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Monday, July 15th, 2024
the Week of Proper 10 / Ordinary 15
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Bible Commentaries
Matthew 11

Golden Chain Commentary on the GospelsGolden Chain Commentary

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Verse 1

Ver 1. And it came to pass, when Jesus had made an end of commanding his twelve disciples, he departed thence to teach and to preach in their cities.

Rabanus: The Lord having sent out His disciples to preach with the foregoing instructions, Himself now fulfils in action what He had taught in words, offering His preaching first to the Jews; "And it came to pass when Jesus had ended all these sayings, he passed thence."

Chrys., Hom, xxxvi: Having sent them forth, He withdrew Himself, giving them opportunity and time to do the things that He had enjoined; for while He was present and ready to heal, no man would come to His disciples.

Remig.: He well passes from the special teaching which He had delivered to His disciples, to the general which He preached in the cities; passing therein as it were from heaven to earth, that He might give light to all. By this deed of the Lord, all holy preachers are admonished that they should study to benefit all.

Verses 2-6

Ver 2. Now when John had heard in the prison the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples,3. And said unto him, "Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another?"4. Jesus answered and said unto them, "Go and shew John again those things which ye do hear and see:5. The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the Gospel preached to them.6. And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me."

Gloss, non occ.: The Evangelist had shewn above how by Christ’s miracles and teaching, both His disciples and the multitudes had been instructed; he now shews how this instruction had reached even to John’s disciples, so that they seemed to have some jealousy towards Christ; "John, when he had heard in his bonds the works of Christ, sent two of his disciples to say unto him, Art thou he that should come, or look we for another?

Greg., Hom in Ev. vi. 1: We must enquire how John, who is a prophet and more than a prophet, who made known the Lord when He came to be baptized, saying, "Behold the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sine of the world! -- why, when he was afterwards cast into prison, he should send his disciples to ask, "Art thou he that should come, or look we for another?"

Did he not know Him whom he had pointed out to others; or was he uncertain whether this was He, whom by foretelling, by baptizing, and by making known, he had proclaimed to be He?

Ambrose, Ambros., in Luc 7:19: Some understand it thus; That it was a great thing that John should be so far a prophet, as to acknowledge Christ, and to preach remission of sin; but that like a pious prophet; he could not think that He whom he had believed to be He that should come, was to suffer death; he doubted therefore though not in faith, yet in love. So Peter also doubted, saying, "This be far from thee, Lord; this shall not be unto thee." [Matthew 16:22]

Chrys.: But this seems hardly reasonable. For John was not in ignorance of His death, but was the first to preach it, saying, "Behold the Lamb of God, that taketh. away the sins of the world." For thus calling Him the Lamb, he plainly shews forth the Cross; and no otherwise than by the Cross did He take away the sins of the world. Also how is he a greater prophet than these, if he knew not those things which all the prophets knew; for Isaiah says, "He was led as a sheep to the slaughter." [Isaiah 53:7]

Greg.: But this question may be answered in a better way if we attend to the order of time. At the waters of Jordan he had affirmed that this was the Redeemer of the world: after he was thrown into prison, he enquires if this was He that should come -- not that he doubted that this was the Redeemer of the world, but he asks that he may know whether He who in His own person had come into the world, would in His own person descend also to the world below.

Jerome: Hence he frames his question thus, "Art thou he that is to come?" Not, Art Thou He that hast come? And the sense is, Direct me, since I am about to go down into the lower parts of the earth, whether I shall announce Thee to the spirits beneath also; or whether Thou as the Son of God may not taste death, but will send another to this sacrament?

Chrys.: But is this a more reasonable explanation than the other? for why then did he not say, Art Thou He that is coming to the world beneath? and not simply, "Art thou he that is to come?"

And the reason of his seeking to know, namely, that he might preach Him there, is even ridiculous. For the present life is the time of grace, and after death the judgment and punishment; therefore there was no need of a forerunnner thither. Again, if the unbelievers who should believe after death should be saved, then none would perish; all would then repent and worship; "for every knee shall bow, both of things in heaven, and things on earth, and things under the earth." [Philippians 2:10]

Gloss, non occ.: But it ought to be observed, that Jerome and Gregory did not say that John was to proclaim Christ’s coming to the world beneath, to the end that the unbelievers there might be converted to the faith, but that the righteous who abode in expectation of Christ, should be comforted by His near approach.

Hilary: It is indeed certain, that he who as forerunner proclaimed Christ’s coming, as prophet knew Him when He stood before him, and worshipped Him as Confessor when He came to him, could not fall into error from such abundant knowledge. Nor can it be believed that the grace of the Holy Spirit failed him when thrown into prison, seeing He should hereafter minister the light of His power to the Apostles when they were in prison.

Jerome: Therefore he does not ask as being himself ignorant. But as the Saviour asks where Lazarus is buried, [margin note John 11:23] in order that they who shewed Him the sepulchre might be so far prepared for faith, and believe that the dead was verily raised again -- so John, about to be put to death by Herod, sends his disciples to Christ, that by this opportunity of seeing His signs and wonders they might believe on Him, and so might learn through their master’s enquiry.

But John’s disciples had somewhat of bitterness and jealousy towards the Lord, as their former enquiry shewed, "Why do thee and the Pharisees fast oft, but thy disciples fast not?

Chrys.: Yet whilst John was with them he held them rightly convinced concerning Christ. But when he was going to die, he was more concerned on their behalf. For he feared that he might leave his disciples a prey to some pernicious doctrine, and that they should remain separate from Christ, to whom it had been his care to bring all his followers from the beginning.

Had he said to them, Depart from me, for He is better than me, he would not have prevailed with them, as they would have supposed that he spoke this in humility, which opinion would have drawn them more closely to him. What then does he? He waits to hear through them that Christ works miracles.

Nor did he send all, but two only, (whom perhaps he chose as more ready to believe than the rest,) that the reason of his enquiry might be unsuspected, and that from the things themselves which they should see they might understand the difference between him and Jesus.

Hilary: John then is providing not for his own, but his disciples’ ignorance; that they might know that it was no other whom he had proclaimed, he sent them to see His works, that the works might establish what John had spoken; and that they should not look for any other Christ, than Him to whom His works had borne testimony.

Chrys.: So also Christ as knowing the mind of John, said not, I am He; for thus He would have put an obstacle in the way of those that heard Him, who would have at least thought within themselves, if they did not say, what the Jews did say to Christ, "Thou bearest witness of thyself." [John 6:13]

Therefore He would have them learn from His miracles, and so presented His doctrine to them more clear, and without suspicion. For the testimony of deeds is stronger than the testimony of words. Therefore He straightway healed a number of blind, and lame, and many other, for the sake not of John who had knowledge, but of others who doubted; as it follows, "And Jesus answered and said unto them, Go and tell John what ye have heard and seen; The blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, the poor have the Gospel preached to them."

Jerome: This last is no less than the first. And understand it as if it had been said, Even "the poor;" that so between noble and mean, rich and poor, there may be no difference in preaching. This approves the strictness of the master, this the truth of the teacher, that in His sight every one who can be saved is equal.

Chrys.: "And blessed is he who shall not be offended in me," is directed against the messengers; they were offended in Him. But He not publishing their doubts, and leaving it to their conscience alone, thus privately introduced a refutation of them.

Hilary: This saying, that they were blessed from whom there should be no offence in Him, shewed them what it was that John had provided against in sending them. For John, through fear of this very thing, had sent his disciples that they might hear Christ.

Greg., Hom in Ev., vi. 1: Otherwise; The mind of unbelievers was greatly offended concerning Christ, because after many miracles done, they saw Him at length put to death; whence Paul speaks, "We preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling-block." [1 Corinthians 1:23]

What then does that mean, "Blessed is he who shall not be offended in me," but a direct allusion to the humiliation of His death; as much as to say, I do indeed wonderful works, but do not disdain to suffer humble things, Because then I follow you in death, men must be careful not to despise in Me My death, while they reverence My wonderful works.

Hilary: In these things which were done concerning John, there is a deep store of mystic meaning. The very condition and circumstances of a prophet are themselves a prophecy.

John signifies the Law; for the Law proclaimed Christ, preaching remission of sins, and giving promise of the kingdom of heaven. Also when the Law was on the point of expiring, (having been, through the sins of the people, which hindered them from understanding what it spake of Christ, as it were shut up in bonds and in prison,) it sends men to the contemplation of the Gospel, that unbelief might see the truth of its words established by deeds.

Ambrose: And perhaps the two disciples sent are the two people; those of the Jews, and those of the Gentiles who believed.

Verses 7-10

Ver 7. And as they departed, Jesus began to say unto the multitudes concerning John, "What went ye out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken with the wind?8. But what went ye out for to see? A man clothed in soft raiment? behold, they that wear soft clothing are in kings’ houses.9. But what went ye out for to see? A prophet? yea, I say unto you, and more than a prophet.10. For this is he, of whom it is written, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee."

Chrys., Hom xxxvii: Sufficient had been now done for John’s disciples; they returned certified concerning Christ by the wonderful works which they had seen. But it behoved that the multitude also should be corrected, which had conceived many things amiss from the question of John’s disciples, not knowing the purpose of John in sending them. They might say, He who bare such witness to Christ, is now of another mind, and doubts whether this be He. Doth he this because he hath jealousy against Jesus! Has the prison taken away his courage? Or spake he before but empty and untrue words?

Hilary: Therefore that this might not lead them to think of John as though he were offended concerning Christ, it continues, "When they had gone away, Jesus began to speak to the multitudes concerning John."

Chrys.: "As they departed," that He should not seem to speak flattery of the man; and in correcting the error of the multitude, He does not openly expose their secret suspicions, but by framing his words against what was in their hearts, He shews that He knows hidden things. But He said not as to the Jews, "Why think ye evil in your hearts? though indeed it was evil that they had thought; yet it proceeded not from wickedness, but from ignorance; there- fore He spake not to them harshly, but answered for John, shewing that he had not fallen from his former opinion. This He teaches them, not by His word only, but by theirown witness, the witness of their own actions, as well as their own words.

"What went ye out into the wilderness to see?" As much as to say, Why did ye leave the towns and go out into the wilderness? So great multitudes would not have gone with such haste into the desert, if they had not thought that they should see one great, and wonderful, one more stable than the rock.

Pseudo-Chrys.: They had not gone out at this time into the desert to see John, for he was not now in the deaert, but in prison; but He speaks of the past time while John was yet in the desert, and the people flocked to him.

Chrys.: And note that making no mention of any other fault, He clears John of fickleness, which the multitude had suspected him of, saying, "A reed shaken by the wind?"

Greg., Hom in Ev. vi. 2: This He proposes, not to assert, but to deny. For if but a breath of air touch a reed, it bends it one way or other; a type of the carnal mind, which leans to either side, according as the breath of praise or detraction reaches it.

A reed shaken by the wind John was not, for no variety of circumstance bent him from his uprightness. The Lord’s meaning then is,

Jerome: Was it for this ye went out into the desert to see a man like unto a reed, and carried about by every wind, so that in lightness of mind he doubts concerning Him whom once he preached? Or it may be he is roused against Me by the sting of envy, and he seeks empty honour by his preaching, that he may thereof make gain. Why should he covet wealth? that he may have dainty fare? But his food is locusts and wild honey. That he may wear soft raiment? But his clothing is camel’s hair. This is that He adds, "But what went ye out for to see a man clothed in soft raiment?

Chrys.: Otherwise; That John is not as a waving reed, yourselves have shewn by going out unto the desert to him. Nor can any say that John was once firm, but has since become wilful and wavering; for as some are prone to anger by natural disposition, others become so by long weakness and indu1gence, so in inconstancy, some are by nature inconstant, some become so by yielding to their own humour and self-indulgence. But John was neither inconstant by natural disposition; this he means by saying, "What went ye out for to see, a reed shaken by the wind?" Neither had he corrupted an excellent nature by self-indulgence, for that he had not served the flesh is shewn by his raiment, his abode in the desert, his prison. Had he sought soft raiment, he would not have dwelt in the desert, but in kings’ houses; "Lo they that are clothed in soft raiment, are in kings’ houses."

Jerome: This teaches that an austere life and strict preaching ought to shun kings’ courts and the palaces of the rich and luxurious.

Greg., Hom in Ev., vi., 3: Let no one suppose that there is nothing sinful in luxury and rich dress; if pursuit of such things had been blameless, the Lord would not have thus commended John for the coarseness of his raiment, nor would Peter have checked the desire of fine clothes in women as he does, "Not in costly raiment." [1 Peter 3:3]

Aug., Doctr. Christ., iii, 12: In all such things we blame not the use of the things, but the lust of those that use them. For whoever uses the good things in his reach more sparingly than are the habits of those with whom he lives, is either temperate or superstitious. Whoever again uses them in a measure exceeding the practice of the good among whom he lives, either has some [margin note: aliquid] meaning therein, or else is dissolute.

Chrys.: Having described his habits of life from his dwelling-place, his dress, and the concourse of men to hear him, He now brings in that he is also a prophet, "But what went ye out for to see? A prophet? yea, I say unto you, and more than a prophet."

Greg, Hom. in Ev., vi. 5: The office of a prophet is to foretel things to come, not to shew them present. John therefore is more than a prophet, because Him whom he had foretold by going before Him, the same he shewed as present by pointing Him out.

Jerome: In this he is also greater than the other prophets, that to his prophetic privilege is added the reward of the Baptist that he should baptize his Lord.

Chrys.: Then he shews in what respect He is greater, saying, "This is he of whom it is written, Behold, I send my angel before thy face."

Jerome: To add to this great worthiness of John, He brings a passage from Malachias, in which he is spoken of as an Angel. [ref Malachi 3:1] We must suppose that John is here called an Angel, not as partaking the Angelic nature, but from the dignity of his office as a forerunner of the Lord.

Greg.: For the Greek word Angel, is in Latin Nuntius, ’a messenger.’ He therefore who came to bear a heavenly message is rightly called an Angel, that he may preserve in his title the dignity which he performs in his office.

Chrys.: He shews wherein it is that John is greater than the Prophets, namely, in that he is nigh unto Christ, as he says, "I send before thy face," that is, near Thee, as those that walk next to the king’s chariot are more illustrious than others, so likewise is John because of his nearness to Christ.Pseudo-Chrys.: Also the other Prophets were sent to announce Christ’s coming, but John to prepare His way, as it follows, "who shall make ready thy way before thee;"

Gloss, interlin.: That is, shall open the hearts of Thy hearers by preaching repentance and baptizing.

Jerome: Mystically; The desert is that which is deserted of the Holy Spirit, where there is no habitation of God; in the reed is signified a man who in outward show lives a pious life, but lacks all real fruit within himself, fair outside, within hollow, moved with every breath of wind, that is, with every impulse of unclean spirits, having no firmness to remain still, devoid of the marrow of the soul; by the garment wherewith his body is clothed is his mind shewn, that it is lost in luxury and self-indulgence. The kings are the fallen angels; they are they who are powerful in this life, and the lords of this world. Thus, "They that are clothed in soft raiment are in kings’ houses;" that is, those whose bodies are enervated and destroyed by luxury, it is clear are possessed by demons.

Greg.: Also John was not "clothed in soft raiment," that is, he did not encourage sinners in their sinful life by speaking smooth things, but rebuked them with sharpness and rigour, saying, "Generation of vipers, &c." [Matthew 3:7]

Verse 11

Ver 11. "Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he."

Chrys.: Having first delivered the Prophet’s testimony in praise of John, He rested not there, but added His own decision respecting him, saying, "Among them that are born of women there has not arisen a greater than John the Baptist."

Raban.: As much as to say; What need to recount one by one the praises of John the Baptist; "I say verily unto you, Among them that are born of women, &c." He says women, not virgins. If the same word, mulier, which denotes a married person, is any where in the Gospels applied to Mary, it should be known that the translator has there used ’ mulier’ for ’femina;" as in that, "Woman, behold thy son!" [John 19:26]

Jerome: He is then set before all those that are born in wedlock, and not before Him who was born of the Virgin and the Holy Spirit; yet these words, "there has not arisen a greater than John the Baptist," do not imply that John is to be set above the Prophets and Patriarchs and all others, but only makes him equal to the rest; for it does not follow that because others are not greater than him, that therefore he is greater than others.

Pseudo-Chrys.: But seeing that righteousness has so great deepness that none can be perfect therein but God only, I suppose that all the saints tried by the keenness of the divine judgment, rank in a fixed order, some lower, some before other. Whence we understand that He that hath none greater than Himself, is greater than all.

Chrys.: That the abundance of this praise might not beget a wrong inclination in the Jews to set John above Christ, he corrects this, saying, "He that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.

Aug., Cont. Adv. Leg. et Proph., ii, 5: The heretic [margin note: Manichee or Marcionite] argues from this verse to prove that since John did not belong to the kingdom of heaven, therefore much less did the other Prophets of that people, than whom John is greater. But these words of the Lord may be understood in two ways. Either the kingdom of heaven is something which we have not yet received, that, namely, of which He speaks, "Come, ye blessed of my Father, receive the kingdom," [Matthew 25:34] because they in it are Angels, therefore the least among them is greater than a righteous man who has a corruptible body. Or if we must understand the kingdom of heaven of the Church, whose children are all the righteous men from the beginning of the world until now, then the Lord speaks this of Himself, who was after John in the time of His birth, but greater in respect of His divine nature and supreme power. According then to the first interpretation it will be pointed, "He who is least in the kingdom of heaven, is greater than he;" according to the second, "He who is less than he, is in the kingdom of heaven greater than he."

Chrys.: The kingdom of heaven, that is, in the spiritual world, and all relating thereto. But some say that Christ spoke this of the Apostles.

Jerome: We understand it simply, that every saint who is already with the Lord is greater than he who yet stands in the battle; for it is one thing to have gained the crown of victory, another to be yet fighting in the field.

Verses 12-15

Ver 12. "And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force.13. For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John.14. And if ye will receive it, this is Elias, which was for to come.15. He that hath ears to ear, let him hear."

Gloss, non occ.: That what He had last said should not lead any to suppose that John was an alien from the kingdom of heaven, He corrects this by adding, "From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force."

Greg., Hom in Ev., xx. 14: By the kingdom of heaven is meant the heavenly throne, wither when sinners defiled with any evil deed return in penitence, and amend themselves, they enter as sinners into the place of another, and take by violence the kingdom of heaven.

Jerome: Because John the Baptist was the first who preached repentance to the people, saying, "Repent ye, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand;" rightly therefore from that day forth it may be said, that "the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force." For great indeed is the violence, when we who are born of earth, seek an abode in heaven, and obtain by excellence what we have not by nature.

Hilary: Otherwise; The Lord bade His Apostles go "to the lost sheep of Israel," but all their preaching conveyed profit to the publicans and sinners. Therefore "the kingdom suffers violence, and the violent take it by force," for the glory of Israel, due to the Fathers, foretold by the Prophets, offered by Christ, is entered and held by force by the might of the Gentiles.

Chrys.: Or; All who come thereto with haste take by force the kingdom of God through the faith of Christ; whence He says, "from the days of John until now," and thus He brings them in haste to His faith, and at the same time adds support to those things which had been spoken by John. For if all things were fulfilled until John, then is Jesus He that should come; wherefore He adds, "All the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John."

Jerome: Not that He cuts off all Prophets after John; for we read in the Acts of the Apostles that Agabus prophesied, and also four virgins daughters of Philip; but He means that the Law and the Prophets whom we have written, whatever they have prophesied, they have prophesied of the Lord. That He says, "Prophesied until John," shews that this was now the time of Christ’s coming; and that whom they had foretold should come, Him John shewed to be already come.

Chrys.: Then He adds another token of him, saying, "And if ye will receive it, this is Elias who was to come." The Lord speaks in Malachias, "I will send you Elias the Tishbite;" [Malachi 4:5] and of the same again, "Behold, I send my messenger before thy face."

Jerome: John then is said to be Elias, not according to the foolish philosophers, and certain heretics who bring forward their metempsychosis, or passing of the soul from one body to another; but because (as it is in another passage of the Gospel) he came in the spirit and power of Elias, and had the same grace and measure of the Holy Spirit. But in austerity of life, and fortitude of spirit, Elias and John were alike; they both dwelt in the desert, both were girded with a girdle of skins; because he reproved Ahab and Jezebel for their wickedness, Elias was compelled to fly; because he condemned the unlawful union of Herod and Herodias, John is beheaded.

Chrys.: "If ye will receive it," shewing their freedom, and requiring of them a willing mind. John the Baptist is Elias, and Elias is John, because both were forerunners of Christ.

Jerome: That He says, "This is Elias," is figurative, and needs to be explained, as what follows, shews; "He that hath ears to hear, let him hear."

Remig.: As much as to say, whoso has ears of the heart to hear, that is, to understand, let him understand; for He did not say that John was Elias in person, but in the Spirit.

Verses 16-19

Ver 16. "But whereunto shall I liken this generation? It is like unto children sitting in the markets, and calling unto their fellows,17. And saying, We have piped unto you, and ye have not danced; we have mourned unto you, and ye have not lamented.18. For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, He hath a devil.19. The Son of man came eating and drinking, and they say, Behold a man gluttonous, and a winebibber, a friend of Publicans and sinners. But wisdom is justified of her children."

Hilary: The whole of this speech is a reproach of unbelief, and arises out of the foregoing complaint; that the stiff-necked people had not learned by two different modes of teaching.

Chrys.: Whence He puts this question, shewing that nothing had been omitted that ought to be done for their salvation, saying, "To whom shall I liken this generation?

Gloss, ap. Anselm: By "this generation" He means the Jews together with Himself and John. As though He had said; John is thus great; but ye would believe neither him nor Me, and therefore to whom shall I liken you?

Remig.: And straightway He answers Himself, saying, "It is like unto children sitting in the market-place, crying unto their fellows, and saying, We have played music to you, and ye have not danced; we have mourned, and ye have not lamented."

Hilary: By the "children" are meant the Prophets, who preached as children in singleness of meaning, and in the midst of the synagogue, that is "in the market-place", reprove them, that when they played to those to whom they had devoted the service of their body, they had not obeyed their words, as the movement of the dancers are regulated by the measures of the music. For the Prophets invited them to make confession by song to God, as it is contained in the song of Moses, of Isaiah, or of David.

Jerome: They say therefore, "We have played music to you, and ye have not danced;" i. e. We have called on you to work good works to our songs, and ye would not. We have lamented and called you to repentance, and this ye would not, rejecting both preaching, as well of exhortation to virtue, as of repentance for sin.

Remig.: What is that He says, "To their fellows?" Were the unbelieving Jews then fellows of the Prophets? He speaks thus only because they were sprung of one stock.

Jerome: The children are they of whom Isaiah speaks, "Behold I, and the children whom the Lord has given me." [Isaiah 8:18] These children then sit in the market-place, where are many things for sale, and say,

Chrys.: "We have played music to you, and ye have not danced;" that is, I have shewed you an unrestricted life, and ye are not convinced; "We have mourned unto you, and ye have not lamented;" that is, John lived a hard life, and ye heeded him not. Yet does not he speak one thing, and I another, but both speak the same thing, because both have one and the same object. "For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, He hath a demon. The Son of man came &c."

Aug., Const. Faust., xvi, 31: I would that the Manichaens would tell me what Christ ate and drank, who here speaks of Himself as eating and drinking in comparison of John, who did neither. Not indeed that John drank nothing at all, but that he drank neither wine nor strong drink -- but water only. Not that he dispensed altogether with food, but that he ate only locusts and wild honey. Whence then is it said of him that he came neither eating nor drinking, except that he used not that food which the Jews used? Unless therefore the Lord had used this food, He would not have been said to have been, in comparison of John, "eating and drinking." It would be strange that he who ate locusts and honey, should be said to come "neither eating nor drinking," and that he who ate only bread and herbs, should be said to come eating and drinking.

Chrys.: He says therefore, "Jesus came," as much as to say, I and John came opposite ways, to do the same thing; as two hunters chasing the same animal from opposite sides, so that it might fall into, the hands of one of them. But all mankind admire fasting and severity of life; and for this reason it was ordained from his infancy that John should be so brought up, that the things that he should say should receive credit. The Lord also walked in this way when He fasted forty days;- but He had other means of teaching men to have confidence in Him; for it was a much greater thing that John who had walked in this way should bear witness to Him, than that He Himself should walk in that way.

Again, John had nothing to shew besides his life, and his righteousness; whereas Christ had also the witness of His miracles. Leaving therefore to John the representation of fasting, He Himself walked in a contrary way, entering to the table of the publicans, and eating and drinking with them.

Jerome: If fasting then pleases you, why were you not satisfied with John! If fulness, why not with the Son of man? Yet one of these ye said had a daemon, the other ye called a gluttonous man, and drunkard.

Chrys.: What excuse then shall be given for them? Therefore He adds, "And wisdom is justified of her children;" that is, though ye were not convinced, yet have ye nothing whereof to accuse me, as also of the Father the Prophet speaks, "That thou mightest be justified in thy sayings." [Psalms 51:4] For though nought be effected in you by that goodness which is extended to you, yet He fulfils all His part that you may not have the shadow of excuse for your ungrateful doubt.

Jerome: "Wisdom is justified of her children," i. e. The dispensation or doctrine of God, or Christ Himself who is the power and wisdom of God, is proved by the Apostles, who are His children, to have done righteously.

Hilary: He is wisdom itself not by His acts, but by His nature. Many indeed evade that saying of the Apostle’s, "Christ is the wisdom and power of God," [1 Corinthians 1:24] by saying, that truly in creating Him of a Virgin the Wisdom and Power of God were shewn mightily. Therefore that this might not be so explained, He calls Himself the Wisdom of God, shewing that it was verily He, and not the deeds relating to Him, of whom this was meant. For the power itself, and the effect of that power, are not the same thing; the efficient is known from the act.

Aug., Quaest. Ev. ii. 11: Or, "Wisdom is justified of her children," because the holy Apostles understood that the kingdom of God was not in meat and drink, but in patient enduring; such persons neither does abundance lift up, nor want cast down, but as Paul spoke, "I know how to abound, and to suffer want." [Philippians 4:12]

Jerome: Some copies read, "Wisdom is justified of her works," for wisdom does not seek the witness of words, but of works.

Chrys.: You should not be surprised at His using trite instances, such as that respecting the children; for He spoke to the weakness of His hearers; as Ezekiel spoke many things adapted to the Jews, but unworthy of the greatness of God.

Hilary: Mystically; Neither did the preaching of John bend the Jews, to whom the law seemed burdensome in prescribing meats and drinks, difficult and grievous, having in it sin which He calls having a demon -- for from the difficulty of keeping it they must sin under the Law.

Nor again did the preaching of the Gospel with freedom of life in Christ please them -- by which the hardships and burdens of the Law were remitted, and publicans and sinners only believed in it. Thus, then, so many and so great warnings of all kinds having been offered them in vain, they are neither justified by the Law, and they are cast off from grace; "Wisdom," therefore, "is justified of her children," by those, that is, who seize the kingdom of heaven by the justification of faith, confessing the work of wisdom to be just, that it has transferred its gift from the rebellious to the faithful.

Verses 20-24

Ver 20. "Then began he to upbraid the cities wherein most of his mighty works were done, because they repented not:21. Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works, which were done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes.22. But I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment, than for you.23. And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell: for if the mighty works, which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day.24. But I say unto you, That it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for thee."

Gloss, ap. Anselm: Thus far He had brought His accusation against the Jews in common; now against certain towns by name, in which He had specially preached, and yet they would not be converted; whence it is said, "Then began he to upbraid the cities in which most of hie mighty works were done, because they had not repented."

Jerome: His upbraiding of the towns of Corozaim, Bethsaida, and Capharnaum, is set forth in this chapter, because He therefore upbraided them, because after He had such mighty works and wonders in them they had not done penitence. Whence He adds, "Wo for thee, Corozaim! wo for thee, Bethsaida!"Chrys.: That you should not say that they were by nature evil, He names Bethsaida, a town from which the Apostles had come; namely, Philip, and two pair of the chief of the Apostles, Peter and Andrew, James and John.

Jerome: In this word, Wo, these towns of Galilee are mourned for by the Saviour, that after so many signs and mighty works, they had not done penitence.

Raban.: Corozaim, which is interpreted ’my mystery,’ and Bethsaida, ’the house of fruits,’ or, ’the house of hunters,’ are towns of Galilee situated on the shore of the sea of Galilee. The Lord herefore mourns for towns which once had the mystery of God, and which ought to have brought forth the fruit of virtues, and into which spiritual hunters had been sent.

Jerome: And to these are preferred Tyre and Sidon, cities given up to idolatry and vices; "For if the mighty works which have been done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have long ago done penitence in sackcloth and ashes."

Greg., Mor., xxxv. 6: In "sackcloth" is the roughness which denotes the pricking of the conscience for sin, "ashes" denote the dust of the dead; and both are wont to be employed in penitence, that the pricking of the sackcloth may remind us of our sins, and the dust of the ash may cause us to reflect what we have become by judgment.

Raban.: Tyre and Sidon are cities of Phoenicia. Tyre is interpreted ’narrowness,’ and Sidon ’hunting," and denote the Gentiles whom the Devil as a hunter drives into the straits of sin; but Jesus the Saviour sets them free by the Gospel.

Jerome: We ask where it is written that the Lord did wonders in Corozaim and Bethsaida? We read above, "And he went about the towns and villages, healing all sicknesses, &c." [9:35] among the rest, therefore, we may suppose that He wrought signs in Corozaim and Bethsaida.

Aug., De Dom. Pers. 9: It is not then true that His Gospel was not preached in those times and places, in which He foreknew that all would be such, as were many in His actual presence, who would not even believe on Him when He raised men from the dead. For the Lord Himself bears witness that they of Tyre and Sidon would have done penitence in great humility, had the wonders of the Divine power been done in them.

Moreover, if the dead are judged according to those deeds which they would have done had they lived, then because these would have believed had the Gospel been preached to them with so great miracles, surely they should not be punished at all, and yet in the day of judgment they shall be punished; for it follows, "But I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in the day of judgment, than for you." Those then shall be punished with more, these with less severity.

Jerome: This is because Tyre and Sidon had trodden under foot the law of nature only, but these towns after they had transgressed the natural and the written Law, also made light of those wonders which had been wrought among them.

Raban.: We at this day see the words of the Saviour fulfilled; Corozaim and Bethsaida would not believe when the Lord came to them in person; but Tyre and Sidon have afterwards believed on the preaching of the Apostles.

Remig.: Capharnaum was the metropolis of Galilee, and a noted town of that province, and therefore the Lord mentions it particularly, saying, "And thou, Capharnaum, shalt thou indeed be exalted to heaven? Thou shalt go down even to hell."

Jerome: In other copies we find, "And thou, Capharnaum, that art exalted to heaven, shalt be brought down to hell;" and it may be understood in two different ways. Either, thou shalt go down to hell because thou hast proudly resisted my preaching; or, thou that hast been exalted to heaven by entertaining me, and having my mighty wonders done in thee, shalt be visited with the heavier punishment, because thou wouldest not believe even these.

Remig.: And they have made the sins not of Sodom only and Gomorrah, but of Tyre and Sidon light in comparison, and therefore it follows, "For if the mighty works which have been done in thee had been done in Sodom, it would perhaps have remained unto this day."

Chrys.: This makes the accusation heavier, for it is a proof of extreme wickedness, that they are worse, not only than any then living, but than the wickedest of all past time.

Jerome: In Capharnaum, which is interpreted ’the most fair town,’ Jerusalem is condemned, to which it is said by Ezekiel, "Sodom is justified by thee." [Ezekiel 16:52]

Remig.: The Lord, who knows all things, here uses a word expressing uncertainty -- "perhaps," to shew that freedom of choice is left to men. "But I say unto you, it shall be easier for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment than for you." And be it known, that in speaking of the city or country, the Lord does not chide with the buildings and walls, but with the men that inhabit there, by the figure metonymy, putting the thing containing for the thing contained. The words, "It shall be easier in the day of judgment," clearly prove that there are divers punishments in hell, as there are divers mansions in the kingdom of heaven.

Jerome: The careful reader will hesitate here; If Tyre and Sidon could have done penitence at the preaching of the Saviour, and His miracles, they are not in fault that they believed not; the sin is his who would not preach to bring them to penitence. To this there is a ready answer, that we know not God’s judgments, and are ignorant of the sacraments of His peculiar dispensations.

It was determined by the Lord not to pass the borders of Judea, that He might not give the Pharisees and Priests a just occasion of persecuting Him, as also He gave commandment to the Apostles, "Go not into the way of the Gentile." Corozaim and Bethsaida are condemned because they would not believe, though Christ Himself was among them -- Tyre and Sidon are justified, because they believed His Apostles. You should not enquire into times when you see the salvation of those that believe.

Remig.: We may also answer in another way. There were many in Corozaim and Bethsaida who would believe, and many in Tyre and Sidon who would not believe, and therefore were not worthy of the Gospel. The Lord therefore preached to the dwellers in Corozaim and Bethsaida, that they who were to believe, might be able; and preached not in Tyre and Sidon, lest perhaps they who were not to believe, being made worse by contempt of the Gospel, should be punished more heavily.

Aug., De Don. Pers. 10: A certain Catholic disputant of some note expounded this place of the Gospel in the following way; That the Lord foreknew that they of Tyre and Simon would fall from the faith after they had believed the miracles done among them; and that therefore in mercy He did not His miracles there, because they would have incurred the heavier penalty had they lapsed from the faith after having held it, than if they had never held it at all.

Or otherwise; The Lord surely foreknew His mercies with which He deigns to deliver us. And this is the predestination of the saints, namely, the foreknowledge and making ready the mercies of God, by which they are most certainly saved, whosoever are saved. The rest are left to the just judgment of God in the general body of the condemned, where they of Tyre and Sidon are left, who might have believed had they seen Christ’s many miracles; but since it was not given them that they should believe, therefore that through which. they might have believed was also withheld.

From which it appears, that there are certain who have in their dispositions by nature a divine gift of understanding by which they would be moved to faith, if they should either hear words or see signs adapted to their minds. But if they be not by the high sentence of God set apart from the mass of perdition through the predestination of grace, then neither words nor works are set before them by God, which yet, could they have seen or heard them, would have stirred them to believe.In this general mass of perdition are the Jews also left, who could not believe so great and manifest wonders wrought before their eyes. And the cause wherefore they could not believe, the Gospel hath not hidden, speaking thus; "Though he did so great miracles before them, yet could they not believe, as Esaias said, I have blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart." [John 12:37]

Not in this way then were the eyes of they of Tyre and Sidon blinded, or their heart hardened, for they would have believed had they seen such wonders as these saw. But it profited those not that they could have believed, for that they were not predestinated; neither would it have been any hindrance to these that they had not power to believe, had they been so predestined that God should have enlightened their blindness, and taken away the heart of stone from within them.

Aug., De Cons. Ev., ii, 32: Luke also gives this as spoken in continuation of some other of the Lord’s discourses; from which it appears that he has rather followed the actual order of events; Matthew to have followed his recollection. Or the words of Matthew, "Then began he to upbraid the towns," must be taken, as some think, as expressing some particular time by the word, "then," but not referring generally to that time in which the many other things here told were done and said.

Whoever, therefore, thinks thus must suppose that this was spoken twice. And when we find in the same Evangelist some things spoken by the Lord at two different times -- like that in Luke concerning the not taking a scrip for their journey,-- what wonder is it if any thing else, which was twice spoken, is found once severally in two several Gospels in the actual connexion in which it was spoken, which connexion is different, because they are two different occasions on which it is related to have been spoken?

Verses 25-26

Ver 25. At that time Jesus answered and said, "I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes.26. Even so, Father: for so it seemed good in thy sight."

Gloss, non occ.: Because the Lord knew that many would doubt respecting the foregoing matter, namely, that the Jews would not receive Christ whom the Gentile world has so willingly received, He here makes answer to their thoughts; "And Jesus answered and said, I confess unto thee, Father, Lord of heaven and earth."

Gloss. ord.: That is, Who makest of heaven, or leavest in earthlinees, whom Thou wilt. Or literally,

Aug., Serm., 67, 1: If Christ, from whom all sin is far, said, "I confess," confession is not proper for the sinner only, but sometimes also for him that gives thanks. We may confess either by praising God, or by accusing ourselves. When He said, "I confess unto thee," it is, I praise Thee, not I accuse Myself.

Jerome: Let those hear who falsely argue, that the Saviour was not born but created, how He calls His Father "Lord of heaven and earth." For if He be a creature, and the creature can call its Maker Father, it was surely foolish here to address Him as Lord of heaven and earth, and not of Him (Christ) likewise. He gives thanks that His coming has opened to the Apostles sacraments, which the Scribes and Pharisees knew not, who seemed to themselves wise, and understanding in their own eyes; "That thou hast hid these things from the wise and understanding, and hast revealed them unto babes."

Aug.: That the wise and understanding are to be taken as the proud, Himself opens to us when He says, "and hast revealed them unto babes;" for who are "babes" but the humble?

Greg.: He says not ’to the foolish,’ but to babes, shewing that He condemns pride, not understanding.

Chrys.: Or when He says, "The wise," He does not speak of true wisdom, but of that which the Scribes and Pharisees seemed to have by their speech. Wherefore He said not, ’And hast revealed them to the foolish,’ but, "to babes," that is, uneducated, or simple; teaching us in all things to keep ourselves from pride, and to seek humility.

Hilary: The hidden things of heavenly words and their power are hid from the wise, and revealed to the babes; babes, that is, in malice, not in understanding; hid from the wise because of their presumption of their own wisdom, not because of their wisdom.

Chrys.: That it is revealed to the one is matter of joy, that it is hid from the other not of joy, but of sorrow; He does not therefore joy on this account, but He joys that these have known what the wise have not known.

Hilary: The justice of this the Lord confirms by the sentence of the Father’s will, that they who disdain to be made babes in God, should become fools in their own wisdom; and therefore He adds, "Even so, Father: for so it seemed good before thee."

Greg., Mor. xxv, 14: In which words we have a lesson of humility, that we should not rashly presume to discuss the counsels of heaven concerning the calling of some, and the rejection of others; shewing that that cannot be unrighteous which is willed by Him that is righteous.

Jerome: In these words moreover He speaks to the Father with the desire of one petitioning, that His mercy begun in the Apostles might be completed in them.

Chrys.: These things which the Lord spoke to His disciples, made them more zealous. As afterwards they thought great things of themselves, because they cast out demons, therefore He here reproves them; for what they had, was by revelation, not by their own efforts.

The Scribes who esteemed themselves wise and understanding were excluded because of their pride, and therefore He says, Since on this account the mysteries of God were hid from them, fear ye, and abide as babes, for this it is that has made you partakers in the revelation.

But as when Paul says, "God gave them over to a reprobate mind," [Romans 1:28] he does not mean that God did this, but they who gave Him cause, so here, "Thou hast hid thee things from the wise and understanding." And wherefore were they hid from them? Hear Paul speaking, "Seeking to set up their own righteousness, they were not subject to the righteousness of God." [Romans 10:3]

Verse 27

Ver 27. "All things are delivered unto me of my Father: and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him."

Chrys.: Because He had said, "I confess unto thee, Father, because thou hast hid these things from the wise," that you should not suppose that He thus thanks the Father as though He Himself was excluded from this power, He adds, "All things are committed to me by my Father." Hearing the words are committed, do not admit suspicion of any thing human, for He uses this word that you may not think there be two gods unbegotten. For at the time that He was begotten He was Lord of all.Jerome: For if we conceive of this thing according to our weakness, when he who receives begins to have, he who gives begins to be without.Or when He says, "All things are committed to him," He may mean, not the heaven and earth and the elements, and the rest of the things which He created and made, but those who through the Son have access to the Father.Hilary: Or that we may not think that there is any thing less in Him than in God, therefore He says this.Aug., cont. Maximin. ii. 12: For if He has aught less in His power than the Father has, then all that the Father has, are not His; for by begetting Him the Father gave power to the Son, as by begetting Him He gave all things which He has in His substance to Him whom He begot of His substance.Hilary: And also in the mutual knowledge between the Father and the Son, He teaches us that there is nothing in the Son beyond what was in the Father; for it follows, "And none knoweth the Son but the Father, nor does any man know the Father but the Son."Chrys.: By this that He only knows the Father, He shews covertly that He is of one substance with the Father. As though He had said, What wonder if I be Lord of all, when I have somewhat yet greater, namely to know the Father and to be of the same substance with Him?Hilary: For this mutual knowledge proclaims that they are of one substance, since He that should know the Son, should know the Father also in the Son, since all things were delivered to Him by the Father.Chrys.: When He says, "Neither does any know the Father but the Son," He does not mean that all men are altogether ignorant of Him; but that none knows Him with that knowledge wherewith He knows Him; which may also be said of the Son. For it is not said of some unknown God [margin note: i.e. who was not the Creator] as Marcion declares.Aug., De Trin., i, 8: And because their substance is inseparable, it is enough sometimes to name the Father, sometimes the Son; nor is it possible to separate from either His Spirit, who is especially called the Spirit of truth.Jerome: Let the heretic Eunomius [ed. note: Eunomius, the chief of the Anomaean branch of the Arians, taught that there was no mystery about the Divine nature. He is opposed by St. Basil, and by St. Chrysostom in his Homilees on ’the incomprehensible nature of God.’] therefore blush hereat who claims to himself such a knowledge of the Father and the Son, as they have one of another. But if he argues from what follows, and props up his madness by that, "And he to whom the Son will reveal him," it is one thing to know what you know by equality with God, another to know it by His vouchsafing to reveal it.Aug., De Trin., vii, 3: The Father is revealed by the Son, that is, by His Word. For if the temporal and transitory word which we utter both shews itself, and what we wish to convey, how much more the Word of God by which all things were made, which so shews the Father as He is Father, because itself is the same and in the same manner as the Father.Aug., Quast Ev., i, 1: When He said, "None knoweth the Son but the Father," He did not add, And he to whom the Father will reveal the Son. But when He said, "None knoweth the Father bet the Son," He added, "And he to whom the Son will reveal him."But this must not be so understood as though the Son could be known by none but by the Father only; while the Father may be known not only by the Son, but also by those to whom the Son shall reveal Him. But it is rather expressed thus, that we may understand that both the Father and the Son Himself are revealed by the Son, inasmuch as He is the light of our mind; and what is afterwards added, "And he to whom the Son will reveal," is to be understood as spoken of the Son as well as the Father, and to refer to the whole of what had been said. For the Father declares Himself by His Word, but the Word declares not only that which is intended to be declared by it, but in declaring this declares itself.Chrys.: If then He reveals the Father, He reveals Himself also. But the one he omits as a thing manifest, but mentions the other because there might be a doubt concerning it.Herein also He instructs us that He is so one with the Father, that it is not possible for any to come to the Father, but through the Son. For this had above all things given offence, that He seemed to be against God, and therefore He strove by all means to overthrow this notion.

Verses 28-30

Ver 28. "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.29. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.30. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."

Chrys.: By what He had said, He brought His disciples to have a desire towards Him, shewing them His unspeakable excellence; and now He invites them to Him, saying, "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden."

Aug., Serm., 69, 1: Whence do we all thus labour, but that we are mortal men, bearing vessels of clay which cause us much difficulty. But if the vessels of flesh are straitened, the regions of love will be enlarged. To what end then does He say, "Come unto me," all ye that labour, but that ye should not labour?

Hilary: He calls to Him those that were labouring under the hardships of the Law, and those who are burdened with the sins of this world.

Jerome: That the burden of sin is heavy the Prophet Zachariah bears witness, saying, that wickedness sitteth upon a talent of lead. [margin note: Zechariah 5:7] And the Psalmist fills it up, "Thy iniquities are grown heavy upon me." [Psalms 38:4]

Greg.: For a cruel yoke and hard weight of servitude it is to be subject to the things of time, to be ambitious of the things of earth, to cling to falling things, to seek to stand in things that stand not, to desire things that pass away, but to be unwilling to pass away with them. For while all things fly away against our wish, those things which had first harassed the mind in desire of gaining them, now oppress it with fear of losing them.

Chrys.: He said not, Come ye, this man and that man, but All whosoever are in trouble, in sorrow, or in sin, not that I may exact punishment of you, but that I may remit your sins. Come ye, not that I have need of your glory, but that I seek your salvation. "And I will refresh you;" not, I will save you, only; but that is much greater, "I will refresh you," that is, I will set you in all quietness.

Raban.: I will not only take from you your burden, but will satisfy you with inward refreshment.

Remig.: "Come," He says, not with the feet, but with the life, not in the body, but in faith. For that is a spiritual approach by which any man approaches God; and therefore it follows, "Take my yoke upon you."

Raban.: The yoke of Christ is Christ’s Gospel, which joins and yokes together Jews and Gentiles in the unity of the faith. This we are commanded to take upon us, that is, to have in honour; lest perchance setting it beneath us, that is wrongly despising it, we should trample upon it with the miry feet of unholiness; wherefore He adds, "Learn of me."

Aug., Serm., 69, 1: Not to create a world, or to do miracles in that world; but that "I am meek and lowly in heart." Wouldest thou be great? Begin with the least. Wouldest thou build up a mighty fabric of greatness? First think of the foundation of humility; for the mightier building any seeks to raise, the deeper let him dig for his foundation. Whither is the summit of our building to rise? To the sight of God.

Raban.: We must learn then from our Saviour to be meek in temper, and lowly in mind; let us hurt none, let us despise none, and the virtues which we have shewn in deed let us retain in our heart.

Chrys.: And therefore in beginning the Divine Law He begins with humility, and sets before us a great reward, saying, "And ye shall find rest for your souls." This is the highest reward, you shall not only be made useful to others, but shall make yourself to have peace; and He gives you the promise of it before it comes, but when it is come, you shall rejoice in perpetual rest. And that they might not be afraid because He had spoken of a burden, tberefore He adds, "For my yoke is pleasant, and my burden light."

Hilary: He holds forth the inducements of a pleasant yoke, and a light burden, that to them that believe He may afford the knowledge of that good which He alone knoweth in the Father.

Greg., Mor., iv, 33: What burden is it to put upon the neck of our mind that He bids us shun all desire that disturbs, and turn from the toilsome paths of this world!

Hilary: And what is more pleasant than that yoke, what lighter than that burden? To be made better, to abstain from wickedness, to choose the good, and refuse the evil, to love all men, to hate none, to gain eternal things, not to be taken with things present, to be unwilling to do that to another which yourself would be pained to suffer.

Raban.: But how is Christ’s yoke pleasant, seeing it was said above, "Narrow is the way which leadeth unto life?" [Matthew 7:14] That which is entered upon by a narrow entrance is in process of time made broad by the unspeakable sweetness of love.

Aug., Serm., 70, 1: So then they who with unfearing neck have submitted to the yoke of the Lord endure such hardships and dangers, that they seem to be called not from labour to rest, but from rest to labour.

But the Holy Spirit was there who, as the outward man decayed, renewed the inward man day by day, and giving a foretaste of spiritual rest in the rich pleasures of God in the hope of blessedness to come, smoothed all that seemed rough, lightened all that was heavy. Men suffer amputations and burnings, that at the price of sharper pain they may be delivered from torments less but more lasting, as boils or swellinga.

What storms and dangers will not merchants undergo that they may acquire perishing riches? Even those who love not riches endure the same hardships; but those that love them endure the same, but to them they are not hardships. For love makes right easy, and almost nought all things however dreadful and monstrous.

How much more easily then does love do that for true happiness, which avarice does for misery as far as it can?

Jerome: And how is the Gospel lighter than the Law, seeing in the Law murder and adultery, but under the Gospel anger and concupiscence also, are punished? Because by the Law many things are commanded which the Apostle fully teaches as cannot be fulfilled; by the Law works are required, by the Gospel the will is sought for, which even if it goes not into act, yet does not lose its reward.

The Gospel commands what we can do, as that we lust not; this is in our own power; the Law punishes not the will but the act, as adultery. Suppose a virgin to have been violated in time of persecution; as here was not the will she is held as a virgin under the Gospel; under the Law she is cast out as defiled.

Bibliographical Information
Aquinas, Thomas. "Commentary on Matthew 11". "Golden Chain Commentary on the Gospel". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/gcc/matthew-11.html.
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