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Bible Commentaries

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary
Matthew 19



Verse 3



Quacunque ex causa, Greek: kata pasan aitian, ex qualibet causa.

Verse 4

In the beginning. It is remarked by St. Jerome, St. John Chrysostom, and Theophylactus, that the Almighty does not say of any of the animals which he created, as he does of man and woman, that he joined one male to one female; from which it appears, according to the reasoning of St. Augustine, that monogamy, as well as the indissolubility of marriage, was instituted from the beginning by the Almighty. (Tirinus)

Verse 5



Erunt duo in carne una, Greek: duo eis sarka mian, in carnem unam, as Genesis ii. 7. factus est homo in animam viventem. See Maldonat.

Verse 7

Pharisees, not satisfied, again attack our Saviour. To this second attack he replies: Moses indeed permitted you to put away your wives on account of the hardness of your hearts, and to prevent a greater evil, lest through your cruelty you should poison them, or put them to violent death; but in the natural law, signified by the beginning, it was not so. (Denis the Carthusian)

Verse 8

Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, permitted you, &c. Whether this was permitted in the old law, so that the man who was divorced from his wife could marry another woman, is disputed. Some think this second marriage was still unlawful for the man or woman so separated to marry another. (Witham) --- The latter part of this verse, of St. Paul, (Romans vii. 3,) and the constant tradition of the Church, shew that the exception only refers to separation, but not to the marrying another during the life of the parties. In this place Christ restores the original condition of the marriage state, and henceforth will have it to be a perfect figure of the hypostatic union of his divine person with our human nature, as also of his nuptial union with his Church, and consequently that it should be indissoluble. (Tirinus)

Verse 9

And I say to you. It is worthy of remark, that in the parallel texts, St. Mark x. 2. and St. Luke xvi. 18. and St. Paul to Corinthians vii. 10. omit the exception of fornication; and also that St. Matthew himself omits it in the second part of the verse; and says absolutely, that he who shall marry her that is put away committeth adultery. It perhaps crept in here from chap. v. 23, where it is found in a phrase very similar to this, but which expresses a case widely different. Divorce is in no case admitted but in that of adultery. This is what Christ teaches in chap. v. 32, and to this the exception is referred, marked in the two texts. But in this very case the separated parties cannot contract a second marriage without again committing adultery, as we must infer, from a comparison of this text with the parallel texts of St. Mark and St. Luke. (Bible de Vence) --- If we did not understand it in this manner, the case of the adulteress would be preferable to the case of her who should be put away without any crime of her own; as in this supposition, the former would be allowed to marry again, which the latter would not be allowed. (Tirinus) --- St. Augustine is very explicit on this subject. See lib. 11. de adult conjug. chap. xxi. xxii. xxiv. --- St. Jerome, in his high commendation of the noble matron, Fabiola, says of her: "that though she was the innocent party, for the unlawful act of marrying again, she did public penance." (In Epitaph. Fabiolæ.) --- This universally received doctrine of the Catholic Church was confirmed in the general council of Trent. (Session xxiv. canon 6.)

Verse 11



Non omnes capiunt, Greek: ou pantes chorousi. Maldonat will needs have Greek: chorein, to signify intelligere, as it does sometimes. But St. Jerome on this place, unusquisque consideret vires suas, &c. And St. John Chrysostom (hom. lxiii.) ut singulare esse certamen perdiscas. St. Jerome adds, Sed his datum est, qui petierunt; qui voluerunt; qui ut acciperent, laboraverunt. And St. John Chrysostom, His enim datum est, qui sponte id eligunt. Greek: dedotai gar ekeinois tois boulomenois. Ed. Sav. p. 397.

Verse 12

And there are eunuchs, who have made themselves eunuchs, &c. It is not to be taken in the literal sense, but of such who have taken a firm and commendable resolution of leading a single life. --- He that can receive it, let him receive it. Some think that to receive, in this and the foregoing verse, is to understand; and so will have the sense to be, he that can understand what I have said of different eunuchs, let him understand it; as when Christ said elsewhere, he that hath ears to hear, let him hear. But others expound it as an admonition to men and women, not to engage themselves in a vow of living a single life, unless, after serious deliberation, they have good grounds to think they can duly comply with this vow, otherwise let them not make it. Thus St. Jerome on this place, and St. John Chrysostom where they both expressly take notice, that this grace is granted to every one that asketh and beggeth for it by prayer. (Witham) --- To the crown and glory of which state, let those aspire who feel themselves called by heaven.

Verse 13

That he should lay his hands upon them. It was the custom to present children to men reputed holy, as it is now the custom for bishops and priests to pray and give a blessing to others. (Witham) --- It was customary with the Jews to present their children to the elders, that they might receive their blessing; hence they present them on this occasion to our Lord. (St. Remigius) --- And the disciples rebuked them, not because they were unwilling that the children should be blessed by the hands of our Saviour, but as they were yet weak in faith, they thought that, like other men, he would be teased by the importunity of the offerers. (St. Jerome) --- The people thought that the same hands, which could restore instantaneous health to the sick, must necessarily impart every good to such children as they should touch. The disciples thought they made too free with their Master, requesting what, in their ideas, was beneath his dignity. (Haydock)

Verse 14

Jesus said ... Suffer the little children, &c. He here blames the conduct of the apostles, and shews that his assertions in praise of virginity, were not meant as derogatory from the holiness of the marriage state, by giving his blessing to these little ones, the fruits of lawful wedlock; and declares that the kingdom of heaven is the portion of such as resemble these little ones, by the innocence of their lives and simplicity of their hearts. He, moreover, shews that confidence in our own strength, in our own free-will, and in our merits, is an invincible obstacle to salvation. St. Mark (x. 16) says, that embracing them, and laying hands upon them, he blessed them. Hence probably arose the ancient custom of presenting children to bishops and priests, to receive their blessing, beside that of confirmation immediately after baptism. --- Nicephorus tells us that the celebrated St. Ignatius, afterwards bishop of Antioch, was one of these children who, on this occasion, received Christ's blessing. --- If we would enter into the kingdom of heaven, we must imitate the virtues of little children. Their souls are free from every passion; void of every thought of revenge, they approach those who have grieved them as to their best friends. Though the parent repeatedly chastise his child, it still will adhere to him, still it love him, and prefer him in all his poverty to all the fascinating charms of dazzling gold and purple. They seek not beyond what is necessary, they admire not the beauty of the body, they are not grieved at the loss of worldly wealth, therefore does the Saviour of the world say, that theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (St. John Chrysostom, hom. lxiii.)

Verse 16

Behold one came. St. Luke (xviii. 18.) calls him a prince or lord. Some conjecture this young man came only in a dissembling way, to try or tempt our Saviour, as the Pharisees sometimes did, and without any design to follow his advice; but by all the circumstances related of him, by the evangelists particularly, when St. Mark (Chap. x. 22.) tells us, he went away sorrowful, he seems to have come with sincerity, but without resolution strong enough to leave his worldly goods and possessions. (Witham)

Verse 17



Quid me interrogas de bono? Greek: erotas peri agathou. In the common Greek copies, ti me legeis agathon.

Verse 19

. Jerome thinks his answer was not conformable to truth, or he would not have been sorry when ordered to distribute his goods among the poor.

Verse 21

If thou wilt be perfect. This shews there is a difference betwixt things that are of precept, and those that are of counsel only, which they aim at, that aspire to the greatest perfection. (Witham) --- Evangelical perfection essentially consists in the perfect observance of God's commandments, which is greatly assisted by embracing not only voluntary poverty, but also the other counsels given to us in the gospels, such as perpetual chastity, and entire obedience. --- Follow me. Thus to follow Christ, is to be without wife and care of children, to have no property, and to live in community; this state of life hath a great reward in heaven. This state, we learn from St. Augustine, the apostles followed; and he himself not only embraced it, but exhorted as many others as he possibly could to embrace it. (St. Augustine, ep. lxxxix, in fine, and in Ps. ciii. conc. 3. post. med.) (Bristow) --- The whole perfection of a Christian life consists in following Christ, by an imitation of his virtues. So that he who possesses poverty and chastity, does not immediately become perfect, but only enters upon the way of perfection, by facilitating his progress to perfection, removing hindrances, and laying aside all care of temporal concerns. (Nicholas de Lyra.) --- In this chapter Jesus Christ delivers the evangelical counsels. In ver. 12, he recommends continency -- here he proposes voluntary poverty, and immediately adds that of obedience, follow me. St. Augustine teaches, that the apostles bound themselves by vow to the observance of these three counsels. (De civit. Dei. Book xvii. chap. 4.)

Verse 22

Sorrowful. I know not how it happens, that when superfluous and earthly things are loved, we are more attached to what we possess in effect than in desire. For, why did this young man depart sad, but because he had great riches? It is one thing not to wish for, and another to part with them, when once we have them. They become incorporated, and, as it were, a part of ourselves, like food; and, when taken, are changed into our own members. No one easily suffers a member of his body to be cut off. (St. Augustine, ep. xxxi. ad Paul.)

Verse 24



Camelum, Greek: kamelun, which is observed to be different from Greek: kamilos, a cable, or ship-rope. See Mr. Legh, Critica Sacra.


Verse 25

They wondered very much. The apostles wondered how any person could be saved, not because all were rich, but because the poor were also included, who had their hearts and affections fixed on riches. (St. Augustine and Nicholas de Lyra.)

Verse 27

Behold we have left all! What confidence this in Peter! He ad been but a fisherman, always poor, living by his industry, and gaining his bread by the sweat of his brow; yet with great confidence he says, we have left all. (St. Jerome) --- For, we are not to consider what he left, but the will with which he left his all. He leaves a great deal, who reserves nothing for himself. It is a great matter to quit all, though the things we leave be very inconsiderable in themselves. Do we not observe with how great affection we love what we already have, and how earnestly we search after what we have not? It is on this account that St. Peter, and his brother, St. Andrew, left much, because they denied themselves even the desire and inclination of possessing any thing. (St. Gregory, on S. Mat. hom. v.) --- Though I have not been rich, I shall not, on that account, receive a less reward; for, the apostles, who have done the same thing with me, were no richer than myself. He therefore leaves all the world, who leaves all he has, and the desire of ever having more. (St. Augustine, ep. lxxxix. ad. Hilar.)

Verse 28

In the regeneration. Jesus Christ here calls the general resurrection the regeneration, because there will then be a renovation of the human body, and of the whole world. The promise which is here made to the apostles of sitting on thrones at the general judgment, and passing sentence on the 12 tribes of Israel, must not be understood as limited to the apostles, or to the Jews. For St. Paul says, (1 Corinthians vi. 2. and 3,) that not only he, but also many of the Corinthians to whom he was writing, would judge not merely the 12 tribes, but the whole world, and moreover angels themselves. It is the opinion of many of the Fathers, St. Jerome, St. Augustine, St. Gregory, and others, that all apostolical men, i.e. such as, renouncing the good of this life, adhere to Christ in mind and affection, and by every possible means promote his reign and the propagation of his gospel, will be so far honoured as to sit in judgment with him at the general resurrection. (Tirinus) --- You also shall sit on twelve seats, or thrones, meaning at the general resurrection, when Christ will appear on the throne of his majesty, with his heavenly court, and with his elect, shall condemn the wicked world. (Witham)

Verse 29

Shall receive a hundred-fold. In St. Mark we read a hundred-fold now in this time, and in the world to come life everlasting. Which hundred-fold is to be understood of the blessings in this life, or interior consolations, or the peace of a good conscience, and in general of spiritual gifts and graces, which are much more valuable than all temporal goods. And besides these spiritual graces in this world, he shall have everlasting glory in the world to come. (Witham) --- Our Saviour does not here lay down a precept of separating from wives; but, as when he before said, he that loseth his life for my sake, shall find it, he did not counsel, much less command us to lay violent hands upon ourselves; so here he teaches us to prefer the duties of piety to every other consideration. (St. John Chrysostom, hom. lxv.) --- The reward will be a hundred-fold, by the accumulation of spiritual gifts and graces in this life, infinitely superior to all we have left, and the inheritance of life eternal in the next. (Bible de Vence)

Verse 35



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Bibliography Information
Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Matthew 19:4". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". 1859.

Lectionary Calendar
Wednesday, October 28th, 2020
the Week of Proper 25 / Ordinary 30
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