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Ver 1. And it came to pass on the second sabbath after the first, that he went through the corn fields; and his disciples plucked the ears of corn, and did eat, rubbing them in their hands.2. And certain of the Pharisees said to them, Why do you that which is not lawful to do on the sabbath days?3. And Jesus answering them said, Have you not read so much as this, what David did, when himself was an hungered, and they which were with him;4. How he went into the house of God, and did take and eat the show-bread, and gave also to them that were with him; which it is not lawful to eat but for the Priests alone?5. And he said to them, That the Son of man is Lord also of the sabbath.
AMBROSE; Not only in the form of expression but in His very practice and mode of action, did the Lord begin to absolve man from the observance of the old law. Hence it is said, And it came to pass that he went through the corn fields, &c.
THEOPHYL; For His disciples having no opportunity for eating because the multitudes thronged so, were naturally hungry, but by plucking the ears of corn they relieved their hunger, which is a mark of a strict habit of life, not seeking for prepared meats, but mere simple food.
THEOPHYL. Now He says, on the second sabbath after the first, because the Jews called every feast a sabbath. For sabbath means rest. Frequently therefore was there feasting at the preparation, and they called the preparation a sabbath because of the feast, and hence they gave to the principal sabbath the name of the second-first, as being the second in consequence of the festival of the day preceding.
CHRYS. For there was a double feast; one on the principal sabbath, another on the next solemn day succeeding, which was also called a sabbath.
ISIDORE; He says, On the second-first, because it was the second day of the Passover, but the first of unleavened bread. Having killed the passover, on the very next day they kept the feast of unleavened bread. And it is plain that this was so from the fact, that the Apostles plucked ears of corn and ate them, for at that time the ears are weighed down by the fruit.
EPIPH. On the sabbath day then they were seen passing through the corn fields, and eating the corn, showing that the bonds of the sabbath were loosened, when the great Sabbath was come in Christ, Who made us to rest from the working of our iniquities.
CYRIL; But the Pharisees and Scribes not knowing the Holy Scriptures agreed together to find fault with Christ’s disciples, as it follows, And certain of the Pharisees said to them, Why do you, &c. Tell me now, when a table is set before you on the sabbath day; do you not break bread? Why then do you blame others?
THEOPHYL; But some say that these things were objected to our Lord Himself; they might indeed have been objected by different persons, both to our Lord Himself and His disciples, but to whomsoever the objection is made, it chiefly refers to Him.
AMBROSE; But the Lord proves the defenders of the law to be ignorant of what belongs to the law, bringing the example of David; as it follows, And Jesus answering said to them, Have you not read so much as this, &c.
CYRIL; As if He said, Whereas the law of Moses expressly says, Give a righteous judgment and you shall not respect persons in judgment, how now do you blame My disciples, who even to this day extol David as a saint and prophet, though he kept not the commandment of Moses?
CHRYS. And mark, that whenever the Lord speaks for His servants, (i.e. His disciples,) He brings forward servants, as for example David and the Priests; but when for Himself; He introduces His Father; as in that place, My Father works hitherto, and I work.
THEOPHYL. But he reproves them in another way, as it is added, And he said to them, that the Son of man is Lord also of the sabbath. As if he said, I am the Lord of the sabbath, as being He who ordained it, and as the Legislator I have power to loose the sabbath; for Christ was called the Son of man, who being the Son of God yet condescended in a miraculous manner to be made and called for man’s sake the Son of man.
CHRYS. But Mark declares that He uttered this of our common nature, for He said, The sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath. It is therefore more fitting that the sabbath should be subject to man, than that man should bow his neck to the sabbath.
AMBROSE; But herein is a great mystery. For the field is the whole world, the corn is the abundant harvest of the saints in the seed of the human race, the ears of corn are the fruits of the Church, which the Apostles shaking off by their works fed upon, nourishing themselves with our increase, and by their mighty miracles, as it were out of the bodily husks, plucking forth the fruits of the mind to the light of faith.
THEOPHYL; For they bruise the ears in their hands, because when they wish to bring others over into the body of Christ, they mortify their old man with its acts drawing them away from worldly thoughts.
AMBROSE; Now the Jews thought this unlawful on the Sabbath, but Christ by the gift of new grace represented hereby the rest of the law, the work of grace. Wonderfully has He called it the second-first sabbath, not the first-second, because that was loosed from the law which was first, and this is made first which was ordained second. It is therefore called the second sabbath according to number, the first according to the grace of the wolf. For that sabbath is better where there is no penalty, than that where there is a penalty prescribed. Or this perhaps was first in the foreknowledge of wisdom, and second in the sanction of the ordinance.
Now in David escaping with his companions, there was a foreshadowing of Christ in the law, who with His Apostles escaped the prince of the world. But how was it that the Observer and Defender of the law Himself both eat the bread, and gave it to those that were with Him, which no one was allowed to eat but the priests, except that He might show by that figure that the priests’ bread was to come over to the use of the people, or that we ought to imitate the priests’ life, or that all the children of the Church are priests, for we are anointed into a holy priesthood, offering ourselves a spiritual sacrifice to God. But if the sabbath was made for men, and the benefit of men required that a man when hungry (having been long without the fruits of the earth) should forsake the abstinence of the old fast, the law is surely not broken but fulfilled.
Ver 6. And it came to pass also on another sabbath, that he entered into the synagogue and taught: and there was a man whose right hand was withered.7. And the Scribes and Pharisees watched him, whether he would heal on the sabbath day; that they might find an accusation against him.8. But he knew their thoughts, and said to the man which had the withered hand, Rise up, and stand forth in the midst. And he arose and stood forth.9. Then said Jesus to them, I will ask you one thing; Is it lawful on the sabbath days to do good, or to do evil? to save life, or to destroy it?10. And looking round about upon them all, he said to the man, Stretch forth your hand. And he did so: and his hand was restored whole as the other.11. And they were filled with madness; and communed one with another what they might do to Jesus.
AMBROSE; The Lord now proceeds to another work. For He who had determined to make the whole man safe, was able to cure each member. Hence it is said, And it came to pass also on another sabbath, that he entered into the synagogue and taught.
THEOPHYL; He chiefly heals and teaches on the sabbaths, not only to convey the meaning of a spiritual sabbath, but because of the more numerous assembly of the people.
CYRIL; But He taught things far beyond their comprehension, and opened to his hearers the way to future salvation by Him; and then after having first taught them, He suddenly showed His divine power, as it follows, and there was a man there whose right hand was withered.
THEOPHYL; But since the Master had excused by an undeniable example the breach of the sabbath, with which they charged His disciples, their object is now by watching to bring a false accusation against the Master Himself. As it follows, And the Scribes and Pharisees watched him, if he would heal on the sabbath, that if He did not, they might accuse Him of cruelty or impotence; if He did, of violation of the sabbath. Hence it follows, that they might find an accusation against him.
CYRIL; For this is the way of the envious man, he feeds in himself his pang of grief with the praises of others. But the Lord knew all things, and searches the hearts; as it follows, But he knew their thoughts, and said to the man who had the withered hand, Rise up, and stand. And he arose, and stood forth, that perchance he might stir up the cruel Pharisees to pity, and allay the flames of their passion.
THEOPHYL; But the Lord anticipating the false charge which they were preparing against Him, reproves those who by wrongly interpreting the law thought that they must rest on the sabbath-day even from good works; whereas the law commands us to abstain from servile works, i.e. from evil, on the sabbath. Hence it follows, Then said Jesus to them, I ask you, Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath, &c.
CYRIL; This is a very useful question, for if it is lawful to do good on the sabbath, and there is no reason why those who work should not obtain mercy from God, cease to gather up accusation against Christ. But if it be not lawful to do good on the sabbath, and the law prohibits the safety of life, you are become the accuser of the law. For if we examine the very institution of the sabbath, we shall find it was introduced for an object of mercy, for God commanded to keep holy the sabbath, that may rest your man servant and your maid servant, and all your cattle. But he who has mercy on his ox, and the rest of his cattle, how much rather will he not have mercy on man troubled with a severe disease?
AMBROSE; But the law by things present prefigured the form of things future, among which surely the days of rest to come are to be not from good works but from evil. For although secular works may be given up, yet it is no idle act of a good work to rest in the praise of God.
AUG. But though our Lord was healing the body, He asked this question, "is it lawful to save the soul or to lose it?" either because He performed His miracles on account of faith in which is the salvation of the soul; or, because the cure of the right hand signified the salvation of the soul, which ceasing to do good works, seemed in some measure to have a withered right hand, i.e. He placed the soul for the man, as men are wont to say, "So many souls were there."
AUG. But it may be questioned how Matthew came to say, that they asked the Lord, whether it was lawful to heal on the sabbath, when Luke in this place states that they rather were asked of the Lord. We must therefore believe that they first asked the Lord, and that then He understanding by their thoughts that they sought an opportunity to accuse Him, placed the man in the midst whom He was going to heal, and asked the question which Mark and Luke relate Him to have asked. It follows, And looking round about upon them all.
TITUS BOS. When the eyes of all were, as it were riveted together, and their minds also fixed upon the consideration of the matter, he said to the man, Stretch forth your hand; I command you, Who created man. But he who had the withered hand hears, and is made whole hole, as it follows, And be stretched it, and it was restored.
But they who should have been astonished at the miracle, increased in malice; as it follows, But they were filled with madness; and communed one with another what they should do to Jesus.
CHRYS. And as Matthew relates, they go out to take counsel, that they should kill him.
CYRIL; You perceive, O Pharisee, a divine Worker, and Him Who delivers the sick by His heavenly power, and out of envy you breath forth death.
THEOPHYL; The man represents the human race, withered by the unfruitfulness of good works, because of the hand in our first parent stretched forth to take the apple, which was healed by the innocent hand stretched forth on the cross. And rightly was the withered hand in the synagogue, because where there is the greater gift of knowledge, there the transgressor lies under the greater blame.
AMBROSE; You have heard then the words of Him who says, Stretch forth your hand. That is a frequent and common cure, and you that think your hand is whole, beware lest it be contracted by avarice or sacrilege. Stretch it forth oftener to help your neighbor, to protect the widow, to save from injury him whom you see the victim of unjust attack; stretch it forth to the poor man who beseeches you; stretch it forth to the Lord, to ask pardon of your sins; as the hand is stretched forth so is it healed.
Ver 12. And it came to pass in those days, that he went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God.13. And when it was day, he called to him his disciples: and of them he chose twelve, whom also he named apostles;14. Simon, (whom he also named Peter,) and Andrew his brother, James and John, Philip and Bartholomew,15. Matthew and Thomas, James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon called Zelotes,16. And Judas the brother of James, and Judas Iscariot, which also was the traitor.
GLOSS. When adversaries rose up against the miracles and teaching of Christ, He chose Apostles as defenders and witnesses of the truth, and prefaces their election with prayer; as it is said, And it came to pass, &c.
AMBROSE; Let not your ears be open to deceit, that you should think that the Son of God prays from want of strength, that He may obtain what He could not perform; for being Himself the Author of power, the Master of obedience, He leads us by His own example to the precepts of virtue.
CYRIL; Let us examine then in the actions which Jesus did, how He teaches us to be instant in prayer to God, going apart by ourselves, and in secret, no one seeing us; putting aside also our worldly cares, that the mind may be raised up to the height of divine contemplation and this we have marked in the fact, act, that Jesus went into a mountain apart to pray.
AMBROSE; Every where also He prays alone, for human wishes comprehend not the wisdom of God; and no one can be a partaker of the secrets of Christ. But not every one who prays ascends a mountain, he only who prays advancing from earthly things to higher, who is not anxious for the riches or honors of the world. All whose minds are raised above the world ascend the mountain. In the Gospel therefore you will find, that the disciples alone ascend the mountain with the Lord. But you, O Christian, have now the character given, the form prescribed which you should imitate; as it follows, And he continued all night in prayer to God. For what ought you to do for your salvation, when Christ continues all night in prayer for you?
CHRYS. Rise then you also at night time. The soul is then purer, the very darkness and great silence are in themselves enough to lead us to sorrow for our sins. But if you look upon the heaven itself studded with stars as with unnumbered eyes, if you think that they who wanton and do unjustly in day time are then nothing different from the dead, you will loathe all human undertakings. All these things serve to raise the mind. Vain-glory then disquiets not, no tumult of passion has the mastery; fire does not so destroy the rust of iron as nightly prayer the blight of sin. He whom the heat of the sun has fevered by day is refreshed by tile dew; nightly tears are better than any dew, and are proof against desire and fear. But if a man is not cherished by the dew we speak of, he withers in the day. Wherefore although you pray not much at night, pray once with watching, and it is enough; show that the night belongs not only to the body, but to the soul.
AMBROSE; But what does it become you to do when you would commence any work of piety, when Christ, about to send out His disciples, first prayed? for it follows, And when it was day, he called his disciples, &c. whom truly He destined to be the means of spreading the salvation of man through the world. Turn your eyes also to the heavenly council. Not the wise men, not the rich, not the noble, but He chose to send out fishermen and publicans, that they might not seem to turn men to their grace by riches or by the influence of power and rank, and that the force of truth, not the graces of oratory, might prevail.
CYRIL; But mark the great carefulness of the. Evangelist. He not only says that the holy Apostles were chosen, but he enumerates them by name, that no one should dare to insert any others in the catalogue; Simon, whom he also called Peter, and Andrew his brother.
THEOPHYL; He not only surnamed Peter first, but long before this, when he was brought by Andrew, it is said, You shall be called Cephas, which is by interpretation, a stone. But Luke, wishing to mention the names of the disciples, since it was necessary to call him Peter, wished shortly to imply that this was not his name before, but the Lord had given it to him.
EUSEB. The two next are James and John, as it follows, James and John, both indeed sons of Zebedee, who were also fishermen. After them he mentions Philip and Bartholomew. John says Philip was of Bethsaida, of the city of Andrew and Peter. Bartholomew was a simple man, devoid of all worldly knowledge and guile. But Matthew was called from those who used to collect taxes; concerning whom he adds Matthew and Thomas.
THEOPHYL; Matthew places himself after his fellow-disciple Thomas, from humility, whereas by the other Evangelists he is put before him. It follows, James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon who is called Zelotes.
GLOSS. Because in truth he was of Cana in Galilee, which is interpreted zeal; and this is added to distinguish him from Simon Peter. It follows, Judas the brother of James, and Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed him.
AUG. With respect to the name of Judas the brother of James, Luke seems to differ from Matthew, who calls him Thaddaeus. But what prevented a man from being called by two or three names? Judas the traitor is chosen, not unwittingly but knowingly, for Christ had indeed taken to Himself the weakness of man, and therefore refused not even this share of human infirmity. He was willing to be betrayed by His own Apostle, that you when betrayed by your friend may bear calmly your mistaken judgment, your kindness thrown away.
THEOPHYL; But in a mystical sense the mountain on which our Lord chose His disciples represents the loftiness of justice in which they were to be instructed, and which they were to preach to others; so also the law was given on a mountain.
CYRIL; But if we may learn the interpretation of the Apostles’ names, know that Peter means, "loosening or knowing;" Andrew "glorious power," or "answering;" James, "apostle of grief;" John, "the grace of the Lord;" Matthew, "given;" Philip, "large mouth," or the "orifice of a torch;" Bartholomew, "the son of him who lets down water;" Thomas, "deep or twill;" James the son of Alphaeus, "supplanter of the step of life;" Judas, "confession;" Simon, "obedience."
Ver 17. And he came down with them, and stood in the plain, and the company of his disciples, and a great multitude of people out of all Judea, and Jerusalem, and from the sea coast of Tyre and Sidon, which came to hear him, and to be healed of their diseases,18. And they that were vexed with unclean spirits: and they were healed.19. And the whole multitude sought to touch him: for there went virtue out of him, and healed them all.
CYRIL; When the ordination of the Apostles was accomplished, and great numbers were collected together from the country of Judea, and from the sea coast of Tyre and Sidon, (who were idolaters,) he gave the Apostles their commission to be the teachers of the whole world, that they might recall the Jews from the bondage of the law, but the worshipers of devils from their Gentile errors to the knowledge of the truth. Hence it is said, And he came down with them, and stood in the plain, and a great multitude from Judea, and the sea coast, &c.
THEOPHYL; By the sea coast he does not refer to the neighboring sea of Galilee, because this would not be accounted wonderful, but it is so called from the great sea, and therein also Tyre and Sidon may be comprehended, of which it follows, Both of Tyre and Sidon. And these states being Gentile, are purposely named here, to indicate how great was the fame and power of the Savior which had brought even the citizens of the coast to receive His healing and teaching. Hence it follows, Which came to hear him.
THEOPHYL. That is, for the cure of their souls; and that they might be healed of their diseases, that is, for the cure of their bodies.
CYRIL; But after that the High Priest had made publicly known His choice of Apostles, He did many and great miracles, that the Jews and Gentiles who had assembled might know that these were ere invested by Christ with the dignity of the Apostleship, and that He Himself was not as another man, but rather was God, as being the Incarnate Word. Hence it follows , And, the whole multitude sought to touch him, for there went virtue out of him. For Christ did not receive virtue from others, but since He was as by nature God oaf, sending out His own virtue upon the sick, He healed them all.
AMBROSE; But observe all things carefully, how He both ascends with His Apostles and descends to the multitude; for how could the multitude see Christ but in a lowly place. It follows him not to the lofty places, it ascends not the heights. Lastly, when He descends, He finds the sick, for in the high places there can be no sick.
THEOPHYL; You will scarcely find any where that the multitudes follow our Lord to the higher places, or that a sick person is healed on a mountain; but having quenched the fever of lust and lit the torch of knowledge each man approaches by degrees to the height of the virtues. But the multitudes which were able to touch the Lord are healed by the virtue of that touch, as formerly the leper is cleansed when our Lord touched him. The touch of the Savior then is the work of salvation, whom to touch is to believe on Him, to be touched is to be healed by His precious gifts.
Ver 20. And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said, Blessed be you poor: for yours is the kingdom of God.21. Blessed are you that hunger now: for you shall be filled. Blessed are you that weep now: for you shall laugh.22. Blessed are you, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man’s sake.23. Rejoice you in that day, and leap for joy: for, behold, your reward is great in heaven: for in the like manner did their fathers to the prophets.
CYRIL; After the ordination of the Apostles, the Savior directed His disciples to the newness of the evangelical life.
AMBROSE; But being about to utter His divine oracles, He begins to rise higher; although He stood in a low place, yet as it is said, He lifted up his eyes. What is lifting up the eyes, but to disclose a more hidden light?
THEOPHYL; And although He speaks in a general way to all, yet more especially He lifts up His eyes on His disciples; for it follows, on his disciples, that to those who receive the word listening attentively with the heart, He might reveal more fully the light of its deep meaning.
AMBROSE; Now Luke mentions only four blessings, but Matthew eight; but in those eight are contained these four, and in these four those eight. For the one has embraced as it were the four cardinal virtues, the other has revealed in those eight the mystical number. For as the eighth is the accomplishment of our hope, so is the eighth also the completion of the virtues. But each Evangelist has placed the blessings of poverty first, for it is the first in order, and the purest, as it were, of the virtues; for he who has despised the world shall reap an eternal reward. Now can any one obtain the reward of the heavenly kingdom who, overcome by the desires of the world, has no power of escape from them? Hence it follows, He said, Blessed are the poor.
CYRIL; In the Gospel according to St. Matthew it is said, Blessed are the poor in spirit, that we should understand the poor in spirit to be one of a modest and somewhat depressed mind. Hence our Savior says, Learn from me, for I am meek and lowly of heart. But Luke says, Blessed are the poor, without the addition of spirit, calling those poor who despise riches. For it became those who were to preach the doctrines of the saving Gospel to have no covetousness, but their affections set upon higher things.
BASIL; But not every one oppressed with poverty is blessed, but he who has preferred the commandment of Christ to worldly riches. For many are poor in their possessions, yet most covetous in their disposition; these poverty does not save, but their affections condemn. For nothing involuntary deserves a blessing, because all virtue is characterized by the freedom of the will. Blessed then is the poor man as being the disciple of Christ, Who endured poverty for us. For the Lord Himself has fulfilled every work which leads to happiness, leaving Himself an example for us to follow.
EUSEB. But when the celestial kingdom is considered in the many gradations of its blessings, the first step in the scale belongs to those who by divine instinct embrace poverty. Such did He make those who first became His disciples; therefore He says in their person, For yours is the kingdom of heaven, as pointedly addressing Himself to those present, upon whom also He lifted up His eyes.
CYRIL; After having commanded them to embrace poverty, He then crowns with honor those things which follow from poverty. It is the lot of those who embrace poverty to be in want of the necessaries of life, and scarcely to be able to get food. He does not then permit His disciples to be fainthearted on this account, but says, Blessed are you who hunger now.
THEOPHYL; That is, blessed are you who chasten your body and subject it to bondage, who in hunger and thirst give heed to the word, for then shall you receive the fullness of heavenly joys.
GREG. NAZ. But in a deeper sense, as they who partake of bodily food vary their appetites according to the nature of the things to be eaten; so also in the food of the soul, by some indeed that is desired which depends upon the opinion of men, by others, that which is essentially and of its own nature good. Hence, according to Matthew, men are blessed who account righteousness in the place of food and drink; by righteousness I mean not a particular but an universal virtue, which he who hungers after is said to be blessed.
THEOPHYL; Plainly instructing us, that we ought never to account ourselves sufficiently righteous, but always desire a daily increase in righteousness, to the perfect fullness of which the Psalmist shows us that we can not arrive in this world, but in the world to come. I shall be satisfied when your glory shall be made manifest. Hence it follows, For you shall be filled.
GREG. NYSS. For to those who hunger and thirst after righteousness He promises abundance of the things they desire. For none of the pleasures which are sought in this life can satisfy those who pursue them. But the pursuit of virtue alone is followed by that reward, which implants a joy in the soul that never fails.
CYRIL; But poverty is followed not only by a want of those things which bring delight, but also by a dejected look, because of sorrow. Hence it follows, Blessed are you that weep. He blesses those who weep, not those who merely drop tears from their eyes, (for this is common to the believing and unbelieving, when sorrow befalls them,) but rather He calls those blessed, who shun a careless life, mixed up with sin, and devoted to carnal pleasures, and refuse enjoyments almost weeping from their hatred of all worldly things.
CHRYS. But godly sorrow is a great thing, and it works repentance to salvation. Hence St. Paul when he had no failings of his own to weep for, mourned for those of others. Such grief is the source of gladness, as it follows, For you shall laugh. For if we do no good to those for whom we weep, we do good to ourselves. For he who thus weeps for the sins of others, will not let his own go unwept for; but the rather he will not easily fall into sin. Let us not be ever relaxing ourselves in this short life, lest we sigh in that which is eternal. Let us not seek delights from which flow lamentation, and much sorrow, but let us be saddened with sorrow which brings forth pardon. We often find the Lord sorrowing, never laughing.
BASIL; But He promises laughing to those who weep; not indeed the noise of laughter from the mouth, but a gladness pure and unmixed with aught of sorrow.
THEOPHYL; He then who on account of the riches of the inheritance of Christ, for the bread of eternal life, for the hope of heavenly joys, desires to suffer weeping, hunger, and poverty, is blessed. But much more blessed is he who does not shrink to maintain these virtues in adversity. Hence it follows, Blessed are you when men shall hate you. For although men hate, with their wicked hearts they can not injure the heart that is beloved by Christ, It follows, And when they shall separate you. Let them separate and expel you from the synagogue. Christ finds you out, and strengthens you. It follows; And shall reproach you. Let them reproach the name of the Crucified, He Himself raises together with Him those that have died with Him, and makes them sit in heavenly places. It follows, And cast out your name as evil. Here he means the name of Christian, which by Jews and Gentiles as far as they were able was frequently erased from the memory, and cast out by men, when there was as no cause for hatred, but the Son of man; for in truth they who believed on the name of Christ, wished to be called after His name. Therefore He teaches that they are to be persecuted by men, but are to be blessed beyond men.
As it follows, Rejoice you in that day, and weep for joy, for behold your reward is great in heaven.
CHRYS. Great and little are measured by the dignity of the speaker. Let us inquire then who promised the great reward. If indeed a prophet or an apostle, little had been in his estimation great; but now it is the Lord in whose hands are eternal treasures and riches surpassing man’s conception, who has promised great reward.
BASIL; Again, great has sometimes a positive signification, as the heaven is great, and the earth is great; but sometimes it has relation to something else, as a great ox or great horse, on comparing two things of like nature. I think then that great reward will be laid up for those who suffer reproach for Christ’s sake, not as in comparison with those things in our power, but as being in itself great because given by God.
DAMASC. Those things which may be measured or numbered are used definitely, but that which from a certain excellence surpasses all measure and number we call great and much indefinitely; as when we say that great is the long suffering of God.
EUSEB. He then fortifies His disciples against the attacks of their adversaries, which they were about to suffer as they preached through the whole world; adding, For in like manner did their fathers to the prophets.
AMBROSE; For the Jews persecuted the prophets even to death.
THEOPHYL; They who speak the truth commonly suffer persecution, yet the ancient prophets did not therefore from fear of persecution turn away from preaching the truth.
AMBROSE; In that He says, Blessed are the poor, you have temperance; which abstains from sin, tramples upon the world, seeks not vain delights. In Blessed are they that hunger you have righteousness; for he who hungers suffers together with the hungry, and by suffering together with him gives to him, by giving becomes righteous, and his righteousness abides for ever. In Blessed are they that weep now, you have prudence; which is to weep for the things of time, and to seek those which are eternal. In Blessed are you when men hate you, you have fortitude; not that which deserves hatred for crime, but which suffers persecution for faith. For so you wilt attain to the crown of suffering if you slightest the favor of men, and seek that which is from God.
Temperance therefore brings with it a pure heart; righteousness, mercy; prudence, peace; fortitude, meekness. The virtues are so joined and linked to one another, that he who has one seems to have many; and the Saints have each one especial virtue, but the more abundant virtue has the richer reward. What hospitality in Abraham, what hat humility, but because he excelled in faith, he gained the preeminence above all others. To every one there are many rewards because many incentives to virtue, but that which is most abundant in a good action, has the most exceeding reward.
Ver 24. But woe to you that are rich! for you have received your consolation.25. Woe to you that are full! for you shall hunger. Woe to you that laugh now! for you shall mourn and weep.26. Woe to you, when all men shall speak well of you! for so did their fathers to the false prophets.
CYRIL; Having said before that poverty for God’s sake is the cause of every good thing, and that hunger and weeping will not be without the reward of the saints, he goes on to denounce the opposite to these as the source of condemnation and punishment. But woe to you rich, for you have your consolation.
CHRYS. For this expression, woe, is always said in the Scriptures to those who cannot escape from future punishment.
AMBROSE; But although in the abundance of wealth many are the allurements to crime, yet many also are the incitements to virtue. Although virtue requires no support, and the offering of the poor man is more commendable than the liberality of the rich, still it is not those who possess riches, but those who know not how to use them, that are condemned by the authority of the heavenly sentence. For as that poor man is more praiseworthy who gives without grudging, so is the rich man more guilty, who ought to return thanks for what he has received, and not to hide without using it the sum which was given him for the common good. It is not therefore the money, but the heart of the possessor which is in fault. And though there be no heavier punishment than to be preserving with anxious fear what is to serve for the advantage of successors, yet since the covetous desires are fed by a certain pleasure of amassing, they who have had their consolation in the present life, have lost an eternal reward. We may here however understand by the rich man the Jewish people, or the heretics, or at least the Pharisees, who, rejoicing in an abundance of words, and a kind of hereditary pride of eloquence, have overstepped the simplicity of true faith, and gained to themselves useless treasures.
THEOPHYL; Woe to you that are full, for you shall be hungry. That rich man clothed in purple was full, feasting sumptuously every day, but endured in hunger that dreadful "woe," when from the finger of Lazarus, whom he had despised, he begged a drop of water.
BASIL; Now it is plain that the rule of abstinence is necessary, because the Apostle mentions it among the fruits of the Spirit. For the subjection of the body is by nothing so obtained as by abstinence, whereby, as it were a bridle, it becomes us to keep in check the fervor of youth. Abstinence then is the putting to death of sin, the extirpation of passions, the beginning of the spiritual life, blunting in itself the sting of temptations. But lest there should be any agreement with the enemies of God, we must accept every thing as the occasion requires, to show, that to the pure all things are pure, by coming indeed to the necessaries of life, but abstaining altogether from those which conduce to pleasure. But since it is not possible that all should keep the same hours, or the same manner, or the same proportion, still let there be one purpose, never to wait to be filled, for fullness of stomach makes the body itself also unfit for its proper functions, sleepy, and inclined to what is hurtful.
THEOPHYL; In another way. If those are happy who always hunger after the works of righteousness, they on the other hand are counted to be unhappy, who, pleasing themselves in their own desires, suffer no hunger after the true good. It follows, Woe to you who laugh, &c.
BASIL; Whereas the Lord reproves those who laugh now, it is plain that there will never be a house of laughter to the faithful, especially since there is so great a multitude of those who die in sin for whom we must mourn. Excessive laughter is a sign of want of moderation, and the motion of an unrestrained spirit; but ever to express the feelings of our heart with a pleasantness of countenance is not unseemly.
CHRYS. But tell me, why are you distracting and wasting yourself away with pleasures, who must stand before the awful judgment, and give account of all things done here?
THEOPHYL; But because flattery being the very nurse of sin, like oil to the flames, is wont to minister fuel to those who are on fire with sin, he adds, Woe to you when all men shall speak well of you.
CHRYS. What is said here is not opposed to what our Lord says elsewhere, Let your light shine before men; that is, that we should be eager to do good for the glory of God, not our own. For vain-glory is a baneful thing, and from hence springs iniquity, and despair, and avarice, the mother of evil. But if you seek to turn away from this, ever raise your eyes to God, and be content with that glory which is from Him. For if in all things we must choose the more learned for judges, how do you trust to the many the decision of virtue, and not rather to Him, who before all others know it, and can give and reward it, whose glory therefore if you desire, avoid the praise of men. For no one more excites our admiration than he who rejects glory. And if we do this, much more does the God of all. Be mindful then, that the glory of men quickly fails, seeing in the course of time it is past into oblivion. It follows, For so did their fathers to the false prophets.
THEOPHYL; By the false prophets are meant those, who to gain the favor of the multitude attempt to predict future events. The Lord on the mountain pronounces only the blessings of the good, but on the plain he describes also the "woe" of the wicked, because the yet uninstructed hearers must first be brought by terrors to good works, but the perfect need but be invited by rewards.
AMBROSE; And mark, that Matthew by rewards called the people to virtue and faith, but Luke also frightened them from their sins and iniquities by the denunciation of future punishment.
Ver 27. But I say to you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you,28. Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you.29. And to him that smites you on the one cheek offer also the other; and him that takes away your cloak forbid not to take your coat also.30. Give to every man that asks of you; and of him that takes away your goods ask them not again.31. And as you would that men should do to you, do you also to them likewise.
THEOPHYL; Having spoken above of what they might suffer from their enemies, He now points out how they ought to conduct themselves towards their enemies’ saying, But I say to you who hear.
AMBROSE; Having proceeded in the enumeration of many heavenly actions, He not unwisely comes to this place last, that He might teach the people confirmed by the divine miracles to march onward in the footsteps of virtue beyond the path of the law. Lastly, among the three greatest, (hope, faith, and charity,) the greatest is charity, which is commanded in these words, Love your enemies.
BASIL; It is indeed the part of an enemy to injure and be treacherous. Every one then who does harm in any way to any one is called his enemy.
CYRIL; But this way of life was well adapted to the holy teachers who were about to preach throughout the earth the word of salvation, and if it had been their will to take vengeance upon their persecutors, had failed to call them to the knowledge of salvation.
CHRYS. But He says not, Do not hate, but love; nor did He merely command to love, but also to do good, as it follows, Do good to them which hate you.
BASIL; But because mans consists of body and soul, to the soul indeed we shall do this good, by reproving and admonishing such men, and leading them by the hand to conversion; but to the body, by profiting them in the necessaries of life. It follows, Bless them that curse you.
CHRYS For they who pierce their own souls deserve tears and weeping, not curses. For nothing is more hateful than a cursing heart, or more foul than a tongue which utters curses. O man, spit not forth the poison of asps, nor be turned into a beast. Your mouth was given you not to bite with, but to heal the wounds of others. But he commands us to count our enemies in the ram: of our friends, not only in a general way, but as our particular friends for whom we are accustomed to pray; as it follows, Pray for them which persecute you. But many on the contrary falling down, and striking their faces upon the ground, and stretching forth their hands, pray God not for their sins, but against their enemies, which is nothing else but piercing their own selves. When you pray to Him that He would hear you cursing your enemies, who has forbidden you to pray against your enemies, how is it possible for you to be heard, since you art calling Him to hear you by striking an enemy in the king’s presence, not with the hand indeed, but with your words. What are you doing, O man? you stand to obtain pardon of your sins, and you fill your mouth with bitterness. It is a time of forgiveness, prayer, and mourning, not of rage.
THEOPHYL; But the question is fairly raised, how it is that in the prophets are to be found many curses against their enemies. Upon which we must observe, that the prophets in the imprecations they uttered foretold the future, and that not with the feelings of one who wishes, but in the spirit of one who foresees.
CYRIL; Now the old law commanded us not to injure one another; or if we are first injured, not to extend our wrath beyond the measure of the injurer, but the fulfilling of the law is in Christ and in His commands. Hence it follows, And to him that smite you on the one cheek, offer also the other.
CHRYS. For physicians also, when they are attacked by madmen, have then most compassion on them, and exert themselves to restore them. Have you also a like consideration towards your persecutors; for it is they who are under the greatest infirmity. And let us not cease until they have exhausted all their bitterness, they will then overpower you with thanks, and God Himself will give you a crown, because you have delivered your brother from the worst disease.
BASIL; But we almost all of us offend against this command, and especially in the powerful and rulers, not only if they have suffered insult, but if respect is not paid them, accounting all those their enemies who treat them with less consideration than they think they deserve. But it is a great dishonor in a prince to be ready to take revenge. For how shall he teach another, to return to no man evil for evil, if he is eager to retaliate on him who ho injures him.
CYRIL; But the Lord would moreover have us to be despisers of property. As it follows, And him that takes away your cloak, forbid not to take your coat also. For this is the soul’s virtue, which is altogether alien from feeling the pleasure of wealth. For it becomes him who is merciful even to forget his misfortunes, that we may confer the same benefits upon our persecutors, whereby we assist our dear friends.
CHRYS Now He said not, Bear humbly the rule of your persecutor, but, Go on wisely, and prepare yourself to suffer what he desires you to do; overcoming his insolence by your great prudence, that he may depart with shame at your excellent endurance.
But some one will say, How can this be? When you have seen God made man, and suffering so many things for you, do you still ask and doubt how it is possible to pardon the iniquities of your fellow servants? Who has suffered what your God has, when He was bound, scourged, enduring to be spat upon, suffering death? Here it follows, But to every one who seeks, give.
AUG. He says not, To him that seeks give all things, but give what you justly and honestly can, that is, what as far as man can know or believe, neither hurts you, nor another: and if you have justly refused any one, the justice must be declared to him, (so as not to send him away empty,) sometimes you will confer even a greater boon when you have corrected him who seeks what he ought not.
CHRYS. Herein however we do not lightly err, when not only we give not to those who ho seek, but also blame them? Why (you say) does he not work, why is the idle man fed? Tell me, cost you then possess by labor? but still if you work, do you work for this, that you should blame another? For a single loaf and coat cost you call a man covetous? You give nothing, make then no reproaches. Why do you neither take pity yourself, and dissuades those who would? If we spend upon all indifferently, we shall always have compassion: for because Abraham entertains all, he also entertains angels. For if a man is a homicide and a robber, does he not, think you, deserve to have bread? Let us not then be severe censors of others, lest we too be strictly judged.
It follows, And of him that takes away your goods ask them not again.
CHRYS. Every thing we have we receive from God. But when we speak of "mine and shine," they are only bare words. For if you assert a house to be yours, you have uttered an expression which wants the substance of reality. For both the air, the soil, and the moisture, are the Creator’s. You again are he who has built the house; but although the use is shine, it is doubtful, not only because of death, but also on account of the issues of things. Your soul is not your own possession, and will be reckoned to you in like manner as all your goods. God wishes those things to be yours which are entrusted to you for your brethren, and they will be shine if you have dispensed them for others. But if you have spent richly upon yourself what things are yours, they are now become another’s. But through a wicked desire of wealth men strive together in a state contrary to Christ’s words, And of him that takes away your goods, ask them not again.
AUG. He says this of garments, houses, farms, beasts of burdens, and generally of all property. But a Christian ought not to possess a slave as he does a horse or money. If a slave is more honorably governed by you than by him who desires to take him from you, I know not whether any one would dare to say, that he ought to be despised, as a garment.
CHRYS. Now we have a natural law implanted in us, by which we distinguish between what is virtue, and what is vice. Hence it follows, And as you would that men should do to you, do you also to them. He does not say, Whatever you would not that men should do to you, do not you. For since there are two ways which lead to virtue, namely abstaining from evil, and doing good, he names one, signifying by it the other also. And if indeed He had said, That you may be men, love the beasts, the command would be a difficult one. But if they are commanded to love men, which is a natural admonition, wherein lies the difficulty, since even the wolves and lions observe it, whom a natural relation compels to love one another. It is manifest then that Christ has ordained nothing surpassing our nature, but what He had long before implanted in our conscience, so that your own will is the law to you. And if you will have good done to you, you must do good to others; if you will that another should show mercy to you, you must show mercy to your neighbor.
Ver 32. For if you love them which love you, what thank have you? for sinners also love those that love them.33. And if you do good to them which do good to you, what thank have you? for sinners also do even the same.34. And if you lend to them of whom you hope to receive, what thank have you? for sinners also lend to sinners, to receive as much again.35. But love you your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and you shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind to the unthankful and to the evil.36. Be you therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful.
CHRYS. The Lord had said that we must love our enemies, but that you might not think this an exaggerated expression, regarding it solely as spoken to alarm them, he adds the reason, saying, For if you love them which love you, what thank have you? There are indeed several causes which produce love; but spiritual love exceeds them all. For nothing earthly engenders it, neither gain, nor kindness, nor nature, nor time, but it descends from heaven. But why wonder that it needs not kindness to excite it, when it is not even overcome of malice? A father indeed suffering wrong bursts the bands of love. A wife after a quarrel leaves her husband A son, if he sees his father come to a great age, is troubled. But Paul went to those who stoned him to do them good. Moses is stoned by the Jews, and prays for them. Let us then reverence spiritual love, for it is indissoluble. Reproving therefore those who were inclined to wax cold, he adds, For sinners even love those which love them. As if he said, Because I wish you to possess more than these, I do not advise you only to love your friends, but also your enemies. It is common to all to do good to those who do good to them. But he shows that he seeks something more than is the custom of sinners, who do good to their friends.
Hence it follows, And if you do good to those who do good to you, what thank have you?
THEOPHYL; But he not only condemns as unprofitable the love and kindness of sinners, but also the lending. As it follows, And if you lend to those from whom you hope to receive, what thank have you? for sinners also lend to sinners, to receive as much again.
AMBROSE; Now philosophy seems to divide justice into three parts; one towards God, which is called piety; another towards our parents, or the rest of mankind; a third to the dead, that the proper rites may be performed. But the Lord Jesus passing beyond the oracle of the law, and the heights of prophecy, extended the duties of piety to those also who have injured us, adding, But love your enemies.
CHRYS. Whereby you will confer more upon yourself than him. For he is beloved by a fellow servant, but you are made like to God. But it is a mark of the greatest virtue when we embrace with kindness those who wish to do us harm. Hence it follows, And do good. For as water, when cast upon a lighted furnace, extinguishes it, so also reason joined with gentleness. But what water is to fire, such is lowliness and meekness to wrath; and as fire is not extinguished by fire, so neither is anger soothed by anger.
GREG. NYSS. But man ought to shun that baneful anxiety with which he seeks from the poor man increase of his money and gold, exacting a profit of barren metals. Hence he adds, And lend, hoping for nothing again; &c. If a man should call the harsh calculation of interest, theft, or homicide, he will not err. For what is the difference, whether a man by digging under a wall become possessed of property, or possess it unlawfully by the compulsory rate of interest?
BASIL; Now this mode of avarice is rightly called in the Greek, from producing, because of the fruitfulness of the evil. Animals in course of time grow up and produce, but interest as soon as it is born begins to bring forth. Animals which bring forth most rapidly cease soonest from breeding, but the money of the avaricious goes on increasing with time. Animals when they transfer their bringing forth to their own young, themselves cease to breed, but the money of the covetous both produces an increase, and renews the capital. Touch not then the destructive monster. For what advantage that the poverty of today is escaped, if it falls upon us repeatedly, and is increased? Reflect then how can you restore yourself? Whence shall your money be so multiplied as that it will partly relieve your want, partly refresh your capital, , and besides bring forth interest? But you say, How shall I get my living? I answer, work, serve, last of all, beg; any thing is more tolerable than borrowing upon interest. But you say, what is that lending to which the hope of repayment is not attached? Consider the excellence of the words, and you wilt admire the mercifulness of the author. When you are about to give to a poor man from regard to divine charity, it is both a lending and a gift; a gift indeed, because no return is hoped for; lending, because of the beneficence of God, who restores it in its turn. Hence it follows, And great shall be your reward. Do you not wish the Almighty to be bound to restore to you? Or, should He make some rich citizen your security, do you accept him, but reject God standing as security for the poor?
CHRYS. Observe the wonderful nature of lending, one receives and another binds himself for his debts, giving a hundred fold at the present time, and in the future eternal life.
AMBROSE; How great the reward of mercy which is received into the privilege of divine adoption! For it follows, And you shall be the sons of the Highest. Follow then mercy, that you may obtain grace. Widely spread is the mercy of God; He pours His rain upon the unthankful, the fruitful earth refuses not its increase to the evil. Hence it follows, For he is kind to the unthankful, and to the evil.
THEOPHYL; Either by giving them temporal gifts, or by inspiring His heavenly gifts with a wonderful grace.
CYRIL; Great then is the praise of mercy. For this virtue makes us like to God, and imprints upon our souls certain signs as it were of a heavenly nature. Hence it follows, Be you then merciful, as your heavenly Father also is merciful.
ATHAN; That is to say, that we beholding His mercies, what good things we do should do them not with regard to men, but to Him, that we may obtain our rewards from God, not from men.
Ver 37. Judge not, and you shall not be judged: condemn not, and you shall not be condemned: forgive, and you shall be forgiven:38. Give, and it shall be given to you: good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that you mete withal it shall be measured to you again.
AMBROSE; The Lord added, that we must not readily judge others, lest when conscious of guilt yourself, you should be compelled to pass sentence upon another.
CHRYS. Judge not your superior, that is, you a disciple must not judge your master; nor a sinner the innocent. You must not blame them, but advise and correct with love; neither must we pass judgment in doubtful and indifferent matters, which bear no resemblance to sin, or which are not serious or forbidden.
CYRIL; He here expresses that worst inclination of our thoughts or hearts, which is the first beginning and origin of a proud disdain. For although it becomes men to look into themselves and walk after God, this they do not, but look into the things of others, and while they forget their own passions, behold the infirmities of some, and make them a subject of reproach.
CHRYS. You will not easily find any one, whether a father of a family or an inhabitant of the cloister, free from this error. But these are the wiles of the tempter. For he who severely sifts the fault of others, will never obtain acquittal for his own. Hence it follows And you shall not be judged. For as the merciful and meek man dispels the rage of sinners, so the harsh and cruel adds to his own crimes.
GREG. NYSS. Be not then rash to judge harshly of your servants, lest you suffer the like. For passing judgment calls down a heavier condemnation; as it follows, Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. For he does not forbid judgment with pardon.
THEOPHYL; Now in a short sentence he concisely sums up all that he had enjoined with respect to our conduct towards our enemies, saying, Forgive, and you shall be forgiven, wherein he bids us forgive injuries, and show kindness, and our sins shall be forgiven us, and we shall receive eternal life.
CYRIL; But that we shall receive more abundant recompense from God, who gives bountifully to those who love him, he explains as follows, Good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall they give into your bosom.
THEOPHYL. As if he says, As when you wish to measure meal without sparing, you press it down, shake it together, and let it pour over abundantly; so the Lord will give a large and overflowing measure into your bosom.
AUG. But he says, shall they give, because through the merits of those to whom they have given even a cup of cold water in the name of a disciple, shall they be thought worthy to receive a heavenly reward. It follows, For with the same measure that you mete withal it shall be measured to you again.
BASIL; For according to the same measure with which each one of you metes, that is, in doing good works or sinning, will he receive reward or punishment.
THEOPHYL. But some one will put the subtle question, "If the return is made over abundantly, how is it the same measure?" to which we answer, that He said not, "In just as great a measure shall it be measured to you again, but in the same measure." "For he who has shown mercy, shall have mercy shown to him, and this is measuring again with the same measure; but our Lord spoke of the measure running over, because to such a one He will show mercy a thousand times. So also in judging; for he that judges and afterwards is judged receives the same measure. But as far as he was judged the more severely that he judged one like to himself, was the measure running over.
CYRIL; But the Apostle explains this when he says, He who sows sparingly, (that is, scantily, and with a niggardly hand,) shall also reap sparingly, (that is, not abundantly,) and he who sows blessings, shall reap also blessings, that is, bountifully. But if a man has not, and performs not, he is not guilty. For a man is accepted in that which he has, not in that which he has not.
Ver 39. And he spoke a parable to them, Can the blind lead the blind? shall they not both fall into the ditch?40. The disciple is not above his master: but every one that is perfect shall be as his master.41. And why behold you the mote that is in your brother’s eye, but perceives not the beam that is in your own eye?42. Either how can you say to your brother, Brother, let me pull out the mote that is in your eye, when you yourself behold not the beam that is in your own eye? You hypocrite, cast out first the beam out of your own eye, and then shall you see clearly to pull out the mote that is in your brother’s eye.
CYRIL; The Lord added to what had gone before a very necessary parable, as it is said, And he spoke a parable to them, for His disciples were the future teachers of the world, and it therefore became them to know the way of a virtuous life, having their minds illuminated as it were by a divine brightness, that they should not be blind leaders of the blind. And then he adds, Can the blind lead the blind? But if any should chance to attain to an equal degree of virtue with their teachers, let them stand in the measure of their teachers, and follow their footsteps.
Hence it follows, The disciple is not above his master. Hence also Paul says, Be you also followers of me, as I am of Christ. Since Christ therefore judged not, why judge you? for He came not to judge the world, but to show mercy.
THEOPHYL. Or else, If you judge another, and in the very same way sin yourself, are not you like to the blind leading the blind? For how can you lead him to good when you also yourself commit sin? For the disciple is not above his master. If therefore you sin, who think yourself a master and guide, where will he be who is taught and led by you? For he will be the perfect disciple who is as his master.
THEOPHYL; Or the sense of this sentence depends upon the former, in which we are enjoined to give alms, and forgive injuries. If, says He, anger has blinded you against the violent, and avarice against the grasping, how can you with your corrupt heart cure his corruption? If even your Master Christ, who as God might revenge His injuries, chose rather by patience to render His persecutors more merciful, it is surely binding on His disciples, who are but men, to follow the same rule of perfection.
AUG. Or, He has added the words, Can the blind, lead the blind, in order that they , might not expect to receive from the Levites that measure of which He says, They shall give into your bosom, because they gave tithes to them. And these He calls blind, because they received not the Gospel, that the people might the rather now begin to hope for that reward through the disciples of the Lord, whom wishing to point out as His imitators, He added, The disciple is not above his master.
THEOPHYL. But the Lord introduces another parable taken from the same figure, as follows, but why see you the mote (that is, the slight fault) which is in your brother’s eye, but the beam which is in your own eye (that is, your great sin) you regard not?
THEOPHYL; Now this has reference to the previous parable, in which He forewarned them that the blind cannot be led by the blind, that is, the sinner corrected by the sinner. Hence it is said, Or, how can you say to your brother, Brother let me cast out the mote that is in your eye, if you see not the beam that is in your own eye?
CYRIL; As if He said, How can he who is guilty of grievous sins, (which He calls the beam,) condemn him who has sinned only slightly, or even in some cases not at all? For this the mote signifies.
THEOPHYL. But these words are applicable to all, and especially to teachers, who while they punish the least sins of those who are put under them, leave their own unpunished. Wherefore the Lord calls them hypocrites, because to this end judge they the sins of others, that they themselves might seem just. Hence it follows, You hypocrite, first cast the beam out of your own eye, &c.
CYRIL; That is to say, first show yourself clean from great sins, and then afterwards shall you give counsel to your neighbor, who is guilty only of slight sins.
BASIL; In truth, self knowledge seems the most important of all. For not only the eye, looking at outward things, fails to exercise its sight upon itself, but our understanding also, though very quick in apprehending the sin of another, is slow to perceive its own defects.
Ver 43. For a good tree brings not forth corrupt fruit; neither does a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.44. For every tree is known by his own fruit. For of thorns men do not gather figs, nor of a bramble bush gather they grapes.45. A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.
THEOPHYL; Our Lord continues the words which He had begun against the hypocrites, saying, For a good tree brings not forth corrupt fruit; i.e. as if He says, If you would have a true and unfeigned righteousness, what you set forth in words make up also in works, for the hypocrite though he pretends to be good is not good, who does evil works; and the innocent though he be blamed, is not therefore evil, who does good works.
TITUS BOS. But take not these words to thyself as an encouragement to idleness, for the tree is moved conformably to its nature but you have the exercise of free will; and every barren tree has been ordained for some good, but you were created to the good work of virtue.
ISIDORE PELEUS; He does not then exclude repentance, but a continuance in evil, which as long as it is evil cannot bring forth good fruit, but being converted to virtue, will yield abundance. But what nature is to the tree, our affections are to us. If then a corrupt tree cannot bring forth good fruit, how shall a corrupt heart?
CHRYS. But although the fruit is caused by the tree, yet, it brings to us the knowledge of the tree, because the distinctive nature of the tree is made evident by the fruit, as it follows, For every tree is know by its fruit.
CYRIL; Each man’s life also will be a criterion of his character. For not by extrinsic ornaments and pretended humility is the beauty of true happiness discovered, but by those things which a man does; of which he gives an illustration, adding, For of thorns men do not gather figs.
AMBROSE; On the thorns of this world the fig cannot be found, which as being better in its second fruit, is well fitted to be a similitude of the resurrection. Either because, as you read, The fig trees have put forth their green figs, that is, the unripe and worthless fruit came first in the Synagogue. Or because our life is imperfect in the flesh, perfect in the resurrection, and therefore we ought to cast far from us worldly cares, which eat into the mind and scorch up the soul, that by diligent culture we may obtain the perfect fruits. This therefore has reference to the world and the resurrection, the next to the soul and the body, as it follows, Nor of a bramble bush gather they grapes. Either because no one living in sin obtains fruit to his soul, which like the grape nearest the ground is rotten, on the higher branches becomes ripe. Or because no one can escape the condemnations of the flesh, but he whom Christ has redeemed, Who as a grape hung on the tree.
THEOPHYL; Or, I think the thorns and bramble are the cares of the world and the prickings of sin, but the figs and the grapes are the sweetness of a new life and the warmth of love, but the fig is not gathered from the thorns nor the grape from the bramble, because the mind still debased by the habits of the old man may pretend to, but cannot bring forth the fruits of the new man. But we must know, that as the fruitful palm tree is enclosed and supported by a hedge, and the thorn bearing fruit not its own, preserves it for the use of man, so the words and acts of the wicked wherein they serve the good are not done by the wicked themselves, but by the wisdom of God working upon them.
CYRIL; But having shown that the good and the bad man may be discerned by their works as a tree by its fruits, he now sets forth the same thing by another figure, saying, A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth that which is good, and the evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth that which is evil.
THEOPHYL; The treasure of the heart is the same as the root of the tree. He therefore who has in his heart the treasure of patience and perfect love, brings forth the best fruits, loving his enemy, and doing the other things which have been taught above. But he who keeps a bad treasure in his heart does the contrary to this.
BASIL; The quality of the words shows the heart from which they proceed, plainly manifesting the inclination of our thoughts. Hence it follows, For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.
CHRYS. For it is a natural consequence when wickedness abounds within, that wicked words are breathed as far as the mouth; and therefore when you hear of a man uttering abominable things, do not suppose that there lies only so much wickedness in him as is expressed in his words, but believe the fountain to be more copious than the stream.
THEOPHYL; By the speaking of the mouth the Lord signifies all things, which by word, or deed, or thought, we bring forth from the heart. For it is the manner of the Scripture to put words for deeds.
Ver 46. And why call you me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?47. Whosoever comes to me, and hears my sayings, and does them, I will show you to whom he is like:48. He is like a man which built a house, and dug deep, and laid the foundation on a rock: and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it: for it was founded upon a rock.49. But he that hears, and does not, is like a man that without a foundation built an house upon the earth: against which the stream did beat vehemently, and immediately it fell; and the ruin of that house was great.
THEOPHYL; Lest any one should vainly flatter himself with the words, Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks, as if words only and not rather works were required of a Christian, our Lord adds the following, But why call you me Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say? As if He said, Why do you boast of sending forth the leaves of a right confession, and show forth no fruit of good works.
CYRIL; But Lordship both in name and reality belongs only to the Highest Nature.
ATHAN. This is not then the word of man, but the Word of God, manifesting His own birth from the Father, for He is the Lord Who is born of the Lord alone. But fear not the duality of Persons, for they are not separate in nature.
CYRIL; But the advantage which arises from the keeping of the commandments, or the loss from disobedience, he shows as follows; Whosoever comes to me, and hears my sayings, he is like to a man who built his house upon a rock, &c.
THEOPHYL; The rock is Christ. He digs deep; by the precepts of humility He plucks out all earthly things from the hearts of the faithful, lest they should serve God from regard to their temporal good.
BASIL; But lay your foundations upon , a rock, that is, lean upon the faith of Christ, so as to persevere immovable in adversity, whether it come from man or God.
THEOPHYL; Or the foundation of the house is the resolution to live a good life, which the perfect hearer firmly lays in fulfilling the commandments of God.
AMBROSE; Or, He teaches that the obedience to heavenly precepts is the foundation of all virtue, by means of which this our house can be moved neither by the torrent of pleasures, nor by the violence of spiritual wickedness, neither by the storms of this world, nor by the cloudy disputations of heretics; hence it follows, But the flood came, &c.
THEOPHYL; A flood comes in three ways, either by unclean spirits, or wicked men, or the very restlessness of mind or body; and as far as men trust in their own strength they fall away, but as long as they cling to the immovable rock they cannot even be shaken.
CHRYS. The Lord also shows us that faith profits a man nothing, if his manner of life be corrupt. Hence it follows, But he that hears and does not, is like a man, that without a foundation built an house upon the earth, &c.
THEOPHYL; The house of the devil is the world which lies in wickedness, which he builds upon the earth, because those who obey him he drags down from heaven to earth; he builds without foundation, for sin has no foundation, standing not by its own nature, for evil is without substance, which yet whatever it is, grows up in the nature of good. But because the foundation is called so from fundus, we may not unfitly understand that fundamentum is placed here for fundus. As then he who is fallen into a well is kept at the bottom of the well, so the soul falling away remains stationary, as it were, at the very bottom, as long as it continues in any measure of sin. But not content with the sin into which it is fallen, while daily sinking into worse, it can find no bottom, as it were, in the well to which it may fix itself. But every kind of temptation increasing, both the really bad and the feignedly good become worse, until at last they come to everlasting punishment Hence it follows, Against which the stream did beat vehemently. By the force of the stream may be understood the trial of the last judgment, when both houses being finished, the wicked shall go into everlasting punishment but the righteous into life eternal.
CYRIL; Or they build upon the earth without foundation, who upon the quicksand of doubt, which relates to opinion, lay the foundation of their spiritual building, which a few drops of temptation wash away.
AUG. Now this long discourse of our Lord, Luke begins in the same way as Matthew; for each says, Blessed are the poor. Then many things which follow in the narration of each are like, and finally the conclusion of the discourse is found to be altogether the same, I mean with respect to the men who build upon the rock and the sand. It might then easily be supposed that Luke has inserted the same discourse of our Lord, and yet has left out some sentences which Matthew has kept, and likewise put in others which Matthew has not; were it not that Matthew says the discourse was spoken by our Lord on the mountain, but Luke on the plain by our Lord standing. It is not however thought likely from this that these two discourses are separated by a long course of time, because both before and after both have related some things like or the same. It may however have happened that our Lord was at first on a higher part of the mountain with His disciples alone, and that then he descended with them from the mount, that is, from the summit of the mountain to the flat place, that is, to some level ground, which was on the side of the mountain, and was able to hold large multitudes, and that there He stood until the crowds were gathered together to Him, and afterwards when He sat down His disciples came nearer, and to them, and the rest of the multitude who were present, He held the same discourse.
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Aquinas, Thomas. "Commentary on Luke 6". "Golden Chain Commentary on the Gospel". https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany