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Ver 1. Then he called his twelve disciples together, and gave them power and authority over all devils, and to cure diseases.2. And he sent them to preach the kingdom of God, and to heal the sick.3. And he said to them, Take nothing for your journey, neither staves, nor scrip, neither bread, neither money; neither have two coats apiece.4. And whatsoever house you enter into, there abide, and thence depart.5. And whosoever will not receive you, when you go out of that city, shake off the very dust from your feet for a testimony against them.6. And they departed, and went through the towns, preaching the Gospel, and healing every where.
CYRIL; It was fitting that those who were appointed the ministers of holy teaching should be able to work miracles, and by these very acts themselves be believed to be the ministers of God. Hence it is said, Then called he his twelve disciples together, and gave them power and authority over all devils. Herein He brings down the haughty pride of the devil, who once said, There is none who shall open his mouth against me.
EUSEB. And that through them the whole race of mankind may be sought out, He not only gives them power to drive away evil spirits, but to cure all kind of diseases at His command; as it follows, And to cure diseases.
CYRIL; Mark here the divine power of the Son, which belongs not to a fleshly nature. For it was in the power of the saints to perform miracles not by nature, but by participation of the Holy Spirit; but it was altogether out of their power to grant this authority to others. For how could created natures possess dominion over the gifts of the Spirit? But our Lord Jesus Christ, as by nature God, imparts graces of this kind to whomsoever He will, not invoking upon them a power which is not His own, but infusing it into them from Himself.
CHRYS. But after that they had been sufficiently strengthened by His guidance, and had received competent proofs of His power, He sends them out, as it follows, And he sent them to teach the kingdom of God. And here we must remark, that they are not commissioned to speak of sensible things as Moses and the Prophets; for they promised a land and earthly goods, but these a kingdom, and whatsoever is contained in it.
GREG. NAZ. Now in sending His disciples to preach, our Lord enjoined many things on them, the chief of which are, that they should be so virtuous, so constant, so temperate, and, to speak briefly, so heavenly, that no less through their manner of living than their words, the teaching of the Gospel might be spread abroad. And therefore were they sent with lack of money, and staves, and a single garment; He accordingly adds, And he said to them, Take nothing in the way, neither staves.
CHRYS. Many things indeed He ordained hereby; first indeed it rendered the disciples unsuspected; secondly, it held them aloof from all care, so that they might give their whole study to the word; thirdly, it taught them their own proper virtue. But perhaps some one will say that the other things indeed are reasonable, but for what reason did He command them to have no scrip on their way, nor two coats, nor staff? In truth, because He wished to rouse them to all diligence, taking them away from all the cares of this life, that they might be occupied by the one single care of teaching.
EUSEB. Wishing then that they should be free from the desire of wealth and the anxieties of life, He gave this injunction. He took it as a proof of their faith and courage, that when it was commanded them to lead a life of extreme poverty, they would not escape from what was ordered. For it was fitting that they should make a kind of bargain, receiving these saving virtues to recompense them for obedience to commands. And when He was making them soldiers of God, He girds them for battle against their enemies, by telling them to embrace poverty. For no soldier of God entangles himself in the affairs of a secular life.
AMBROSE; Of what kind then he ought to be who preaches the Gospel of the kingdom of God is marked out by these Gospel precepts; that is, he must not require the supports of secular aid; and clinging wholly to faith, he must believe that the less he requires those things, the more they will be supplied to him.
THEOPHYL. For He sends them out as very beggars, so that He would have them neither carry bread, nor any thing else of which men are generally in want.
AUG. Or, the Lord did not wish the disciples to possess and carry with them these things, not that they were not necessary to the support of this life, but because He sent them thus to show that these things were due to them from those believers to whom they announced the Gospel, that so they might neither possess security, nor carry about with them the necessaries of this life, either great or little. He has therefore, according to Mark, excluded all except a staff, showing that the faithful owe every thing to their ministers who require no superfluities. But this permission of the staff He has mentioned by name, when He says, They should take nothing in the way, but a staff only.
AMBROSE; To those also who wish it, this place admits of being explained, so as to seem only to represent a spiritual temper of mind, which appears to have castoff as it were a certain covering of the body; not only rejecting power and despising wealth, but renouncing also the delights of the flesh itself.THEOPHYL. Some also understand by the Apostles not carrying scrip, nor staff, nor two coats, that they must not lay up treasures, (which a scrip implies, collecting many things,) nor be angry and of a quarrelsome spirit, (which the staff signifies,) nor be false and of a double heart, (which is meant by the two coats.)
CYRIL; But it may be said, How then shall necessary things be prepared for them. He therefore adds, And into whatsoever house you enter, there abide, and thence depart. As if He said, Let the food of disciples suffice you, who receiving from you spiritual things, will minister to you temporal. But He ordered them to abide in one house, so as neither to incommode the host, (that is, so as to send him away,) nor themselves to incur the suspicion of gluttony and wantonness.
AMBROSE; He pronounces it to be foreign to the character of a preacher of the heavenly kingdom to run from house to house and change the rights of inviolable hospitality; but as the grace of hospitality is supposed to be offered, so also if they are not received the dust must be shaken oil; and they are commanded to depart from the city; as it follows, And whosoever will not receive you when you go out of that city, shake off the very dust from your feet for a testimony, &c.
THEOPHYL; The dust is shaken off from the Apostles’ feet as a testimony of their labors, that they entered into a city, and the apostolical preaching had reached to the inhabitants thereof. Or the dust is shaken off when they receive nothing (not even of the necessaries of life) from those who despised the Gospel.
CYRIL; For it is very improbable that those who despise the saving Word, and the Master of the household, will show themselves kind to His servants, and seek further blessings.
AMBROSE; Or it is a great return of hospitality which is here taught, i.e. that we should not only wish peace to our hosts, but also if any faults of earthly infirmity obscure them, they should be removed by receiving the footsteps of apostolical preaching.
THEOPHYL; But if any by treacherous negligence, or even from zeal, despise the word of God, their communion must be shunned, the dust of the feet must be shaken off, lest by their vain deeds which are to be compared to the dust, the footstep of a chaste mind be defiled.
EUSEB. But when the Lord had girded His disciples as soldiers of God with divine virtue and wise admonitions, sending them to the Jews as teachers and physicians, they afterwards went forth, as it follows, And they departed, and went through the towns preaching the gospel, and healing every where.
Ver 7. Now Herod the tetrarch heard of all that was done by him: and he was perplexed, because that it was said of some, that John was risen from the dead;8. And of some, that Elias had appeared; and of others, that one of the old prophets was risen again.9. And Herod said, John have I beheaded: but who is this, of whom I hear such things? And he desired to see him.
CHRYS. It was not till a long time had passed that Herod took notice of the things that were done by Jesus, (to show Ho you the pride of a tyrant,) for he did not acknowledge them at first, as it is said, Now Herod heard, &c.
THEOPHYL. Herod was the son of Herod the Great who slew the children, who was king, but this Herod was tetrarch. He inquired about Christ, who He was. Hence it follows, And he was perplexed.
CHRYS. For sinners fear both when they know, and when they are ignorant; they are afraid of shadows, are suspicious about every thing, and are alarmed at the slightest noise. Such in truth is sin; when no one blames or finds fault, it betrays a man, when no one accuses it condemns, and makes the offender timid and backward. But the cause of fear is stated afterwards, in the words, Because that it was said of some.
THEOPHYL. For the Jews expected a resurrection of the dead to a fleshly life, eating and drinking, but those that rise again will not be concerned with the deeds of the flesh.
CHRYS. When Herod then heard of the miracles which Jesus was performing, he says, John have I beheaded, which was not an expression of boasting, but by way of allaying his fears, and bringing his distracted soul to recollect that he had killed. And because he had beheaded John, he adds, but who is this.
THEOPHYL. If John is alive and has risen from the dead, I shall know him when I see him; as it follows, And he sought to see him.
AUG. Now Luke, though he keeps the same order in his narrative with Mark, does not oblige us to believe that the course of events was the same. In these words too, Mark testifies only to the fact that others (not Herod) said that John had risen from the dead, but since Luke has mentioned Herod’s perplexity, we must suppose either that after that perplexity, he confirmed in his own mind what was said by others, since he says to his servants, (as Matthew relates,) This is John the Baptist, he is risen from the dead, or these words of Matthew must have been altered so as to signify that he was still doubting.
Ver 10. And the apostles, when they were returned, told him all that they had done. And he took them, and went aside privately into a desert place belonging to the city called Bethsaida.11. And the people, when they knew it, followed him: and he received them, and spoke to them of the kingdom of God, and healed them that had need of healing.12. And when the day began to wear away, then came the twelve, and said to him, Send the multitude away, that they may go into the towns and country round about, and lodge, and get victuals: for we are here in a desert place.13. But he said to them, Give you them to eat. And they said, We have no more but five loaves and two fishes; except we should go and buy meat for all this people.14. For they were about five thousand men. And he said to his disciples, Make them sit down by fifties In a company.15. And they did so, and made them all sit down.16. Then he took the five loaves and the two fishes, aLk9_16nd looking up to heaven, he blessed them, and broke, and gave to the disciples to set before the multitude.17. And they did eat, and were all filled: and there was taken up of fragments that remained to them twelve baskets.
AUG. Matthew and Mark, taking occasion from what had occurred above, relate here how John was slain by Herod. But Luke, who had long before given an account of John’s sufferings, after mentioning that perplexity of Herod’s, as to who our Lord was, immediately adds, And the apostles when they were returned told him all that they had done.
THEOPHYL; But they not only tell Him what they had done and taught, but also, as Matthew implies, the things which John suffered while they were occupied in teaching, are now repeated to Him either by His own, or, according to Matthew, by John’s disciples.
ISIDORE; Our Lord because He hates the men of blood, and those that dwell with them, as long as they depart not from their crimes, after the murder of the Baptist left the murderers and departed; as it follows, And he took them, and went aside privately into a desert place belonging to the city called Bethsaida.
THEOPHYL; Now Bethsaida is in Galilee, the city of the Apostles Andrew, Peter, and Philip, near the lake of Gennesaret. Our Lord did not this from fear of death, (as some think,) but to spare His enemies, lest they should commit two murders, waiting also for the proper time for His own sufferings.
CHRYS. Now He did not depart before, but after it was told Him what had happened, manifesting in each particular the reality of His incarnation.
THEOPHYL. But our Lord went into a desert place because He was about to perform the miracle of the loaves of bread, that no one should say that the bread was brought from the neighboring cities.
CHRYS. Or He went into a desert place c that no one might follow Him. But the people did not retire, but accompanied Him, as it follows, And the people when they knew it, followed him.
CYRIL; Some indeed asking to be delivered from evil spirits, but others desiring of Him the removal of their diseases; those also who were delighted with His teaching attended Him diligently.
THEOPHYL; But He as the powerful and merciful Savior by receiving the weary, by teaching the ignorant, curing the sick, filling the hungry, implies how He was pleased with their devotion; as it follows, And he received them, and spoke to them of the kingdom of God, &c.
THEOPHYL. That you may learn that the wisdom which is in us is distributed into word and work, and that it becomes us to speak of what has been done, and to do what we speak of. But when the day was wearing away, the disciples now beginning to have a care of others take compassion on the multitude.
CYRIL; For, as has been said, they sought to be healed of different diseases, and because the disciples saw that what they sought might be accomplished by His simple assent, they say, Send them away, that they be no more distressed. But mark the overflowing kindness of Him who is asked.
He not only grants those things which the disciples seek, but to those who follow Him, He supplies the bounty of a munificent hand, commanding food to be set before them; as it follows, But he said to them, Give you them to eat.
THEOPHYL. Now He said not this as ignorant of their answer, but wishing to induce them to tell Him how much bread they had, that so a great miracle might be manifested through their confession, when the quantity of bread was made known.
CYRIL; But this was a command which the disciples were unable to comply with, since they had with them but five loaves and two fishes. As it follows, And they said, We have no more but five loaves and two fishes; except we go and buy meat for all this people.
AUG. In these words indeed Luke has strung together in one sentence the answer of Philip, saying, Two hundred pennyworth of bread is not sufficient for them, but that every one may have a little, and the answer of Andrew, There is a lad here who has five loaves and two small fishes, as John relates. For when Luke says, We have no more but five loaves and two fishes, he refers to the answer of Andrew. But that which he added, Except we go and buy food for all the people, seems to belong to Philip’s answer, save that he is silent about the two hundred pennyworth, although this may be implied also in the expression of Andrew himself. For when he had said, There is a lad here who has five loaves and two fishes, he added, But what are these among so many? that is to say, unless we go and buy meat for all this people. From which diversity of words, but harmony of things and opinions, it is sufficiently evident that we have this wholesome lesson given us, that we must seek for nothing in words but the meaning of the speaker; and to explain this clearly, ought to be the care of all truth telling authors whenever they relate any thing concerning man, or angel, or God.
CYRIL; But that the difficulty of the miracle may be still more enhanced, the number of men is stated to have been by no means small. As it follows, And there were about five thousand men, besides women and children, as another Evangelist relates.
THEOPHYL. Our Lord teaches us, that when we entertain any one, we ought to make him sit down at meat, and partake of every comfort. Hence it follows, And he said to his disciples, &c.
AUG. That Luke says here, that the men were ordered to sit down by fifties, but Mark, by fifties and hundreds, does not matter, seeing that one spoke of a part, the other of the whole. But if one had mentioned only the fifties, and the other only the hundreds, they would seem to be greatly opposed to one another; nor would it be sufficiently distinct which of the two was said. But who will not admit, that one was mentioned by one Evangelist, the other by another, and that if more attentively considered it must be found so. But I have said thus much, because often certain things of this kind exist, which to those who take little heed and judge hastily appear contrary to one another, and yet are not so.
CHRYS. And to make men believe that He came from the Father, Christ when He was about to work the miracle looked up to heaven. As it follows, There he took the five loaves, &c.
CYRIL; This also He did purposely for our sakes, that we may learn that at the commencement of a feast when we are going to break bread, we ought to offer thanks for it to God, and to draw forth the heavenly blessing upon it. As it follows, And he blessed, and broke.
CHRYS. He distributes to them by the hands of His disciples, so honoring them that they might not forget it when the miracle was past. Now He did not create food for the multitude out of what did not exist, that He might stop the mouth of the Manichaeans, who say that the creatures are independent of Him; showing that He Himself is both the Giver of food, and, the same who said, Let the earth bring forth, &c. He makes also the fishes to increase, to signify that He has dominion over the seas, as weld as the dry land. But well did He perform a special miracle for the weak, at the same time that He gives also a general blessing in feeding all the strong as well as the weak. And they did all eat, and were filled.
GREG. NYSS. For whom neither the heaven rained manna, nor the earth brought forth corn according to its nature, but from the unspeakable garner of divine power the blessing was poured forth. The bread is supplied in the hands of those who serve, it is even increased through the fullness of those who eat. The sea supplied not their wants with the food of fishes, but He who placed in the sea the race of fishes.
AMBROSE; It is clear that the multitude were filled not by a scanty meal, but by a constant and increasing supply of food. You might see in an incomprehensible manner amid the hands of those who distributed, the particles multiplying which they broke not; the fragments too, touched by the fingers of the breakers, spontaneously mounting up.
CYRIL; Nor was this all that the miracle came to; but it follows, And there was taken up of the fragments that remained, twelve baskets, that this might be a manifest proof that a work of love to our neighbor will claim a rich reward from God.
THEOPHYL. And that we might learn the value of hospitality, and how much our own store is increased when we help those that need
CHRYS. But He caused not loaves to remain over, but fragments, that He might show them to be the remnants of the loaves, and these were made to be of that number, that there might be as many baskets as disciples.
AMBROSE; After that she who received the type of the Church was cured of the issue of blood, and that the Apostles were appointed to preach the Gospel of the kingdom of God, the nourishment of heavenly grace is imparted. but mark to whom it is imparted. Not to the indolent, not to those in a city, of rank in the synagogue, or in high secular office, but to those who seek Christ in the desert.
THEOPHYL; Who Himself having left Judea, which by unbelief had bereft herself of the source of prophecy, in the desert of the Church which had no husband, dispenses the food of the word. But many companies of the faithful leaving the city of their former manner of life, and their various opinions, follow Christ into the deserts of the Gentiles.
AMBROSE; But they who are not proud are themselves received by Christ, and the Word of God speaks with them, not about worldly things, but of the kingdom of God. And if any have ulcers of bodily passions, to these He willingly affords His cure. But every where the order of the mystery is preserved, that first through the remission of sins the wounds should be healed, but afterwards the nourishment of the heavenly table should plentifully abound.
THEOPHYL; Now when the day was going down, he refreshes the multitudes, that is, as the end of the world approaches, or when the Sun of righteousness sets for us.
AMBROSE; Although the multitude is not as yet fed with stronger food. For first, as milk, there are five loaves; secondly, seven; thirdly, the Body of Christ is the stronger food. But if any one fears to seek food, let him leave every thing that belongs to him, and listen to the word of God. But whoever begins to hear the word of God begins to eat, the Apostles begin to see him eating. And if they who eat, as yet know not what they eat, Christ knows; He knows that they eat not this world’s food, but the food of Christ. For they did not as yet know that the food of a believing people was not to be bought and sold. Christ knew that we are rather to be bought with a ransom, but His banquet to be without price.
THEOPHYL; The Apostles had only got but the five loaves of the Mosaic law, and the two fishes of each covenant, which were covered in the secret place of obscure mysteries, as in the waters of the deep. But because men have five external senses, the five thousand men who followed the Lord signify those who still live in worldly ways, knowing well how to use the external things they possess. For they who entirely renounce the world are raised aloft in the enjoyment of His Gospel feast. But the different divisions of the guests, indicate the different congregations of Churches throughout the world, which together compose the one Catholic.
AMBROSE; But here the bread which Jesus broke is mystically indeed the word of God, and discourse concerning Christ, which when it is divided is increased. For from these few words, He ministered abundant nourishment to the people. He gave us words like loaves, which while they are tasted by our mouth are doubled.
THEOPHYL; Now our Savior does not create new food for the hungry multitudes, but He took those things which the disciples had and blessed them, since coming in the flesh He preaches nothing else than what had been foretold, but demonstrates the words of prophecy to be pregnant with the mysteries of grace; He looks towards heaven, that thither He may teach us to direct the eye of the mind, there to seek the light of knowledge; He breaks and distributes to the disciples to be placed before the multitude, because He revealed to them the Sacraments of the Law and the Prophets that they might preach them to the world.
AMBROSE; Not without meaning are the fragments which remained over and above what the multitudes had eaten, collected by the disciples, since those things which are divine you may more easily find among the elect than among the people. Blessed is he who can collect those which remain over and above even to the learned. But for what reason did Christ fill twelve baskets, except that He might solve that word concerning the Jewish people, His hands served in the basket? that is, the people who before collected mud for the pots, now through the cross of Christ gather up the nourishment of the heavenly life. Nor is this the office of few, but all. For by the twelve baskets, as if of each of the tribes, the foundation of the faith is spread abroad.
THEOPHYL; Or by the twelve baskets the twelve Apostles are figured, and all succeeding teachers, despised indeed by men without, but within loaded with the fragments of saving food.
Ver 18. And it came to pass, as he was alone praying, his disciples were with him: and he asked them, saying, Whom say the people that I am?19. They answering said, John the Baptist; but some say, Elias; and others say, that one of the old prophets is risen again.20. He said to them, But whom say you that I am? Peter answering said, The Christ of God.21. And he straitly charged them, and commanded them to tell no man that thing;22. Saying, The Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders and Chief Priests and Scribes, and be slain, and be raised the third day.
CYRIL; Our Lord having retired from the multitude, and being in a place apart, was engaged in prayer. As it is said, And it came to pass, as he was alone praying. For He ordained Himself as an example of this, instructing His disciples by an easy’ method of teaching. For I suppose the rulers of the people ought to be superior also in good deeds, to those that are under them, ever holding converse with them in all necessary things, and treating of those things in which God delights.
THEOPHYL; Now the disciples were with the Lord, but He alone prayed to the Father, since the saints may be joined to the Lord in the bond of faith and love, but the Son alone is able to penetrate the incomprehensible secrets of the Father’s will. Every where then He prays alone, for human wishes comprehend not the counsel of God, nor can any one be a partaker with Christ of the deep things of God.
CYRIL; Now His engaging in prayer might perplex His disciples. For they saw Him praying like a man, Whom before they had seen performing miracles with divine power. In order then to banish all perplexity of this kind, He asks them this question, not because He did not know the reports which they had gathered from without, but that He might rid them of the opinion of the many, and instill into them the true faith. Hence it follows, And he asked them, saying, Whom say the people that I am?
THEOPHYL; Rightly does our Lord, when about to inquire into the faith of the disciples, first inquire into the opinion of the multitudes, lest their confession should appear not to be determined by their knowledge, but to be formed by the opinion of the generality, and they should be considered not to believe from experience, but like Herod to be perplexed by different reports which they heard.
AUG. Now it may raise a question, that Luke says that our Lord asked His disciples, Whom do men say that I am? at the same time that He was alone praying, and they also were with Him; whereas Mark says, that they were asked this question by our Lord on the way; but this is difficult only to him who never prayed on the way.
AMBROSE; But it is no trifling opinion of the multitude which the disciples mention, when it is added, But they answering said, John the Baptist, (whom they knew to be beheaded;) but some say, Elias, (whom they thought would come,) but others say that one of the old Prophets is risen again. But to make this inquiry belongs to a different kind of wisdom from ours, for if it were enough for the Apostle Paul to know nothing but Christ Jesus, and Him crucified, what more can I desire to know than Christ?
CYRIL; But mark the subtle skill of the question. For he directs them first to the praises of strangers, that having overthrown these, He might beget in them the right opinion. So when the disciples had given the opinion of the people, He asks them their own opinion; as it is added, And He said to them, Whom say you that I am? How marked is you! He excludes them from the other, that they may avoid their opinions; as if He said, you who by my decree are called to the Apostleship, the witnesses of my miracles, whom do you say that I am? But Peter anticipated the rest, and becomes the mouthpiece of the whole company, and launching forth into the eloquence of divine love, utters the confession of faith, as it is added, Peter answering said, The Christ of God. He says not merely that He was Christ of God, but now He uses the article. Hence it is in the Greek. For many divinely accounted persons are in diverse ways called Christs, for some were anointed kings, some prophets. But we through Christ have been anointed by the holy Spirit, have obtained the name of Christ. But there is only one who is the Christ of God and the Father, He alone as it were having His own Father who is in heaven. And so Luke agrees indeed in the same opinion as Matthew, who relates Peter to have said, You are Christ, the Son of the living God, but speaking briefly Luke says that Peter answered, the Christ of God.
AMBROSE; In this one name there is the expression both of His divinity and incarnation, and the belief of His passion. He has therefore comprehended every thing, having expressed both the nature and tile name wherein is all virtue.
CYRIL; But we must observe, that Peter most wisely confessed Christ to be one, against those who presumed to divide Immanuel into two Christs. For Christ did not inquire of them, saying, Whom do men say the divine Word is? but the Son of man, whom Peter confessed to be the Son of God. Herein then is Peter to be admired, and thought worthy of such chief honor, seeing that Him whom he marveled at in our form, he believed to be the Christ of the Father, that is to say, that the Word which proceeded of the Father’s Substance was become man.
AMBROSE; But our Lord Jesus Christ was as at first unwilling to be preached, lest an uproar should arise; as it follows, And he straitly charged them, and commanded them to tell no man any thing. For many reasons He commands His disciples to be silent; to deceive the prince of this world, to reject boasting, to teach humility. Christ then would not boast, and cost you boast who are of ignoble birth? Likewise He did it to prevent rude and as yet imperfect disciples from being oppressed with the wonder of this awful announcement. They are then forbid to preach Him as the Son of God, that they might afterwards preach Him crucified.
CHRYS. Timely also was our Lord’s command that no one should tell that He was Christ, in order that when offenses should be taken away and the sufferings of the cross completed, a proper opinion of Him might be firmly rooted in the minds of the hearers. For that which has once taken root and afterwards been torn up, when fresh planted will scarcely ever be preserved. But that which when once planted continues undisturbed, grows up securely. For if Peter was offended merely by what he heard, what would be the feelings of those many who, after they had heard that He was the Son of God, saw Him crucified, and spit upon?
CYRIL; It was the duty then of the disciples to preach Him throughout the world. For this was the work of those who were chosen by Him to the office of the Apostleship. But as holy Scripture bears witness, There is a time for every thing. For it was fitting that the cross and resurrection should be accomplished, an d then should follow the preaching of the Apostles; as it is spoken, saying, The Son of man must needs suffer many things.
AMBROSE; Perhaps because the Lord knew that the disciples would believe even the difficult mystery of the Passion and Resurrection, He wished to be Himself the proclaimer of His own Passion and Resurrection.
Ver 23. And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.24. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it.25. For what is a man advantaged, if he gain the whole world, and lose himself, or be cast away?26. For whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he shall come in his own glory, and in his Father’s, and of the holy angels.27. But I tell you of a truth, there be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the kingdom of God.
CYRIL; Great and noble leaders provoke the mighty in arms to deeds of velour, not only by promising them the honors of victory, but by declaring that suffering is in itself glorious. Such we see is the teaching of the Lord Jesus Christ. For He had foretold to His disciples, that He must needs suffer the accusations of the Jews, be slain, and rise again on the third day. Lest then they should think that Christ indeed was to suffer persecution for the life of the world, but that they might lead a soft life, He shows them that they must needs pass through similar struggles, if they desired to obtain His glory. Hence it is said, And he said to all.
THEOPHYL; He rightly addressed Himself to all, since He treats of the higher things (which relate to the belief in His birth and passion) apart with His disciples.
CHRYS. Now the Savior of His great mercy and loving kindness will have no one serve Him unwillingly and from constraint, but those only who come of their own accord, and are grateful for being allowed to serve Him. And so not by compelling men and putting a yoke upon them, but by persuasion and kindness, He draws to Him every where those who are willing, saying, If any man will, &c.
BASIL; But He has left His own life for an example of blameless conversation to those who are willing to obey Him; as He says, Come after me, meaning thereby not a following of His body, for that would be impossible to all, since our Lord is in heaven, but a due imitation of His life according to their capacities.
THEOPHYL; Now unless a man renounces himself, he comes not near to Him, who is above him; it is said therefore, Let him deny himself.
BASIL; A denial of one’s self is indeed a total forgetfulness of things past, and a forsaking of his own will ill anti affection
ORIGEN; A man also denies himself when by a sufficient alteration of manners or a good conversation he changes a life of habitual wickedness. He who has long lived in lasciviousness, abandons his lustful self when he becomes chaste, and in like manner a forsaking of any crimes is a denial of one’s self.
BASIL; Now a desire of suffering death for Christ and a mortification of one’s members which are upon the earth, end a manful resolution to undergo any danger for Christ, and an indifference towards the present life, this it is to take up one’s cross. Hence it is added, And let him take up his cross daily.
THEOPHYL. By the cross, He speaks of an ignominious death, meaning, that if any one will follow Christ, he must not for his own sake flee from even an ignominious death.
GREG. In two ways also is the cross taken up, either when the body is afflicted through abstinence, or the mind touched by sympathy.
GREEK EX. He rightly joins these two, Let him deny himself, and let him take up his cross, for as he who is prepared to ascend the cross conceives in his mind the intention of death, and so goes on thinking to have no more part in this life, so he who is willing to follow our Lord, ought first to deny himself, and so take up his cross, that his will may be ready to endure every calamity.
BASIL; Herein then stands a man’s perfection, that he should have his affections hardened, even towards life itself, and have ever about him the answer of death, that he should by no means trust in himself. But perfection takes its beginning from the relinquishment of things foreign to it; suppose these to be possessions or vain-glory, or affection for things that profit not.
THEOPHYL; We are bid then to take up the cross of which we have above spoken, and having taken it, to follow our Lord who bore His own cross. Hence it follows, And let him follow me.
ORIGEN; He assigns the cause of this when He adds, For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; that is, whosoever will according to the present life keep his own soul fixed on things of sense, the same shall lose it, never reaching to the bounds of happiness. But on the other hand He adds, but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake, shall save it. That is, whosoever forsakes the things of sense looking upon truth, and exposes himself to death, as it were losing his life for Christ, shall the rather save it. If then it is a blessed thing to save our life, (with regard to that safety which is in God,) there must be also a certain good surrender of life which is made by looking upon Christ. It seems also to me from resemblance to that denying of one’s self which has been before spoken of, that it becomes us to lose a certain sinful life of ours, to take up that which is saved by virtue.
CYRIL; But that incomparable exercise of the passion of Christ, which surpasses the delights and precious things of the world, is alluded to when he adds, What is a man advantaged, if he gain the whole world and lose himself, or be a cast away? As if he says, When a man, through his looking after the present delights, gains pleasure, and refuses indeed to suffer, but chooses to live splendidly in his riches, what advantage will he get then, when he has lost his soul? For the fashion of this world passes away, and pleasant things depart as a shadow. For the treasures of ungodliness shall not profit, but righteousness snatches a man from death.
GREG. Since then the holy Church has one time of persecution, another time of peace, our Lord has noticed both times in His command to us. For at the time of persecution we must lay down our soul, that is our life, which He signified, saying, Whosoever shall lose his life. But in time of peace, those things which have the greatest power to subdue us, our earthly desires, must be vanquished; which He signified, saying, What does it profit a man, &c. Now we commonly despise all fleeting things, but still we are so checked by that feeling of shame so common to man, that we are yet unable to express in words the uprightness which we preserve in our hearts.
But to this wound the Lord indeed subjoins a suitable application, saying, For whoever shall be ashamed of me and my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed.
THEOPHYL. He is ashamed of Christ who says, Am I to believe on Him that is crucified? He also is ashamed of His words who despises the simplicity of the Gospel. But of him shall the Lord be ashamed in His kingdom, in the same manner as if a master of a household should have a bad servant, and be ashamed to have him.
CYRIL; Now he strikes fear into their hearts, when He says that He will descend from heaven, not in His former humility and condition proportioned to our capacities for receiving Him, but in the glory of the Father, with the Angels ministering to Him. For it follows, When he shall come in his own glory, and his Father’s, and of the holy angels. Awful then and fatal will it be, to he branded as an enemy, and slothful in business, when so great a Judge shall descend with the armies of Angels standing round Him. But from this you may perceive, that though He has taken to Himself our flesh and blood, the Son is no less God, seeing that He promises to come in the glory of God the Father, and that Angels shall minister to Him as the Judge of all, Who was made man like to us.
AMBROSE; Now our Lord while He ever raises us to look to the future reward of virtue, and teaches us how good it is to despise worldly things, so also He supports the weakness of the human mind by a present recompense. For it is a hard thing to take up the cross, and expose your life to danger and your body to death; to give up what you are, when you wish to be what you are not; and even the loftiest virtue seldom exchanges things present for future. The good Master then, lest any man should be broken down by despair or weariness, straightway promises that He will be seen by the faithful, in these words, But I say to you, There are some standing here who shall not taste of death till they see the kingdom of God.
THEOPHYL. That is, the glory in which the righteous shall be. Now He said this of His transfiguration, which was the type of the glory to come; as if He said, There are some standing here, Peter, James, and John, who shall not reach death before they have seen at the time of My transfiguration what will be the glory of those who confess Me.
GREG. Or, by the kingdom of God in this place, is meant the present Church; and some of His disciples were to live in the body up to that time, when they should behold the Church of God built and raised up against the glory of the world.
AMBROSE; If then we also wish not to fear death, let us stand where Christ is. For they only cannot taste death who are able to stand with Christ, wherein we may consider from the nature of the very word, that they will not experience even the slightest perception of death, who are thought worthy to obtain union with Christ. At least let us suppose that the death of the body is tasted by touch, the life of the soul preserved by possession; for here not the death of the body, but of the soul, is denied.
Ver 32. But Peter and they that were with him were heavy with sleep: and when they were awake, they saw his glory, and the two men that stood with him.33. And it came to pass, as they departed from him, Peter said to Jesus, Master, it is good for us to be here: and let us make three tabernacles; one for you, and one for Moses, and one for Elias: not knowing what he said.34. While he thus spoke, there came a cloud, and overshadowed them: and they feared as they entered into the cloud.35. And there came a voice out of the cloud, saying This is my beloved Son: hear him.36. And when the voice was past, Jesus was found alone. And they kept it close, and told no man in those days any of those things which they had seen.
THEOPHYL. While Christ is engaged in prayer, Peter is heavy with sleep, for he was weak, and did what was natural to man; as it is said, But Peter and they that were with him were heavy with sleep. But when they awake, they behold His glory, and the two men with Him; as it follows, And when they were awake, they saw his glory, and the two men that stood with him.
CHRYS. Or, by the word sleep, he means that strange maze that fell upon them by reason of the vision. For it was not night time, but the exceeding brightness of the light weighed down their weak eyes.
AMBROSE; For the incomprehensible brightness of the Divine nature oppresses our bodily senses. For if the sight of the body is unable to contain the sun’s ray when opposite to the eyes which behold it, how can the corruption of our fleshly members endure the glory of God? And perhaps they were oppressed with sleep, that after their rest they might behold the sight of the resurrection. Therefore when they were awake they saw His glory. For no one, except he is watching, sees the glory of Christ. Peter was delighted, and as the allurements of this world enticed him not, was carried away by the glory of the resurrection. Hence it follows, And it came to pass as they departed, &c.
CYRIL; For perhaps holy Peter imagined that the kingdom of heaven was at hand, and therefore it seemed good to him to abide on the mount.
DAMAS. It were not good for you, Peter, that Christ should abide there, for if He had remained, the promise made to you would never receive its accomplishment. For neither would you have obtained the keys of the kingdom, nor the tyranny of death been abolished. Seek not bliss before its time, as Adam did to be made a God. The time shall come when you shall enjoy the sight without ceasing, and dwell together with Him who is light and life.
AMBROSE; But Peter distinguished not only by earnest feeling, but also by devout deeds, wishing like a zealous workman to build three tabernacles, offers the service of their united labor; for it follows, let us make three tabernacles, one for you, &c.
DAMAS. But the Lord ordained you not the builder of tabernacles, but of the universal Church. Your words have been brought to pass by your disciples, by your sheep, in building a tabernacle, not only for Christ, but also for His servants. But Peter said not this deliberately, but through the inspiration of the Spirit revealing things to come, as it follows, not knowing what he said.
CYRIL; He knew not what he said, for neither was the time come for the end of the world, or for the Saints’ enjoyment of their promised hope. And when the dispensation was now commencing, how was it fitting that Christ should abandon His love of the world, Who was willing to suffer for it?
DAMAS. It behoved Him also not to confine the fruit of His incarnation to the service of those only who were on the mount, but to extend it to all believers, which was to be accomplished by His cross and passion.
TIT. BOST. Peter also was ignorant what he said, seeing that it was not proper to make three tabernacles for the three. For the servants are not received with their Lord, the creature is not placed beside the Creator.
AMBROSE; Nor does the condition of man in this corruptible body allow of making a tabernacle to God, whether in the soul or in the body, or in any other place; and although he knew not what he said, yet a service was offered which not by any deliberate forwardness, but its premature devotion, receives in abundance the fruits of piety. For his ignorance was part of his condition, his offer of devotion.
CHRYS. Or else Peter heard that it was necessary Christ must die, and on the third day rise again, but he saw around him a very remote and solitary place; he supposed therefore that the place had some great protection. For this reason he said, It is good for us to be here. Moses a too was present, who entered into the cloud. Elias, who on the mount brought down fire from heaven. The Evangelist then, to indicate the confusion of mind in which he utters this, added, Not knowing what he said.
AUG. Now in what Luke here says of Moses and Elias, And it came to pass as they departed from him, Peter said to Jesus, Master, it is good for us to be here, he must not be thought contrary to Matthew and Mark, who have so connected Peter’s suggestion of this, as if Moses and Elias were still speaking with our Lord. For they did not expressly state that Peter said it then, but rather were silent about what Luke added, that as they departed, Peter suggested this to our Lord.
THEOPHYL. But while Peter spoke, our Lord builds a tabernacle not made with hands, and enters into it with the Prophets. Hence it is added, While he thus spoke there came a cloud and overshadowed them, to show that He was not inferior to the Father. For as in the Old Testament it was said, the Lord dwelt in the cloud, so now also a cloud received our Lord, not a dark cloud, but bright and shining.
BASIL; For the obscurity of the Law had passed away; for as smoke is caused by the fire, so the cloud by light; but because a cloud is the sign of calmness, the rest of the future state is signified by the covering of a cloud.
AMBROSE; For it is the overshadowing of the divine Spirit which does not darken, but reveals secret things to the hearts of men.
ORIGEN; Now His disciples being unable to bear this, fell down, humbled under the mighty hand of God, greatly tom afraid since they knew what was said to Moses, No man shall see my face, and live. Hence it follows, And they feared as they entered into the cloud.
AMBROSE; Now observe, that the cloud was not black from the darkness of condensed air, and such as to overcast the sky with a horrible gloom, but a shining cloud, from which we were not moistened with rain, but as the voice of Almighty God came forth the dew of faith was shed upon the hearts of men. For it follows, And there came a voice out of the cloud, saying, This is my beloved Son: hear you him. Elias was not His Son. Moses was not. But this is the Son whom you see alone.
CYRIL; How then should men suppose Him who is really the Son to be made or created, when God the Father thundered c. from above, This is my beloved Son! as if He said, Not one of My sons, but He who is truly and by nature My Son, according to whose example the others are adopted. He ordered them then to obey Him, when He added, Hear you him. And to obey Him more than Moses and Elias, for Christ is the end of the Law and the Prophets. Hence the Evangelist adds significantly, And when the voice was past, Jesus was found alone.
THEOPHYL. Lest in truth any one should suppose that these words, This is my beloved Son, were uttered about Moses or Elias.
AMBROSE; They then departed, when our Lord’s manifestation had begun. There are three seen at the beginning, one at the end; for faith being made perfect, they are one. Therefore are they also received into the body of Christ, because we also shall be one in Christ Jesus; or perhaps, because the Law and the Prophets came out from the Word.
THEOPHYL. Now those things which began from the Word, end in the Word. For by this he implies that up to a certain time the Law and the Prophets appear, as here Moses and Elias; but afterwards, at their departure, Jesus is alone. For now abides the Gospel, legal things having passed away.
THEOPHYL; And mark, that as when our Lord was baptized in Jordan, so also when He was glorified on the Mount, the mystery of the whole Trinity is declared, for His glory which we confess at baptism, we shall see at the resurrection. Nor in vain does the Holy Spirit appear here in the cloud, there in the form of a dove, seeing that he who now preserves with a simple heart the faith which he receives, shall then in the light of open vision look upon those things which he believed.
ORIGEN; Now Jesus wishes not those things which relate to His glory to be spoken of before His passion. Hence it follows, And they kept it close. For men would have been offended, especially the multitude, if they saw Him crucified Who had been so glorified.
DAMAS. This also our Lord commands, since He knew His disciples to be imperfect, seeing that they had not yet received the full measure of the Spirit, lest the hearts of others who had not seen should be prostrated by sorrow, and lest the traitor should be stirred up to a frantic hatred.
Ver 37. And it came to pass, that on the next day, when they were come down from the hill, much people met him.38. And, behold, a man of the company cried out, saying, Master, I beseech you, look upon my son: for he is my only child.39. And, lo, a spirit takes him, and he suddenly cries out; and it tears him that he foams again, and bruising him hardly departs from him.40. And I besought your disciples to cast him out; and they could not.41. And Jesus answering said, O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you, and suffer you? Bring your son hither.42. And as he was yet a coming, the devil threw him down, and tore him. And Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit, and healed the child, and delivered him again to his father.43a. And they were all amazed at the mighty power of God.
THEOPHYL; Certain places accord with certain events. On the Mount our Lord prays, is transfigured, reveals the secrets of His glory to His disciples; as He descends to the lower parts, He is received by a large concourse. As it is said, And it came to pass, that on the next day, when he was come down from the hill, much people met him.
Above He makes known the voice of the Father, below He expels the evil spirits. Hence it follows, And, behold, a man of the company cried out, saying, Master, I beseech you look upon my son.
TIT. BOST. It seems indeed to me that this was a wise man. For he said not to the Savior, "Do this or that," but, Look on my son, for this suffices for His salvation; as the prophet said, Look on me, and have mercy on me; and he says, on my son, to show that his was a reasonable forwardness in crying out aloud among the multitude. He adds, for he is my only child. As if to say, There is none other I can expect to be the consolation of my old age.
He next enters into the sufferings, that he may move his Hearer to compassion, saying, And, lo, the spirit takes him.
He then seems to accuse the disciples, but his answer is rather a justification of his casting aside his fear, saying, And I besought your disciples to cast him out: and they could not. As if he said, Think not that I have come lightly to You. Marvelous is Your greatness! I did not intrude upon Your presence at once, but went first to Your disciples.
Because they failed to work the cure, I am now compelled to approach You. Our Lord therefore does not blame him, but the faithless generation; for it follows, And Jesus answering said, Of faithless and perverse generation.
CHRYS. But that this man was much weakened in faith, the writings of the Gospel show us in several places. In that place where he says, Help you my unbelief; and, If you can. And in that where Christ said, All things are possible to him that believes, &c.
CHRYS. Hence it seems to me more correct to account the father of the demoniac unbelieving, because he also casts reproach upon the holy Apostles, saying that they could not subdue the evil spirits. But it were better to have sought favor from God by honoring Him, for He has respect to them that fear Him. But he who says that those are weak with respect to their power over evil spirits, who have obtained that power from Christ, calumniates rather the grace than those who are adorned with that grace in whom Christ works. Christ is therefore offended with the accusation of the saints, to whom was entrusted the word of holy preaching. Wherefore the Lord rebukes him and those like-minded with him, saying, O faithless and perverse generation. As if He said, Because of your unbelief the grace has not received its accomplishment.
CHRYS. Now He does not direct His words to him alone but to all the Jews, lest He should cause him to doubt. For it must have been that many were offended
THEOPHYL. By the word perverse, He shows that this wickedness in them was not originally or by nature, for by nature indeed they were upright, being the seed of Abraham, but became perverted through malice.
CYRIL; As if not knowing how to continue in the right beginnings. Now Christ disdains to dwell with those who are thus disposed. Hence He says, How long shall I be with you, and suffer you? Feeling troubled with their company, because of their evil deeds.
CHRYS. Hereby also He shows that His departure was desired by Him, not because the suffering of the cross was grievous, but rather their conversation.
THEOPHYL; Not that weariness has overcome His patience, but after the manner of a physician, when he sees a sick man acting contrary to his commands, he says, How long shall I come to your house when I order one thing, you do another. But to prove that He was not angry with the man, but with the sin, He immediately added, Bring your son hither.
TIT. BOST. He might indeed have healed him by His simple command, but He makes his sufferings public, bringing, the weak in faith to the sight of things present. Then the devil, when he perceived our Lord, rends and dashes the child down; as it follows, And as he was yet a coming, the devil threw him down, and tore him; that so first the sufferings should be made manifest, then the remedy be applied.
CHRYS. The Lord however does this not for display, but for the father’s sake, that upon seeing the devil disturbed at the mere summons, he might thus at least be led to the belief of the future miracles; of which it follows, And Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit, and healed the child, and delivered him again to his father.
CYRIL; Now before not his father but the devil possessed him, but now the Evangelist adds that the people were astonished at the greatness of God, saying, And all were amazed at the mighty power of God, which he says, because of the gift of Christ, who conferred on the holy Apostles also the power of working divine miracles, and having the mastery over evil spirits.
THEOPHYL; Now in a mystical manner in proportion to their deserts does our Lord daily ascend to some men, seeing that the perfect and those whose conversation is in heaven, He glorifies by exalting higher, instructing them in things eternal, and teaching them things which can not be heard by the multitude, but to others he descends, in that He strengthens the earthly and foolish men, teaching and chastening them. Now this demoniac Matthew calls a lunatic; Mark, deaf and dumb. Matthew signifies those who change as the moon, increasing and decreasing through different vices, Mark those, who are dumb in not confessing the faith, deaf in not hearings the very word of faith. While the boy is coming to our Lord, he is dashed to the ground; because men when turned to the Lord are often grievously afflicted by the devil, that he may instill a hatred of virtue, or revenge the injury of his expulsion. As in the beginning of the Church he waged as many fierce conflicts as he had to bewail losses suddenly brought upon His kingdom. But our Lord rebukes not the boy who suffered violence, but the evil spirit who inflicted it; for he who desires to correct the sinner, ought by reproof and abhorrence to drive away the vice, but to revive the man by gentleness, until he can restore him to the spiritual father of the Church.
Ver 43b. - But while they wondered every one at all things which Jesus did, he said to his disciples,44. Let these sayings sink down into your ears: for the Son of man shall be delivered into the hands of men.45. But they understood not this saying, and it was hid from them, that they perceived it not: and they feared to ask him of that saying.
CYRIL; Every thing that Jesus did claimed admiration from all men for a peculiar and divine light reflected upon each; of His works, according to the Psalms, honor and majesty will you lay upon him. Although all indeed man marveled at those things which He did, He however addresses what follows, not to all, but to His disciples; as it is said, But while they wondered every one, &c. He had shown His glory on the mount to His disciples, and after this delivered a man from an evil spirit, but it was necessary for Him to undergo His passion for our salvation. Now His disciples might have been perplexed, saying, "Have we then been deceived in that we thought him to be God?"
That they might know then what was to happen to Him, He bids them lay up in their minds as a certain deposit the mystery of His passion, saying, Let these sayings sink down in your hearts. By the word your, He distinguishes them from others. For the multitude were not to know that He was about to suffer, but were rather to be assured that the dead would rise again, destroying death, lest they should be offended.
TIT. BOST. While all thus were wondering at the miracles, He foretell His passion. For miracles do not save, but the cross conveys the benefit. Hence he adds, For the Son of man shall be delivered into the hands of men.
ORIGEN; But it is not clearly expressed by whom He is to be delivered, for one says, that He is to be delivered up by Judas, another by the devil; but Paul says, that God the Father delivered Him up for us all; but Judas, as he delivered Him up for money, did it traitorously, the Father for His mercies’ sake.
THEOPHYL. Now our Lord in condescension to their infirmities and governing them with a kind of economy, did not permit them to understand what was said of the cross; as it follows, But they understood not.
THEOPHYL; This ignorance of the disciples proceeds not so much from slowness of understanding as from affection, for since they were yet carnal and ignorant of the mystery of the cross, they could not believe that He whom they thought to be really God would suffer death. And because they were often accustomed to hear Him speak by figure, they thought that He meant figuratively something else, by what He said of His betrayal.
CYRIL; Now some one perhaps will say, How were the disciples ignorant of the mystery of the cross, seeing that it was touched upon in several places by the shadows of the Law? But as Paul relates, Even to this day, when Moses is read, the vale is upon their hearts. It becomes then those who approach Christ, to say, Open you my eyes, that I may behold, the wonderful things out of your law.
THEOPHYL. Mark also the reverence of the disciples in what follows, And, they feared to ask him of that saying. For fear is the first step to reverence.
Ver 46. Then there arose a reasoning among them, which of them should be greatest.47. And Jesus, perceiving the thought of their heart, took a child, and set him by him,48. And said to them, Whosoever shall receive this child in my name receives me: and whosoever shall receive me receives him that sent me: for he that is least among you all, the same shall be great.49. And John answered and said, Master, we saw one casting out devils in your name; and we forbade him, because he follows not with us.50. And Jesus said to him, Forbid him not: for he that is not against us is for us.
CYRIL; The devil lays plots of various kinds for them that love the best way of life. And if indeed by carnal allurements he can gain possession of a man’s heart, He sharpens his love of pleasure; but if a man has escaped these snares, he excites in him a desire of glory, and this passion for vain-glory had seized some one of His apostles. Hence it is said, Then there arose a reasoning among them, which of them should be the greatest. For to have such thoughts, belongs to him who desires to be superior to the rest; but I think it improbable that all the disciples gave way to this weakness; and therefore suppose that the Evangelist, not to seem to lay the charge to any individual, expresses himself indefinitely, seeing, that there arose a reasoning among them.
THEOPHYL. Now it seems that this feeling was excited by the circumstance of their not being able to cure the demoniac. And while they were disputing thereupon, one said, It was not owing to my weakness, but another’s, that he could not be cured; and so thereby was kindled a strife among them, which was the greatest.
THEOPHYL; Or, because they saw Peter, James, and John, taken apart to the mount, and the keys of the kingdom of heaven promised to Peter, they were angry that these three, or Peter, should have precedence over all; or because in the payment of the tribute they saw Peter made equal to the Lord, they supposed he was to be placed before the rest. But the attentive reader will find that the question was raised among them before the payment of the penny. For in truth Matthew relates that this took place at Capernaum; but Mark says, And he came to Capernaum, and being; the house, he asked them, What was it that you disputed among yourselves in the way? But they held their peace, for by the way they had disputed among themselves who should be the greatest.
CYRIL; But our Lord, Who knew how to save, seeing in the hearts of the disciples the thought that had risen up thereupon as it were a certain root of bitterness, plucks it up by the roots before it received growth. For when passions first begin in us, they are easily subdued; but having gained strength, they are with difficulty eradicated. Hence it follows, And Jesus perceiving the thought of their heart &c. Let him who thinks Jesus to be mere man, know that he has erred, for the Word, although made flesh, remained God. For it is God alone Who is able to search into the heart and reins. But in taking a child, and placing it beside Him, He did it for the Apostles’ sake and ours.
For the disease of vain-glory feeds generally on those who have the preeminence among other men. But a child has a pure mind and unspotted heart, and abides in simplicity of thought; he courts not honors, nor knows the limits each one’s power, nor shuns seeming to be inferior to others, bearing no moroseness in his mind or heart. Such the Lord embraces and loves, and thinks them worthy to be near Him, as those who had chosen to taste of the things which are His; for He says, Learn of me, for I am meek and lowly of heart. Hence it follows, And he says to them, Whosoever shall receive a child in my name, receives me. As if He were to say, Seeing that there is one and the same reward to those that honor the saints, whether perchance such an one be the least, or one distinguished for honors and glory, for in him is Christ received, how vain is it to see to have the preeminence;
THEOPHYL; Now herein He either teaches, that the poor of Christ are to be received by those who wish to be greater simply for His honor, or He persuades men that they are children in malice. Hence when He said, Whoever shall receive that child, he adds, in my name; that in truth they may pursue with diligence and reason for Christ’s name that form of virtue which the child observes, with only nature for its guide. But because He also teaches that He is received in the child, and He Himself was born to us a child; lest it should be thought that this was all which was seen, He subjoined, And whoever shall receive me, receives him that sent me; wishing verily to be believed, that as was the Father, such and so great was He.
AMBROSE; For he who receives the followers of Christ, receives Christ; and he who receives the image of God, receives God; but because we cannot see the image of God, it has been made present to us by the incarnation of the Word, that the divine nature which is above us, may be reconciled to us.
CYRIL; Now He still more plainly conveys the meaning of the preceding words, saying, For he that is least among you all, the same shall be great; in which He speaks of the modest man who from honesty thinks nothing high of himself.
THEOPHYL. Because then our Lord had said, He who is least among you all, the same shall be great, John feared, lest perhaps they had done wrong in hindering a certain man by their own power. For a prohibition does not show the probitor to be inferior, but to be one who thinks himself somewhat superior. Hence it is added, And John answered and said, Master, we saw one casting out devils in your name, and we forbade him. Not indeed from envy, but to distinguish the working of miracles, for he had not received the power of working miracles with them, nor had the Lord sent him as He did them; nor did he follow Jesus in all things. Hence he adds, because he follows not with us.
AMBROSE; For John loving much, and therefore much beloved, thinks that they should be excluded from the privilege who did not practice obedience.
CYRIL; But we ought to consider not so much the worker of the miracles, as the grace which was in him, who, by the power of Christ, performed miracles. But what if there should be both those which be numbered together with the Apostles, and those who are crowned with the grace of Christ; there are many diversities in Christ’s gifts. But because the Savior had given the Apostles power to cast out evil spirits, they thought no one else but themselves alone was permitted to have this privilege granted to him, and therefore they come to inquire if it were lawful for others also to do this.
AMBROSE; Now John is not blamed, because he did this from love, but he is taught to know the difference between the strong and the weak. And therefore our Lord though He rewards the stronger, yet does not exclude the weak; as it follows, And Jesus said to him, Forbid him not, for he that is not against you is for you. True, O Lord. For both Joseph and Nicodemus, through fear Your secret disciples, when the time came, did not refuse their offices. But still since you said elsewhere, He that is not with me is against me, and he that gathers not with me scatters, explain to us lest the two seem contrary to one another. And it seems to me, if any one considers the Searcher of hearts, he cannot doubt that every man’s action is distinguished by the motive of his heart.
CHRYS. For in the other place when He said, He that is not with me is against me, He shows the Devil and the Jews to be opposed to Him; but here He shows that he who in Christ’s name cast out devils, is partly on their side.
CYRIL; As if He said, On the side of you who love Christ, are all they who wish to follow those things which conduce to His glory, being crowned with His grace.
THEOPHYL. Marvel then at the power of Christ, how His grace works by means of the unworthy and those who are not His disciples: as also men are sanctified through the priests, although the priests be not holy.
AMBROSE; Now why does He in this place say that they are not to be hindered, who by the imposition of hands can subdue the unclean spirits, when according to Matthew, He says to these, I never knew you? But we ought to perceive that there is no difference of opinion, but that the decision is this, that not only the official works but works of virtue are required in a priest, and that the name of Christ is so great, that even to the unholy it serves to give defense, but not grace. Let no one then claim to himself the grace of cleansing a man, because in him the power of the eternal Name has worked. For not by your merits, but by his own hatred, the devil is conquered.
THEOPHYL; Therefore in heretics and false Catholics, it becomes us to abhor, and forbid not the common sacraments in which they are with us, and not against us, but the divisions contrary to peace and truth, wherein they are against us as following not the Lord.
Ver 51. And it came to pass, when the time was come that he should be received up, he steadfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem,52. And sent messengers before his face: and they went, and entered into a village of the Samaritans, to make ready for him.53. And they did not receive him, because his face was as though he would go to Jerusalem.54. And when his disciples James and John saw this, they said, Lord, will you that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them, even as Elias did?55. But he turned, and rebuked them, and said, you know not what manner of spirit you are of.56. For the Son of man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them. And they went to another village.
CYRIL; When the time was near at hand in which it behoved our Lord to accomplish His-life-giving Passion, and ascend up to heaven, He determines to go up to Jerusalem, as it is said, And it came to pass, &c.
TIT. BOST. Because it was necessary that the true Lamb should there be offered, where the typical lamb was sacrificed; but it is said, he steadfastly set his face, that is, He went not here and there traversing the villages and towns, but kept on His way straight towards Jerusalem.
THEOPHYL; Let then the Heathen cease to mock the Crucified, as if He were a man, who it is plain, as God, both foresaw the time of His crucifixion, and going voluntarily to be crucified, sought with steadfast face, that is, with resolute and undaunted mind, the spot where He was to be crucified.
CYRIL; And He sends messengers to make a place for Him and His companions, who when they came to the country of the Samaritans were not admitted, as it follows, And sent messengers before his face; and they went, and entered into a village of the Samaritans, to make ready for him. And they did not receive him.
AMBROSE; Mark that He was unwilling to be received by those who He knew had not turned to Him with a simple heart. For if He had wished, He might have made them devout, who were undevout. But God calls those whom He thinks worthy, and whom He wills He makes religious. But why they did not receive Him the Evangelist mentions, saying, Because his face was as if he would go to Jerusalem.
THEOPHYL. But if one understands that they did not receive Him for this reason, because He had determined to go to Jerusalem, an excuse is found for them, who did not receive Him. But we must say, that in the words of the Evangelist, And they did not receive him, is implied that He did not go into Samaria, but afterwards as if some one had asked Him, He explained in these words, why they did not receive Him. And He went not to them, i.e. not that He was unable, but that He did not wish to go there but rather to Jerusalem.
THEOPHYL; Or the Samaritans see that our Lord is going to Jerusalem, and do not receive Him. For the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans, as John shows.
CYRIL; But our Lord, Who knew all things before they came to pass, knowing that His messengers would not be received by the Samaritans, nevertheless commanded them to go before Him, because it was His practice to make all things conduce to the good of His disciples. Now He went up to Jerusalem as the time of His suffering drew near. In order then that they might not be offended, when they saw Him suffer, bearing in mind that they must also endure patiently when men persecute them, He ordained beforehand as a land of prelude this refusal of the Samaritans.
It was good for them also in another way. For they were to be the teachers of the world, going through towns and villages, to preach the doctrine of the Gospel, meeting sometimes with men who would not receive the sacred doctrine, allowing not that Jesus sojourned on earth with them. He therefore taught them, that in announcing the divine doctrine, they ought to be filled with patience and meekness, without bitterness, and wrath, and fierce enmity against those who had done any wrong to them.
But as yet they were not so, nay, being stirred up with fervid zeal, they wished to bring down fire from heaven upon them. It follows, And when his disciples James and John saw this, they said, Lord, will you that we command fire to come down from heaven, &c.
AMBROSE; For they knew both that when Phineas had slain the idolaters it was counted to him for righteousness; and that at the prayer of Elijah fire came down from heaven, that the injuries of the prophet might be avenged.
THEOPHYL; For holy men who well knew that that death which detaches the soul from the body was not to be feared, still because of their feelings who feared it, punished some sins with death, that both the living might be struck with a wholesome dread, and those who were punished with death might receive helm not from death itself but from sin, which would be increased were they to live.
AMBROSE; But let him be avenged who fears. He who fears not, seeks not vengeance. At the same time the merits of the Prophets are likewise shown to have been in the Apostles, seeing that they claim to themselves the right of obtaining the same power of which the Prophet was thought worthy; and fitly do they claim that at their command fire should come down from heaven, for they were the sons of thunder.
TIT. BOST. They thought it much juster that the Samaritans should perish for not admitting our Lord, than the fifty soldiers who tried to thrust down Elijah.
AMBROSE; But the Lord is not moved against them, that He might show that perfect virtue has no feeling of revenge, nor is there any anger where there is fullness of love. For weakness must not be thrust out; but assisted. Let indignation be far from the religious, let the high-souled have no desire of vengeance. Hence it follows, But he turned and rebuked them, and said, you know not what manner of spirit you are of.
THEOPHYL; The Lord blames them, not for following the example of the holy Prophet, but for their ignorance in taking vengeance while they were yet inexperienced, perceiving that they did not desire correction from love, but vengeance from hatred. After that He had taught them what it was to love their neighbor as themselves, and the Holy Ghost also had been infused into them, there were not lacking these punishments, though far less frequent than in the Old Testament, because the Son of man came not to destroy men’s lives, but to save them. As if He said, And do you therefore who are sealed with His Spirit, imitate also His actions, now determining charitably, hereafter judging justly.
AMBROSE; For we must not always punish the offender, since mercy sometimes does more good, leading you to patience, the sinner to repentance. Lastly, those Samaritans believed the sooner, who were in this place saved from fire.
Ver 57. And it came to pass, that, as they went in the way, a certain man said to him, Lord, I will follow you wherever you go.58. And Jesus said to him, Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man has not where to lay his head.59. And he said to another, Follow me. But he said, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father.60. Jesus said to him, Let the dead bury their dead, but go you and preach the kingdom of God.61. And another also said, Lord, I will follow you; but let me first go bid them farewell, which are at home at my house.62. And Jesus said to him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.
CYRIL; Although the Almighty Lord is bountiful, He does not grant to every one absolutely and indiscriminately heavenly and divine gifts, but to those only who are worthy to receive them, who free themselves and their souls from the stains of wickedness. And this we are taught by the force of the angelic words, And it came to pass, that, as they went in the way, a certain man said to him, Lord, I will follow you. First indeed there is much tardiness implied in the manner of his coming. It is next shown that he is filled with too great presumption. For he sought not to follow Christ simply as several others of the people, but rather caught at the honor of the Apostleship. Whereas Paul says, No one takes the honor to himself but he that is called of God.
ATHAN. He dared also to match himself with the incomprehensible power of the Savior, saying, I will follow you wherever you go; for to follow the Savior simply to hear His teaching is possible to human nature, as it directs itself towards men, but it is not possible to go with Him wherever He is; for He is incomprehensible, and is not confined by place.
CYRIL; In another respect also our Lord deservedly gives him a refusal, for He taught that to follow the Lord, a man must take up his cross, and renounce the affection of this present life. And our Lord finding this lacking in him does not blame him, but corrects him. It follows, And Jesus says to him, The foxes have holes, &c.
THEOPHYL. For having seen our Lord drawing much people to Him, he thought that he received reward from them, and that if he followed our Lord, he might obtain money.
THEOPHYL; Therefore it is said to him, Why do you seek to follow Me for the riches and gain of this world, when so great is My poverty that I have not even a place of rest, and take shelter under another man’s roof.
CHRYS See how our Lord sets forth by his works the poverty which he taught. For him was no table spread, no lights, no house, nor any such thing.
CYRIL; Now under a mystical signification He applies the name of foxes and birds of the air to the wicked and crafty powers of evil spirits. As if He said, Since foxes and birds of the air have their abode in you, how shall Christ rest in you? What fellowship has light with darkness?
ATHAN. Or herein our Lord teaches the greatness of His gift, as if He said, All created things may be confined by place, but the Word of God has incomprehensible power. Say not then, I will follow you wherever you go. But if you would be a disciple, cast off foolish things, for it is impossible for him who remains in foolishness to become a disciple of the Word.
AMBROSE; Or, He compares foxes to heretics, because they are indeed a wily animal, and, ever intent upon fraud, commit their robberies by stealth. They let nothing be safe, nothing be at rest, nothing secure, for they hunt their prey into the very abodes of men. The fox again, an animal full of craft, makes no hole for itself, yet likes to lie always concealed in a hole. So the heretics, who know not how to construct a house for themselves, circumscribe and deceive others. This animal is never tamed, nor is it of use to man. Hence the Apostle, A heretic after the first and second admonition reject. But the birds of the air, which are frequently brought in to represent spiritual wickedness, build as it were their nests in the breasts of the wicked, and as long as deceit reigns over the affections, the divine principle has no opportunity to take possession.
But when a man has proved his heart to be innocent, upon him Christ leans in some measure the weight of His greatness, for by a more abundant shedding of grace He is planted in the breasts of good men. So then it does not seem reasonable that we should think him faithful and simple, who is rejected by the judgment of the Lord, notwithstanding that he promised the service of unwearied attendance; but our Lord cares not for this kind of service, but only purity of affection, nor is his attendance accepted whose sense of duty is not proved. For the hospitality of faith should be given with circumspection, lest while opening the interior of our house to the unbelieving, through our imprudent credulity we fall a snare to the treachery of others. Therefore that you may be aware that God despises not attendance upon him but deceit, He who rejected the deceitful man chose the innocent.
For it follows, And he said to another, Follow me. But He says this to him, whose father He knew to be dead. Hence it follows, But he said, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father.
THEOPHYL; He did not refuse the discipleship, but his wish was, having fulfilled the filial duty of burying his father, to follow Christ more freely.
AMBROSE; But the Lord calls those upon whom He has compassion. Hence it follows, And Jesus said, Let the dead bury their dead. Since we have received as a religious duty the burial of the human body, how is it thus that the burial even of a father’s dead body is forbidden, unless you are to understand that human things are to be postponed to divine? It is a good employment, but the hindrance is greater, for he who divides his pursuits, draws down his affections; he who divides his care, delays his advances. We must first set abort the things which are most important. For the Apostles also, that they might not be occupied in the office of distributing alms, ordained ministers for the poor.
CHRYS. But what more necessary than the burial of his father, what more easy, seeing that there would not be much time given to it? We are then hereby taught that it becomes us not to spend even the slightest portion of our time in vain, although we have a thousand things to compel us, nay to prefer spiritual things to even our greatest necessities. For the devil watchfully presses close upon us, wishing to find any opening, and if he causes a slight negligence, he ends in producing a great weakness.
AMBROSE; The performance of a father’s burial is not then prohibited, but the observance of religious duty is preferred to the ties of relationship. The one is left to those in like condition, the other is commanded to those who are left. But how can the dead bury the dead? unless you here understand a twofold death, one a natural death, the other the death of sin. There is also a third death, by which we die to sin, live to God.
CHRYS. By thus saying, their dead, he shows that this man’s father was not his dead, for I suppose that the deceased was of the number of the unbelieving.
AMBROSE; Or because the throat of the ungodly is an open sepulcher, their memory is ordered to be forgotten whose services die together with their bodies. Nor is the son recalled from his duty to his father, but the faithful is separated from the communion of the unbelieving; there is no prohibition of duty, but a mystery of religion, that is, that we should have no fellowship with the dead Gentiles.
CYRIL; Or else, his father was borne down with years, and he thought he was doing an honorable act in proposing to pay the kind offices which were due to him, according to Exodus, Honor your father and your mother. Hence when calling him to the ministry of the Gospel, our Lord said, Follow me, he sought for a time of respite, which should suffice for the support of his decrepit father, saying, Permit me first to go and bury my father, not that he asked to bury his deceased father, for Christ would not have hindered the wish to do this, but he said, Bury, that is, support in old age even till death. But the Lord said to him, Let the dead bury their dead. For there were other attendants also bound by the same tie of relationship, but as I consider dead, because they had not yet believed Christ. Learn from this, that our duty to God is to be preferred to our love for our parents, to whom we show reverence, because through them have we been born. But the God of all, when hen as yet we e were not, brought us into being, our parents were made the ministers of our introduction.
AUG. Our Lord spoke this to the man to whom He had said, Follow me. But another disciple put himself forward, to whom no one had spoken any thing, saying, I will follow you, O Lord; but let me first go and bid them farewell who are at home, lest perchance they look for me as they are wont.
CYRIL; Now this promise is worthy of our admiration and full of all praise, but to bid farewell to those who are at home, to get leave from them, shows that he was still somehow divided from the Lord, in that he had not yet resolved to make this venture with his whole heart. For to wish to consult relations who would not agree to his proposal because one somewhat wavering. Wherefore our Lord condemns this, saying, No man, having put his hand to the plough and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God. He puts his hand to the plough who is ambitious to follow, yet looks back again who seeks an excuse for delay in returning home, and consulting with his friends.
AUG. As if he said to him, The East calls you, and you turn to the West.
THEOPHYL: To put one’s hand to the plough, is also, (as it were by a certain sharp instrument,) by the wood and iron of our Lord’s passion, to wear away the hardness of our heart, and to open it to bring forth the fruits of good works. But if any one, having begun to exercise this, delights to look back with Lot’s wife to the things which he had left, he is deprived of the gift of the kingdom to come.
GREEK EX. For the frequent looking upon the things which we have forsaken, through the force of habit draws us back to our past way of life. For practice has great power to retain to itself. Is not habit generated of use, and nature of habit? But to get rid of or change nature is difficult; for although when compelled it for a while turns aside, it very rapidly returns to itself.
THEOPHYL; But if the disciple about to follow our Lord is reproved for wishing even to bid farewell at home, what will be done to such as for no advantage-sake frequently visit the houses of those whom they have left in the world?
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Aquinas, Thomas. "Commentary on Luke 9". "Golden Chain Commentary on the Gospel". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 19 / Ordinary 24