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Lapide's Great Biblical Commentary Lapide's Commentary
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These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Lapide, Cornelius. "Commentary on Matthew 10". The Great Biblical Commentary of Cornelius a Lapide. https://www.studylight.org/
commentaries/ eng/ clc/ matthew-10.html. 1890.
Lapide, Cornelius. "Commentary on Matthew 10". The Great Biblical Commentary of Cornelius a Lapide. https://www.studylight.org/
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And when He had called , &c. Observe that Christ, out of all His disciples, chose principally twelve, as S. Luke shows more at length (vi. 13.). He chose twelve Apostles that they should be His chief legates, whom He invested with plenary authority and power, and sent them forth into all the world to proclaim His Gospel unto all nations. He chose also seventy-two others; but these He called disciples, not Apostles, although they too are spoken of by ancient writers as Apostles, that is legates or ambassadors of Christ. And such in fact they were, but with less power, as being subject and subordinate to the twelve Apostles. These twelve Christ now sends forth, that they may begin to discharge the office to which they were called, that they may serve their novitiate under Himself as their master, that afterwards being made priests and bishops, they may after His death fully accomplish their office and ministry. Wherefore Christ made the Apostles the Princes of His Church, and superior to all the faithful, both martyrs, confessors, and virgins, not only in office and dignity, but also in grace and sanctity. For upon them he has founded His Church, as we may learn from Ephesians 2:20 , and Revelation 21:19 .
Moreover the power of the Apostles was the greatest in the Church, far greater than that of Bishops; for the Apostles were chosen and sent forth directly by Christ the Lord, as it were legates a latere of Christ, with absolute power through the whole world, not only to preach the Gospel, and confirm it by miracles, but also by writing. For the Apostles had the power of writing canonical books (as in fact Matthew and John wrote Gospels), canonical epistles and the Apocalypse. They also had power to found churches everywhere, and to institute and ordain priests and bishops, and the whole hierarchical order, together with ceremonies of the Eucharistic Sacrifice and all the Sacraments.
Observe that in this triple power the Apostles were all equal among themselves and with S. Peter. Yet were they subordinate to him as their head and superior. This is why Peter ( Mat 10:2 ) is placed and named first amongst them.
And heal all manner of sickness , &c. Gr. νόσυν , i.e ., disease. Both this power, and that of casting out devils was given to the Apostles after the manner of an abiding habit. God did not endue them with a physical faculty of healing diseases; but His omnipotent power was promised to them so as always to assist them, in such a way that as often as they willed to do these things, immediately God cast out the devils, and bestowed healing. This power was given them for the confirmation of their preaching, that by this means they might convince the people.
Now the names , &c. The reason why Christ chose exactly twelve Apostles, neither more nor less, was that they should correspond to the twelve Patriarchs, sons of Jacob. For as these were of the Jews, so were the Apostles the parents of all Christians. So SS. Jerome, Austin, and all the Fathers. Rabanus speaks of other mysteries in this number, and following him, S. Thomas ( in Catena ) says: This number twelve is made by multiplying three into four, and signifies that they should preach belief in the Trinity in the four quarters of the world. They were typified by the twelve sons of Jacob, by the twelve princes of the children of Israel, by the twelve wells of Elim, by the twelve stones of the breast-plate, the twelve loaves of the shew-bread, the twelve spies, the twelve stones taken out of Jordan, the twelve oxen that supported the brazen sea, the twelve stars in the crown of the bridegroom in the Apocalypse, the twelve foundations of the city, the twelve gates.
The first, Simon, who is called Peter , &c. Beza, that he may get rid of the primacy of Peter and the Bishops of Rome who have succeeded him, thinks that first is a spurious reading, and ought to be expunged. But it is the uniform reading of all the codices and versions Greek, Latin, Syriac, and Hebrew. And it is incredible that the passage should have been corrupted by the later Greeks, who are schismatics, and deny the primacy of Peter. Rather would they have expunged the word first, if they could colourably have done so. In short, wherever the names of all the Apostles are given in Scripture, Peter is placed first, Judas last; whilst with respect to the rest the order varies, as is plain from Mark 3:16 , Luke 6:14 , Acts 1:13 .
Moreover, Peter is called the first of the Apostles: not in age, for Andrew was older than he, as Epiphanius testifies ( Hæres 51); not in vocation, for Andrew was called before him ( S. John 1:41; John 1:41 ); not in love, for Christ loved S. John above all the rest, and therefore he leaned upon His breast at His last Supper. It remains, therefore, that Peter was the first of the Apostles in excellence and authority, being, indeed, their head and ruler. Thus it is that the names of the rest are not given in any uniform order, nor one called second, another third, because all were equal, and all equally subject to Peter. From this word first , in Latin primus , comes the expression Primacy of Peter , which all the ancient Greeks and Latins acknowledged. Hear S. Chrysostom, "Peter was the first and, as it were, the head of all the Apostles." S. Jerome ( lib. 1 contra Jovin. c. 17), "Among the twelve Apostles, one is chosen, that a head being appointed, occasion of schism may be taken away." Ambrosiaster (in 2 Cor. c. 12), Andrew followed the Saviour before Peter, and yet not Andrew, but Peter, received the Primacy. Peter, therefore, as the Primate of the Apostles, had power to admonish and correct them if they erred in faith or morals, to put an end to contentions, to assign them their provinces, to substitute others in their place if they fell, as he substituted Matthias in the room of the traitor, Judas. For this subordination of the Apostles, of bishops, and all the faithful under one head was necessary for the unity, stability, and good government of the Church, as S. Cyprian teaches Hæres 2. Peter alone among the Apostles had ordinary jurisdiction, to which in due order the Roman Pontiffs succeed. For Peter set up his Pontifical chair at Rome, where he died a martyr. But the Apostles had delegated jurisdiction from Christ, to which there were no successors.
You will say, the bishops are said to be the successors of the Apostles. I reply, this is only said by way of analogy, because bishops share with the Apostles in episcopal order and jurisdiction, because bishops are superior to other priests in the same way that the twelve Apostles were superior to the seventy-two disciples. But bishops do not possess that three-fold Apostolic power of which I spoke in the beginning of this chapter. The power of bishops only extends to their own dioceses, but that of the Apostles to all nations throughout the whole world.
Andrew his brother . Mark places James and John before Andrew, making him the fourth. Luke does the same in Acts i., 13, but in his Gospel he places him before them as Matthew does. These variations in the order of the names is to show that the Apostles are all equal in dignity and office. Whence Cajetan says upon this passage, "Peter alone has the distinction of being called first, in order to intimate that it closely pertains to Christian knowledge to recognise the Primacy of Peter, and that it is of no consequence to know the order of the Apostles among themselves."
S. John in the Apocalypse, in describing the twelve Apostles as the twelve foundations of the heavenly Jerusalem, assigns to each his place with their own peculiar precious stones The first foundation was jasper; the second, sapphire; the third, a chalcedony; the fourth, an emerald; the fifth, a sardonyx; the sixth, sardius; the seventh, chrysolyte; the eighth, beryl; the ninth, a topaz; the tenth, a chrysoprasus; the eleventh, a jacinth; the twelfth, an amethyst. ( Rev 21:19 ).
The first, jasper, denotes Peter, on account of the firmness of his faith; the second, a sapphire, Andrew, because of his heavenly life and love; the third, a chalcedony, or carbuncle, James, burning with zeal; the fourth, an emerald, John, blooming and a virgin; the fifth, a sardonyx, Philip, on account of the whiteness of his mind; the sixth, the ruddy sardius, Bartholomew, flayed alive; the seventh, a chrysolyte, the colour of the sea, Matthew, a penitent; the eighth, a polished beryl, Thomas, polished and established by Christ in the faith of his Resurrection; the ninth, a topaz, James the less, radiant with sanctity; the tenth, a chrysoprasus, Judas Thaddæus, who, by his acute wisdom, was hostile to heretics, as it were an onion, for πρὰσον means an onion; the eleventh, a jacinth, Simon the Canaanite, on account of the sweetness of his manners; the twelfth, the lowly Matthias, and the least.
Paul and Barnabas are not reckoned among these twelve Apostles, because they were called by Christ to the Apostolate, not whilst He was upon earth, but when He was reigning in heaven. They had equal power, and an equal measure of the Spirit, with the twelve Apostles.
Andrew is a Greek word, and means manly , strong , heroic . Many of the Jews, after they became subject to Alexander's successors, learnt Greek and took Greek names. Andrew was, what his name signifies brave and heroic in his preaching and passion, from the strength of his love to Christ, panting for his cross. He was, says Gaudentius, the first of all the disciples of John the Baptist, and being by him sent to Christ, first began to know Him.
James , the son of Zebedee: he was surnamed the Greater. He was the patron and Apostle of Spain, and was the first of the Apostles who suffered martyrdom, being beheaded by Herod Agrippa.
John , his brother. This is the beloved disciple of Christ, of whom I have spoken at length in the prefaces to his Gospel, Epistles, and Apocalypse.
Philip is Greek; φίλος ίππων , a lover of horses , meaning a knight, warlike. For Philip was as a war-horse of Christ against the Jews and infidels. Concerning this, see the Apoc. (vi. 2), "and behold a white horse, and he that sat upon him had a bow, and a crown was given unto him, and he went forth conquering and to conquer."
Bartholomew has been explained to mean the son of him who suspendeth the waters , from bar , a son, thala , he suspended, marim , waters. Whence Ruperti and Osorius think that Christ turned into wine upon the occasion of Bartholomew's wedding at Cana of Galilee, as though he had been the bridegroom. Others reject this. For Bartholomew is the same as son of Tolmai. Tolmai was a common name among the Hebrews, as is plain from Joshua 15:14 , and 2 Samuel 3:3 . Less aptly, some interpret Bartholemew as son of Ptolemy, as though he had been sprung from the Ptolemies, kings of Egypt.
Thomas in Gr. Didymus, a twin. Concerning him, see John 20:24 .
Matthew , the publican. Note S. Matthew's humility, who when the other Evangelists were silent about his being a publican, publicly announced himself a sinner.
James , the son of Alphæus : Alpheus means in Hebrew, learned , or a doctor. This Alphæus, the father of James, was a different person from Alphæus, the father of Matthew ( Mar 2:14 ). For this Alphæus, the father of James, was the husband of Mary of Cleopas, who is called the sister of Mary, the mother of the Lord ( Joh 19:25 ). Whence Helecas, Bishop of Saragossa, and others, think Alphæus is the same as Cleopas. Alphæus begat James and Jude of Mary. This was James the Less, of whom I speak at length in the Preface to his Epistle.
Thaddæus : this is the same as Jude, the author of a canonical Epistle. Of him also I have spoken in the Preface to his Epistle.
Simon the Canaanite. This Simon is not so called because he was sprung from the Canaanites, as some wrongly imagine, for all the Apostles were Jews, but because he was born at Cana of Galilee. Hence Nicephorus (lib. 8, c. 30) and Baronius think that he was the bridegroom at the marriage feast when Christ turned the water into wine. Because Cana in Heb. means zeal , S. Jerome says he was called the Canaanite , i.e. Zealotes, the Zealot, with a double allusion to the city of Cana and his zeal
And Judas Iscariot : as though Ish keriot : i.e., a man of Carioth, a city of the tribe of Judah. (See Joshua 15:25 .) So Angelus Caninius on Hebrew names (cap. 13.) Others, with greater probability, are of opinion that he was so called because he came from the village of Iscarioth, in the tribe of Ephraim, not far from Samaria. So S. Jerome in this place, and on Isaiah 28:1 , Maldonatus and Adrichomius. Iscariot means in Hebrew the same as mercenary, for sachar is merchandise. And this well agrees with Judas, who made merchandise of Christ. Christ chose Judas, although He knew that he would prove a traitor, because He was willing to bear his treachery, and to add it to the weight of His Passion, for He wished His Passion to be in all respects complete. He willed to suffer every kind of torment and from all sorts of men, to teach us to do good, not only to the good and thankful, but also to the evil and the unthankful. Hear S. Ambrose (lib. 5 in Luc.): "Judas is chosen, not through imprudence, but through providence, since Christ willed to be betrayed by him, in order that thou, if thou art forsaken by thy friend, or even if betrayed by thy friend, mayest bear patiently the error of thy judgment, the loss of thy kindness." (See S. Jerome on Isaiah 28:1 .) "Woe to the crown of pride, the drunkards of Ephraim, and the fading flower, the glory his of exaltation" (Vulg.), which the Sept. translates, "Woe to the crown of wrong, the mercenaries of Ephraim, a flower falling from glory upon the top of the fat mountain." S. Jerome understands this mystically of Judas, the traitor; "who was," he says, "of the tribe of Ephraim, of one of its villages, Iscarioth. He indeed sold the Lord for a price. He indeed, as a flower, fell from the glory of his Apostleship upon that most fat mountain of which we suppose it is spoken, 'Jacob hath eaten and drunk, and is filled; and the oved hath grown fat and kicked.' or, according to the Heb. upon 'the valley of the fat ones,' i.e ., Gethsemane, by which also is signified the name of the place in which Judas betrayed the Lord." After a little, he adds, "The traitor was drunken, not with wine, but with avarice, and the incurable madness of asps, even the food of the devil; who, after the morsel, entered into him and wholly devoured him, because 'his prayer was turned into sin,' and not, even in repentance, had he the fruit of salvation."
Note, first, Christ combines together all his Apostles, and assigns to each his companion, making six pairs. With Peter He joins Andrew, and so on; that each may derive help and confirmation from his companion in his preaching. And for this cause He sent them out two and two (Luke 10:1 .)
Again, among His Apostles, Christ chose three pairs of brethren, viz., Peter and Andrew, James and John, James the Less and Jude; some add Simon the Canaanite who, they say, was a brother of James and Jude. He did this to teach how dear to Him is brotherly love, according to that saying in Eccles. (xxv. 1): "In these things hath my spirit delight, which are approved before God and man, the concord of brethren, the love of neighbours, and a husband and 10 wife agreeing together." Also Proverbs 18:19 , "a brother who is helped by a brother is as a strong city."
Observe, secondly, several of the Apostles were relations of Christ, as James and John, James the Less and Jude. For Christ chose His Apostles, not to be sleek and wealthy princes, but to endure labours, poverty, crosses, torments, and martyrdom. Whence He gave them abundance of good things not temporal but spiritual even as the order of charity requires, according to which it is right to wish and care for greater grace for parents and relations than for others.
I may add, it behoved the WORD, when He took our flesh, to unite those who were most near to Him in the flesh more closely to His Divinity also, by grace. And this He did, so that His mother was the holiest of all, then S. Joseph, after him Joachim and Anna, as His grandparents: also John the Baptist and his mother, James and John, James the Less, and Jude, as His relations and kinsfolk. For these, because by fleshly relationship they were nearer Christ's humanity, so also were they brought into chosen connection with His Divinity through grace. Therefore this was not in Christ the fault of accepting persons, as it is in Prelates, who, contrary to what is right, burden rather than truly honour their nephews and kinsmen with dignities, prebends and riches.
Lastly, there were three chief Apostles, viz., Peter, James and John, whom Christ took as the witnesses of His transfiguration, His Passion in the Garden, and other secrets, whence these are, as it were, the pillars of the Church, and the Triumvirs of the Apostles.
Go not into the way of the Gentiles . Syriac has, of the profane : Way of the G. is a Hebraism for, to the Gentiles. Similar is Jeremiah 2:18 . "And now what hast thou to do in the way of Egypt?" That is, "Why art thou going into Egypt?"
This is the first precept of Christ, by which sending His Apostles forth to preach, He bids them go not to the Gentiles or the Samaritans, but to the Jews. The reason was, because they were the children of the Kingdom, and sons of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to whom the Messiah, that is Christ, had been promised by God. Had not Christ acted thus, the Jews might have taken exception against him and the Apostles, and said, "Thou art not the true Messiah, for thou preachest the Gospel to the Gentiles and Samaritans. Our Messiah was promised by the Prophets to the Jews, not to the Gentiles." This precept, however, was only temporary. It only lasted during the life of Christ on earth. After His Resurrection Christ sent His Apostles to evangelize the nations throughout the whole world. Then was taken away the distinction between Jews and Gentiles, and of both there was made one Fold and one Shepherd. So S. Jer., Chrys., and others. S. Paul puts the command of Christ in this verse in another form, when he says, "For I say that Christ Jesus was the Minister of the circumcision for the truth of God to confirm the promises made unto the fathers."
And as ye go, preach, saying, &c. This is the second and the chief command of Christ to His Apostles, viz., that they should traverse Judea, and preach the Kingdom of Heaven, and invite, yea compel men to come into it. It was as though Christ said, In a short time I will, by My death, open Heaven to men, which has been shut for so many thousands of years by Adam's sin, and I will open the way of entrance into it. Invite all therefore to enter upon this way that they may gain the Kingdom. This was the sum and substance of Christ's preaching.
Heal the sick, &c. This is the third precept of Christ, by which He bids them use freely the power which had been given them of working miracles to persuade men to believe in Christ, that their souls might be healed of unbelief.
Freely ye have received , &c. For freely the Greek has, δωρεάν , as a gift, gratis in the Vulgate. This is Christ's fourth precept. By using the word gratis , he takes away the occasion of pride, says S. Chrys., since they know that they have not this power of themselves; but by God's free gift have received it, without merit of their own. In like manner this word gratis excludes all avarice and simony, that they may not sell their miracles for money. Again, they are admonished to be liberal in exercising this power, keeping as the end in view the benefit of others, like Mountains, which the more water they send forth abroad, the more they interiorly receive. This is what Isaiah foretold concerning Christ. "Ho! every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters. Come ye, buy wine and milk without money and without price." For this liberality became the King of kings, that is Christ the Lord, and therefore He willed His Apostles to be altogether opposed to every appearance, yea, even shadow, of simony and covetousness, that they should not receive any gift, lest men should think they were seeking their own wealth, and so be turned away from the faith of Christ. The Apostles would have sinned and broken the command of Christ if they had received gifts on account of their preaching. Thus S. Hilarion, as S. Jerome testifies in his life, healed very many sick persons, but would not receive any gifts from them, not so much as a morsel of bread; for he was wont to say, " Gratis ye have received, gratis give." He replied to a certain nobleman whose name was Orion, whom he had delivered from a legion of devils, and who urgently pressed him to receive a gift, at least that he might distribute it among the poor, "Be not grieved, my son, at what I do, for I do it for thy sake and my sake. If I should receive this I should offend God, and the legion would return to thee."
A provincial council of Constantinople in a Synodical Epistle expounds, Gratis ye have received , &c., of the priesthood, that it must not be simoniacally sold.
Observe, the precise reason why the Apostles were bound to bestow gratis the Charismata given to them by God was not merely because they had received them gratis from God. For he who has received knowledge, or some natural skill infused into him by God, like Bezaleel, the architect of the Tabernacle, such an one, I say, may lawfully sell it, and teach it to others for money, as some masters of arts do. The precise reason, therefore, is because this thing is so sublime, and of such a nature that it cannot be acquired by human industry, but can only be received by the free grace of God; because it is indeed divine, and therefore far surpassing and transcending all price. This is the meaning of gratis ye have received. Wherefore to wish to estimate it at a price, and to sell it, is to treat it unworthily and profane it. It is to do a grievous indignity to it and to God, from Whom it has its sanctity: and therefore it is the crime
You will say, Then by parity of reasoning, he who exchanges one sacred thing for another is guilty of simony by the law of nature, and by the Divine law, because he does not give it gratis. Adrian admits this ( quodlib . 9 ad 4, conclus. lit. E.). But I reply by denying the consequence. For in this place, to give gratis is to give without temporal hire or reward. This may be collected from what follows: Provide (Gr. Possess ) neither old , &c. For things sacred have no temporal price. And this is neither given nor received when one sacred thing is exchanged for another. So SS. Jer., Chrys., and others. (See Lessius, Tract. de Simonia , dub. 3.) Let religious and apostolic men follow closely this precept of Christ, for it very greatly conduces to His glory and the salvation of souls, as I have learned by an experience of forty years. S. Ignatius, the Founder of our Society (Reg. 17, Sum. Constit.) thus wisely lays down: "Let all who are under obedience to this Society remember that they ought to give gratis what they have gratis received, neither asking nor receiving pay, nor any alms, by which masses, confessions, or sermons, or any other offices whatsoever of the things which the Society, according to our institution, is able to exercise, may seem to be compensated; that thus it may be able to advance with greater freedom both in the Divine service and the edification of our neighbours."
Once, when S. Antony was on a journey, he saw an immense piece of gold. He admired the size of the glittering piece of metal and ran as fast as he could to his mountain, as though he were running from a fire. Whenever money was offered to S. Vincent Ferrar as he was preaching through the villages, he refused it, and forbade his companions accepting it. S. Francis was wont to say that "money to the servants of God is nothing else than a devil, and a poisonous snake."
Provide neither gold , &c., in your purses , Gr. in your girdles ; for formerly they attached purses to their girdles, or wove them into their girdles. This was especially the case with soldiers and travellers. Whence the proverb, "He has lost his girdle," said of him who has no money. Hence also coffers have been called girdles.
This is the fifth precept of Christ given to His Apostles concerning not possessing money. It was given for three reasons. 1. That being free from all earthly affections and cares, they should depend entirely upon God's providence. 2. That they should be wholly intent upon preaching the Gospel, and give all their thoughts and cares to that. 3. That they might give to all nations an illustrious example of simplicity, poverty, contempt of riches, whereby by means of this angelical life they might draw all men to love and admire them. There is nothing, says Euthymius, which makes men so admirable as a frugal life, and to be contented with whatever comes to hand.
Symbolically , S. Jerome says, "gold, we often read, is to be taken for understanding, silver for speech, brass for voice. These cannot be received by us from others, but are given to us as a possession by the Lord."
You will inquire whether those precepts of Christ concerning not possessing money, shoes, staff, and two tunics, or coats, were given to the Apostles in perpetuity, or were or were they only temporary? S. Hilary, S. Jerome, S. Ambrose, S. Austin, and after them Maldonatus, are of opinion that they were perpetual; so that the Apostles in all their travels, in which they preached to the Gentiles, were tied to this form and species of poverty. The common opinion is that these precepts were only temporarily binding, that is to say, only whilst they were preaching to the Jews during Christ's earthly life.
First, I say that this latter opinion is the correct one. It is plainly so from Christ's saying, Go ye not into the way of the Gentiles , &c. For the Messiah must be first shown to the Jews, that if they received Him, the Gentiles might the more readily accept Him
2. It is plain from Luke 22:35 , where Christ speaking retrospectively of this mission and precept, says, When I sent you without bag and scrip and shoes, lacked ye anything? And they said, Nothing . He saith unto them, But now, &c. This word now shows that he was giving them a different precept, viz., that they should take a scrip, and buy a sword.
3. The Apostles in going to the Gentiles were preaching to infidels who were likely at first to be prejudiced against them as enemies of their gods, and who would not deign to give them food and hospitality. Before, therefore, they could persuade them to believe, they must provide themselves with the means of living, especially as they were often accompanied by a large number of catechists, interpreters, and other coadjutors. Thus, when Paul was going to Jerusalem, there accompanied him Sopater, Aristarchus, Secundus, Timotheus, Caius, Tychicus and Trophimus (See Act 20:4 ).
The Apostles were accustomed to allow a pious and wealthy woman to accompany them, to provide for them. This clearly appears from 1 Corinthians 9:5 : "Have we not power to carry about a woman, a sister (Vulg.), even as the other Apostles?" Christ Himself did the same thing, who permitted Magdalen, and other pious women whom he had converted, to accompany Him to provide for Himself and His followers (see Luk 8:3 ). Yea, Judas had coffers (Vulg, ), and bore what was put into them. And in the 6th of John, the disciples say to Christ: "Whence shall we buy bread that these may eat?"
You may say that Christ did not Himself keep the precept which He gave to His Apostles concerning not carrying money. I answer that Christ did observe it at the commencement of His ministry. He was then without any coffers, as appears from His words, "Foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man hath not where to lay His head." It was with the object of providing for His twelve Apostles and seventy Disciples, whom He took about with Him, that He permitted Judas to carry coffers (Vulg.). For who could exercise hospitality towards so great a number of people? Who could, or would, sustain them for a continuance? But Christ sent His Apostles throughout Judea only in pairs. And two people could easily find hospitality from anyone piously disposed. In like manner when S. Francis Xavier was going to the Indies, he took no provision for his journey into the ship. Indeed, he refused what was offered him by the King of Portugal. He daily begged his bread from the sailors and passengers, because he was alone. But now, at the present time, when fifties and hundreds from the Society of Jesus and other Orders are often sent out to preach the Gospel in the Indies, it is only right that they should carry some provision with them for their voyage. For where are the sailors or passengers who could or would supply all these persons during a six months' voyage? So S. Vincent Ferrer, who went through the countries of Europe in an apostolic manner evangelizing, was wont to have hundreds, yea thousands of people accompanying him. And so he had his purveyors, who provided food and other necessaries for all; for the ordinary inhabitants could not have borne the burden.
I say, however, in the second place, that these precepts, so far as their substance and scope are concerned, which were to exhibit a mind free from covetousness, and to place before it a great contempt of all earthly things, and a firm trust in the providence of God; these are the things, I say, which Christ wished to impress upon His Apostles by these precepts. And these the Apostles in very deed fulfilled, when, having received the Holy Ghost at Pentecost, they thought, spoke, and treated of nothing except heavenly things. And so these precepts of Christ, not merely as to their scope, but as to their very letter, whenever and wherever it was possible to do so, were fulfilled by them. Yea, to these precepts Paul added the determination that he would not receive from the faithful the expense of his maintenance, but would procure a livelihood by the labour of his hands. And this is all that is meant by the Fathers who were cited at the commencement of this discussion. S. Francis imitated this example of Apostolic poverty when he sent out his brethren two by two to preach, and gave them this as their only viaticum, "Cast thy care upon the Lord, and He will nourish thee."
Nor scrip , &c. The scrip is a pouch, or traveller's bag, in which wayfarers put bread and food to eat on the way, hence the adage, "The beggar's bag is not full."
Neither two coats : understand two pairs of coats, or tunics, says Thomas, for a change, that you may put on, now one, now the other. For Christ does not here forbid the putting on of two garments at the same time on account of cold or other necessity, for Christ Himself was clothed with two garments, as appears from John 19:23 . So S. Jerome, &c.
More simply, Lyra, Toletus and Barradi understand a single tunic to be here meant. For one coat in so hot a country as judea is sufficient. Wherefore Christ had only one outer coat, for that seamless garment was an inner one, or a shirt. Over the outer garment it was afterwards the custom to throw a pallium, or cloke.
Neither shoes: not two pair of shoes, say S. Thomas and Cajetan: but the more simple way of taking it is to understand that such shoes as cover the whole foot are forbidden, not sandals, which only protect the soles of the feet from being hurt by stones. S. Mark (vi. 9) shows that these were allowed to the Apostles. For Palestine is a rough and stony country as well as a hot one. So S. Jer., Enthym., Tolet, Jansen, and S. Austin understand the passage. But shoes confine and, as it were, imprison the feet, and make them less expeditious in travelling, and sometimes too hot. Christ then forbade shoes to His Apostles, as they were travelling about Palestine, that they might make greater expedition in their journeys, and to take away undue care of their feet. Shoes are called by the Greeks ύπυδήματα , i e ., what is bound , or tied , because they were formerly bound or tied with strings above, as is still the custom with many. That the Apostles after Christ's Ascension made use of sandals, appears from Acts xii., where the Angel says to Peter, Bind on thy sandles . Of such a kind is S. Andrew's sandal in the Cathedral of Treves, which has been shown me by the Reverend, the Provost. Such were the sandals worn by the prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel, as appears from their ancient pictures preserved at Rome in the Codex of the Emperor Basil Porphyrogenitus, in the Vatican. Such too may be seen in the picture of the Blessed Virgin, painted by S. Luke, and preserved at Rome. The Child Jesus is there represented in her arms. He is shod with sandals which are bound about the feet above, with strings, in such a way that the toes and upper portion of the feet are entirely uncovered. Nothing is covered except the sole of the foot.
Many of the early Christians followed this example of Christ and His Apostles, and went without shoes. Lucian shows this in his Philopator , where describing a Christian's dress, he says, "He wears a ragged cloke, without hat or shoes, with unkempt hair." Similarly Plato, says S. Jerome, "bade that the two extremities of the body, the head and the feet should be left uncovered, that they may not become tender. For when these are strong, the other parts of the body will be robust." On the cloke of the Christians there was the old proverb, Gone from the toga to the pallium , meaning that a man had gone over from heathenism to Christianity. For heathens wore the toga, Christians the pallium, or cloke. Whence Tertullian ( lib. de Pallio c. 5), "we say nothing about shoes, about the peculiar torment of the toga, the most unclean protection of the feet, albeit false enough. For how is it not expedient that the barefooted man should be stift with cold and heat, like the crook-footed man in shoes! Vast assistance is there in walking from the cobbler's stall! The inventors had an eye to the votaries of Venus!" Very excellently says Clement of Alexandria ( lib . 2. Pædagog. cap. 11), "Most becoming is it in a man not to have any shoes, unless he be a soldier. For a man that is shod has no small resemblance to one who is fettered. It is the best kind of exercise, and conduces to health and expedition to go with naked feet, unless necessity prevent: but if we ire not going on a journey, and are unable to walk with bare feet, we must use the sort of shoes which the Athenians call Κονίποδας , because, as I conjecture, the feet are near the ground. John is a sufficient witness of the advantage of being lightly and simply shod. He said that he was not worthy to unloose the latchet of the Lord's sandals. He had no finely worked shoes, who exhibited to the Hebrews the pattern of true philosophy."
Symbolically , S. Austin ( lib . 2. de Consens. Evangel. c. 30.), says, "Mark saith they were to be shod with sandals, by which the foot is neither covered above, nor yet bare on the ground. For verily it was the Lord's will that the Gospel should neither be hid, nor yet that it should rely upon earthly advantages." The Gloss ., "By an Apostle must be cast away gold, that is, worldly wisdom; silver, that is, eloquence; money in the purse, that is, hidden wisdom; a scrip, that is the burden of the world; shoes, that is, the examples of dead works."
Nor yet staves. The Gr., followed by the Vulg., has staff in the singular. You will say, Mark ( Mar 6:9 ), says differently, viz., a staff only. I reply, Mark is speaking of the Heb. mischan , a rod, or a staff, on which to lean. For this was the symbol of poor travellers, who relieve their weariness by leaning on a staff. This was how Jacob journeyed to Mesopotamia. But Matthew is here speaking of matte, i.e ., a rod for defence, or punishment. This was what Christ forbade His Apostles carrying. Observe that the Greek ρ́άβδος , a rod, has three meanings. First. The symbol of honour and power, such as the sceptre of monarchs, the fasces of consuls, the rod of prætors and judges. This is called in Hebrew, scebet, whence sceptre. As David says in Psalms 2:9 , "Thou shalt rule them with a rod ( scebet ) of iron." And Ps. xlv., "The sceptre of Thy kingdom is a right sceptre." And Isaiah 14:5 , "The Lord bath broken the staff of the wicked, and the sceptre of the rulers." Hence also: ρ́αδοφόροι , that is, rod-bearers, was the name given to lictors and officers, by whom the magistrates executed their sentences. The rod which they bore was the sign of their office. So also the Jewish Doctors were wont to carry a rod, or wand in their hands, says Lyra, as the mark of their teaching, in the same way that schoolmasters now make use of a ferula. Christ forbids this practice to His Apostles. He bids them carry before them modesty, humility; not imperious authority and power. It was such a rod as that of which I have been speaking that Moses, the lawgiver of the stiff-necked Israelites, bore, and with which he smote Pharaoh with the ten plagues, and chastised the rebellious Jews. Christ, whose law is the spirit of love and sweetness, hath another rod.
Second. Ράβδος , rod, or staff, hath the same meaning as matte , in the sense of a rod with which you strike or beat a person, as teachers scourge their scholars. Thus Psalms 89:32 . , "I will visit their iniquities with a rod." And Exodus 21:20 , "He who smiteth his manservant, or his maidservant with a rod." So the arms of rustics are sticks and rods. David went against Goliath with no other arms than his staff and his sling. And Ezek. (c. xxxix.), speaking of the slaughter of Gog, says "They shall burn the arms, the shield, and the spear, the bows and arrows, the staves and the javelins." Also Is. xx., "Asshur, the rod of mine anger." So that in this place by staff, arms of any kind are forbidden by Christ to His Apostles. He bids them trust not in arms but in God, and that they should be preachers of Divine protection, and propagate the faith, not by fighting, but by suffering. For he who has the Lord for his help, what need hath he of a staff" says S. Jerome.
Third. Ράβδος signifies mischan , a staff on which to lean. This Christ allowed to His Apostles.
Lastly. Johannes Alba ( lib. elect. p. 337), by staff here understands one on which was cut some mark or sign of mutual friendship, so that it was what was called a tessera, or pledge of friendship, which people were accustomed to show when they went to personally unknown friends, that they might be received to hospitality by them. Wherefore when men renounced friendship, they were said to break the tessera of friendship. So that Christ's meaning in this place would be, "Rely not upon human help, bear not the tessera of friendship as the guarantee for your reception. God will provide you with hospitality." But this sense is a strained one.
Symbolically , the staff or rod denotes the power of the Apostles. S. Austin.
The workman is worthy , &c. He gives the reason why He forbids the carrying a viaticum. "Let preachers," says S. Chrys., "receive their support from the people, but their reward of their hire from God." In other places this support is called wages , or hire, from the similitude of those workmen, to whom food is given as a part of their wages. Yet in the case of preachers it is not properly wages, for preaching far transcends all price, and all human wages. S. Paul (in 1 Cor. ix.) calls this support of preachers, their pay or stipend , from the similitude of soldiers, to whom it is not given as wages; for what is it in comparison with the perils they undergo? but as the support which is their due. "Labour therefore in the Lord's vineyard, 0 ye Apostles, and preach zealously. Be not anxious about sustenance, about food and raiment, for God will abundantly provide for you either by your hosts, or from some other of the rich treasures of His Providence."
Into whatsoever city , &c. Worthy , that is, apt and meet to receive the Gospel, one who fears God, and leads a good life, who desires salvation, who shows hospitality to poor and pious people, especially preachers; one who knows, as S. Jerome says, "that he is receiving a favour, rather than conferring one."
This is the sixth precept which Christ gives to His Apostles concerning hospitality, when they were going to preach to the Jews, that they should not lodge with any one who was opposed to faith in Christ, or of evil report, lest his infamy should bring discredit upon themselves. "A host," says S. Jerome, "should be chosen for his reputation among the people, and from his character with his neighbours; lest the worthiness of preaching should be besmirched by the infamy of the preacher's host."
And the rab eide , &c. Why? First, lest if the Apostles should go about from one host to another, they should appear changeable and inconstant. So S. Chrys. Secondly, not to grieve their first host, and do him a dishonour by migrating to one worthier. Thirdly, lest any one should call them gluttonous, seekers after the luxurious boards of the rich. It must be understood that this precept applies only when they did not remain very long in the same place, so as to become burdensome to their host; for in such a case charity and prudence would recommend a change of hostel.
When ye enter into a house , &c. This was the ancient method of salutation among the Hebrews, by which they prayed for the peace and prosperity of the master of the house and his family. The Hebrews understood it of temporal blessings, but Christ of spiritual. For Christ came to the world to make peace between God, man, and angels. Wherefore when He was born the angels sang, "Peace on earth, to men of goodwill" (Vulg.).
This is the seventh precept that they should pray for peace for their host, and by their prayer discover if he were worthy and suitable. The Apostles, therefore, pray for peace for their host, first with God, secondly with his family and neighbours and all other persons. S. Chrys. says that this salutation of the Apostles was not a mere naked and verbal one, but real and efficacious, and had the power of conferring upon their host (if he were worthy) actual peace that is to say, grace, faith, and salvation.
And if the house be worthy , &c. That is, if as He had said a little before the host be worthy, that is, a lover of peace and salvation.
But if it be not worthy , &c. If the host refuse and reject your salutation of peace, your peace shall return unto you Gr. ε̉πιστραΦήτω , let it return , in the sense of shall return. For the Heb. often uses the imperative instead of the future. Note the personification. Peace is here introduced as a person rejected by a host, and going elsewhere, and carrying the Apostles with him. If the host rejects your salutation of peace, your salutation shall not therefore be unfruitful, for there shall come to yourselves what you prayed for him, that is, peace and all prosperity. Thus shall your peace, repulsed by this unworthy host, come back to you, and lead you to some worthy host who will eagerly receive you and believe your preaching. There is a similar mode of expression in Psalms 35:12-13 , to which Christ here makes an allusion . "They rewarded me evil for good," &c.; "And my prayer shall return into mine own bosom." So Eusebius, S. Athanasius, and Hesychius on this Psalm expound it. The latter says, "Into the bosom of Christ, i e ., the Church of the Gentiles, the prayer of Christ (turned away by the Jews) falleth." This is what S. Paul said to the Jews: "It behoved that the Word of God should be spoken first unto you, but since ye reject it, and count yourselves unworthy of eternal life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles."
And whosoever shall not receive you , &c. . . . the dust of your feet. Luke and Mark add, for a testimony against them. Abul. Says that the Apostles were to do this twice, once in the city and once outside the city. They were to do it by striking their sandals against the ground, or by knocking, or rubbing them upon a stone, to brush off the dust.
You will ask, Why was this? 1. S. Jerome says, dust is shaken off as a testimony of labour, to show that they had entered the city, and the Apostolic preaching had reached it. And as Theophylact: "They testify that for their sakes they had made so long a journey, and it had profited them nothing."
2. Shake off the dust , as impious, on account of the impious inhabitants, that ye may signify that they are, as it were, anathema , and that ye will have nothing, not even their dust in common with them, as being doomed to eternal condemnation. So S. Jer. Theophyl., Ambrose, &c.
3. That this dust shaken off may be a witness in the day ot judgment against their unbelief and wickedness. And this is why Luke adds, for a testimony to them , i.e., against them.
By this, which is the 8th precept of Christ, He tacitly bids His Apostles be of good courage, and not to be distressed, when they saw the Jews rejecting the Gospel, but as God's avengers to rise up boldly against them.
Verily I say unto you , &c. They shall be more heavily punished and condemned who reject the Apostles than the Sodomites were, who perished in the fearful fire from heaven, by which the whole Pentapolis was consumed, for an awful example to all ages.
You will ask, how can this be true, since the sin of Sodom was a very great crime contrary to nature, and crying to heaven? The sin of Sodom is reckoned amongst the worst sins, but in the catalogue of lusts, or sins against the natural law of chastity only, for, in other respects, it is certain that there are worse sins, such as heresy, infidelity, blasphemy, sacrilege, despair, hatred of God. Those therefore who rejected the Apostles, and in so doing rejected the grace and salvation of Christ, sinned far worse than the Sodomites, and that, not by a single, but by a manifold sin, viz., 1. by the sin of infidelity, 2. of disobedience, 3. of ingratitude, 4. of inhospitality, 5. of rebellion and contumacy against God, contrary to the law of nature, and of God, and against His grace so benevolently and liberally offered to them, and confirmed by so many miracles and benefits.
This denunciation has also in a measure an application to those who despise God's word, or vocation, or holy inspirations, against whom God thunders, in Proverbs 1:24 . "Because I called, and ye refused, I also will mock at your calamity."
S. Jerome proves from this. passage that the punishments of the damned are not all equal, nor, by consequence, their faults.
Moreover Christ appositely compares those who rejected the Apostles to the Sodomites. 1. Because they were guilty of inhumanity and barbarity towards guests. 2. Because as the Sodomites were admonished by Lot and despised him, so were these admonished by Apostles whom Christ sent forth for their salvation. 3. As the Sodomites were punished by fire and brimstone from heaven, so will these be punished by fire and brimstone in hell, only far more severely; because if the Sodomites had heard the preaching of Christ and His Apostles, and had seen their miracles, they would have believed and repented.
Behold I send you forth as sheep , &c. S. jerome, by wolves , understands the Scribes and Pharisees: others, any enemies, or persecutors. No animal is so defenceless as a sheep. In this way Christ sends his Apostles without arms, that he may shew forth His own power in them. He does not send them as lions, but as sheep, that by means of His miraculous power they may vanquish the wolves. Listen to S. Chrys., "Let them blush, who, like wolves, persecute their adversaries, when they behold innumerable wolves overcome by a very few sheep. And assuredly, so long as we are sheep, we shall easily overcome our enemies. But when we are changed into the nature of wolves, then we are overcome, for in such a case we have no more help from our shepherd, who feeds sheep not wolves." S. Chrys. observes that Christ foretells coming evils and persecutions to His Apostles for four reasons. 1. That they may learn His foreknowledge. 2. That they may not suppose such things happen through lack of power in their master. 3. That they may not be suddenly overcome. 4. That they may not be troubled at the time of the Cross. Christ thus, as it were, animates His Apostles, "Come, 0 ye my Apostles, I am sending you to the Jews and to Infidels, who will vex you and persecute you, but think of this, that it is I who send you, I , I say, who sent Elijah and Elisha, Isaiah and the rest of the prophets to Ahab, Jezebel and Manasseh, and other wicked kings. I animated, strengthened, and protected them, and when need was, I delivered them. And when at length I permitted them to be slain by them, it was that by their blood they might set a seal to My faith and religion, and win the laurel crown of martyrdom. In the same manner I now send you: and through you I am about to do the same, yea still greater things. I will be always with you, and stand by you, that in life ye may by the innocency of sheep, and in death by the meekness of sheep, conquer all men and all things."
Therefore by these words, Behold I send you , are signified the Divine authority, power, assistance, and protection of Christ whereby He defends His Apostles, as it were innocent sheep, against the wolves their enemies, that they may convert them by preaching, or else nobly vanquish them by dying. He therefore that will be Christ's true servant, disciple, and Apostle, let him look upon himself as sent forth like a sheep in the midst of wolves. So let him be lavish of his life, as though he were doomed, and prepared to endure labours and crosses, yea death itself, for Christ's sake. Albanus, the Captain General of the army of Charles V., had 400 stout and resolute youths, who were prodigal of life, and devoted to death, called the forlorn hope. In a battle, he despatched these against the strongest part of the enemy's ranks, that by their audacity and determination to die, they might throw those ranks into confusion, and so prepare the way for victory. Thus devoted and prodigal of his life let the Apostolic preacher of Christ deem himself, that he may subdue unbelievers to Christ the conqueror. Such a one blessed Xavier deemed himself, when he was going to the Indies, and said to his weeping friends: "Do merchants at such expense and such peril, prodigal of life, sail to India from zeal for earthly merchandise; and shall not I go thither for the sake of God and souls?"
Be ye therefore wise , &c. Wise , i.e., prudent . 1. "That by prudence," says S. Jerome, "ye may avoid snares, and by harmlessness or simplicity ye may do no evil. And the craft of a serpent is given as an example, because with its whole body it hides its head, to protect that wherein is its life. So too let us, by the exposure of our whole body, guard Him who is our Head Christ; that is, let us strive to keep the faith whole and undefiled." 2. Rabanus Maurus says, that the serpent is wont craftily to choose narrow chinks, so as by passing through them, to put off his old skin. Hear Isidore of Pelusium (lib. i. epist. 26): "The serpent by crafty artifice puts off his old skin, by compressing himself into some narrow chink. So Christ wishes us, by means of the narrow way and affliction, to put off the old man and to put on instead the new man, which is renewed after His image." 3. Remigius says, Beautifully doth the Lord admonish preachers to have the prudence of serpents, because the first man was deceived by a serpent. It was as though He had said, Because the enemy was crafty to deceive, do ye be prudent to deliver. He commanded the Tree, do ye praise the virtue of the Cross. Hilary adds, He falsely promised immortality, saying, Ye shall be as gods ; do ye promise true immortality, that they who believe shall be as angels.
4. The serpent has most clear sight. Whence the adage the eye of a serpent. So let an Apostle behold all things with the piercing sight of his mind, that he may avoid what is evil and forward what is good.
And harmless (Vulg. simplices ) as doves. Because, as Remigius says, "Simplicity without prudence is easily deceived, and wisdom is dangerous unless it be tempered with simplicity." And as S. Gregory says (lib. iv. epist. 31 ad Mauritium), "As the astuteness of the serpent sharpens the simplicity of the dove, so does the simplicity of the dove temper the astuteness of the serpent."
For harmless the Gr. is α̉κέραιοι , which (if it be derived from α̉ , privative , and κέρας , a horn ) means devoid of malice or harm, innocent, innocuous. So S. Basil: or if from α̉ , privative , and κερα̉ννυμι , to mingle , it is the same as unmixed , i.e., pure, sincere those who, without prevarication, express with their mouths what they think in their hearts. Christ therefore bids them "by prudence avoid snares, by simplicity to do no evil," says S. Jerome.
S. Chrysos. says, anger is not extinguished by anger, but by meekness. It is not enough to bear evils, but we must not even be troubled, which is dove4ike.
Theoph. and Euthym. remark that doves, although they be deprived of their young ones, yet return to the same nests and masters. As though Christ said, "So also, 0 ye Apostles, do not ye remember the injuries done unto you, but meekly and lovingly return ye to those who have vexed and injured you, that ye may help and convert them. This is the ninth precept of Christ. The tenth follows.
But beware of men , &c. Councils , Gr. συνέδρια , i.e ., sessions of magistrates and judges; lest by them ye be condemned as blasphemers of God, or rather of the gods. The Syriac has, They shall deliver you into the house of judgments , that is, into the prætoria . Beware of men 1, false and treacherous men, who shall bring you to councils and before judges. Such are those, who for this cause are to be guarded against by priests at this day in England, Scotland, and Japan; 2, of men , viz ., insidious men, who lay snares for you by means of perplexing and political questions, that they may catch some word out of your mouth against the laws or sovereigns, that they may accuse you to them; 3, of men , i.e ., persecutors, who seek to kill you. Beware , i.e ., bear yourselves cautiously, as far as may be, remembering your duty, so that ye may avoid their plots and treacheries; but above all, that ye fall not by their persecutions and threats so as to deny Christ.
Moraliter , let every one learn to beware of himself, for man is a wolf to man.
And so no one need say, I have been born in an inauspicious time, I cannot be a martyr. There is no Nero now, no Decius now. Any one can be a martyr if he manfully resist lusts, fears, temptations, for the love of God. Thy cupidity is a Decius to thee, thy fear a Nero, thy temptation is a Julian. Thy companion persecutes thee laughs at thee calumniates thee. Fever, cold, asthma torments thee. If thou bear these patiently for the love of God, thou art a martyr of patience, like Job was. Gluttony goads thee to swill in wine and delicacies. Resist, and thou art a martyr of abstinence, like Daniel. Ambition attracts thee to raise thyself above others, to aim at high dignities. Pluck it from thy mind, and thou art a martyr of humility and modesty, like S. Francis. Does thy superior bid thee do hard things, which are repugnant to thy feelings? obey, conquering thyself, and thou art a martyr of obedience, like Abraham, when he offered up Isaac. Does lust titillate thee? Mortify it by fasting, crucify it by hair shirts, and thou wilt be a martyr of chastity, as Joseph was. Study, teach, preach, labour, go to the Indians, that thou mayest save perishing souls, and thou art a martyr of charity, like blessed Xavier.
And in the synagogues , where the law was read, and breakers of the law were scourged, ye shall be beaten : Thus Peter and the Apostles were beaten ( Act 5:40 ). And S. Paul says ( 2Co 2:24 ), "Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one."
And before governors , i.e ., of provinces. So Paul was led as a captive before Felix and Festus, governors of Judea; James the Less before Ananias, the High Priest, by whom he was ordered to be slain; Peter and James the Great before Agrippa, who struck off James' head. Peter and Paul were brought to Nero, under whom they at length underwent a glorious martyrdom, Thus, too, S. Andrew was led to Ægeus, the pro-consul of Achaia, by whom he was crucified; S. John to the Emperor Domitian, by whom he was placed in a cask of boiling oil, from which he gloriously came forth. From such things it will be seen that what Christ now says does not refer to this first sending the Apostles into Judea, for we do not read of any such things happening then, but of things which were to happen in their future life.
For my sake. He adds, says S. Chrysostom, an alleviation which was no small consolation, that they should suffer for Christ's sake. Wherefore when the Apostles were beaten, "they went from the Council rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name."
For a testimony of my true faith which ye preach: for of this your martyrdom shall be an illustrious testimony. Hence, many who saw the constancy of the Apostles and Martyrs under their torments were converted to Christ. So S. Hilary.
But when they shall deliver you , &c. This is the eleventh precept of Christ, by which he forbids the Apostles being anxious about their answers to the questions of the governors, because He promises that He will Himself suggest to them what they shall be. The Gr. is μὴ μεριμνήσητε , do not be anxious and solicitous. He does not forbid their prudently premeditating an answer, but forbids an anxious and troubled care about it. By the martyr in his questionings and torments God must be assiduously invoked that He may inspire him with wisdom to answer, and courage to endure. This is what Luke says Christ promised, I will give you a mouth and wisdom which none of your adversaries shall be able to gainsay or resist. Thus it is said of S. Stephen, "They were not able to resist the wisdom and spirit with which he spake." There is a famous example of the literal fulfilment of this promise in the life of Saint Lucy of Syracuse who, when she was ordered by the governor Paschasius to sacrifice to the gods, boldly refused. The prefect said in a threatening tone, "Your words will cease when you come to be scourged." The Virgin answered, "Words can never be wanting to God's servants when the Lord Christ has said, 'When ye stand before kings and governors take no thought how or what ye shall answer, for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall say, for it is not ye that speak, but the Holy Ghost which speaketh in you.'" Then Paschasius asked her, "Is the Holy Spirit in thee?" She replied, "Those who live chastely and holily are the temple of the Holy Spirit." Then he said, "I will command thee to be taken to the house of shame, and then the Holy Spirit will leave thee." The Virgin answered, "If you order me to suffer violence against my will, my chastity shall receive a double crown." Then Paschasius was inflamed with rage, and commanded her to be led to the house of shame; but by the power of God it came to pass that by no force could the Virgin be removed from the place where she stood. Observe the wonderful prudence of this Virgin, who to every question answered wisely, so that the governor was put to silence. Of a truth the Holy Ghost spake in her.
Tropologically. S. Austin (lib. iv. De Doctrinâ Christiani, c. 15) teaches that a preacher ought to pray and study before his sermon: but for the actual time when he is speaking he ought to think that the Lord's words are applicable to a good mind Take no thought how or what ye shall speak , &c.
Brother shall deliver the brother to death
Brother shall deliver the brother to death , &c. Because they believe in Me and preach Me. Christ fortifies beforehand the Apostles and believers by predicting the persecutions which they were about to suffer from their unbelieving relations, who (forgetful of natural ties and affections) would persecute them even unto death. As Bede says, "He foretold the future trouble, in order that, being known beforehand, they might more easily bear it." "For the darts which are seen coming are less likely to strike," says S. Hilary. As examples of the fulfilment of these words, S. Barbara was killed by her own father for the faith of Christ. So, too, was S. Christina. S. Lucia was accused by her own son Euprepius of being a Christian, and was crowned by the judge with the martyr's laurel on the 16th of September, A.D. 303. S. Wenceslas, prince of Bohemia, was treacherously killed by his brother Boleslas and his mother Drahomira, who were unbelievers. The Emperor Maximian caused his sister Artemias, a Christian, and Diocletian, his wife Serena, Pope S. Caius, and his brother S. Gabinus, with his holy daughter Susanna, his cousins, to suffer martyrdom because they were Christians.
And ye shall be hated of all men , &c. All that is, many, almost all, as was wont to be in councils, judgment-halls, and theatres where the martyrs were. For the faith and preaching of Christ crucified was at the first new and paradoxical to the whole world. Wherefore both Jews (who were accustomed to Moses) and Gentiles (who were attached to their gods) rose up against the Apostles, who preached this doctrine, and against the little flock of believers who were converted to it.
But he that shall endure , i.e ., in patience. For the Gr. is ό ύπυμείνας , he who shall sustain these persecutions and adversities even unto the end at once of his persecutions and his life, he wholly and solely shall be saved. He shall be endowed with health, happiness, and eternal glory as the reward and crown of his patience. It is not enough to have endured and overcome once, twice, or thrice: but to win the crown we must endure and conquer to the end, according to those words in the Apoc.: "Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee the crown of life." See what I have there said. Hear S. Bernard (Epis. 129): "Perseverance merits glory for men, a crown for virtues. It is the vigour of strength, the consummation of virtues; it is a nurse of merit, a winner of reward, a sister of patience, a bulwark of sanctity. Take away perseverance, and there is neither reward for obedience, nor grace for well-doing, nor praise for fortitude."
But when they shall persecute you , &c. Flee, "not," says Bede, from fearing suffering, but by yielding, so that the occasion of tribulation may become the seed of the Gospel," lest by the slaying of the preachers the preaching of the faith should be cut off, but by their fleeing it may be scattered in other places. This flight was indeed victory. For they fled not through fear, but from love to Christ, that they might propagate His faith. So the Tartars, as they flee, cast their darts at their pursuing enemies, and so transfix and slay them.
You will ask whether this be a precept, or only a permission. I reply, it is partly a precept, as when the necessity of the Church, or the faith, or peril of one's own fall, requires flight. For "he does not deny Christ by flying, who flies lest he should deny," says S. Chrysos. So S. Nazian. (Orat. 1 in Julian) and Athanasius (de fugâ suâ). For had he not fled from the rage of the Arians, they would have triumphed over the Homoousian faith, which seemed to stand or fall with Athanasius. It is partly of counsel, as when greater benefit is expected for oneself or others from flight. It is partly a permission, as when any one has an excessive dread of torments; and he is not bound by any necessity or obligation (as being a bishop or pastor, for example) to remain in a particular place. For otherwise it is unlawful to flee if peril, or scandal, be likely to accrue to the Faith, the Sacraments, or the Sheep, i.e ., the faithful. This is plain from John 10:11-12 .
Hence the example of Christ, of His Apostles, of S. Athanasius and others is a refutation of Tertullian who in his book, de Fugâ , contends that flight is unlawful. S. Jer. ( in Catal. Scriptor Ecclesiast. in Tertul .) shews that this book was one of those which he wrote against the Church after he became a heretic and a Montanist.
Verily I say unto you, ye shall now have gone over , &c. The Gr. is ου̉ μὴ τελέσητε , ye shall not have finished , that is, traversing and converting the cities of Israel. 1. S. Chrysos, explains it of the first mission of the Apostles into Judea; as much as to say, flee from the city where they persecute into another; for ye shall not have gone over all the cities of Palestine until I shall return to you, and recall you to me. But in this first mission the Apostles were kindly received by the Jews, so that there was no need for them to flee. They came back to Christ rejoicing, as we see by Luke 10:17 .
2. Bede expounds thus, "Ye shall not have converted the Jews before my resurrection. After that I will return to you and send you to the Gentiles dispersed throughout the world, where you shall have a perpetual field for your labours."
3. Others say, "Ye shall not have gone over Judea, preaching and fleeing away until I return to it in vengeance by means of Vespasian and Titus, that I may cut off the Jews who have persecuted you."
4. And correctly, "Ye shall not by journeying and preaching, perfect in the faith of the Gospel and the religion of Christ, the cities, that is the people of Israel, to whom I am now sending you before the second advent of the Son of Man." For as S. Paul teaches in Romans xi., it behoveth that the fulness of the Gentiles, i.e ., all the Gentiles must come first into the Church, and then all Israel shall be saved. Christ intimates that the Jews shall disbelieve the Gospel until the end of the world, but then, a little before the judgment, they will be converted by Enoch and Elias. So S. Hilary.
Thus far are the precepts which Christ gave to His Apostles. There now follow promises and inducements by which He animates them generously to rise superior to persecutions. The first inducement is Christ himself ( Mat 10:24 ), who suffered more from the Jews than they would. The second is in Matthew 10:26 , that God, after the persecutions would make manifest the truth of the Gospel to the glory of Christ and the Apostles. Thirdly, in ver. 28 ( Mat 10:28 ), that God who is the Lord of the soul is rather to be feared than the persecutor of the body. Fourth, in ver. 29 ( Mat 10:29 ). Because God has a special care for them. Fifth, ver. 32 ( Mat 10:32 ). Because God will honour them in the presence of the angels and glorify them eternally.
The disciple , &c. Christ here animates His disciples to bear persecutions, says S. Chrys. by His own example. The disciple and the servant, such as ye are to Me, 0 ye Apostles, ought not to seek for greater honour and applause of men than his Master has.
It is enough for the disciple , &c. That is to say, if the Jews have derided and caluminated Me, and called Me Beelzebub, i.e ., a friend and associate of Beelzebub-Me, who am Christ your Master and Lord, yea the Head of your family if, I say, they have dared to do such things against Me, who have proved Myself by so many miracles to be Messiah and the Son of God, how much more will they dare to do like things to you, My disciples and servants! And if I quietly and bravely bear such things from them, how much rather ought ye to bear these things, yea even rejoice in them because ye bear them for My sake, and in bearing them are made like unto me, and are, as it were, adorned with My raiment and My ornaments!
Hear what S. Hilary says upon this passage, "Let no kind of injuries, or reproaches in any wise affright us; but let us rather embrace them as our glory, if only we may be made conformable to our Lord and His sufferings." And as Tertullian says ( lib. de bono Martyrii , c . 9.) "Since the Lord and Master Himself has suffered persecution, betrayal and death, how much more ought His disciples and servants to fulfil the same things, lest they should seem to be superior to Him in being exempt from evil; since this ought to suffice them for glory that they are made conformable to the sufferings of their Lord and Master." Whence S. Ambrose says ( lib . 2, de Abraham : c. 7.) "The soul going forth to war bears not before her the likenesses of eagles or dragons; but in the cross of Christ and in the name of Jesus she goes out to battle, strong with this sign, faithful to this standard."
S. Jerome ( Epist . 39, ad. Marcel .) speaking of Blesilla, the daughter of S. Paula, who after the death of her husband became a nun, and was derided by the world, writes, "Our Blesilla will laugh, and will count it no disgrace to hear the revilings of croaking frogs, when her Master was called Beelzebub."
You will ask who and what was Beelzebub? He was the god and idol of the Ekronites. See 2 Samuel 1:2-3 , 2 Samuel 1:6 . He is so called from Baal zebub , i.e., the lord of the fly , or possessing flies , because he was worshipped and invoked against the pest of flies. Thus among the, Greeks, Jupiter had the title of α̉πόμυος , or averter of flies , because they worshipped him that he might drive away flies. Thus the inhabitants of Cyrene when swarms of flies brought a pestilence, invoked the god Achor to drive them away, as Pliny tells us ( lib . 8, c . 28). This idol Beelzebub seems also to have had the head of a fly. For the Sept. translates Beelzebub, the Lord Fly . Similarly the Egyptians represented the god Apis with the head and figure of an ox, Anubis of a dog, Hammon of a ram, and so on. Hence the Jews called Lucifer the prince of the devils, partly in derision partly from abomination, the Fly God, or the god of flies. I say more upon Beelzebub on 2 Samuel 1:2 .
The Gr. codices in this place, as well as in Mark 3:22 , and Luke 9:15-19 , also Theophyl. and others, always read Beelzebub, which some interpret to mean, Jupiter stercorarius , or the dungy Jove : for though zebal in Hebrew means a habitation , zebel in Chald., Syriac, and Arabic, signifies dung , because the devil is, by reason of sin, most unclean, and so stirs men up to commit all uncleanliness, especially the sins of drunkenness and impurity. This is perhaps the origin of the name zebulus , or zabulus which S. Hilary and others of the ancients give to the devil, unless you prefer to derive it from the Æolic za for διὰ , that is, zabulus instead of diabolus.
Fear them not therefore , &c. The Gr. Is a beautiful paranomasia, or pun. There is nothing hid which shall not be unhid , nothing covered which shall not be uncovered.
The meaning is, "Although the Jews slander you as being not of God, but the Apostles and ambassadors of Beelzebub, yet fear ye not their derision or contempt, for God will in the end make plain your innocence and true religion, not only in the day of judgment, but even in this life." So S. Chrysos.
It might also be explained thus-"Do not fear or shrink, 0 My Apostles from preaching My Gospel, for although but few may believe in the beginning, that it may appear hidden and concealed, yet it shall creep on by degrees, and its truth shall at length be known, and shall shine forth through the world."
Hear S. Ambr. ( lib. de Jacob. et vit. beat. c. 8), "It is the part of a perfect man not to succumb to those things which seem to most, terrible and dreadful, but like a brave soldier to sustain the onset of the severest troubles. Thus S. Vincent acted when his torments, he answered back the tyrant, "Thou shalt see that I have more power when I am tormented than thou hast when thou art tormenting." So too the Apostles shone the more brightly in the darkness of persecution. Of their virtue S. Bernard speaks ( Serm. xxvii. in Cant .), "As stars shine in the night, but are unseen by day, so does true virtue, which in prosperity often appears not, become conspicuous in adversity."
What I say unto you , &c. Since the roofs of the houses in Judea are flat, it was possible to preach from them as from a lofty pulpit. S. Jerome gives a threefold meaning. I. What ye have heard in a mystery, that preach ye plainly. 2. What ye have learned in secret, that speak ye in public. 3. What I have taught you in this one corner of Judea, boldly evangelize to the whole world.
Mystically , S. Austin, "What I say in darkness, i.e ., in fear, preach ye in the light, i.e ., in the confidence of the truth."
And fear not them which kill , &c. Do not, from fear of death with which the persecutors threaten you, deny My faith, or cease from the preaching which I have commanded you, for if ye do this, ye will incur the far worse death of the soul, even its eternal death in hell. Truly does S. Chrys. say ( Hom . 5 ad pop .) "He who is always afraid of hell will never fall into its flames."
This saying of Christ has reference to a most needful precept. He bids us that we must not, through fear of tyrants, break the faith which we have pledged to God, nor violate His law. It may be further extended to things which are counselled, not commanded; but then it is a matter of counsel, not of precept. Thus Pope S. Clement extended it to the counsel of virginity. When SS. Nercus and Achillcus, the servants of S. Flavia Domitilla, who had been betrothed to Aurelian the son of the Roman consul, counselled her to embrace virginity, and asked S. Clement to give her the veil, he answered bravely, "For you, for her, and for me, I perceive there is prepared the palm of martyrdom. But forasmuch as Christ has laid it down that we must not fear them which kill the body, let us disregard mortals, that we may plainly and wholly obey the Author of everlasting life." He therefore consecrated Domitilla, a virgin; which when Aurelian her betrothed heard, he beheaded SS. Nercus and Achilleus, and banished S. Domitilla to Pontus, where she completed her martyrdom by fire. At last S. Clement, being drowned in the sea, obtained the same palm. Thus were there four glorious victims of virginity. And the heroism of their action consisted in this-that it would have been lawful for them to persuade Domitilla to avoid the persecution by marrying Aurelian. But the love of chastity and of Christ gained the victory.
Victorinus of Utica ( lib . 3. Wandal. Persecut .) relates that a matron named Dionysia, when she was exposed naked upon a lofty place and beaten with rods by the Arians, bravely answered, "Ye servants of the devil, that which ye think ye do to my shame is indeed my praise." And when she beheld her only son, a little child turn pale at the torments, she animated him by reminding him of hell, lest the King should say to his servants, "Cast him into outer darkness, where shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth." "That is the life," she said, "to be desired which is always in possession." And strengthening her child with these words, she soon made him a martyr. Thus far Victor. He relates in the same place that Victorianus, the proconsul of Carthage, being asked by the ambassadors of King Hunneric to become an Arian, answered, "Being firm in God and Christ my Lord, I will tell ye what ye shall answer to your king: 'Let him torment me with fire, let him expose me to beasts, let him excruciate me with every kind of torment; if I should consent unto him, it would be in vain that I have been baptized into the Catholic Church. For if this present life were all, and we did not hope for another which is indeed eternal, still even so, I would not do what he requires for the sake of a little temporal glory, and be ungrateful to Him who hath bestowed His faith upon me who believe in Him.' At this reply the King was so enraged that no speech can express for how long and with what punishments he afflicted him. But he triumphing, and making in the Lord a happy consummation, received the martyr's crown." Thus Victor. Wisely spoke the martyr S. Flavian, "The body does not feel torments when the mind is in heaven, and has devoted itself to God with all its strength."
Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing , &c. Farthing , this is the Roman as , Gr. assarion . It is a diminutive, and means α , little as. For the assarius was the half, not of the ancient as , which was a pound, but of the later as , which was half an ounce. So that the assarius was the fourth part of the uncia , or ounce of brass, and therefore of very small value. This, which Enthym. renders by terunciola , or a little farthing was the price of two sparrows in Judea in the time of Christ.
Shall not fall upon the eath. For birds live in the air, and when they are pierced with arrows, or perish from any other cause, they fall to the earth. Without your Father : i.e ., without His providence and pleasure. If God hath so great care and providence of these little sparrows, what will he have of you? For He is your Father, in that he hath given you reason, for similitude to Himself. And He hath re-formed you in Christ, and made you like unto Christ.
Symbolically , S. Hilary says: "The two sparrows are the body and the soul, which are born as it were sparrows, that they should fly with spiritual wings toward Heaven, but the sinner sells them for an as , that is, a little pleasure, to the devil, that they may go down to hell."
But the hairs of your head , &c. That is, God from eternity hath appointed and decreed not only the number of your members, but even of your hairs. Wherefore He knows it exactly, and diligently keeps them to the number which He willeth, so that not one can fall without His special providence, as Luke saith.
Allegorically , the hairs of Christ are all the elect and those who shall be saved, for these adorn Christ as hair does the head. Tropologically , hairs are all the thoughts, words, and deeds of the faithful. So S. Cyril ( lib . 8 in Levit .). Again, hairs are the minutest thoughts and intentions of the Saints. So Damascene.
Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value , Syr. more excellent . The Gr. is διαφέρετε ye are preferable , ye excel . If God have such care of sparrows, much more will he have of you. Wherefore, rest secure in the fatherly bosom of His Providence in all persecutions and tribulations whatsoever. For He will deliver you out of them all, either by freeing you from them, or else by giving you the crown of martyrdom, and taking you to heaven, where there will be no more labour or pain.
Whosoever therefore shall confess Me , &c. From this word confess , martyrs were anciently called confessors. Shall confess Me. The Gr. is ε̉ν ε̉μοὶ , i.e., in Me. For I will confess him , the Gr. is ε̉ν α̉υτω̃ , i.e., in him . And so Tertullan reads ( in Scorpiace c. 9). So also S. Luke xii. 5. It is a Hebraism. For the Heb. constructs verbs of contact, whether bodily, mental, or spiritual contact, with the prep. כ , in. The Heb. would be hoda bi , confess in Me , meaning confess Me. This is plain from the antithesis, shall deny Me. Maldonatus, however, takes it differently shall confess , i.e., shall glory in Me , answering to the Heb. hithraddeh , which, being in the Hithpael , has a reflexive force. To confess in oneself , i.e., to glory.
The meaning is, whosoever, in the presence of tyrants, being interrogated concerning the faith, shall generously and constantly confess that he believeth in Ye as the Messiah and the Son of God, him will 1 in like manner profess before God, and angels, and men, to be My disciple, and as such will I honour and glorify him.
Martyrdom is the confession of Christ and the profession of Christianity, even to torments and a cruel death, and therefore it is the highest love and honouring of Christ. Wherefore the Apostles and Apostolic men have most ardently desired martyrdom. S. Ignatius in his Epistle to the Romans, says, "My love is crucified. There is not in me a fire of earthly, but of heavenly fuel. And I have living water which saith inwardly, Come to the Father." S. Basil says ( Hom . 19 in S. Gordium , Mart .), "The martyrs speedily attain to heavenly glory by a violent and premature death. They endeavour speedily to migrate from this life, which ought rather to be called a lingering death, by means of short toil." We see, therefore, that he does not call death death , but as S. Sophia said to her daughter Anastasia ( apud Surium , Octob . 25), "A good thing is departure from an evil world. It is joy, gladness, pleasure, splendour, beauty, light, a sweeter and fairer than earthly light." S. Anthony, as S. Athanasius testifies, when those who were about to become martyrs in the persecution of Maximian were being carried to Alexandria, rushed out of his monastery, and followed these victims of Christ saying, "Let us advance to the glorious triumphs of our brethren, that we may join them in their conflict."
Tertullian thus concludes his apology in behalf of Christ and Christians "Well, then, do this, 0 ye excellent governors, since ye will be so much more acceptable to the populace, when ye have sacrificed the Christians to them. Crucify, torment, condemn us, tear our bodies to pieces. Your wickedness is the sure proof of our innocency. God has a meaning in allowing us to suffer. For when ye condemn a Christian woman to pollution rather than to a lion, ye confess that a stain upon modesty is reckoned by us to be far more dreadful than any death. And still all your most exquisite cruelties produce no effect; they only induce men to join us. We are multiplied as often as you reap us. The blood of the Christians is their seed."
This same Tertullian wrote his Scorpiace against the Gnostics, who taught that it was permitted under torture to deny Christ with the mouth, so long as His faith were retained in the heart. The Priscillianists afterwards taught the same, whose motto was, "Rights, perjuries, secrets, betray not." In the Scorpiace , i.e ., an antidote against scorpions, meaning Gnostics, Tertullian treats altogether of the good of martyrdom. S. Cyprian, too, following Tertullian as a master, according to his wont, wonderfully extols the martyrs and martyrdom. In his Epistle to the Martyrs , among other eulogiums, he scatters the following: "The martyr is made a colleague of the Passion of Christ. The martyrs give us a school of morals: the confessors shew us the beginning of virtues. The martyrs shall be assessors with Christ in the judgment. The martyrs obtain the kingdom of heaven without delay. The martyrs receive fruit a hundred-fold. The prayer of the martyrs deserves to be heard by God. By the triumphs of the martyrs the church is made glad. Martyrdom by the baptism of blood is of all things the most excellent."
Lastly, the Standard Bearer, the Prince and the Captain of the Martyrs, is Christ. Wherefore, the primitive bishops and fathers, as Julian the Apostate unwillingly acknowledged, "All flew to martyrdom like bees to a bee-hive," to use S. Chrysostom's words. S. Hubert, the successor of S. Lambert the martyr in the see of Liege, was wont to sigh because he was not his successor in martyrdom likewise. "0 unhappy I," he said, "whose sins have accumulated in such a heap that I am not worthy to be associated with such a man."
I have collected many more notes upon Martyrdom in Hosea, c. xi. sub finem. See also Victor of Utica on the Vandal persecution ( lib. 2, 3), where he relates that when many of the orthodox were thrust by Hunneric, the Arian king, like swarms of locusts, into a narrow dungeon, full of every kind of filth, where the horror of the overpowering stench was worse than any torture, even here the Martyrs sang with exultation this hymn to the Lord, "Such honour have all His Saints."
Think not that I am come , &c., that is to say, earthly peace: for Christ promised by Isaiah (ix. 6 and 7, and lxv. 25), that He would bring spiritual peace of mind, the peace of the union of the faithful among themselves, and with God and His Angels, which leads to peace and everlasting felicity in Heaven.
But a sword : i.e., separation , as S. Luke has ( Luk 12:51 ), discord in faith and religion. He means that He will separate His faithful people by reason of their faith from unbelievers. But the unbelievers will on their part take occasion to separate themselves from the faithful, and will hate them, and will deprive them of liberty and goods and life. This is what Christ especially refers to in what follows; and this too entirely answers to the words of Micah ( Mic 7:6 ) from which Christ here quotes.
I am come to separate , &c. A man's foes shall be they of his own household . Syriac. A man shall have as his enemies the sons of his own house. Because, as S. Chrys. says ( Hom . 2, cont. Judæos ), it shall come to pass that in the same house there shall be one faithful believer in Christ, whilst another shall continue unbelieving. A father will wish his son to return back from the faith to his former impiety. Foretelling this He saith, I am come to separate. Such shall be the victorious power of the Gospel that sons shall disregard their parents, daughters their mothers, and parents their children, and shall adventure their life and all things for the sake of godliness. Some are of opinion that Christ only applies the passage of Micah, using it in a different sense. But I reply that Micah was speaking literally of the calamity of sinful Jerusalem through the siege of the Chaldeans, as S. Jerome shows that in it the inhabitants should be so distressed by sword and famine and pestilence that even brother would snatch away bread from brother, child from parent, wife from husband. But, allegorically this strife of the Jews signifies the discord and opposition of unbelieving parents and brethren and husbands against believers, whether Jews, or Gentiles in the time of Christ, especially when the faithful ran into peril of goods and fame, and even life itself. In this allegorical sense Christ cites Micah's words: and in an allegory, or parable it is not necessary to apply every word.
He that loveth father , &c. That is, is not worthy to have Me for his Lord and Master, is not worthy of My name and company, My grace and kingdom, and the rest of My promises. The reason is, because Christ forasmuch as He is our God and Lord and Saviour, must be far preferred to parents and children. Wherefore he who prefers them to Christ so as for their sakes to revolt from the faith of Christ, treats Him unworthily, and does Him the highest dishonour. So S. Jerome and others. S. Saturus, when Hunneric threatened him that unless he became an Arian, he would give his wife in marriage to his camel driver, and when his wife, trembling at this, besought him to consent unto the king, answered like another Job, "Thou speakest as one of the foolish women speaketh. I should dread it, 0 woman, if there were nothing but the bitter sweetness of this life. Thou ministerest, 0 my wife to the artifices of the devil. If thou lovedst thy spouse, thou wouldst never drag thine own husband to the second death. Let them tear away my children, let them separate my wife, let them take away my substance, yet will I rest secure upon the promises of my Lord. I will hold fast the words, 'Whosoever forsaketh not wife, or children, or lands, or houses, he cannot be My disciple.'" So Victor of Utica.
And he that taketh not (from the hand of the Lord upon his shoulders to bear it like Christ.) his cross , &c. To bear the cross is to be ready for the sake of Christ to bear reproaches, stripes, imprisonments, and the most painful and ignominious death, such as was the death of the cross, which Christ vouchsafed to bear for us. Because, as S. Chrys. says, speaking in the name of Christ "As I have brought you the utmost blessedness; so I ask of you a singular obedience and affection, that ye may be as lions in battle array." Christ alludes to His future bearing of His own Cross. For it is altogether just and right, that after Christ bearing His cross for us, we also should follow Him, bearing our cross with love and reverence, and thus walk towards heaven. This is the exact literal sense.
Mystically , the Cross is mortification. Listen to the Gloss, "The Cross is borne in two ways, either when the body is affected by abstinence, or when the mind is touched with compassion for one's neighbour. Their neighbours' sins are an instrument of torture to the Saints."
Lastly, S. Jerome says, "It is written in another Gospel, He that taketh not his Cross daily , lest we should suppose that a burning faith would suffice once for all: the Cross must be always carried, that we may show that we always love Christ."
He that findeth his life , &c. Findeth ought to be in the past tense; for the Gr. is ό εύρ̉ών ). The meaning is, He that findeth his life ( ψυχὴν ), that is, the corporeal safety of his life, when in peril of death, through denial of the faith, and of My name, such a one shall lose his soul ( ψυχὴν ), that is, the eternal salvation of his soul, which alone is real safety, and shall go away into hell. And, on the other hand, he who shall lose the present life of his soul ( ψυχὴς ), or his life, on account of his profession of My name, he shall find health and safety, and the eternal happiness and glory of his soul ( ψυχὴν ), or life.
He therefore who indulges his soul, loses it: he who mortifies it, saves it. See the paradox which there is here. Life is made to consist in death, and death in life. Whence Tertullian says in his Scorpiace , "God hath willed to destroy death by death, to shake off torments by torments, to give life by taking it away, to heal the flesh by wounding it, to save the soul by casting it away."
Observe the Heb. is matsa , i.e., he hath found. Understand, he hath acquired, he hath gotten, he hath obtained , as the LXX. trans. in Job iii. 22: and the Vulg. in 1. Sam. xxxi. 3. Similarly the Gr. εύρίσκω , literally, I light upon , frequently means, I obtain, rescue, I deliver , &c. The Latin invenire , lit. to come upon , means to acquire or obtain anything. Thus any one is said to find , that is to obtain grace, favour, praise. So Gabriel said to the Blessed Virgin, Thou hast found favour, or grace with God, i.e ., Thou hast come into favour with God: thou hast gained the love of God. In Gen. xxvi. 12, it is said, "Isaac sowed in that land, and found, i.e ., gained in that same year a hundred-fold." ( Vulg .) For what any one finds sprung up in his field, that he gains. So here, He that findeth his life, that is, who gains it when it is as it were lost, and causes it as though to come to him afresh by denying Christ, this man shall lose it in another and a better life.
Again matsa , he hath found , denotes liberty, sufficiency, abundance, power. So in Psalms 21:9 , "Let Thy hand be found by all Thine enemies." ( Vulg .) That is, let it suffice, let it be stronger and more powerful than Thine enemies. So here to find the soul is to acquire the liberty of the soul ( anima ), i.e ., of the life, and abundance of possessions, by denying the faith. For this was what kings and tyrants were wont to promise to those who would deny Christ.
He that receiveth you , &c. For he who receiveth an ambassador, in the ambassador receiveth the king who hath sent him. The Apostles were the ambassadors of Christ, and Christ of God. He, therefore, who receiveth them, receiveth Christ in them, and in Christ, God Himself-according to these words of S. Paul "We are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us." And again, in the Epistle to the Galatians, "Ye did not reject me, but received me as an angel of God, even as Christ Jesus." Christ here proposes the rewards of those who should receive the Apostles, that He may make provision for the Apostles in the poverty which He commanded them to observe as, for instance, when they were preaching, that He might strengthen them in it, and might invite hosts to show them liberal hospitality.
He that receiveth a prophet , &c. A prophet , i.e ., a teacher and preacher of the Gospel such as the Apostles were. For formerly the office of the prophets was not only to predict future events, but to teach the people, and preach the law and word of God.
Shall receive a prophet's reward, or hire ( merces , Vulg.) Some explain this as though reward from a prophet : and that far surpassing the hospitality which they have shown, because they shall receive from the prophet the grace and faith of Christ, and the benefit of the prophet's prayers.
2. Euthymius. A prophet's reward i.e ., shall be equal to a prophet in his reward, shall be accounted worthy of equal honours with him.
3. And best. Shall receive , &c., because as he co-operates with the prophet, and assists him because he is a prophet and a preacher, so shall he be partaker of his labour, his merit, and his reward, and yet not in equal degree, but proportionably with the prophet, according to the co-operation and love with which he co-operates with the preacher. For so by common law the receivers of thieves and robbers are awarded similar (though not equal) punishment with the thieves themselves. Thus S. Chrysostom explains: "He shall receive that reward of a prophet which it is fitting that he should receive who receives a prophet." S. Gregory ( Hom . 20 in Evang .) says the same. Although the elm bears no fruit of itself, yet it supports the vine with its grapes: thus she makes her own what she kindly sustains of another's.
The same rule is indicated by the old law of war. "There shall be an equal share to him who goeth down into the battle with him who remaineth by the baggage. They shall alike divide the spoils." ( 1Sa 30:24 ). A prophet's reward , then, is that he shall receive the reward of his prophecy, or his preaching, because he assisted and promoted it, for without that assistance the preacher could not have preached, forasmuch as he would have lacked food.
Lastly, by a prophet's reward some understand the gift of prophecy; which S. Jerome ( On Obadiah ) thinks the prophet Obadiah obtained because he fed the prophets with bread and water in Jezebel's persecution. "Forasmuch as he nourished a hundred prophets, he received the grace of prophecy, and from a prince became a general of the Church's army. He fed at that time a little flock in Samaria; now he feeds the churches of Christ throughout all the world." S. Epiphanius, S. Isidore, and others think the same, though it is more probable that the Obadiah of 1 Kings 18:0 and the fourth of the Minor Prophets were different persons, as I have shown in the preface to Obadiah.
He that receiveth a righteous man , &c. In the same way as I have said of a prophet. Yea, though such a one shall be in sin, he shall receive the grace of repentance, and shall be made righteous. For to this men are often brought by the word and example of saints who are their guests, who obtain the grace of repentance by their prayers. So S. Francis, being received by a soldier to hospitality, foretold his speedy death, persuaded him to make his confession, and obtained from God his eternal salvation. For as soon as the soldier had confessed, he expired. (See S. Bonaventura, in his Life, c. II.)
And whosoever shall give to drink , &c. Cold water , as the cheapest of all things, and within the competence of the poorest to bestow. He does not say, says S. Jerome, warm water , lest any one should make the want of fuel an excuse. And he does not speak of a goblet, or a flagon, but He says a cup, or glass. For who is so poor that he could not give, or at least carry, a cup of water? S. Augustine gives the same explanation.
In the name of a disciple , i.e ., because he is My disciple, because he adheres to My teaching, and believes in Me. For this having respect to Christ, ennobles and exalts both the intention of the giver and the work itself; that which is given to a Christian, Christ esteems as bestowed upon Himself, and as such recompenses it with a great reward. For if you should do the same work for a different reason, because the person benefited is your servant, or relation, or friend, the deed is of little or no merit in the eyes of God. For this would be an alms, or an act of natural pity; but the former an act of supernatural mercy. So theologians and Suarez ( lib . 2, de necessitat. gratiæ, c. xvi. 10). By these words of Christ it is intimated that a work of mercy done to a man only because he is a man, is of the natural order: but if it be done because he is a believer, a fellow citizen with the saints, and of the household of God, it is a work of mercy of a higher, that is, of a supernatural order.
An illustrious example of this occurs in the life of S. Anastasia, V. and M. After her tongue had been cut off (Lat. Præscinderetur ), and her teeth knocked out, being athirst, she asked for water ( poposcit ). A certain man named Cyril gave her to drink, and by that one cup of cold water purchased the crown of martyrdom. For when Probus the governor understood that he had done this for a Christian woman because he was a Christian, he sent him to a martyr's death.
From these words of Christ some theologians (with Suarez) gather as probable, that grace in a just man is increased by remisser acts: as if, for example, a just man should have intense degrees of grace, say as eight, but should perform an act of almsgiving, by giving, for example, a cup of cold water to a poor man in a remiss kind of way say as three by which act he would nevertheless acquire an augmentation of his habitual intense grace as eight, by three additional grades, so that it would be intensified, or extended as eleven. See the full discussion of this question in Suarez (Tom. 3 de Gratia , lib. 9, cap. 3, Numbers 36:0 ).
Lastly, Christ here signifies that no work, however small, done to a preacher, shall go without its reward. Of this nature are those remiss works which just men do in great abundance. And they would lose the reward of very many of their works, were it not that remiss works increase the more intense grace; for few Christians perform acts so intense that they equal, or exceed the habit; and Christ here teaches that they do not lose their reward.