And it came to pass, as he went into the house of one of the chief Pharisees to eat bread on the sabbath day, that they watched him. 2. And, behold, there was a certain man before him which had the dropsy. 3. And Jesus answering spoke to the Lawyers and Pharisees, saying, Is it lawful to heal on the sabbath day?4. And they held their peace. And he took him, and healed him, and let him go;5. And answered them, saying, Which of you shall have an ass or an ox fallen into a pit, and will not straightway pull him out on the sabbath day?6. And they could not answer him again to these things.
CYRIL Although our Lord knew the malice of the Pharisees, yet He became their guest, that He might benefit by His words and miracles those who were present. Whence it follows, And it came to pass, as he went into the house of one of the chief Pharisees to eat bread on the sabbath day, that they watched him; to see whether He would despise the observance of the law, or do any thing that was forbidden on the sabbath day. When then the man with the dropsy came into the midst of them, He rebukes by a question the insolence of the Pharisees, who wished to detect Him; as it is said, And, behold, there was a certain man before him which had the dropsy. And Jesus answering, &c.
BEDE When it is said that Jesus answered, there is a reference to the words which went before, And they watched him. For the Lord knew the thoughts of men.
THEOPHYL. But by His question He exposes their folly. For while God blessed the sabbath, they forbade to do good on the sabbath; but the day which does not admit the works of the good is accursed.
BEDE But the, who were asked, are rightly silent, for they perceived that whatever they said, would be against themselves. For if it is lawful to heal on the sabbath day, wily did they watch the Savior whether He would heal? If it is not lawful, why do they take care of their cattle on the sabbath? Hence it follows, But they held their peace.
CYRIL Disregarding then the snares of the Jews, He cures the dropsical, who from fear of the Pharisees did not ask to be healed on account of the sabbath, but only stood up, that when Jesus beheld him, He might have compassion on him and heal him. And the Lord knowing this, asked not whether he wished to be made whole, but forthwith healed him. Whence it follows; And he took him, and healed him, and let him go. Wherein our Lord took no thought not to offend the Pharisees, but only that He might benefit him who needed healing. For it becomes us, when a great good is the result, not to care if fools take offense.
CYRIL But seeing the Pharisees awkwardly silent, Christ baffles their determined impudence by some important considerations. As it follows; And he answered and said to them, Which of you shall have an ass or an ox fallen into a pit, and will not straightway pull him out on the sabbath day?
THEOPHYL. As though He said, If the law forbids to have mercy on the sabbath-day, have no care of your son when in danger on the sabbath-day. But why speak I of a son, when you do not even neglect an ox if you see it in danger?
BEDE By these words He so refutes His watchers, the Pharisees, as to condemn them also of covetousness, who in the deliverance of animals consult their own desire of wealth. How much more then ought Christ to deliver a man, who is much better than cattle!
AUG. Now He has aptly compared the dropsical man to an animal which has fallen into a ditch, (for he is troubled by water,) as He compared that woman, whom He spoke of as bound, and whom He Himself loosed, to a beast which is let loose to be led to water.
BEDE By a suitable example then He settles the question, strewing that they violate the sabbath by a work of covetousness, who contend that he does so by, a work of charity. Hence it follows, And they could not answer him again to these things. Mystically, the dropsical man is compared to him who is weighed down by an overflowing stream of carnal pleasures. For the disease of dropsy derives the name of a watery humor.
AUG. Or we rightly compare the dropsical man to a covetous rich man. For as the former, the more he increases in unnatural moisture the greater his thirst; so also the other, the more abundant his riches, which he does not employ well, the more ardently he desires them.
GREG Rightly then is the dropsical man healed in the Pharisees" presence, for by the bodily infirmity of the one, is expressed the mental disease of the other.
BEDE In this example also He well refers to the ox and the ass; so as to represent either the wise and the foolish, or both nations; that is, the Jew oppressed by the burden of the law, the Gentile not subject to reason. For the Lord rescues from the pit of concupiscence all who are sunk therein.
Ver 7. And he put forth a parable to those which were bidden, when he marked how they chose out the chief rooms; saying to them,8. When you are bidden of any man to a wedding, sit not down in the highest room; lest a more honor man than you be bidden of him;9. And he that bade you and him come and say to you, Give this man place; and you begin with shame to take the lowest room. 10. But when you are bidden, go and sit down in the lowest room; that when he that bade you comes, he may say to you, Friend, go up higher: then shall you have worship in the presence of them that sit at meat with you. 11. For whosoever exalts himself shall be abased; and he that humbles himself shall be exalted.
AMBROSE First the dropsical man is cured, in whom the abundant discharges of the flesh crushed down the powers of the soul quenched the ardor of the Spirit. Next, humility is taught, when at the nuptial feast the desire of the highest place is forbidden. As it is said, And he spoke, Sit not down in the highest room.
CYRIL For to rush forward hastily to honors which are not fitting for us, indicates rashness. and casts a slur upon our actions. Hence it follows, lest a more honorable man than you be invited, &c.
CHRYS. And so the seeker of honor obtained not that which he coveted, but suffered a defeat, and busying himself how he might be loaded with honors, is treated with dishonor. And because nothing is of so much worth as modesty, He leads His hearer to the opposite of this; not only for- him to seek the highest place, but bidding him search for the lowest. As it follows; But when you are bidden go and sit down in the lowest room.
CYRIL For if a man wishes not to be set before others, he obtains this honor according to the divine word. As it follows; That when he that bade you comes, he may say to you, Friend, go up higher. In these words He does not harshly chide, but gently admonishes; for a word of advice is enough for the wise. And thus for their humility men are crowned with honors; as it follows, Then shall you have worship.
BASIL To take then the lowest place at a feast, according to our Lord"s command, is becoming to every man, but again to rush contentiously after this is to be condemned as a breach of order and cause of tumult; and a strife raised about it, will place you on a level with those who dispute concerning the highest place. Wherefore, as our Lord here says, it becomes him who makes the feast to arrange the order of sitting down. Thus in patience and love should we mutually bear ourselves, following all things decently according to order, not for external appearance or public display; nor should we seem to study or affect humility by violent contradiction, but rather gain it by condescension or by patience. For resistance or opposition is a far stronger token of pride than taking the first seat at meat, when we obtain it by authority.
THEOPHYL. Now let no one deem the above precepts of Christ to be trifling, and unworthy of the sublimity and grandeur of the Word of God. For you would not call him a merciful physician who professed to heal the gout, but refilled to cure a scar on the finger or a tooth-ache. Besides, how can that passion of vainglory appear slight, which moved or agitated those who sought the first seats. It became then the Master of humility to cut off every branch of the bad root. But observe this also, that when the supper was ready, and the wretched guests were contending for precedency before the eyes of the Savior, there was a fit occasion for advice.
CYRIL Having shown therefore from so slight an example the degradation of the ambitious and the exaltation of the humble-minded, He adds a great thing to a little, pronouncing a general sentence, as it follows, For every one who exalts himself shall be abased, and he that humbles himself shall be exalted. This is spoken according to the divine judgment, not after human experience, in which they who desire after glory obtain it, while others who humble themselves remain inglorious.
THEOPHYL. Moreover, he is not to be respected in the end, nor by all men, who thrusts himself into honors; but while by some he is honored, by others he is disparaged, and sometimes even by the very men who outwardly honor him.
BEDE But as the Evangelist calls this admonition a parable, we must briefly examine what is its mystical meaning. Whosoever being bidden has come to the marriage feast of Christ"s Church, being united to the members of the Church by faith, let him not exalt himself as higher than others by boasting of his merits. For he will have to give place to one more honorable who is bidden afterwards, seeing that he is overtaken by the activity of those who followed him, and with shame he occupies the lowest place, now that knowing better things of the others he brings low whatever high thoughts he once had of his own works. But a man sits in the lowest place according to that verse, The greater you are, humble yourself in all things. But the Lord when He comes, whomsoever He shall find humble, blessing him with the name of friend, He will command him to go up higher. For whoever humbles himself as a little child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. But it is well said, Then shall you have glory, that you may not begin to seek now what is kept for you in the end. It may also be understood, even in this life, for daily does God come to His marriage feast, despising the proud; and often giving to the humble such great gifts of His Spirit, that the assembly of those who sit at meat, i.e. the faithful, glorify them in wonder. But in the general conclusion which is added, it is plainly declared that the preceding discourse of our Lord must be understood typically. For not every one who exalts himself before men is abased; nor is he who humbles himself in their sight, exalted by them. But whoever exalts himself because of his merits, the Lord shall bring low, and him who humbles himself on account of his mercies, shall He exalt.
Ver 12. Then said he also to him that bade him, When you make a dinner or a supper, call not your friends, nor your brethren, neither your kinsmen, nor your rich neighbors; lest they also bid you again, and recompense be made you. 13. But when you makes a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind:14. And you shall be blessed; for they cannot recompense thee: for you shall be recompensed at the resurrection of the just.
THEOPHYL. The supper being composed of two parties, the invited and the inviter, and having already exhorted the invited to humility, He next rewards by His advice the inviter, guarding him against making a feast to gain the favor of men. Hence it is said, Then said he also to him that bade him, When you makes a dinner or a supper, call not your friends.
CHRYS. Many are the sources from which friendships are made. Leaving out all unlawful ones, we shall speak only of those which are natural and moral; the natural are, for instance, between father and son, brother and brother, and such like; which He meant, saying, Nor your brethren, nor your kinsmen; the moral, when a man has become your guest or neighbor; and with reference to these He says, nor your neighbors.
BEDE Brothers then, and friends, and the rich, are not forbidden, as though it were a crime to entertain one another, but this, like all the other necessary intercourse among men, is strewn to fail in meriting the reward of everlasting life; as it follows, Lest perchance they also bid you again, and a recompense be made you. He says not, "and sin be committed against you." And the like to this He speaks in another place, And if you do good to those who do good to you, what thank have you? There are however certain mutual feastings of brothers and neighbors, which not only incur a retribution in this life, but also condemnation hereafter. And these are celebrated by the general gathering together of all, or the hospitality in turn of each one of the company; and they meet together that they may perpetrate foul deeds, and through excess of wine be provoked to all kinds of lustful pleasure.
CHRYS. Let us not then bestow kindness on others under the hope of return. For this is a cold motive, and hence it is that such a friendship soon vanishes. But if you invite the poor, God, who never forgets, will be your debtor, as it follows, But when you make a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, and the blind.
CHRYS. For the humbler our brother is, so much c the more does Christ come through him and visit us. For he who entertains a great man does it often from vainglory. And elsewhere, But very often interest is his object, that through such a one he may gain promotion. I could indeed mention many who for this pay court to the most distinguished of the nobles, that through their assistance they may obtain the greater favor from the prince. Let us not then ask those who can recompense us, as it follows, And you shall be blessed, for they cannot recompense you. And let us not be troubled when we receive no return of a kindness, but when we do; for if we have received it we shall receive nothing more, but if man does not repay us, God will. As it follows, For you shall be recompensed at the resurrection of the just.
BEDE And though all rise again, yet it is called the resurrection of the just, because in the resurrection they doubt not that they are blessed. Whoever then bids the poor to his feast shall receive a reward hereafter. But he who invites his friends, brothers, and the rich, has received his reward. But if he does this for God"s sake after the example of the sons of Job, God, who Himself commanded all the duties of brotherly love, will reward him.
CHRYS. But you say, the poor are unclean and filthy. Wash him, and make him to sit with you at table. If he has dirty garments, give him clean ones. Christ comes to thee through him, and do you stand trifling?
GREG. NYSS. Do not then let them lie as though they were nothing worth. Reflect who they are, and you will discover their preciousness. They have put on the image of the Savior. Heirs of future blessings, bearing the keys of the kingdom, able accusers and excusers, not speaking themselves, but examined by the judge.
CHRYS. It would become you then to receive them above in the best chamber, but if you shrink, at least admit Christ below, where are the menials and servants. Let the poor man be at least your door keeper. For where there is alms, the devil durst not enter. And if you sit not down with them, at any rate send them the dishes from your table.
ORIGEN But mystically, he who shuns vain-glory calls to a spiritual banquet the poor, that is, the ignorant, that he may enrich them; the weak, that is, those with offended consciences, that he may heal them; the lame, that is, those who have wandered from reason, that he may make their paths straight; the blind, that is, those who discern not the truth, that they may behold the true light. But it is said, They cannot recompense thee, i.e. they know not how to return an answer
Ver 15. And when one of them that sat at meat with him heard these things, he said to him, Blessed is he that shall eat bread in the kingdom of God. 16. Then said he to him, A certain man made a great supper, and bade many:17. And sent his servant at supper time to say to them that were bidden, Come; for all things are now ready. 18. And they all with one consent began to make excuse. The first said to him, I have bought a piece of ground, and I must needs go and see it: I pray you have me excused. 19. And another said, I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove them: I pray you have me excused. 20. And another said, I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come. 21. So that servant came, and showed his lord these things. Then the master of the house being angry said to his servant, Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in hither the poor, and the maimed, and the halt, and the blind. 22. And the servant said, Lord, it is done as you have commanded, and yet there is room. 23. And the lord said to the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled. 24. For I say to you, That none of those men which were bidden shall taste of my supper.
EUSEB. Our Lord had just before taught us to prepare our feasts for those who cannot repay, seeing that we shall have our reward at the resurrection of the just. Some one then, supposing the resurrection of the just to be one and the same with the kingdom of God, commends the above-mentioned recompense; for it follows, When one of them that sat at meat with him heard these things, he said to him, Blessed is he that shall eat bread in the kingdom of God.
CYRIL That man was carnal, and a careless hearer of the things which Christ delivered, for he thought the reward of the saints was to be bodily.
AUG. Or because he sighed for something afar off, and that bread which he desired lay before him. For who is that Bread of the kingdom of God but He who says, I am the living bread which came down from heaven? Open not your mouth, but your heart.
BEDE But because some receive this bread by faith merely, as if by smelling, but its sweetness they loathe to really touch with their mouths, our Lord by the following parable condemns the dullness of those men to be unworthy of the heavenly banquet. For it follows, But he said to him, A certain man made a great supper, and bade many.
CYRIL This man represents God the Father just as images are formed to give the resemblance of power. For as often as God wishes to declare His avenging power, He is called by the names of bear, leopard, lion, and others of the same kind; but when He wishes to express mercy, by the name of man. The Maker of all things, therefore, and Father of Glory, or the Lord, prepared the great supper which was finished in Christ.
For in these latter times, and as it were the setting of our world, the Son of God has shone upon us, and enduring death for our sakes, has given us His own body to eat. Hence also the lamb was sacrificed in the evening according to the Mosaic law. Rightly then was the banquet which was prepared in Christ called a supper.
GREG. Or he made a great supper, as having prepared for us the full enjoyment of eternal sweetness. He bade many, but few came, because sometimes they who themselves are subject to him by faith, by their lives oppose his eternal banquet. And this is generally the difference between the delights of the body and the soul, that fleshly delights when not possessed provoke a longing desire for them, but when possessed and devoured, the eater soon turns from satiety to loathing; spiritual delights, on the other hand, when not possessed are loathed, when possessed the more desired. But heavenly mercy recalls those despised delights to the eyes of our memory, and in order that we should drive away our disgust, bids us to the feast. Hence it follows, And he sent his servant, &c.
CYRIL That servant who was sent is Christ Himself, who being by nature God and the true Son of God, emptied Himself, and took upon Him the form of a servant. But He was sent at supper time. For not in the beginning did the Word take upon Him our nature, but in the last time; and he adds, For all things are ready. For the Father prepared in Christ the good things bestowed upon the world through Him, the removal of sins, the participation of the Holy Spirit, the glory of adoption. To these Christ bade men by the teaching of the Gospel.
AUG. Or else, the Man is the Mediator between God and man, Christ Jesus; He sent that they who were bidden might come, i.e. those who were called by the prophets whom He had sent; who in the former times invited to the supper of Christ, were often sent to the people of Israel, often bade them to come at supper time. They received the inviters, refused the supper. They received the prophets and killed Christ, and thus ignorantly prepared for us the supper. The supper being now ready, i.e. Christ being sacrificed, the Apostles were sent to those, to whom prophets had been sent before.
GREG. By this servant then who is sent by the master of the family to bid to supper, the order of preachers is signified. But it is often the case that a powerful person has a despised servant, and when his Lord orders any thing through him, the servant speaking is not despised, because respect for the master who sends him is still kept up in the heart. Our Lord then offers what he ought to be asked for, not ask others to receive. He wishes to give what could scarcely be hoped for; yet all begin at once to make excuse, for it follows, And they all began with one consent to make excuse. Behold a rich man invites, and the poor hasten to come. We are invited to the banquet of God, and we make excuse.
AUG. Now there were three excuses, of which it is added, The first said to him, I have bought a piece of ground, and I must needs go and see it. The bought piece of ground denotes government. Therefore pride is the first vice reproved. For the first man wished to rule, not willing to have a master.
GREG. Or by the piece of ground is meant worldly substance. Therefore he goes out to see it who thinks only of outward things for the sake of his living.
AMBROSE Thus it is that the worn out soldier is appointed to serve degraded offices, as he who intent upon things below buys for himself earthly possessions, can not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Our Lord says, Sell all that you have, and follow me.
It follows, And another said, I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove them.
AUG. The five yoke of oxen are taken to be the five senses of the flesh; in the eyes sight, in the ears hearing, in the nostrils smelling, in the mouth taste, in all the members touch. But the yoke is more easily apparent in the three first senses; two eyes, two ears, two nostrils. Here are three yoke. And in the mouth is the sense of taste which is forma to be a kind of double, in that nothing is sensible to the taste, which is not touched both by the tongue and palate. The pleasure of the flesh which belongs to the touch is secretly doubled. It is both outward and inward. But they are called yoke of oxen, because through those senses of the flesh earthly things are pursued. For the oxen till the ground, but men at a distance from faith, given up to earthly things, refuse to believe in any thing, but what they arrive at by means of the five-fold sense of the body. "I believe nothing but what I see." If such were our thoughts, we should be hindered from the supper by those five yoke of oxen. But that you may understand that it is not the delight of the five senses which charms and conveys pleasure, but that a certain curiosity is denoted, he says not, I have bought five yoke of oxen, and go to feed them, but go to prove them.
GREG. By the bodily senses also because they cannot comprehend things within, but take cognizance only of what is without, curiosity is rightly represented, which while it seeks to shake off a life which is strange to it, not knowing its own secret life, desires to dwell upon things without. But we must observe, that the one who for his farm, and the other who to prove his five yoke of oxen, excuse themselves from the supper of their Inviter, mix up with their excuse the words of humility. For when they say, I pray you, and then disdain to come, the word sounds of humility, but the action is pride. It follows, And this said, I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.
AUG. That is the delight of the flesh which hinders many, I wish it were outward and not inward. For he who said, I have married a wife, taking pleasure in the delights of the flesh, excuses himself from the supper; let such a one take heed lest he die from inward hunger.
BASIL But he says, I cannot come, because that the human mind when it is degenerating to worldly pleasures, is feeble in attending to the things of God.
GREG. But although marriage is good, and appointed by Divine Providence for the propagation of children, some seek therein not fruitfulness of offspring, but the lust of pleasure. And so by means of a righteous thing may not unfitly an unrighteous thing be represented.
AMBROSE Or marriage is not blamed; but purity is held up to greater honor, since the unmarried woman cares for the things of the Lord, that she may be holy in body and spirit, but she that is married cares for the things of the world.
AUG. Now John when he said, all that is in the world is the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, began from the point where the Gospel ended. The lust of the flesh, I have married a wife; the lust of the eyes, I have bought five yoke of oxen; the pride of life, I have bought a farm. But proceeding from a part to the whole, the five senses have been spoken of under the eyes alone, which hold the chief place among the five senses. Because though properly the sight belongs to the eyes, we are in the habit of ascribing the act of seeing to all the five senses.
CYRIL But whom can we suppose these to be who refused to come for the reason just mentioned, but the rulers of the Jews, whom throughout the sacred history we find to have been often reproved for these things?
ORIGEN Or else, they who have bought a piece of ground and reject or refuse the supper, are they who have taken other doctrines of divinity, but have despised the word which they possessed. But he who has bought five yoke of oxen is he who neglects his intellectual nature, and follows the things of sense, therefore he cannot comprehend a spiritual nature. But he who has married a wife is he who is joined to the flesh, a lover of pleasure rather than of God.
AMBROSE Or let us suppose that three classes of men are excluded from partaking of that supper, Gentiles, Jews, Heretics. The Jews by their fleshly service impose upon themselves the yoke of the law, for the five yoke are the yoke of the Ten Commandments, of which it is said, And he declared to you his covenant, which he commanded you to perform, even ten commandments; and he wrote them upon two tables of stone. That is, the commands of the Decalogue. Or the five yoke are the five books of the old law. But heresy indeed, like Eve with a woman"s obstinacy, tries the affection of faith. And the Apostle says that we must flee from covetousness, lest entangled in the customs of the Gentiles we be unable to come to the kingdom of Christ. Therefore both he who has bought a farm is a stranger to the kingdom, and he who has chosen the yoke of the law rather than the gift of grace, and he also who excuses himself because he has married a wife.
It follows, And the servant returned, and told these things to his Lord.
AUG. Not for the sake of knowing inferior beings does God require messengers, as though He gained aught from them, for He knows all things steadfastly and unchangeably. But he has messengers for our sakes and their own, because to be present with God, and stand before Him so as to consult Him about His subjects, and obey His heavenly commandments, is good for them in the order of their own nature.
CYRIL But with the rulers of the Jews who refused their call, as they themselves confessed, Have any of the rulers believed on him? the Master of the household was wroth, as with them that deserved His indignation and anger; whence it follows, Then the master of the house being angry, &c.
PSEUDO-BASIL Not that the passion of anger belongs to the Divine substance, but an operation such as in us is caused by anger, is called the anger and indignation of God.
CYRIL Thus it was that the master of the house is said to have been enraged with the chiefs of the Jews, and in their stead were called men taken from out of the Jewish multitude, and of weak and impotent minds. For at Peter"s preaching, first indeed three thousand, then five thousand believed, and afterwards much people; whence it follows, He said to his servant, Go out straightway into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in hither the poor, and the maimed, and the halt, and the blind.
AMBROSE He invites the poor, the weak, and the blind, to show that weakness of body shuts out no one from the kingdom of heaven, and that he is guilty of fewer sins who lacks the incitement to sin; or that the infirmities of sin are forgiven through the mercy of God. Therefore he sends to the streets, that from the broader ways they may come to the narrow way.
Because then the proud refuse to come, the poor are chosen, since they are called weak and poor who are weak in their own judgment of themselves, for there are poor, and yet as it were strong, who though lying in poverty are proud, the blind are they who have no brightness of understanding; the lame are they who have walked not uprightly in their works. But since the faults of these are expressed in the weakness of their members, as those were sinners who when bidden refused to come, so also are these who are invited and come; but the proud sinners are rejected, the humble are chosen. God then chooses those whom the world despises, because for the most part the very act of contempt recalls a man to himself. And men so much the sooner hear the voice of God, as they have nothing in this world to take pleasure in. When then the Lord calls certain from the streets and lanes to supper, He denotes that people who had learnt to observe in the city the constant practice of the law. But the multitude who believed of the people of Israel did not fill the places of the upper feast room.
Hence it follows, And the servant said, Lord, it is done as you have commanded, and yet there is room. For already had great numbers of the Jews entered, but yet there was room in the kingdom for the abundance of the Gentiles to be received.
Therefore it is added, And the Lord said to the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled. When He commanded His guests to be collected from the wayside and the hedges, He sought for a rural people, that is, the Gentiles.
AMBROSE Or, He sends to the highways and about the hedges, because they are fit for the kingdom of God, who, not absorbed in the desire for present goods, are hastening on to the future, set in a certain fixed path of good will. And who like a hedge which separates the cultivated ground from the uncultivated, and keeps off the incursion of the cattle, know how to distinguish good and evil, and to hold up the shield of faith against the temptations of spiritual wickedness.
AUG. The Gentiles came from the streets and lanes, the heretics come from the hedges. For they who make a hedge seek for a division; let them be drawn away from the hedges, plucked asunder from the thorns. But they are unwilling to be compelled. By our own will, say they, will we enter. Compel them to enter, He says. Let necessity be used from without, thence arises a will.
GREG. They then who, broken down by the calamities of this world, return to the love of God, are compelled to enter. But very terrible is the sentence which comes next. For I say to you, That none of those men which were bidden shall taste of my supper. Let no one then despise the call, lest if when bidden he make excuse, when he wishes to enter he shall not be able.
And there went great multitudes with him: and he turned, and said to them,26. If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. 27. And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.
GREG. The mind is kindled, when it hears of heavenly rewards, and already desires to be there, where it hopes to enjoy them without ceasing; but great rewards cannot be reached except by great labors. Therefore it is said, And there went great multitudes to him: and he turned to them, and said, &c.
THEOPHYL. For because many of those that accompanied Him followed not with their whole heart, but lukewarmly, He shows what kind of a man his disciple ought to be.
GREG. But it may be asked, how are we bid to hate our parents and our relations in the flesh, who are commanded to love even our enemies? But if we weigh the force of the command we are able to do both, by rightly distinguishing them so as both to love those who are united to us by the bond of the flesh, and whom we acknowledge our relations, and by hating and avoiding not to know those whom we find our enemies in the way of God. For he is as it were loved by hatred, who in his carnal wisdom, pouring into our ears his evil sayings, is not heard.
AMBROSE For if for your sake the Lord renounces His own mother, saying, Who is my mother? and who are my brethren? why do you deserve to be preferred to your Lord? But the Lord will have us neither be ignorant of nature, nor be her slaves, but so to submit to nature, that we reverence the Author of nature, and depart not from God out of love to our parents.
GREG. Now to show that this hatred towards relations proceeds not from inclination or passion, but from love, our Lord adds, yes, and his own life also. It is plain therefore that a man ought to hate his neighbor, by loving as himself him who hated him. For then we rightly hate our own soul when we indulge not its carnal desires, when we subdue its appetites, and wrestle against its pleasures. That which by being despised is brought to a better condition, is as it were loved by hatred.
CYRIL But life must not be renounced, which both in the body and the soul the blessed Paul also preserved, that yet living in the body he might preach Christ. But when it was necessary to despise life so that he might. finish his course, he counts not his life dear to him.
GREG. How the hatred of life ought to be strewn He declares as follows; Whosoever bears not his cross, &c.
CHRYS. He means not that we should place a beam of wood on our shoulders, but that we should ever have death before our eyes. As also Paul died daily and despised death.
BASIL By bearing the cross also he announced the death of his Lord, saying, The world is crucified to me, and I to the world, which we also anticipate at our very baptism, in which our old man is crucified, that the body of sin may be destroyed.
GREG. Or because the cross is so called from torturing. In two ways we bear our Lord"s cross, either when by abstinence we afflict our bodies, or when through compassion of our neighbor we think all his necessities our own. But because some exercise abstinence of the flesh not for God"s sake but for vain-glory, and show compassion, not spiritually but carnally, it is rightly added, And comes after me. For to bear His cross and come after the Lord, is to use abstinence of the flesh, or compassion to our neighbor, from the desire of an eternal gain.
Ver 28. For which of you, intending to build a tower, sits not down first, and counts the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it?29. Lest haply, after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him,30. Saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish. 31. Or what king, going to make war against another king, sits not down first, and consults whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that comes against him with twenty thousand?32. Or else, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends an ambassage, and desires conditions of peace. 33. So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsakes not all that he has, he cannot be my disciple.
GREG. Because He had been giving high and lofty precepts, immediately follows the comparison of building a tower, when it is said, For which of you intending to build a tower does not first count &c. For every thing that we do should be preceded by anxious consideration. If then we desire to build a tower of humility, we ought first to brace ourselves against the ills of this world.
BASIL Or the tower is a lofty watch-tower fitted for the guardianship of the city and the discovery of the enemy"s approach. In like manner was our understanding given us to preserve the good, to guard against the evil. For the building up whereof the Lord bids us sit down and count our means if we have sufficient to finish.
GREG. NYSS. For we must be ever pressing onward that we may reach the end of each difficult undertaking by successive increases of the commandments of God, and so to the completion of the divine work. For neither is one stone the whole fabric of the tower, nor does a single command lead to the perfection of the soul. But we must lay the foundation, and according to the Apostle, thereupon must be placed store of gold, silver, and precious stones. Whence it is added, Lest haply after he has laid the foundation, &c.
THEOPHYL. For we ought not to lay a foundation, i.e. begin to follow Christ, and not bring the work to an end, as those of whom St. John writes, That many of his disciples went back. Or by the foundation understand the word of teaching, as for instance concerning abstinence. There is need therefore of the above-mentioned foundation, that the building up of our works be established, a tower of strength from the face of the enemy. Otherwise, man is laughed at by those who see him, men as well as devils.
GREG. For when occupied in good works, unless we watch carefully against the evil spirits, we find those our mockers who are persuading us to evil. But another comparison is added proceeding from the less to the greater, in order that from the least things the greatest may be estimated. For it follows, Or what king, going to make war against another king, sits not down first, and consults whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that comes against him with twenty thousand
CYRIL For we fight: against spiritual wickedness in high places; but there presses upon us a multitude also of other enemies, fleshly lust, the law of sin raging in our members, and various passions, that is, a dreadful multitude of enemies.
AUG. Or the ten thousand of him who is going to fight with the king who has twenty, signify the simplicity of the Christian about to contend with the subtlety of the devil.
THEOPHYL. The king is sin reigning in our mortal body; but our understanding also was created king. If then he wishes to fight against sin, let him consider with his whole mind. For the devils are the satellites of sin, which being twenty thousand, seem to surpass in number our ten thousand, because that being spiritual compared to us who are corporeal, they are come to have much greater strength.
AUG. But as with respect to the unfinished tower, he alarms us by the reproaches of those who say, The man began to build, I and was not able to finish, so with regard to the king with whom the battle was to be, he reproved even peace, adding, Or else, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends an ambassage, and desires conditions of peace; signifying that those also who forsake all they possess cannot endure from the devil the threats of even coming temptations, and make peace with him by consenting to him to commit sin.
GREG. Or else, in that awful trial we come not to the judgment a match for our king, for ten thousand are against twenty thousand, two against one. He comes with a double army against a single. For while we are scarcely prepared in deeds only, he sifts us at once both in thought and deed. While then he is yet afar off, who though still present in judgment, is not seen, let us send him an embassy, our tears, our works of mercy, the propitiatory victim. This is our message which appeases the coming king.
AUG. Now to what these comparisons refer, He on the same occasion sufficiently explained, when he said, So likewise whosoever he be of you that forsakes not all that he has, he cannot be my disciple. The cost therefore of building the tower, and the strength of the ten thousand against the king who has twenty thousand, mean nothing else than that each one should forsake all that he has. The foregoing introduction tallies then with the final conclusion. For in the saying that a man forsakes all that he has, is contained also that he hates his father and mother, his wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes and his own wife also. For all these things are a man"s own, which entangle him, and hinder him from obtaining not those particular possessions which will pass away with time, but those common blessings which will abide for ever.
BASIL But our Lord"s intention in the above-mentioned example is not indeed to afford occasion or give liberty to any one to become His disciple or not, as indeed it is lawful not to begin a foundation, or not to treat of peace, but to show the impossibility of pleasing God, amidst those things which distract the soul, and in which it is in danger of becoming an easy prey to the snares and wiles of the devil.
BEDE But there is a difference between renouncing all things and leaving all things. For it is the way of few perfect men to leave all things, that is, to cast behind them the cares of the world, but it is the part of all the faithful to renounce all things, that is, so to hold the things of" the world as by them not to be held in the world.
Salt is good: but if the salt have lost his savor, wherewith shall it be seasoned?35. It is neither fit for the land, nor yet for the dunghill; but men cast it out. He that has ears to hear, let him hear.
BEDE He had said above that the tower of virtue w as not only to be begun, but also to be completed, and to this belongs the following, Salt is good. It is a good thing to season the secrets of the heart with the salt of spiritual wisdom, nay with the Apostles to become the salt of the earth. For salt in substance consists of water and air, having a slight mixture of earth, but it dries up the fluent nature of corrupt bodies so as to preserve e them from decay. Fitly then He compares His disciples to salt, inasmuch as they are regenerated by water and the Spirit; and as living altogether spiritually and not according to the flesh, they after the manner of salt change the corrupt life of men who live on the earth, and by their own virtuous lives delight and season their followers.
THEOPHYL. But not only those who are gifted with the grace of teachers, but private individuals also He requires to become like salt, useful to those around them. But if" he who is to be useful to others becomes reprobate, he cannot be profited, as it follows, But if the salt has lost his savor, wherewith shall it be seasoned?
BEDE As if He says, "If a man who has once been enlightened by the seasoning of truth, falls back into apostasy, by what other teacher shall he be corrected, seeing that the sweetness of wisdom which he tasted he has cast away, alarmed by the troubles or allured by the attractions of the world; hence it follows, It is neither fit for the land, nor yet to the dunghill, &c. For salt when it has ceased to be fit for seasoning food and drying flesh, will be good for nothing. For neither is it useful to the land, which when it is cast thereon is hindered from bearing, nor for the dunghill to benefit the dressing of the land. So he who after knowledge of the truth falls back, is neither able to bring forth the fruit of good works himself, nor to instruct others; but he must be cast out of doors, that is, must be separated from the unity of the Church.
THEOPHYL. But because His discourse w as in parables and dark sayings, our Lord, in order to rouse His hearers that they might not receive indifferently what was said of the salt, adds, He that has ears to hear, let him hear, that is, as he has wisdom let him understand. For we must take the ears here as the perceptive power of the mind and capacity of understanding.
BEDE Let him hear also not by despising, but by doing what he has learnt.
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Aquinas, Thomas. "Commentary on Luke 14". "Golden Chain Commentary on the Gospel". https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany