After these things the Lord appointed other seventy also, and sent them two and two before his face into every city and place, whither he himself would come. 2. Therefore said he to them, The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few: pray you therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth laborers into his harvest.
CYRIL God had made known by the Prophets that the preaching of the Gospel of salvation was to embrace not only Israel, but also the Gentile nations; and therefore after the twelve Apostles, there were other seventy-two also appointed by Christ, as it is said, After these things the Lord appointed other seventy-two also.
THEOPHYL Rightly are seventy-two sent, for to so many nations of the world was the Gospel to be preached, that as at first twelve were appointed because of the twelve tribes of Israel, so, these also were ordained as teachers for the instruction of the foreign nations.
AUG. As also in twenty-four hours the whole world moves round and receives light, so the mystery of enlightening the world by the Gospel of the Trinity, is hinted at in the seventy-two disciples. For three times twenty-four makes seventy-two. Now as no one doubts that the twelve Apostles foreshadowed the order of Bishops, so also we must know that these seventy-two represented the presbytery, (that is, the second order of priests.) Nevertheless, in the earliest times of the Church, as the Apostolical writings bear witness, both were called presbyters, troth also c ailed bishops, the former of these signifying "ripeness of wisdom," the latter, "diligence in the pastoral care."
CYRIL An outline of this ordinance also was set forth in the words of Moses, who at the command of God chose out seventy, upon whom God poured out His Spirit. In the book of Numbers also it was written of the children of Israel, that they came to Elim, which is by interpretation "ascent," and there were there twelve fountains of water, and seventy palm trees. For when we fly to spiritual refreshment, we shall find twelve fountains, namely, the holy Apostles, from whom we imbibe the knowledge of salvation as from the well-springs of the Savior; and seventy palms, that is, those who were now appointed by Christ. For the palm is a tree of sound core, striking deep root and fruitful, always growing by the water side, yet at the same time putting forth its leaves upwards. It follows, And he sent them two and two.
GREG. He sends the disciples to preach two and two, because there are two command; of charity, the love of God, and love of our neighbor; (and charity cannot exist without at least two;) thereby silently suggesting to us, that he who has not love to another, ought not to undertake the office of preaching.
ORIGEN Likewise also the twelve were reckoned by two and two, as Matthew shows in his enumeration of them. For that two should be joined in service, seems from the word of God to be an ancient custom. For God led Israel out of Egypt by the hands of Moses and Aaron. Joshua and Caleb also, united together, appeased the people who had been provoked by the twelve spies. Hence it is said, A brother assisted by a brother is as a fortified city.
BASIL At the same time it is implied by this, that if any are equal in spiritual gifts, they should not suffer a fondness for their own opinion to get the better of them.
GREG. It is rightly added, before his face into every city and place, whither he himself would come. For the Lord follows His preachers, since the preaching comes first, and then the Lord enters into the tabernacle of our heart; seeing, that through the words of exhortation going before, truth is received into the mind. Hence Esaias says to the preachers, Prepare you the way of the Lord, make straight a highway for our God.
THEOPHYL. The Lord had appointed the disciples for the sake of the multitude, who were in want of teachers. For as our corn fields require many reapers, so the innumerable company of those who are to believe need many teachers, as it follows, The harvest truly is great.
CHRYS. But how does He give the name of harvest to a work only just now at its beginning? the plough not yet put down, nor the furrows turned, He yet speaks of harvests, for His disciples might waver and say, how can we so small a number convert the whole world how can foolish men reform the wise, naked men those that are armed, subjects their rulers? Lest they should be disturbed then by such thoughts, He calls the Gospel a harvest; as if He says, All things are ready, I send you to a gathering of fruits already prepared. You can sow and reap the same day. As then the husbandmen goes out to harvest rejoicing, much more also and with greater cheerfulness must you go out into the world. For this is the true harvest, which shows the fields all prepared for you.
GREG. But not without deep sorrow can we add, but the laborers are few. For although there are who would hear good things they are wanting who should spread them. Behold the world is full of priests, but seldom is there found a laborer in God"s harvest, because we undertake indeed the priestly office, but we perform not its works.
THEOPHYL Now as the great harvest is this whole multitude of believers, so the few laborers are the Apostles, and their followers who are sent to this harvest.
CYRIL As the large fields require many reapers, so also do the multitude of believers in Christ. Hence He adds, Pray you therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth laborers into his harvest. Now mark that when He said, Pray you therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth laborers into the harvest, He afterwards Himself performed it. He then is the Lord of the harvest, and by Him, and together with Him, God the Father rules over all.
CHRYS. But he afterwards increased them greatly, not by adding to their number, but awarding to them power. He implies that it is a great gift to send laborers into the divine harvest, by His saving that the Lord of the harvest must be prayed to upon this account.
GREG. Hereby also the people must be induced to pray for their pastors, that they may be able to work what is good for them, and that their tongue grow not lifeless in exhortation. For often for their own wickedness their tongue is tied. But often for the fault of the people it comes to pass that the word of preaching is withdrawn from their rulers.
Ver 3. Go your ways: behold, I send you forth as lambs among wolves. 4. Carry neither purse, nor scrip, nor shoes: and salute no man by the way.
CYRIL Luke next relates, that the seventy disciples obtained for themselves from Christ apostolical learning, lowliness, innocency, justice, and to prefer no worldly things to holy preachings, but to aspire to such fortitude of mind as to be afraid of no terrors, not even death itself. He adds therefore, Go.
CHRYS. For their comfort amid every danger was the power of Him who sent them. And therefore said He, Behold, I send you; as if he said, This will suffice for your consolation, this will be enough to make you hope, instead of fearing the coming evils which He signifies, adding, as lambs among wolves.
ISIDORE Denoting the simplicity and innocence in His disciples. For those who were riotous, and by their enormities did despite to their nature, He calls not lambs, but goats.
AMBROSE Now these animals are at variance among themselves, so that the one is devoured by the other, the lambs by the wolves; but the good Shepherd has no fear of wolves for His flock. And therefore the disciples are appointed not to make prey, but to impart grace. For the watchfulness of the good Shepherd causes the wolves to attempt nothing against the lambs; He sends them as lambs amid wolves that that prophecy might be fulfilled, The wolf and the I lamb shall feed together.
CHRYS. For this was a clear announcement of glorious triumph, that the disciples of Christ, when surrounded by their enemies as lambs among wolves, should still convert them.
THEOPHYL Or He especially gives the name of wolves to the Scribes and Pharisees, who are the Jewish clergy.
AMBROSE Or the heretics are compared to wolves. For wolves are beasts who lay in wait near the sheep folds, and prowl about the shepherds" cottages. They dare not enter the abodes of men, they pry out sleeping dogs, absent or slothful shepherds; they seize the sheep by the throat, that they may quickly strangle them; ravenous beasts, with bodies so stiff that they cannot easily turn themselves, but are carried along by their own impetus, and so are often deceived. If they are the first to see a man, it is said, they by a certain natural impulse, tear out his voice; but if a man first sees them, they quake with fear. In like manner the heretics lurk about Christ"s sheep folds, howl near the cottages at night time.
For night is the time for the treacherous who obscure the light of Christ with the mists of false interpretation. The inns of Christ, however, they dare not enter, and therefore are not healed, as he was as in an inn who fell among thieves. They look out for the shepherds" absence, for they can not attack the sheep when the shepherds are by. Owing also to the inflexibility of a hard and obstinate mind, they seldom if ever turn from their error, while Christ the true interpreter of Scripture mocks them, so that they went forth their violence in vain, and are not able to hurt; and if they overtake any one by the subtle trickery of their disputations, they make him dumb.
For he is dumb who confesses not the word of God with the glory which belongs to it. Beware then lest the heretic deprive you of your voice, and lest you detect him not first. For he is creeping on while his treachery is disguised. But if you have discovered his unholy desires, you can not fear the loss of a holy voice. They attack the throat, they wound the vitals while they seek the soul. If also you hear any one called a priest, and you know his robberies, outwardly he is a sheep, inwardly a wolf, who is longing to gratify his rage with the insatiable cruelty of human murder.
GREG. For many when they receive the right of rule, are vehement in persecuting their subjects, and manifesting the terrors of their power. And since they have no bowels of mercy, their desire is to seem to be masters, forgetting altogether that they are fathers, changing an occasion for humility, into an exaltation of power. We must on the other hand consider, that as lambs are sent among wolves because they preserve the feeling of innocence, so we should make no malicious attacks. For he who undertakes the office of preacher ought not to bring evils upon others, but to endure them; who although at times an upright zeal demands that he should deal harshly with his subjects, should still inwardly in his heart love with a fatherly feeling those whom outwardly he visits with censure.
And that ruler gives a good example of this, who never submits the neck of his soul to the yoke of earthly desire. Hence it is added, Carry neither purse nor scrip.
GREG. NAZ. The sum of which is, that men ought to be so virtuous that the Gospel should make no less progress through their way of life than their preaching.
GREG. For the preacher (of the Gospel) ought to have such trust in God, that although he has provided not for the expenses of this present life, he should still be most certainly convinced that these will not fail him; lest while his mind is engaged in His temporal things, he should be less careful for the spiritual things of others.
CYRIL Thus He had already commanded them to have no care for these persons, when He said, I send you as lambs among wolves. And He also forbade all care about what is external to the body, by saying, Take neither purse nor scrip. Nor did He allow men to take with them any of those things which were not attached to the body. Hence He adds, Nor shoes. He not only forbade them to take purse and scrip, but He did not allow them to receive any distraction in their work, such as interruption by greetings on their way. Hence He adds, Salute no one by the way. Which had long ago been said by Elisha. As if He said, Proceed straight on to your work without exchanging blessings with others. For it is a loss to waste the time which is fitter for preaching, in unnecessary things.
AMBROSE Our Lord did not then forbid these things because the exercise of benevolence was displeasing to Him, but because the motive of following after devotedness was more pleasing.
GREG. NAZ. The Lord gave them these commands also for the glory of the word, lest it should seem that enticements could more prevail over them. He wished them also not to be anxious to speak to others.
GREG. If any one would have these words taken also allegorically, the money shut up in a purse is the hidden wisdom. He then who has the word of wisdom, and neglects to employ it for his neighbor, is like one who keeps his money tied up in his purse. But by the scrip is meant the troubles of the world, by the shoes (made of the skins of dead animals) are signified the examples of dead works. He then who undertakes the office of preacher ought not to bear the burden of business, lest while this presses down his neck he should not rise to the preaching of heavenly things; nor ought he to behold the example of foolish works, lest he think to shield his own works as by dead skins, that is, lest because he observes that others have done these things, he imagine that he also is at liberty to do the same.
AMBROSE Our Lord also would have nothing human in us. For Moses is bid to loose off the human and earthly shoe when he was sent to deliver the people. But if any one is perplexed why in Egypt we are ordered to eat the lamb with shoes on, but the Apostles are appointed to preach the Gospel without shoes: he must consider, that one in Egypt ought still to beware of the serpent"s bite, for there were many poisonous creatures in Egypt. And he who celebrates the Passover in figure may be exposed to the wound, but the minister of truth fears no poison.
GREG. Now every one who salutes on the way does so from the accident of the journey, not for the sake of wishing health. He then who not from love of a heavenly country, but from seeking reward, preaches salvation to his hearers, does as it were salute on the journey, since accidentally, not from any fixed intention, he desires the salvation of his hearers.
Ver 5. And into whatever house you enter, first say, Peace be to this house. 6. And if the son of peace be there, your peace shall rest upon it: if not, it shall turn to you again. 7. And in the same house remain, eating and drinking such things as they give; for the laborer is worthy of his hire. Go not from house to house. 8. And into whatsoever city you enter, and they receive you, eat such things as are set before you:9. And heal the sick that are therein, and say to them, The kingdom of God is come nigh to you. 10. But into whatsoever city you enter, and they receive you not, go your ways out into the streets of the same, and say,11. Even the very dust of your city, which cleaves on us, we do wipe off against you: notwithstanding be you sure of this, that the kingdom of God is come nigh to you. 12. But I say to you, that it shall be more tolerable in that day for Sodom, than for that city.
CHRYS. Peace is the mother of all good things, without it all other things are vain. Our Lord therefore commanded His is disciples on entering a house first to pronounce peace as a sign of good things, saying, Into whatever house you enter, first say, Peace be to this house.
AMBROSE That in truth we should convey the message of peace, and that our very first entrance be attended with the blessing of peace.
CHRYS. And hence he who presides in the Church gives it, saying, Peace to all. Now holy men ask for peace, not only that which dwells among men in mutual intercourse, but that which belongs to ourselves. For oftentimes we wage war in our hearts, and are disturbed even when no one troubles us; bad desires also frequently rise up against us.
TIT. BOS. But it is said, Peace be to this house, that is, to them that dwell in the house. As if he says, I speak to all, both the greater and the less, yet should not your salutation be addressed to them that are unworthy of it. Hence it is added, And if the son of peace be there, your peace shall rest upon it. As if he says, You indeed shall utter the word, but the blessing of peace shall be applied wherever I shall deem men worthy of it. But if any one is not worthy, you are not mocked, the grace of your word has not perished, but is returned to you. And this is what is added, But if not, it shall return to you again.
GREG. For the peace which is offered by the mouth of the preacher shall either rest on the house, if there be any one in it predestined to life, who follows the heavenly word which he hears; or if no one be willing indeed to hear, the preacher himself shall not be without fruit, for the peace returns to him, while the Lord gives him the recompense of reward for the labor of his work. But if our peace is received, it is meet that we should obtain earthly supplies from those to whom we offer the rewards of a heavenly country.
Hence it follows: And in the same house remain, eating and drinking such things as they give. Mark, that He who forbade them to carry purse and scrip, allows them to be an expense to others, and to receive sustenance from preaching.
CHRYS. But lest any one should say, I am spending my own property in preparing a table for strangers, He first makes them offer the gift of peace, to which nothing is equal, that you may know that you receive greater things than you give.
TIT. BOST. Or else; Since you are not appointed Judges as to who are worthy and who are unworthy, eat and drink what things they offer to you. But leave to me the trial of those who receive you, unless you happen also to know that the son of peace is not there, for perhaps in that case you ought to depart.
THEOPHYL. See then how He taught His disciples to beg, and wished them to receive their nourishment as a reward. For it is added, For the laborer is worthy of his hire.
GREG. For now the very food which supports him is part of the wages of the laborer, as in this life the hire commences with the labor of preaching, which in the next is completed with the sight of truth. And here we must consider that two rewards are due to one work of ours, one on the Journey, which supports us in labor, the other in our country, which recompenses us at the resurrection. Therefore the reward which we receive now ought so to work in us, that we the more vigorously strive to gain the succeeding reward. Every true preacher then ought not so to preach, that he may receive a reward at the present time, but so to receive a reward that he may have strength to preach. For whoever so preaches that here he may receive the reward of praise, or riches, deprives himself of an eternal reward.
AMBROSE Another virtue is added, that we should not go about easily, changing from house to house. For it follows, Go not from house to house; that is, that we should preserve a consistency in our love towards our hosts, nor lightly loose any bond of friendship.
THEOPHYL Now having described the reception from different houses, he teaches them what they ought to do in the cities; namely, to have intercourse with the good in all, but to keep from the society of the wicked in every thing; as it follows, But into whatsoever city you enter, and they receive you, eat such things as are set before you.
THEOPHYL. Although they be few and poor, ask for nothing more; He also tells them to work miracles, and their word shall draw men to their preaching. Hence he adds, And heal the sick that are therein, and say to them, The kingdom of God is come nigh to you. For if you first heal and then teach, the word will prosper, and men believe that the kingdom of God is come nigh. For they would not be cured unless by the working of some divine power. But also when they are healed in their soul, the kingdom of God comes nigh to them, for it is far off from him over whom sin has the dominion.
CHRYS. Now mark the excellence of the Apostles. They are bid to utter nothing relating to sensible things, such as Moses and the Prophets spoke of, namely, earthly goods, but certain new and marvelous things, namely, the kingdom of God.
MAX. Which it is said is come nigh, not to show the shortness of time, for the kingdom of God comes not with observation, but to mark the disposition of men towards the kingdom of God, which is indeed potentially in all believers, but actually in those who reject the life of the body, and choose only the spiritual life; who are able to say, Now I live, yet not I, but Christ lives in me.
AMBROSE He next teaches them to shake off the dust from their feet when the men of a city have refused to entertain them, saying, Into whatsoever city you enter, and they receive you not, shake off the dust.
THEOPHYL Either as a testimony to the earthly toil which they had in vain undergone for them, or to show that so far from seeking any thing earthly from them, they suffer not even the dust from their land to cleave to them. Or by the feet is meant the very labor and walking to and fro of preaching; but the dust with which they are sprinkled is the lightness of worldly thoughts, from which even the greatest teachers cannot be free. Those then who have despised the teaching, turn the labors and dangers of the teachers into a testimony of their condemnation.
ORIGEN By wiping off the dust of their feet against them, they in some sort say, The dust of your sins shall deservedly come upon you. And mark that the cities which receive not the Apostles and sound doctrine have streets, according to Matthew, Broad is the way which leads to destruction.
THEOPHYL. And as they who receive the Apostles are said to have the kingdom of God come nigh to them as a blessing, so those who do not receive them are said to have it nigh to them as a curse. Hence He adds, Notwithstanding, be you sure of this, that the kingdom of God is come nigh to you, as the coming of a king is to some for punishment, but to some for honor.
Hence it is added respecting their punishment, But I say to you, It shall be more tolerable for Sodom, &c.
EUSEB. For in the city of Sodom, Angels were not without entertainment, but Lot was found worthy to receive them into his house. If then at the coming of the disciples into a city there shall not be found one to receive them, will not that city be worse than Sodom? These words persuaded them to attempt boldly the rule of poverty. For there could not be a city or village without some inhabitants acceptable to God. For Sodom could not exist without a Lot found in it, at whose departure the whole was suddenly destroyed.
THEOPHYL The men of Sodom, although they were hospitable in the midst of all their wickedness of soul and body, yet were there no such guests found among them as the Apostles. Lot indeed was righteous both in seeing and hearing, yet he is not said to have taught or worked miracles.
Woe to you, Chorazin! woe to you, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works had been done in Tyre and Sidon, which have been done in you, they had a great while ago repented, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. 14. But it shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the judgment, than for you. 15. And you, Capernaum, which are exalted to heaven, shall be thrust down to hell. 16. He that hears you hears me; and he that despises you despises me; and he that despises me despises him that sent me.
AMBROSE Our Lord warns us that they will meet with a heavier punishment who have refused to follow the Gospel than those who have chosen to break the law; saying, Woe to you, Chorazin! woe to you, Bethsaida!
THEOPHYL Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum, Tiberias also which John mentions, are cities of Galilee situated on the shore of the lake of Gennesaret, which is called by the Evangelists the sea of Galilee or Tiberias. Our Lord thus mourns over these cities which after such great miracles and wonders repented not, and are worse than the Gentiles who break through the law of nature only, seeing that after despising the written law, they feared not to despise also the Son of God and His glory.
Hence it follows, For if the mighty works had been done in Tyre and Sidon which have been done in you, they had a great while ago repented sitting in sackcloth and ashes, &c. By sackcloth, which is woven together from the hairs of goats, he signifies a sharp remembrance of previous sin. But by ashes, he hints at the consideration of death, by which we are reduced to dust. Again, by the sitting down, he implies the lowliness of our conscience. Now we have seen in this day the word of the Savior fulfilled, since Chorazin and Bethsaida, though our Lord was as present among them, believed not, and Tyre and Sidon were friendly both to David and Solomon, and afterwards believed in the disciples of Christ who preached the Gospel there.CHRYS. Our Lord mourns over these cities for our example, because shedding tears and bitter lamentations over those who are insensible to grief, is no slight antidote, tending both to the correction of the insensible, and to the remedy and consolation of those who mourn over them. Again, He draws them over to what is good, not only by lamenting over them, but also by alarming them.
Hence it follows, But it shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon, &c. This we ought also to listen to. For not upon them alone, but upon us also, He has passed sentence, if we receive not the guests who come to us, since He commanded them to shake off the very dust from their feet.
And in another place: Now when our Lord had done many mighty works in Capernaum, and had Himself dwelt there, it seemed to be exalted above the other cities, but through unbelief fell to destruction. Hence it follows, And you, Capernaum, which are exalted to heaven, shall be thrust down to hell; that, in fact, the judgment might be in proportion to the honor.
THEOPHYL This sentence admits of two meanings: Either for this reason shall you be thrust down into hell, because you proudly resisted My preaching; that in truth she might be understood to have raised herself up to heaven by her pride. Or, because you are exalted to heaven by My dwelling in you, and by My miracles, halt you be beaten with more stripes, since even these you refused to believe.
And that no one should suppose that this interpretation applied only either to the cities or the persons who, seeing our Lord in the flesh despised Him, and not to all also those who now despise the words of the Gospel, He proceeds to add these words, He that hears you, hears me.
CYRIL Whereby He teaches, that whatever is said by the holy Apostles must be received, since he who hears them hears Christ, and an inevitable punishment therefore hangs over heretics who neglect the words of the Apostles; for it follows, and he who despises you despises me.
THEOPHYL That is, that every one indeed on hearing or despising the preaching of the Gospel might learn that he is not despising or hearing the mere individual preacher, but our Lord and Savior, nay the Father Himself; for it follows, And he that despises me, despises him that sent me. For the Master is heard in His disciple, the Father honored in His Son.
AUG. But if the word of God reaches to us also, and appoints us in the Apostles place, beware of despising us, lest that reach to Him which you have done to us.
THEOPHYL It may also be understood as follows, He who despises you, despises me, that is, he who shows not mercy to one of the least of My brethren, neither shows it to Me. But he who despises me, (refusing to believe on the Son of God,) despises him that sent me. For I and my Father are one.
TIT. BOST. But at the same time He herein consoles His disciples, as if He said, Say not why are we about to suffer reproach. Let your speech be with moderation. I give you grace, upon Me your reproaches fall.
And the seventy returned again with joy, saying, Lord, even the devils are subject to us through your name. 18. And he said to them, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven. 19. Behold, I give to you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you. 20. Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject to you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven.
CYRIL It was said above that our Lord sent forth His disciples sealed with the grace of the Holy Spirit, and that being made ministers of preaching, they received power over the unclean spirits. But now when they returned, they confess the power of Him who honored them, as it is said, And the seventy returned again with joy, saying, Lord, even the devils are subject to us, &c. They seemed indeed to rejoice rather that they were made workers of miracles, than that they had become ministers of preaching. But they had better have rejoiced in those whom they had taken, as St. Paul says to them that were called by him, My joy and my crown.
GREG. Now our Lord, in a remarkable manner, in order to put down high thoughts in the hearts of His disciples, Himself related the account of the fall which the teacher of pride suffered; that they might learn by the example of the author of pride, what they would have to dread from the sin of pride. Hence it follows, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven.
BASIL He is called Satan, because he is an enemy to God, (for this the Hebrew word signifies,) but he is called the Devil, because he assists us in doing evil, and is an accuser. His nature is incorporeal, his abode in the air.
THEOPHYL He says not, "I see now," but referring to past time, I saw, when he fell. But by the words as lightning, He signifies either a fall headlong from the high places to the lowest, or that now cast down, he transforms himself into an angel of light.
TIT. BOST. Now He says that He saw it, as being Judge, for He knew the sufferings of the spirits Or He says, as lightning, because by nature Satan shone as lightning, but became darkness through his affections, since what God made good he changed in himself to evil.
BASIL For the heavenly Powers are not naturally holy, but according to the analogy of divine love they receive their measure of sanctification. And as iron placed in the fire does not cease to be iron, though by the violent application of the flame both in effect and appearance, it passes into fire; so also the Powers on high, from their participation in that which is naturally holy, have a holiness implanted in them. For Satan had not fallen, if by nature he had been unsusceptible of evil.
CYRIL Or else, I saw Satan as lightning fall from heaven, that is, from the highest power to the lowest impotence. For before the coming of our Savior, he had subdued the world to him, and was worshipped by all men. But when the only-begotten Word of God came down from heaven, he fell as lightning, seeing that he is trodden under foot by those who worship Christ. As it follows, And, behold, I give those you power to tread upon serpents, &c.
TIT. BOST. Serpents indeed at one time under a figure were made to bite the Jews, and kill them because of their unbelief. But there came One who should destroy those serpents; even the Brazen Serpent, the Crucified, so that if any one should look on Him believing, he might be healed from his wounds and saved.
CHRYS. Then lest we should suppose this was spoken of beasts, He added, And over all the power of the enemy.
THEOPHYL That is, I give you the power of casting out every kind of unclean spirit, from the bodies possessed. And as far as regards themselves, He adds, And nothing shall hurt you. Although it might also be taken literally. For Paul when attacked by a viper suffered no injury. John having drunk poison is not harmed by it. But I think there is this difference between serpents who bite with the teeth, and scorpions who sting with the tail, that the serpents signify men or spirits raging openly, scorpions signify them plotting in secret. Or serpents are those which cast the poison of evil persuasion upon virtues just beginning, scorpions which go about to corrupt at last virtues which have been brought to perfection.
THEOPHYL. Or serpents are those which visibly hurt, as the evil spirit of adultery and murder. But those are called scorpions which invisibly injure, as in the sins of the spirit.
GREG. NYSS. For pleasure is called in Scripture a serpent, which by nature is such that if its head has reached a wall so as to press upon it, it drags its whole body after it. So nature has given man the habitation which was necessary for him. But by means of this necessity, pleasure assaults the heart, and perverts it to the indulgence of immoderate ornament; in addition to this it brings in its train covetousness, which is followed by lust, that is, the last member or tail of the beast. But as it is not possible to draw back the serpent by its tail, so to remove pleasure we must not begin with the last, unless one has closed the first entrance to evil.
ATHAN. But now through the power of Christ boys make a mock at pleasure, which formerly led away the aged, and virgins steadfastly trample upon the desires of serpentine pleasure. Some also tread upon the very sting of the scorpion, that is, of the devil, namely death, and fearing not destruction become witnesses of the word. But many giving up earthly things walk with a free step in heaven, dreading not the prince of the air.
TIT. BOST. But because the joy with which He saw them rejoice savored of vain-glory, for they rejoiced that they were as it were exalted, and were a terror to men and evil spirits, our Lord therefore adds, Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject to you, &c.
THEOPHYL They are forbidden to rejoice in the subjection of the spirits to God, since they were flesh; for to cast out spirits and to exercise other powers is sometimes not on account of his merit who works, but is wrought through the invocation of Christ"s name to the condemnation of those who mock it, or to the advantage of those who see and hear
CYRIL Why, O Lord, cost not you permit men to rejoice in the honors which are conferred by You, since it is written, In your name shall they rejoice all the day? But the Lord raises them up by greater joys. Hence He adds, But rejoice that your names are written in heaven.
THEOPHYL As if he said, It becomes you to rejoice not in the putting down of the evil spirits, but in your own exaltation. But it would be well for us to understand, that whether a man has done heavenly or earthly works, he is thereby, as if marked down by letter, for ever fixed in the memory of God.
THEOPHYL. For the names of the saints are written in the book of life not in ink, but in the memory and grace of God. And the devil indeed fell from above; but men being below have their names inscribed above in heaven.
BASIL There are some who are written indeed not in life, but according to Jeremiah in the earth, that in this way there might be a kind of double enrollment, of the one indeed to life, but of the other to destruction. But since it is said, Let them be blotted out of the book of the living, this is spoken of those who were thought worthy to be written in the book of God. And in this way a name is said to be put down in writing or blotted out, when we turn aside from virtue to sin, or the contrary.
In that hour Jesus rejoiced in spirit, and said I thank you, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth that you have hid these things from the wise and prudent, and have revealed them to babes: even so, Father; for so it seemed good in your sight. 22. All things are delivered to me of my Father and no man knows who the Son is, but the Father and who the Father is, but the Son, and he to whom the Son will reveal him.
THEOPHYL. As a loving father rejoices to see his sons do right, so Christ also rejoices that His Apostles were made worthy of such good things. Hence it follows, In that hour, &c.
CYRIL He saw in truth that through the operation of the Holy Spirit, which He gave to the holy Apostles, the acquisition of many would be made, (or that many would be brought to the faith.) He is said therefore to have rejoiced in the Holy Spirit, that is, in the results which came forth through the Holy Spirit. For as one who to be mankind He considered the conversion of sinners to be a subject for rejoicing, for which He gives thanks. As it follows, I give thanks to you, O Father.
THEOPHYL Confessing does not always signify penitence, but also thanks airing, as is frequently found in the Psalms.
CYRIL Now here, say they whose hearts are perverted, the Son gives thanks to the Father as being inferior But what should prevent the Son of the same substance with the Father from praising His own Father, who saves the world by Him? But if you think that because of His giving thanks He shows Himself to be inferior, observe, that He calls Him His Father, and the Lord of heaven and earth. TIT. BOST. For all other things have been produced by Christ from nothing, but He alone was incomprehensibly begotten of His Father, Who therefore of the Only-begotten alone, as a true Son, is by nature the Father. Hence He alone says to His Father, I give thanks to you, O Father, Lord, &c. that is, I glorify you. Marvel not that the Son glorifies the Father. For the whole substance of the Only-begotten is the glory of the Father. For both those things which were created, and the Angels, are the glory of the Creator. But since these are placed too low in respect of His dignity, the Son alone, since He is perfect God like His Father, perfectly glorifies His Father.
ATHAN. We know also that the Savior often speaks as man. For His divine nature has human nature joined to it, yet you would not, because of His clothing Himself with a body, be ignorant that He was God. But what do they answer to this, who wish to make out a substance of evil, but form to themselves another God, other than the true Father of Christ? And they say that he is unbegotten, the creator of evil and prince of iniquity, as well as the maker of the world"s fabric. Now our Lord, affirming the word of Moses, says, I give thanks to you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth.
EPIPH. But a Gospel composed by Marcion has, "I give thanks to You, O Lord," being silent as to the words of heaven and earth, and the word Father, lest it should be supposed that He calls the Father the Creator of the heaven and the earth.
AMBROSE Lastly, he unveils the heavenly mystery by which it pleased God to reveal His grace, rather to the little ones than the wise of the world. Hence it follows, That you have hid these things from the wise and prudent.
THEOPHYL. The distinction may be, that it is said, the wise, meaning, the Pharisees and Scribes who interpret the law, and the prudent, meaning those who were taught by the Scribes, for the wise man is he who teaches, but the prudent man he who is taught; but the Lord calls His disciples babes, whom He chose not from the teachers of the law, but out of the multitude, and by calling, fishermen; babes, that is, as devoid of malice.
AMBROSE Or by a babe we should here understand one who knew nothing of exalting himself, and of boasting in proud words of the excellence of his wisdom, as the Pharisees often do.
THEOPHYL He therefore gives thanks that He had revealed to the Apostles as to babes the sacraments of His coming, of which the Scribes and Pharisees were ignorant, who think themselves wise, and are prudent in their own sight.
THEOPHYL. The mysteries then were hid from those who think themselves wise, and are not; for if they had been, these would have been revealed to them.
THEOPHYL To the wise and prudent then He opposed not the dull and foolish, but babes; that is, the humble, to show that He condemned pride, not quickness of mind.
ORIGEN For a feeling of deficiency is the preparation for coming perfection. For whoever by the presence of the apparent good perceives not that he is destitute of the true good, is deprived of the true good.
CHRYS. Now He does not rejoice and give thanks because the mysteries of God were hid from the Scribes and Pharisees (for this were not a subject of rejoicing, but of lament,) but for this cause gives He thanks, that what hat the wise knew not, babes knew. But moreover He gives thanks to the Father together with whom He Himself does this, to show the great love wherewith He loves us. He explains in the next place, that the cause of this thing was first His own will and Father"s, who of His own will did this. As it follows, Even so, Father; for so it seemed good in your sight.
GREG. We receive these words as an example of humility, that we Moral should not rashly presume to scan the heavenly counsel, concerning the calling of some, and the rejection of others; for that cannot be unjust which seemed good to the Just One. In all things therefore, externally disposed, the cause of the visible system is the justice of the hidden will.
CHRYS. But after He had said, I thank you that you have revealed them to babes, lest you should suppose that Christ was destitute of the power to do this, He adds, All things are delivered to me of my Father.
ATHAN. The followers of Arius, not rightly understanding this, rave against our Lord, saying, If all things were given to him, that is, the dominion of the creatures, there was as a time when He had them not, and so was not of the substance of the Father. For if He had been, there would be no need for Him to receive. But hereby is their madness the rather detected. For if before He had received them, the creature was independent of the Word, how will that verse stand, In him all things consist? But if as soon as the creatures were made, they were all given to Him, where was the need to give, for by him were all things made? The dominion of the creation is not then, as they think, here meant, but the words signify the dispensation made in the flesh. For after that man sinned, all things were confounded; the Word then was made flesh, that He might restore all things. All things therefore were given Him, not because He was wanting in power, but that as Savior He should repair all things; that as by the Word all things at the beginning were brought into being, so when the Word was made flesh, He should restore all things in Himself.
THEOPHYL Or by the words, All things are delivered to me, He means not the elements of the world, but those babes to whom by the Spirit the Father made known the Sacraments of His Son; and in whose salvation when He here spoke He was rejoicing.
AMBROSE Or, when you read all things, you acknowledge the Almighty, not the Son lower than the Father; when you read delivered, you confess the Son, to whom by the nature of one substance all things rightly belong, not conferred as a gift by grace.
CYRIL Now having said that all things were given Him by His Father, He rises to His own glory and excellence showing that in nothing He is surpassed by His Father. Hence He adds, And no one knows who the Son is but the Father, &c. For the mind of the creatures is not able to comprehend the manner of the Divine substance, which passes all understanding, and His glory transcends our highest contemplations. By Itself only is known what the Divine nature is. Therefore the Father, by that which He is, knows the Son the Son, by that which He is, knows the Father, no difference intervening as regards the Divine nature. And in another place. For that God is, we believe, but what he is by nature, is incomprehensible. But if the Son was created, how could He alone know the Father, or how could He be known only by the Father. For to know the Divine nature is impossible to any creature, but to know each created thing what it is, does not surpass every understanding, though it is far beyond our senses.
ATHAN. But though our Lord says this, it is plain that the Arians object to Him, saying that the Father is not seen by the Son. But their folly is manifest, as if the Word did not know Itself which reveals to all men the knowledge of the Father and Itself; for it follows, And to whomsoever the Son will reveal him.
TIT. BOST. Now a revelation is the communication of knowledge in proportion to each man"s nature and capacity; and when indeed the nature is congenial, there is knowledge without teaching; but here the instruction is by revelation.
ORIGEN He wishes to reveal as the Word, not without the exercise of reason; and as Justice, who knows rightly both the times for revealing, and the measures of revelation; but He reveals by removing the opposing veil from the heart, and the darkness which He has made His secret place. But since upon this men who are of another opinion think to build up their impious doctrine, that in truth the Father of Jesus was sent down to the ancient saints, we must tell them that the words, To whomsoever the Son will reveal him, not only refer to the future time, after our Savior uttered this, but also to the past time But if they will not take this word reveal for what is past, the must be told, that it is not the same thing to know and to believe. To one is given by the Spirit the word of knowledge; to another faith by the same Spirit. There were then those who believed, but did not know.
AMBROSE But that you may know that as the Son revealed the Father to whom He will, the Father also reveals the Son to whom He will, hear our Lord"s words, Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, for flesh and blood have not revealed it to you, but my Father which is in heaven.
And he turned him to his disciples, and said privately, Blessed are the eyes which see the things that you see:24. For I tell you, that many prophets and kings have desired to see those things which you see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which you hear, and have not heard them.
THEOPHYL. Having said above, No one knows who the Father is but the Son, and to whomsoever the Son will reveal him; He pronounces a blessing upon His disciples, to whom the Father was revealed through Him. Hence it is said, And he turned him to his disciples, and said, Blessed &c.
CYRIL He turns to them indeed, since He rejected the Jews, who were deaf, with their understandings blinded, and not wishing to see, and gives Himself wholly to those who love Him; and He pronounces those eyes blessed which see the things no others had seen before. We must however know this, that seeing does not signify the action of the eyes, but the pleasure which the mind receives from benefits conferred. For instance, if any one should say, He has seen good times, that is, he has rejoiced in good times, according to the Psalm, You shall see the good of Jerusalem. For many Jews have seen Christ performing, divine works, that is to say, with their bodily sight, yet all were not fitted to rereceive the blessing, for they believed not; but these saw not His glory with their mental sight. Blessed then are our eyes, since we see by faith the Word who is made man for us, shedding upon us the glory of His Godhead, that He may make us like to Him by sanctification and righteousness.THEOPHYL. Now He blesses them, and all truly who look with faith, because the ancient prophets and kings desired to see and hear God in the flesh, as it follows; For I say to you, that many prophets and kings have desired, &c.
THEOPHYL Matthew more clearly calls them prophets, and righteous men. For those are great kings, who have known how, not by yielding to escape from the assaults of temptations, but by mastering to gain the rule over them.
CHRYS. Now from this saying many imagine that the prophets were without the knowledge of Christ. But if they desired to see what the Apostles saw, they knew that He would come to men, and dispense those things which He did. For no one desires what he has no conception of; they therefore knew the Son of God. Hence He does not merely say, They desired to see me, but those things which you see, nor to hear me, but those things which you hear. For they saw Him, but not yet Incarnate, nor thus conversing with men, nor speaking with such authority to them.
THEOPHYL For those looking afar off saw Him in a glass and darkly, but the Apostles having our Lord present with them, whatever things they wished to learn had no need to be taught by angels or any other kind of vision.
ORIGEN But why does he say that many prophets desired, and not all? Because it is said of Abraham, That he saw the day of Christ and was glad, which sight not many, but few attained to; but there were other prophets and just men not so great as to reach to Abraham"s vision, and the experience of the Apostles, who, He says, saw not, but desired to see.
And, behold, a certain Lawyer stood up, and tempted him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?26. He said to him, What is written in the law? how read you?27. And he answering said, You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all love soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself. 28. And he said to him, you have answered right: this do, and you shall live.
THEOPHYL Our Lord had told His disciples above that their names were written in Heaven; from this it seems to me the lawyer took occasion of tempting our Lord, as it is said, And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him.
CYRIL For there were in fact certain men who then went about the whole country of the Jews bringing charges against Christ, and saying that He spoke of the commands of Moses as useless, and Himself introduced certain strange doctrines. A lawyer then, wishing to entrap Christ into saying something against Moses, comes and tempts Him, calling Him Master, though not bearing to be His disciple.
And because our Lord was as wont to speak to those who came to Him concerning eternal life, the lawyer adopts this kind of language. And since he tempted Him subtly, he receives no other answer than the command given by Moses; for it follows, He said to him, What is written in the law? how read you?
AMBROSE For he was one of those who think themselves skilled in the law, and who keep the letter of the law, while they know nothing of its spirit. From a part of the law itself our Lord proves them to be ignorant of the law, showing that at the very first the law preached the Father and the Son, and announced the sacraments of the Lord"s Incarnation; for it follows, And he answering said, you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and, with all your mind.
BASIL By saying, with all your mind, he does not admit of any division of love to other things, for whatever love you cast on lower things necessarily takes away from the whole. For as a vessel full of liquid, whatever flows therefrom must so much diminish its fullness; so also the soul, whatever love it has wasted upon things unlawful, has so much lessened its love to God.
GREG. NYSS. Now the soul is divided into three faculties; one merely of growth and vegetation, such as is found in plants; another which relates to the senses, which is preserved in the nature of irrational animals; but the perfect faculty of the soul is that of reason, which is seen in human nature. By saying then the heart, He signified the bodily substance, that is, the vegetative; by the soul the middle, or the sensitive; but by saying the mind, the higher nature, that is, the intellectual or reflective faculty.
THEOPHYL. We must hereby understand that it becomes us to submit every power of the soul to the divine love, and that resolutely, not slackly. Hence it is added, And with all your strength.
MAXIM. To this end then the law commanded a threefold love to God, that it might pluck us away from the threefold fashion of the world, as touching possessions, glory, and pleasure, wherein also Christ was tempted.
BASIL But if any one ask how the love of God is to be obtained, we are sure that the love of God cannot be taught. For neither did we learn to rejoice in the presence of light, or to embrace life, or to love our parents and children; much less were we taught the love of God, but a certain seminal principle was implanted in us, which has within itself the cause, that man clings to God; which principle the teaching of the divine commands is wont to cultivate diligently, to foster watchfully, and to carry on to the perfection of divine grace. For naturally we love good; we love also what is our own, and akin to us; we likewise of our own accord pour forth all our affections on our benefactors.
If then God is good, but all things desire that good, which is wrought voluntarily, He is by nature inherent in us, and although from His goodness we are far from knowing Him, yet from the very fact that we proceeded forth from Him, we are bound to love Him with exceeding, love, as in truth akin to us; He is likewise also a greater benefactor than all whom by nature we love here. And again. The love of God then is the first and chief command, but the second, as filling up the first and filled up by it, bids us to love our neighbor. Hence it follows, And your neighbor as yourself. But we have an instinct given us by God to perform this command, as who does not know that man is a kind and social animal? For nothing belongs so much to our nature as to communicate with one another, and mutually to need and love our relations. Of those things then of which in the first place He gave us the seed, He afterwards requires the fruits.
CHRYS. Yet observe how, almost to the same extent of obedience he requires the performance of each command. For of God he says, with all your heart. Of our neighbor, as yourself: Which if it were diligently kept, there would be neither slave nor free man, neither conqueror nor conquered, (or rasher, neither prince nor subject,) rich nor poor, nor would the devil be even known, for the chaff would rather stand the touch of fire than the devil the fervor of love; so surpassing all things is the constancy of love.
GREG. But since it is said, You shall love your neighbor as yourself, how is he merciful in taking compassion upon another, who still, by unrighteous living, is unmerciful to himself?
CYRIL When the lawyer had answered the things contained in the law, Christ, to whom all things were known, cuts to pieces his crafty nets. For it follows, And he said to him, you have answered right: this do, and you shall live.
ORIGEN From these words it is undoubtingly gathered, that the life which is preached according to God the Creator of the world, and the Scriptures given by Him, is life everlasting. For the Lord Himself bears testimony to the passage from Deuteronomy, You shall love the Lord your God; and from Leviticus, You shall love your neighbor as yourself: But these things were spoken against the flowers of Valentinus, Basil, and Marcion. For what else did he wish us to do in seeking eternal life, but what is contained in the Law and the Prophets?
But he, willing to justify himself, said to Jesus, And who is my neighbor?30. And Jesus answering said, A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. 31. And by chance there came down a certain Priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. 32. And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side. 33. But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was; and when he saw him, he had compassion on him,34. And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him,35. And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said to him, Take care of him; and whatsoever you spend more, when I come again, I will repay you. 36. Which now of these three, think you, was neighbor to him that fell among the thieves?37. And he said, He that showed mercy on him. Then said Jesus to him, Go, and do you likewise.
CYRIL The lawyer, when praised by our Savior for having answered right, breaks forth into pride, thinking that he had no neighbor, as though there was no one to be compared to him in righteousness. Hence it is said, But he willing to justify himself said to Jesus, And who is my neighbor? For somehow first one sin and then another takes him captive. From the cunning with which he sought to tempt Christ, he falls into pride. But here when asking, who is my neighbor, he proves himself to be devoid of love for his neighbor, since he did not consider any one to be his neighbor, and consequently of the love of God; for he who loves not his brother whom he sees, cannot love God whom he does not see.
AMBROSE He answered that he knew not his neighbor, because he believed not on Christ, and he who knows not Christ knows not the law, for being ignorant of the truth, how can he know the law which makes known the truth?
THEOPHYL. Now our Savior defines a neighbor not in respect of actions or honor, but of nature; as if He says, Think not that because you are righteous you have no neighbor, for all who partake of the same nature are your neighbors. Be you also their neighbor, not in place, but in affection and solicitude for them. And in addition to this, he brings forward the Samaritan as an example. As it follows, And Jesus answering him said, A certain man went down, &c.
GREEK EX. He has well used the general term. For He says not, "a certain one went down," but, a certain man, for his discourse was of the whole human race.
AUG. For that man is taken for Adam himself, representing the race of man; Jerusalem, the city of peace, that heavenly country, from the bliss of which he fell. Jericho is interpreted to be the moon, and signifies our mortality, because it rises, increases, wanes, and sets.
PSEUDO-AUG. Or by Jerusalem, which is by interpretation "the sight of peace," we mean Paradise, for before man sinned he was in sight of peace, that is, in paradise; whatever he saw was peace, and going thence he descended (as if brought low and made wretched by sin) into Jericho, that is, the world, in which all things that are born die as the moon.
THEOPHYL Now he says not "descended," but "was descending." For human nature was ever tending downwards, and not for a time only, but throughout busied about a life liable to suffering.
BASIL This interpretation corresponds to the places, if any one will examine them. For Jericho lies in the low parts of Palestine, Jerusalem is seated on an eminence, occupying the crest of a mountain. The man then came from the high parts to the low, to fall into the hands of the robbers who infested the desert. As it follows, And he fell among thieves.
CHRYS. First, we must needs pity the ill fortune of the man who fell unarmed and helpless among robbers, and who was so rash and unwise as to choose the road in which he could not escape the attack of robbers. For the unarmed can never escape the armed, the heedless the villain, the unwary the malicious. Since malice is ever armed with guile, fenced round with cruelty, fortified with deceit, and ready for fierce attack.
AMBROSE But who are those robbers but the Angels of night and darkness, among whom he had not fallen, unless by deviating from the divine command he had placed himself in their way.
CHRYS. At the beginning of the world then the devil accomplished his treacherous attack upon man, against whom he practiced the poison of deceit, and directed all the deadliness of his malice.
AUG. He fell then among robbers, that is, the devil and his angels, who through the disobedience of the first man, stripped the race of mankind of the ornaments of virtue, and wounded him, that is, by ruining the gift of the power of free will. Hence it follows, who stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, for to that man sinning he gave a wound, but to us many wounds since to one sin which we contract we add many.
AUG. Or they stripped man of his immortality, and wounding him (by persuading to sin) left him half dead; for wherein he is able to understand and know God, man is alive, but wherein he is corrupted and pressed down by sins, he is dead. And this is what is added, leaving him half dead.
PSEUDO-AUG. For the half dead has his vital function (that is, free will) wounded, in that he is not able to return to the eternal life which he has lost. And therefore he lay, because he had not strength of his own sufficient to rise and seek a physician, that is, God, to heal him.
THEOPHYL. Or man after sin is said to be half dead, because his soul is immortal, but his body mortal, so that the half of man is under death. Or, because his human nature hoped to obtain salvation in Christ, so as not altogether to lie under death. But in that Adam had sinned death entered in the world, in the righteousness of Christ death was to be destroyed.
AMBROSE Or they stripped us of the garments which we have received of spiritual grace, and so are wont to inflict wounds. For if we keep the unspotted garments we have put on, we can not feel the wounds of robbers.
BASIL Or it may be understood that they stripped us after first inflicting wounds; or wounds precede nakedness, as sin precedes the absence of grace.
THEOPHYL But sins are called wounds, because the perfectness of human nature is violated by them. And they departed, not by ceasing to lie in wait, but by hiding the craft of their devices.
CHRYS. Here then was man (that is, Adam) lying destitute of the aid of salvation, pierced with the wounds of his sins, whom neither Aaron the high priest passing by could advantage by his sacrifice; for it follows, And by chance there came down a certain priest that way, and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side.
Nor again could his brother Moses the assist him by the Law, as it follows, And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side.
AUG. Or by the Priest and the Levite, two times are represented, namely, of the Law and the Prophets. By the Priest the Law is signified, by which the priesthood and sacrifices were appointed; by the Levites the prophecies of the Prophets, in whose times the law of mankind could not heal, because by the Law came the knowledge not the doing away of sin.
THEOPHYL. But He says, passed by, because the Law came and stood till its time foreordained, then, not being able to cure, departed. Mark also that the Law was not given with this previous intention that it should cure man, for man could not from the beginning receive the mystery of Christ. And therefore it is said, And by chance there came a certain priest, which expression we use with respect to those things which happen without forethought.
AUG. Or it is said, passed by, because the man who came down from Jerusalem to Jericho is believed to have been an Israelite, and the priest who came down, certainly his neighbor by birth, passed him by lying on the ground. And a Levite also came by, likewise his neighbor by birth; and he also despised him as he lay.
THEOPHYL. They pitied him, I say, when they thought about him, but afterwards, overcome by selfishness, they went away again. For this is signified by the word, passed him by.
AUG. A Samaritan coming by, far removed by birth, very near in compassion, acted as follows, But a certain Samaritan as he journeyed came where he was, &c. In whom our Lord Jesus Christ would have Himself typified. For Samaritan is interpreted to be keeper and it is said of him, He shall-not slumber nor sleep who keeps Israel; since being raised from the dead he dies no more. Lastly, when it was said to him, You are a Samaritan, and have a devil, He said He had not a devil, for He knew Himself to be the caster out of devils, He did not deny that He was the keeper of the weak.
GREEK EX. Now Christ here fully calls Himself a Samaritan. For in addressing the lawyer who was glorying in the Law, He wished to express that neither Priest nor Levite, nor all they who were conversant with the Law, fulfilled the requirements of the Law, but He came to accomplish the ordinances of the Law.
AMBROSE Now this Samaritan was also coming down. For who is he that ascended upon into heaven, but he who came down from heaven, even the Son of Man who is in heaven.
THEOPHYL. But He says, journeying, as though He purposely determined this in order to cure us.
AUG. He came in the likeness of sinful flesh, therefore near to him, as it were, in likeness.
GREEK EX. Or He came by the way. For He was a true traveler, not a wanderer; and came down to the earth for our sakes.
AMBROSE Now when He came He was made very near to us by His taking upon Himself our infirmities, He became a neighbor by bestowing compassion. Hence it follows, And when he saw him he was moved with compassion.
PSEUDO-AUG. Seeing him lying down weak and motionless. And therefore was He moved with compassion, because He saw in him nothing to merit a cure, but He Himself for sin condemned sin in the flesh. Hence it follows, And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine.
AUG. For what so distant, what so far removed, as God from man, the immortal from the mortal, the just from sinners, not in distance of place, but of likeness. Since then He had in Him two good things, righteousness and immortality, and we two evils, that is unrighteousness, and mortality, if He had taken upon Him both our evils He would have been our equal, and with us have had need of a deliverer. That He might be then not what we are, but near us, He was made not a sinner, as you are, but mortal like to you. By taking upon Himself punishment, not taking upon Himself guilt, He destroyed both the punishment and the guilt.
AUG. The binding up of wounds is the checking of sins; oil is the consolation of a good hope, by the pardon given for the reconciliation of man; wine is the incitement to work fervently in spirit.
AMBROSE Or, he binds up our wounds by a stricter commandment, as by oil he soothes by the remission of sin, as by wine he pricks to the heart by the denunciation of judgment.
GREG. Or in the wine he applies the sharpness of constraint, in the oil the softness of mercy. By wine let the corrupt parts be washed, by oil let the healing parts be assuaged; we must then mix gentleness with severity, and we must so combine the two, that those who are put under us be neither exasperated by our excessive harshness, nor be relaxed by too much kindness.
THEOPHYL. Or else, intercourse with man is the oil, and intercourse with God is the wine which signifies divinity, which no one can endure unmixed unless oil be added, that is, human intercourse. Hence he worked some things humanly, some divinely. He poured then in oil and wine, as having saved us both by His human and His divine nature.
CHRYS. Or, he poured in wine, that is, the blood of His passion, and oil, that is, the anointing of the chrism, that pardon might be granted by His blood, sanctification be conferred by the chrism.
The wounded parts are bound up by the heavenly Physician, and containing a salve within themselves, are by the working of the remedy restored to their former soundness Having poured in wine and oil, he placed him upon His beast, as it follows, and placing him upon his beast, &c.
AUG. His beast is our flesh, in which He has condescended to come to us. To be placed on the beast is to believe in the incarnation of Christ.
AMBROSE Or, He places us on His beast in that He bears our sins, and is afflicted for us, for man has been made like to the beasts, therefore He placed us on His beast, that we might not be as horse and mule, in order that by taking upon Him our body, He might abolish the weakness of our flesh.
THEOPHYL. Or He placed us on His beast, that is, on His body. For He has made us His members, and partakers of His body. The Law indeed did not take in all the Moabites, and the Ammonites shall not enter into the Church of God; but now in every nation he that fears the Lord is accepted by Him, who is willing to believe and to become part of the Church. Wherefore He says, that he brought him to an inn.
CHRYS. For the Inn is the Church, which receives travelers, who are tired with their journey through the world, and oppressed with the load of their sins; where the wearied traveler casting down the burden of his sins is relieved, and after being refreshed is restored with wholesome food. And this is what is here said, and took care of him. For without is every thing that is conflicting, hurtful and evil, while within the Inn is contained all rest and health.
THEOPHYL And lightly He brought him placed on His beast, since no one, except he be united to Christ"s body by Baptism, shall enter the Church.
AMBROSE But as the Samaritan had not time to stay longer on the earth, he must needs return to the place whence he descended, as it follows, And on the morrow he took out two pence, &c. What is that morrow, but perchance the day of our Lord"s resurrection? of which it was said, This is the day the Lord has made. But the two pence are the two covenants, which bear stamped on them the image of the eternal King, by the price of which our wounds are healed.
AUG. Or the two pence are the two commandments of love, which the Apostles received from the Holy Spirit to preach to others; or the promise of the present life, and that which is to come.
ORIGEN Or the two pence seem to me to be the knowledge of the sacrament, in what manner the Father is in the Son, and the Son in the Father, which is given as a reward by the Angel to the Church that she may take more diligent care of the man entrusted to her whom in the shortness of the time He Himself had also cured. And it is promised that whatever she should spend on the cure of the half dead man, should be restored to her again, And whatsoever you spend more, when I come again I will repay you.
AUG. The inn-keeper was the Apostle, who spent more; either in giving counsel, as he says, Now concerning virgins, I have no commandment of the Lord, yet I give my judgment, or, in working even with his own hands, that he might not trouble any of the weak in the newness of the Gospel, though it was lawful for him to be fed from the Gospel. Much more also did the Apostles spend, but those teachers also in their time have spent more who have interpreted both the Old and New Testament, for which they shall receive their reward.
AMBROSE Blessed then is that inn-keeper who is able to cure the wounds of another; blessed is he to whom Jesus says, Whatsoever you have spent more, when I come again I will repay you. But when will you return, O Lord, save on the Judgment day? For though you are ever every where, and though standing in the midst of us, are not perceived by us, yet the time will be in which all flesh shall behold You coming again. You will then restore what you owe to the blessed, whose debtor you are. Would that we were confident debtors, that we could pay what we had received!
CYRIL After what has gone before, our Lord fitly questions the lawyer; Which of these three think you was neighbor to him who fell among thieves?
But he said, He that shows mercy on him. For neither Priest nor Levite became neighbor to the sufferer, but he only who had compassion on him. For vain is the dignity of the Priesthood, and the knowledge of the Law, unless they are confirmed by good works. Hence it follows, And Jesus said to him, Go and do you likewise.
CHRYS. As if He said, If you see any one oppressed, say not, Surely he is wicked; but be he Gentile or Jew and need help, dispute not, he has a claim to your assistance, into whatever evil he has fallen.AUG. Hereby we understand that he is our neighbor, to whomsoever we must show the duty of compassion if he need it, or would have shown if he had needed it. From which it follows, that even he who must in his turn show us this duty, is out neighbor. For the name of neighbor has relation to something else, nor can any one be a neighbor, save to a neighbor; but that no one is excluded to whom the office of mercy is to be denied, is plain to all; as our Lord says, Do good to them that hate you. Hence it is clear, that in this command by which we are bid to love our neighbor, the holy angels are included, by whom such great offices of mercy are bestowed upon us. Therefore our Lord Himself wished also to be called our neighbor, representing Himself to have assisted the half dead man who lay in the way.
AMBROSE For relationship does not make a neighbor, but compassion, for compassion is according to nature. For nothing is so natural as to assist one who shares our nature.
Now it came to pass, as they went, that he entered into a certain village: and a certain woman named Martha received him into her house. 39. And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus" feet, and heard his word. 40. But Martha was cumbered about much serving and came to him, and said, Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone, bid her therefore that she help me. 41. And Jesus answered and said to her, Martha, Martha, you are careful and troubled about many things:42. But one thing is needful: and Mary has chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.
THEOPHYL The love of God and our neighbor, which was contained above in words and parables, is here set forth in very deed and reality; for it is said, Now it came to pass, as they went, that he entered into a certain village.ORIGEN. The name of which village Luke indeed here omits, but John mentions, calling it Bethany.
AUG. But the Lord, who came to his own, and his own received him not, was received as a guest, for it follows, And a certain woman named Martha received him into her house, &c. as strangers are accustomed to be received. But still a servant received her Lord, the sick her Savior, the creature her Creator. But if any should say, "O blessed are they who have been thought worthy to receive Christ into their houses," grieve not you, for He says, For inasmuch as you have done it to the least of my brethren, you have done it to me. But taking the form of a servant, He wished therein to be fed by servants, by reason of His condescension, not His condition. He had a body in which He was hungry and thirsty, but when He was hungry in the desert, Angels ministered to Him. In wishing therefore to be led, He came Himself to the feeder.
Martha then, setting about and preparing to feed our Lord, was occupied in serving, but Mary her sister chose rather to be fed by the Lord, for it follows, And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus" feet, and heard his word.
CHRYS. It is not said of Mary simply that she sat near Jesus, but at His feet, to show her diligence, steadfastness, and zeal, in hearing, and the great reverence which she had for our Lord.
AUG. Now as was her humility in sitting at His feet, so much the more did she receive from him. For the waters pour down to the lowest part of the valley, but flow away from the rising of the hill.
BASIL Now every work and word of our Savior is a rule of piety and virtue For to this end did He put on our body, that as much as we can we might imitate His conversation.
CYRIL By His own example then He teaches His disciples how they ought to behave in the houses of those who receive them, namely, when they come to a house, they should not remain idle, but rather fill the minds of those who receive them with sacred and divine teaching. But let those who make ready the house, go to meet their guests gladly and earnestly, for two reasons. First, indeed, they will be edified by the teaching of those whom they receive; nest also they will receive the reward of charity. And hence it follows here, But Martha was cumbered about much serving, &c.
AUG. Martha was as well engaged in ministering to the bodily wants or wishes of our Lord, as of one who was mortal, but He who was clothed in mortal flesh, in the beginning was the Word. Behold then what Mary heard, The Word was made flesh. Behold then Him to whom Martha ministered. The one was laboring, the other at rest. But yet Martha, when much troubled in her occupation and business of serving, interrupted our Lord, and complained of her sister. For it follows, And said, Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? For Mary was absorbed in the sweetness of our Lord"s words; Martha was as preparing a feast for our Lord, in whose feast Mary was now rejoicing. While then she was listening with delight to those sweet words, and was feeding on them with the deepest affection, our Lord was interrupted by her sister. What must we suppose was her alarm, lest the Lord should say to her, "Rise, and help your sister?"
Our Lord therefore, who was not at a loss, for He had shown He was the Lord, answered as follows, And Jesus answered and said to her, Martha, Martha. The repetition of the name is a mark of love, or perhaps of drawing the attention, that she should listen more earnestly. When twice called, she hears, You are troubled about many things. that is, you art busied about many things. For man wishes to meet with something when he is serving, and can not; and thus between seeking what is wanting and preparing what is at hand, the mind is distracted. For if Martha had been sufficient of herself, she would not have required the aid of her sister.
There are many, there are diverse things, which are carnal, temporal, but one is preferred to many. For one is not from many, but many from one. Hence it follows, But one thing is needful. Mary wished to be occupied about one, according to that, It is good for me to cling close to the Lord. The Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit, are one. To this one he does not bring us, unless we being many have one heart.
CYRIL Or else, when certain brethren have received God, they will not be anxious about much service, nor ask for those things which are not in their hands, and are beyond their needs. For every where and in every thing that which is superfluous is burdensome. For it begets weariness in those who are wishing to bestow it, while the guests feel that they are the cause of trouble.
BASIL It is foolish also to take food for the support of the body, and thereby in return to hurt the body, and to hinder it in the performance of the divine command. If then a poor man come, let him receive a model and example of moderation in food, and let us not prepare our own tables for their sakes, who wish to live luxuriously. For the life of the Christian is uniform, ever tending to one object, namely, the glory of God. But the life of those who are without is manifold and vacillating, changed about at will. And how in truth can you, when you set your table before your brother with profusion of meats, and for the pleasure of feasting sake, accuse him of luxury, and revile him as a glutton, censuring his indulgence in that which you yourself afford him? Our Lord did not commend Martha when busied about much serving.
AUG. What then? Must we think that blame was cast upon the service of Martha, who was engaged in the cares of hospitality, and rejoiced in having so great a guest? If this be true, let men give up ministering to the needy; in a word, let them be at leisure, intent only upon getting wholesome knowledge, taking no care what stranger is in the village in want of bread; let works of mercy be unheeded, knowledge only be cultivated.
THEOPHYL. Our Lord does not then forbid hospitality, but the troubling about many things, that is to say, hurry and anxiety. And mark the wisdom of our Lord, in that at first He said nothing to Martha, but when she sought to tear away her sister from hearing, then the Lord took occasion to reprove her. For hospitality is ever honored as long as it keeps us to necessary things. But when it begins to hinder us from attending to what is of more importance, then it is plain that the hearing of the divine word is the more honorable.
AUG. Our Lord then does not blame the actions, but distinguishes between the duties. For it follows, Mary has chosen that good part, &c. Not yours a bad one, but hers a better. Why a better? because it shall not be taken away from her. From you the necessary burden of business shall one time be taken away. For when you come into that country, you will find no stranger to receive with hospitality. But for your good it shall be taken away, that what is better may be given you. Trouble shall be taken away, that rest may be given. You are yet at sea; she is in port. For the sweetness of truth is eternal, yet in this life it is increased, and in the next it will be made perfect, never to be taken away.
AMBROSE May you then like Mary be influenced by the desire of wisdom. For this is the greater, this the more perfect work. Nor let the care of ministering to others turn your mind from the knowledge of the heavenly word, nor reprove or think indolent those whom you see seeking after wisdom.
AUG. Now mystically, by Martha"s receiving our Lord into her house is represented the Church which now receives the Lord into her heart. Mary her sister, who sat at Jesus" feet and heard His word, signifies the same Church, but in a future life, where ceasing from labor, and the ministering to her wants, she shall delight in Wisdom alone. But by her complaining that her sister did not help her, occasion is given for that sentence of our Lord, in which he shows that Church to be anxious and troubled about much service, when there is but one thing needful, which is yet attained through the merits of her service; but He says that Mary has chosen the good part, for through the one the other is reached, which shall not be taken away.
GREG. Or by Mary who sat and heard our Lord"s words, is signified the contemplative life; by Martha engaged in more outward services, the active life. Now Martha"s care is not blamed, but Mary is praised, for great are the rewards of an active life, but those of a contemplative are far better. Hence Mary"s part it is said will never be taken away from her, for the works of an active life pass away with the body, but the joys of the contemplative life the rather begin to increase from the end.
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Aquinas, Thomas. "Commentary on Luke 10". "Golden Chain Commentary on the Gospel". https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Sunday after Easter