For, as S. Ambrose says, God is a despiser of the envious; and the Gloss remarks that it is almost natural for fellow-citizens to envy one another; nor do they take account of merit, but call to mind a man’s frail childhood.
Chrysologus (Serm. 48, at the end,) remarks, “To be powerful is, among one’s own people, a biting and a burning; to be eminent among one’s fellow-citizens and neighbours burns up one’s neighbours’ glory; and if neighbours owe honour to a neighbour they count it slavery.” There is an amusing apologue of a parrot, which touches this subject. A parrot, brought from the East to the West, where birds of this kind are not common, wondered that he was held in greater esteem and honour than he had been accustomed to in his own country. He occupied an ivory cage plaited with silver wire, and fed on the daintiest viands, such as did not fall to the share of the others, which were only western birds, but inferior to himself neither in beauty nor in the power of imitating the human voice. Then says a turtle-dove, shut up in the same cage with him, “There is nothing wonderful in this, for no one receives in his own country the honour which is his due.”
Tropologically, Christ here teaches the faithful, particularly men devoted to the Apostolic calling, that they ought to curb or to divert themselves of all excessive affection for their own country and kinsfolk, that they may be useful to all men—
“The fishes’ native country is the boundless sea;
Let the wide earth the brave man’s country be.”
S. Gregory Nazianzen (Orat. xviii.) says very well, “For great and noble men there is one country—that Jerusalem which is perceived by the mind, not those countries which we see here, now inhabited by one race of men, now by another.” And again (Orat. xxv.) “These earthly fatherlands, these differences of race, are the scenes, the illusions, of this our short fleeting life. For whatsoever country each one has previously got possession of, whether by injustice or by misfortune, that is called his country, while we are all alike strangers and sojourners, however much we may play upon the meaning of words.” Such was S. Basil, of whom S. Gregory of Nyssa, in his life, writes, “Basil the Great was free from the fear of exile, because he held that the only fatherland of men was Paradise, and regarded all the earth as nature’s common place of exile.”
Vers. 25 and 26.—But I tell you of a truth, many widows were in Israel in the days of Elias, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, when great famine was throughout all the land; But unto none of them was Elias sent, save unto Sarepta, a city of Sidon, unto a woman that was a widow. Three years and six months—This does not appear in the Old Testatment, but Jesus, as God, knew it, and revealed it to S. James, Ep. v. x7, for as to what is said in 1 Kings xviii. 1, “The word of the Lord came to Elias, in the third year, saying, Go and show thyself to Ahab that I may give rain upon the face of the earth.” This third year is not to be taken from the beginning of the drought, but as from the sojourn of Elias in Sarepta.
In all the land—Israel and the neighbouring region, such as Sidon, and Sarepta, where this widow was.
The sense is that, as Elias, in the time of the famine, procured food for no Israelite, but only for the widow of Sarepta, a Sidonian, a Gentile, and a foreigner, because, valuing the prophet very highly, and believing him that God would provide for her hunger according to his word, she gave him the little oil and meal which she had, postponing her own and her children’s wants to his; so Christ, in like manner, puts the Capernaites before the Nazarenes, His own fellow-citizens, because the former hear Him as a Teacher sent from Heaven, honour Him and pay Him respect, but the latter despise Him as a carpenter, and their own fellow-townsman; and so He imparts to the former the spiritual bread of heavenly doctrine and miracles, but leaves the latter in their spiritual want. For Elias was the type and precursor of Christ, and the widow of Sarepta the type and first-fruits of the Gentiles whom Christ preferred before the Jews, His fellow-countrymen. Bede says that “Sidon” in Hebrew signifies “useless hunting;” “Sarepta,” “conflagration” or “neediness”—namely, of bread; that is, the Gentile world given up to the pursuit of worldly things, and suffering from the conflagration of their carnal passions and the want of spiritual bread. Elias is the prophetic, word, which, being received, feeds the hearts of them that believe.
Ver. 27.—And many lepers were in Israel in the time of Eliseus the prophet; and none of them was cleansed saving Naaman the Syrian, a foreigner and a Gentile. As Elisha, following his master Elias, did not prophecy to the Jews, his own people, but to foreigners, and did not therefore heal the lepers that were in Judæa, but Naaman the Gentile, by reason of his faith and their incredulity; so I preach and work miracles among these Capernaite strangers, on account of their faith, reverence, and good-will towards Me, but I leave you Nazarenes alone for your infidelity, your irreverence, and your contempt of Me. For Elisha, like Elias, was a type and forerunner of Christ; and Naaman the Gentile, a type of the Gentiles to whom Christ, leaving the Jews, would, by the apostles, transfer His faith, His church, and His grace. So Bede, Titus, Theophylact, Euthymius, Jansenius, Toletus, and others.
Ver. 28.—And all they in the synagogue, when they heard these things, were filled with wrath—because they knew that they were touched by these two examples of the widow and Naaman, as being incredulous, and that a slur was cast upon them as being unworthy of the miracles of Jesus; and again because they were indignant that Jesus, their fellow-townsman and equal, should compare Himself with, and place Himself before, Elias and Elisha, nay, make Himself out the Messiah, from the prophecy of Isaiah; and, lastly, because Christ hinted that He would transfer His gifts from the Jews to the Gentiles. So S. Thomas, Toletus, Francis Lucas, and others.
Ver. 29.—And rose up and thrust him out of the city, and led him unto the brow of the hill, whereon their city was built, that they might cast him down headlong—“led him”—dragged Him, as it seemed to them, by violence, but, in reality, Christ of His own accord allowed Himself to be led and dragged.
That they might cast him down headlong—fromthe top of the hill to the bottom, and so kill Him, as one who had defamed his own native place, and inflicted injury and insult upon it; and therefore they brought Him forth outside of the city, as being unworthy of it, that they might cast Him from the top of the mountain, dash Him down upon the rocks, and break His whole body to pieces. This was a grievous piece of violence on the part of the Nazarenes against Christ, their fellow-citizen, and thus, as Euthymius observes, they confirmed in act, what He had spoken in words, namely, that a prophet is not held in honour in his own country, but dishonoured, nay, slain; and that therefore the Nazarenes were unworthy of the preaching and miracles of Christ.
S. Bonaventure, Toletus, and others add, that they took Christ out of the city to the top of the hill that they might slay Him as a blasphemer, because He had made Himself the Messiah. For though, by the law, the blasphemer was to be stoned, still they wished to cast Christ headlong upon the rocks and stones, because this is the same as if they had stoned Him. Whether the stones are cast at the man, or the man hurled headlong upon the stones, is all one; indeed, the latter is more cruel and terrible. So it was that they cast S. Stephen out of Jerusalem as a blasphemer, and stoned him; and S. James, the first Bishop of Jerusalem, was hurled down from a pinnacle of the Temple as a blasphemer, because He taught that Christ was the Messiah.
S. Ambrose points out that these men were worse than the devil, who did but set Christ upon a pinnacle of the Temple, and say to Him, “Cast thyself down,” while these did their best to hurl Him down by force. “The heritage of the disciples,” he says, “is worse than that of the master - he tempts the Lord by word, they attempt His life by their act—he says, ‘Cast thyself down,’ they do Him violence in order to cast Him down.”
Ver. 30.—But He passing through the midst of them went His way. Maldonatus thinks that Christ here made Himself invisible, S. Ambrose and Bede that He changed their wills, so that they consented to let Him go. Others hold the better opinion that Christ turned away their imagination or their eyes, or suspended their consciousness and held their hands and feet, so that, like men bereft of their senses, though they saw Him they could not or dared not lay hold of Him. Wherefore Christ here manifested His Godhead. S. Ambrose says, “Behold! the minds of these furious men, being suddenly changed, or stupefied, He goes down through the midst of them.” And he adds the reason, “For when He wills He is taken; when He wills He slips away; when He wills He is slain; because His hour had not yet come,” John vii. 30. For as yet he must preach, and at last be crucified at Jerusalem by the Father’s decree, but not cast down headlong in Nazareth. So Bede, S. Chrysostom, Euthymius, and others. Brocardus, in his “Description of the Holy Land,” gives the tradition that Christ glided away from out of the hands of the Jews, and suddenly appeared on the opposite side of the mountain, and that therefore the place is called “the Leap of the Lord.” N. de Lyra adds that the rock on which Christ stood yielded, and received like wax the impress of His feet, just as, when ascending into heaven from Mount Olivet, He left the marks of His feet there. This is what Adrichomius says, in his “Description of the Holy Land,” on the word “the Leap of the Lord:” “The tradition is that Christ fled to a high mountain, which is called from that circumstance ‘the Leap of the Lord,’ and that, at the touch of His garment, the rock flowed, and being melted and loosened like wax, made a kind of hollow for the Lord’s body to be received in and protected, a hollow of a capacity equal to the quantity of the Lord’s body. And in this, even at the present day, the lineaments and folds of the garment on the Lord’s back, and the marks of His feet are preserved, marked out as though by the hand of a sculptor.” This, however, lacks confirmation.
On verse 32 see what I have said on Matthew xiii. 5, viii. 14; on verse 33 see Mark i. 23.
1 Christ teacheth the people out of Peter’s ship. 4 In a miraculous taking of fishes, sheweth how he will make him and his partners fishers of men. 12 Cleanseth the leper. 16 Prayeth in the wilderness. 18 Healeth one sick of the palsy. 27 Calleth Matthew the publican. 29 Eateth with sinners, as being the physician of souls. 34 Foretelleth the fastings and afflictions of the apostles after his ascension. 36 And likeneth faint-hearted and weak disciples to old bottles and worn garments.
ND it came to pass, that, as the people pressed upon him to hear the word of God, he stood by the lake of Gennesaret,
3 And he entered into one of the ships, which was Simon’s, and prayed him that he would thrust out a little from the land. And he sat down, and taught the people out of the ship.
27 And after these things he went forth, and saw a publican, named Levi, sitting at the receipt of custom: and he said unto him, Follow me.
28 And he left all, rose up, and followed him.
29 And Levi made him a great feast in his own house: and there was a great company of publicans and of others that sat down with them.
Douay Rheims Version
The miraculous draught of fishes. The cure of the leper and of the paralytic. The call of Matthew.
ND it came to pass, that when the multitudes pressed upon him to hear the word of God, he stood by the lake of Genesareth,
Ver. 6.—They inclosed a great multitude of fishes—for Peter had said, “At Thy word I will let down the net.” “Behold here the fruit and reward of obedience. Jesus did this—1. In order that by providing them with food, He might prepare them for their vocation and ministry. I have chosen you to be My disciples, make not excuse that ye must work for your livelihood as fishermen. Behold this miraculous draft of fishes, and believe that I am able to provide you with all things necessary for life more easily and more abundantly than ye are able to provide them yourselves. 2. To teach from this miracle, that they were soon to become successful fishers of men.
Ver. 7.—And they beckoned unto their partners—becausefrom joy and wondering astonishment they were unable to speak.
Ver. 10.—Fear not (be not lost in astonishment, from henceforth you are to be fishermen in a higher sense of the word), from henceforth thou shalt catch men. ζωγζω̃ν from ζωγζέω, which means—
First, to hunt or catch some living thing, hence the Arabic translates it, from henceforth thou shalt be a fisherman, for thou shalt fish for and take men. Thou, Peter, shalt catch men, not by wounding and disabling them, as wild animals are taken; but as fish which are unhurt by the net, so thou shalt catch men not by violence or force, but through the power and operation of the spirit.
Secondly (if we derive the word from ζω̃ν and ε̉γζομαι or ε̉γείζω, to quicken, or recall to life. Hence S. Ambrose (Hexam., lib. v. cap. vi.) “Thou shalt be a life-giver to men;” and the Syriac, “Thou shalt be a fisher of men, to recall them to life.” Fishermen, indeed, catch fish to provide themselves with food, but thou, 0 Peter, art to become a fisher of men, not to destroy them, but to give them life by raising them from the death of sin unto the life of righteousness, for like as fish taken from the water die, so men caught by thee become dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God, and, in a sense, as fish are assimilated by those who feed on them, so do those who are inclosed in the Gospel net, become in very truth members of Christ. Figuratively, the ship of Peter is the Church, the head of which is Peter and his successors. The Pope is therefore the chief fisherman to whom the words of Christ apply, “Thou shalt catch men.” It is the duty, therefore, of the Roman Pontiff directly and by means of others to convert the heathen, as the early occupants of the see of Rome converted the Roman people and sent apostolic men to preach the word of life to heathen lands.
Thus S. Gregory sent Augustine to convert the English people.
S. Ambrose observes, that some men, e.g., the martyrs, like fish, are taken by the hook; others, i.e., the body of the faithful, by the net, and adds, “Nets are the means whereby the Apostles catch men, for nets do not destroy but preserve what they take, and bring to the surface that which is floating below.”
Nets are called in Latin “retia,” because they are retentive “retinentia,” of that which they have taken.—Gloss.
Ver. 32.—I came not to call the righteous but sinners to repentance i.e., to call them by means of repentance to grace and future glory. Hence as S. Ambrose acutely remarks, “If grace flows from repentance, he who thinks little of repentance forfeits grace.”
1 Christ reproveth the Pharisees’ blindness about the observation of the sabbath, by scripture, reason, and miracle. 13 Chooseth twelve apostles. 17 Healeth the diseased. 20 Preacheth to his disciples before the people of blessings and curses. 27 How we must love our enemies. 46 And join the obedience of good works to the hearing of the word: lest in the evil day of temptation we fall like an house built upon the face of the earth, without any foundation.
ND it came to pass on the second sabbath after the first, that he went through the corn fields; and his disciples plucked the ears of corn, and did eat, rubbing them in their hands.
Douay Rheims Version
Christ excuses his disciples. He cures upon the sabbath day, chooses the twelve and makes a sermon to them.
ND it came to pass on the second first sabbath that, as he went through the corn fields, his disciples plucked the ears and did eat, rubbing them in their hands.
Ver. 1.—And it came to pass on the second Sabbath after the first.—On the second Sabbath. The Arabic version.
What was this Sabbath?
1. The eighth day of unleavened bread or the last day of the Passover. Epiphanius, Vetablus, and others.
The first day of unleavened bread or the second day of the Passover, and therefore both the first and second Sabbath or Feast-day. Isidore, Euthymius, and another.
3. The Feast of Pentecost. The second or next greatest to the Passover. Maldonatus.
4. I however consider that this Sabbath was not a feast but a Sabbath in the strict sense of the word, i.e. a day on which the Jews were forbidden even to prepare their food (Ex. xxxv. 3), which they were permitted to do on other feasts (Ex. xii. 16).
That this is the true interpretation is clear from the other Evangelists, who speak of this day as simply a Sabbath.
(In accordance with À Lapide the Revised Version reads, “Now it came to pass on a Sabbath.”)
But why is this Sabbath called the second after the first?
1. Because it followed on a feast (Theophylact); or, as others hold, because it was followed by a feast, and thus became the first before the second, which was close at hand.
2. Scaliger considers it to be the first Sabbath after the Feast of the Passover, called the second after the first, because it was the first after the second day of unleavened bread, from which day was numbered the seven weeks to Pentecost. So, also Vasquez.
3. S. Chrysostom and others think the words imply a feast or Sabbath in a twofold sense, a day on which another feast-day falls, and that they convey the same meaning as the Latin word “duplitia;” but to this interpretation Jansenius objects.
4. But it is most probable that the words mean the Sabbath which fell within the week of Pentecost or on the Feast-day itself. The Pascal Sabbath being distinguished as the first or principal Sabbath of the whole year. S. John xix. 31.
(1.) This opinion is confirmed by the fact that what is here narrated of the disciples must have happened about the time of Pentecost, i.e. when the corn was ripe. Hence the command to the Jews to offer their firstfruits, Lev. xxiii. 17.
(2.) And because, as I have showed, this was a Sabbath in the strict sense of the word, and was called second, in respect of some other Sabbath which held rank as the first, and not with any reference to the Passover or any other feast.
(3). Because, again, none of the other opinions seem to be probable. For, to sum up, the Feasts of the Passover and Pentecost are so nearly connected, that, although one is first in dignity and order, the second follows in all respects closely upon it. For this reason the Italians call Pentecost the Passover of the Holy Ghost. The same may be said also of the Sabbaths which fall within these feasts; therefore the Church numbers her Sundays from Easter to Pentecost, and from the latter festival to Advent.
But you will object that the week of Pentecost was not a feast in the same sense as the week of the Passover: therefore that the Sabbath which fell in it was not of more importance than any other. I answer that although the Pentecostal week was not commanded by the law to be kept as a feast, it was so kept by the piety of the Jews. Genebrardus’ Hebrew Calendar, and on the Psalms.
Figuratively, saysS. Ambrose, we may understand this Sabbath to mean the Gospel, which is second to the law in point of time, but first in dignity and importance.
He further adds, commenting on Ps. xlvii., the words “second Sabbath after the first” mean the Jewish Sabbath, for after the resurrection the Lord’s day took its place. From that time therefore it became second in dignity, yet at the same time it was rightly called first, because of its sanctity and the priority of its institution.
Figuratively, Christ taught and worked His chief miracles on the Sabbath not only to prefigure the spiritual Sabbath, when the mind, no longer taken up with evil lusts and passions, will be free to serve God alone, but because of the gathering together of the people, as they assemble now on the Lord’s-day.
There was also another reason, viz., to teach the Jews the true observance of the Sabbath, and that they might no longer be offended at the wonderful works which Christ wrought on that day, as were the Scribes, who accused Him of transgressing the law, and gave Him up to that death by means of which God effected the redemption of mankind. Bede.
Ver. 5.—The Son of man is Lord also of the Sabbath. See S. Matt. xii 8.
Ver. 11.—And they were filled with madness. α̉νοίας, deprived of understanding, they could not answer Him a word; they were filled with anger because they could not gainsay the reasoning of Christ, and with envy, as the Syriac renders it, which was the cause of their madness. Their eyes were blinded so that they could not see the truth! Hence Francis Lucas adds, they communed one with another what they might do with Jesus, i.e. how they might make away with Him.
Ver. 12.—He went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God—communing with God in prayer, asking the Father that He might choose for the ministry men fitted to be apostles, and would obtain for them an abundance of spiritual grace to enable them to fulfil the duties of their office; and also that He might teach us to pray in like manner.
So the Church at Ember-tide enjoins her children to fast and to pray that fitting persons may be chosen for the work of the ministry, and that those admitted to any holy function may be filled with grace and heavenly benediction; for as with the priest so with the people. When a chief pastor is zealous and God-fearing, he is a blessing and a strength to his diocese, but if he be an evil liver or slothful, he becomes a stumbling-block and offence to believers. In like manner, also, a good priest makes a good parish, but an evil one is for a destruction to his people.
Figuratively, Christ teaches us to pray in the night season that we may be the better able in silence and solitude to collect our thoughts and lift our hearts unto God; that we may be preserved from terror by night and from the pestilence that walketh in darkness, and also that by our prayers during the night we may obtain spiritual graces for the profit of our fellow-men during the ensuing day.
Hence Christ prayed by night and taught in the daytime. So did S. Paul, Acts xvi 25; and many other saints; 1 Tim. v. 5.
For the same reason David so often commends prayer during the night time, “Ye that by night stand in the house of the Lord. Lift up your hands in the sanctuary,” Ps. cxxxiv. 1, 2.
“At midnight I will rise to give thanks unto Thee,” Ps. cxix. 62.
“In the night I commune with mine own heart,” Ps. lxxvii. 6.
“My tears have been my meat day and night,” Ps. xlii. 3.
See also Commentary on Deut. vi. 7.
Ver. 20.—Blessed are ye poor . . . in spirit (See S. Matt. V. 3), for poorness of spirit is a rich and precious virtue. Therefore S. Ambrose rightly concludes that poverty, privations, and sorrow, which the world counts evil, not only are no hindrances, but on the contrary have been declared by Him who could neither deceive nor be deceived, to be of great assistance towards the attainment of a holy and a happy life.
The same writer goes on to give the reason why S. Luke has reduced the number of the beatitudes to four. He was content that they should include the four cardinal virtues. Justice, which, coveting not the possessions of others, rejoices in holy poverty; temperance, which had rather suffer want than be full; prudence, which chooses to sorrow here, in hope of the joy which shall be revealed; and Fortitude, which for sake of Christ and His Gospel, endures persecution and so triumphs over every enemy. Hence we read that the poor, the temperate, those who hunger and thirst after righteousness (S. Matthew), the just, those who weep, the prudent who despise earthly things and seek heavenly, those hated of their fellowmen, not because of any misdeeds but for the Gospel’s sake, who, steadfast in the faith, seek for future happiness by pleasing God rather than men—that these are indeed blessed.
Ver. 24.—But woe unto you that are rich, for ye have received your consolation. To the four beatitudes Christ, by antithesis, opposes as many states of misery and unhappiness.
The poor are blessed for all eternity, but the rich receive in this world their consolation; the hungry shall be satisfied with good things, but those that are full now shall be sent empty away. They who weep here shall hereafter rejoice, but for those who laugh now there is reserved a future of mourning; and those that are spoken well of by their fellow men, are laying up for themselves an eternity of woe.
For Ου̉̀αὶ, Latin væ, as S. Gregory points out (Hom. ix. on Ezekiel), oftentimes in Scripture denotes the wrath of God and everlasting punishment. Hence this word is here used by Christ partly as a lament over the future and eternal misery of the worldly, (S. Chrysostom, Hom. 44 ad pop.); partly as a prophecy of it (Titus); partly as threatening and decreeing such punishment against them (Tertullian, bk. iv. against Marcian).
You that are rich. As by poor we understand those poor in spirit who love poverty because thereby they are the better able to please God, so we may take the word rich to mean those who, greedy of gain, heap up riches by any means in their power, and look upon wealth as their sole happiness and the one object of their life. Hence mortal sin, robbery, extortion, unfair dealing, and other such like sins. Therefore the denunciation of Christ. But those who are rich by inheritance and honest labour, as long as they are not corrupted by their riches, but use them for the glory of God and the good of their fellow men, in reality are poor, as were the patriarchs, David, and many other of the saints of old.
For it is not the amount he possesses, but the use a man makes of his riches which is accounted sin. So “they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil.” See 1 Tim. vi. 9.
Ye have received your consolation. Ye set your heart on your riches, use them for your own evil gratification, and put them in the place of your God. Therefore ye are allowed the enjoyment of them in this life, but in the life which is to come ye will, as Christ has here declared, come short of everlasting happiness, for those who have in this world received their consolation will lose their eternal reward.
Hence S. Hieronymus (Epist. xxxiv.), when endeavouring to persuade Julian, a rich nobleman, to give up the world and devote himself to a holy and religious life, uses this powerful argument. “It is difficult, it not impossible,” he says, “to enjoy happiness in both worlds—to give ourselves up to our evil lusts and passions here, but to become spiritually minded after death—to pass from one state of happiness to the other—to acquire glory both in this world and in the next, . . . and to be distinguished equally in heaven and on earth. Hence Abraham returned none other answer to the rich man than this, ‘Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things, but now be is comforted and thou art tormented.’” See chapter xvi. 25.
So also Christ is said to have offered S. Catherine of Siena two crowns, one set with jewels, the other begirt with thorns, bidding her choose which she would wear in this life, which in the life to come. She chose the thorny crown, and, regardless of the anguish, pressed it firmly on her head.
Ver. 25.—Woe unto you which are full, &c.—ye who live only for eating and drinking, for ye shall hunger in eternity.
Actual evil-doers will indeed endure heavier punishment, but those who are gluttonous will suffer torment from the absence of those things wherein they delighted. Hence Dives prayed for but one drop of water to cool the tongue which he had accustomed to the richest food and the choicest wine. S. Euthymius.
For, as S. Basil writes, to live for pleasure alone is but to make a god of one’s belly (Phil. iii. 19). From the one vice of gluttony spring innumerable others which war against the soul. Subdue then this one vice, and you will at the same time subdue many others, for innumerable are the promptings of lust, which following in the train of gluttony, hold out promise of enjoyment, but lead to everlasting misery. S. Gregory in lib. regum, lib. v. cap 1.
The mind which is always accustomed to pleasure, and never weeded of evil by discipline, contracts much moral defilement (S Bernard, Epist. 152); and again (Serm. 48, in Cant.),“A life spent in pleasure is both death and the shadow of death,, for as a shadow follows close on that by which it is cast, a life of pleasure, beyond dispute, borders on destruction.”
On the contrary, fasting and abstinence give rise to chaste thoughts, reasonable desires and healthful counsels, for by voluntary self-denial the flesh is mortified and spiritual virtues are strengthened and renewed. S. Leo, (serm. 11, de jejunio).
Hence Christ gave S. Catherine this rule of life, “Choose that which is bitter as sweet, avoid that which is sweet as bitter.” See also Eccles. ii. 1.
Woe unto you which laugh now, for ye shall mourn and weep—in this life, and much more in the life to come. S. Basil seems in his rules to forbid all laughter, because this is a life of penitence and sorrow, but the future one of joy and gladness. Certain it is, as S. Augustine points out, that Christ is never said to have laughed, although He often wept.
Mirth in moderation, however, is not forbidden to the followers of Christ. “A fool lifteth up his voice with laughter, but a wise man doth scarce smile a little” (Ecclus. xxi. 20; and Eccles. ii. 2), “I said of laughter, It is mad: and of mirth, What doeth it?” Commenting on which passages, I have shown that it is immoderate laughter which is condemned, and not that moderate mirth which is the mark of a kindly disposition and well-regulated mind.
Woe to you that laugh, i.e. to you who laugh with the drunken, and make merry over sinful enjoyment, for you will weep and lament for ever in hell.
Ver. 26.—Woe unto you when all men shall speak well of you, &c.When men, who for the most part are carnally minded, speak well of you as setters forth of that which is pleasing to their ears, for they hate the truth, and persecute those who rebuke vice and restrain the evildoer, but praise them who excuse iniquity, whom God abhors. Thus did their forefathers speak well of the false prophets of old, and therefore they all have entered into condemnation. I also condemn you inasmuch as ye follow after their example. This “woe” is the contrary to the blessing promised to the true prophets, who for the gospel’s sake endure persecution, v. 22. So S. Paul: “If I pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.” See Gal. i. 10. For he who preaches false doctrine and things pleasing to the carnal mind, causes his hearers to continue in wickedness and commit many sins, and therefore will receive greater damnation.
Again, the preacher who seeks the applause rather than the conversion of his hearers, and looks upon this as the end and object of his ministry, will be condemned; because he sought to obtain the praise of men rather than to advance the glory of God, and made the vainglory of the world the one object of his life, thus destroying the souls of those committed to his care.
Such were the false teachers whom Jeremiah and the other prophets so often were called upon to refute. “The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests bear rule by their means, and my people love to have it so,” Jer. v. 31.
Ver. 27.—But I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies. Christ, after solemnly warning those who live for pleasure alone, now addresses His own disciples. “I have denounced woe against the wicked, but to you who hear my words, and seek the salvation of your souls, I give as a first and chief commandment that you should love your enemies.” See S. Matt. v. 44.
Ver. 30.—Give to every man that asketh of thee. Not only if lie is in want of the necessaries of life, but if he needs counsel, advice, or aid of any kind, for thus ye will be showing mercy and pity both to the souls and bodies of your fellow men. See S. Matt. v. 42. S. Luke here adds the words “to every man,” which S. Matt. omits, from which we are to understand that we are to give as far us we honestly and rightly can to every one that asketh, but not to one that asketh for anything or everything. For a man may ask us to give him money for a wrongful purpose, or even to commit actual sin. Hence we are only bound to give that which, as far as we know, will neither be hurtful to ourselves or to him that receiveth the gift: and in case we refuse to give, we must justify our refusal, so that he who asks may not go discontented away.
To every one therefore that asketh of thee, give not always that which he asks, but oftentimes that which is better—a denial if the request is one which we can show that it would be wrong to comply with. S. Augustine.
And of him that taketh away thy goods, ask them not again, neither by power of law or in any other way, as S. Augustine explains. Which is a command, in the case of one who, under pressure of want, has despoiled thee, but is otherwise a counsel. So we read, “Ye exact all your labours,” Isa. lviii. 3.
And again in the parable, the unmerciful servant, because he had no pity, was delivered to the tormentors until he should pay all the debt which had been forgiven him. S. Matt. xviii. So Spiridion, and many hermits of old, gave up to the owners the sheep which they had stolen.
Ver. 34.—And if ye lend to them of whom ye hope to receive (a like benefit), what thank have ye?” For this is not kindness but commerce, the exchange of kindness for kindness. Ye give for what ye hope to receive, not for love of God; and thus the hope of a return of the benefit conferred deprives the act of the favour of God. Interlinear Gloss.
Ver. 35.—Lend, hoping for nothing again. “From men,” adds the Syriac, “that you may receive your reward of God.”
Nothing, i.e. no pledge or return of any kind. Christ would have us lend, not only without exacting usury for the loan, but also without expecting a similar kindness in return. For what is it but self-seeking and avarice, if I lend to another that he in his turn may lend to me? Christ here enjoins the true benevolence which lends freely, content that at the appointed time the loan should be returned. Some, indeed, think that there should be no return, but the words of Christ do not bear this construction. For that which is lent without expectation of return, is given, not lent, and becomes not a loan but a gift. Toletus, Lessius, Valentia, and others.
Hence to seek to profit by a loan is contrary to the meaning of the word and the nature of the transaction. For the word mutuum (in the Greek δανείζητε, mutuum date, Vulgate), implies that they are mutuo animo, who give because of duty (Varro); or, as Verius Marcellus better explains it, mutuum means the same as meum tuum, because out of friendly feeling mine becomes thine for present needs and necessities. Hence S. Gregory Nyssen writes, “He who exacts interest on a loan, is condemned as a usurer;” for a loan is a friendly transaction, freely given and to be freely restored.Cicero, Epist. ad Metellum.
A kindly-hearted man, therefore, will lend to him who is in need, even though he may have reason to believe he will never be repaid, for there are many poor who cannot, and many unworthy persons who will not return that which is lent them.
Hence a witty writer, “If you lend to your friend and ask a return of the loan, you will lose either the one or the other;” and again, “By lending money, I have purchased to myself an enemy and lost a friend.” He therefore who lends should lend for the love of God, who will richly repay, as is written, “He that hath pity on the poor lendeth unto the Lord.” See Prov. xix. 17.
Hence S. Chrysostom: “The poor receive the gift, but God becomes the debtor;” and S. Basil (conc. 4 de Eleemosyna) “That which thou art about to give to the poor for the love of God, becomes both a gift and a loan,—a gift, because there is no expectation of return—a loan, because of the goodness of God, who will richly recompense in their name those who have relieved the necessities of the poor.”
Wherefore we may take in a Christian sense that which is written: “Lose thy money for thy brother and thy friend.” See Ecclus, xxix. 10, and my comments thereon. But when men take that which is lent, without a thought of returning it, no one is willing to become a lender.
Ver. 38.—Give, and it shall be given unto you. Many are lavish of their promises, few are liberal in their gifts. Hence Antigonus as Plutarch tells us, was commonly called Doson, because he was always ready to say δώσω, I will give, but never performed his promise of giving. Therefore, Christ bids us “give,” i.e. give a once and without delay, and it shall be given you.
For God puts it in the hearts of men amply to repay a liberal giver. It is said that a certain monastery became rich because of the large amounts expended in charity, but that, when these were withheld, it was reduced to poverty. When the steward was complaining of this to one whom he was entertaining, the guest said Date and dabitur are sisters: you cast out the former, and soon her sister and inseparable companion followed. If you wish the latter to return, recall the former, and give as largely as you were accustomed to do. See verse27, S. Matt. v. 42, and elsewhere. For almsgiving enriches and does not impoverish. Hence S. Chrysostom says it is the most profitable of all acts. And Christ has declared that the merciful are blessed, for they shall obtain mercy. See S. Matt. v. 7.