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Bible Commentaries

Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible
Matthew 8

 

 

Other Authors
Verses 1-13

Matthew 8:1. When he was come down from the mountain, great multitudes followed him.

There was a charm about his preaching, not that he modified his doctrine, or that he cut down his precepts; he spoke very plainly, very searchingly, and yet the people came to hear him. There is a something in the conscience of man that makes him turn away from that which flatters him, and makes him hear, almost against his liking, that which searches him.

Matthew 8:2. And, behold,

Never mind about the crowd; fix your eye on the one man; behold, etc. —here is a mark of attention.

Matthew 8:2. There came a leper and worshipped him, saying, Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean.

He could not live in the city, but he might be found on the mount, in the outskirts of the crowd, where he would hear that gracious voice; and he came and “worshipped him, saying, Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean,” in which I detect no unbelief, but rather a very strong faith. “If thou dost but will, I can be made clean.” And Jesus, seeing the man was willing to dispense with any outward form used one.

Matthew 8:3. And Jesus put forth his hand, and touched him,

Not making himself unclean, as any other man would have done, but making him clean whom he touched.

Matthew 8:3. Saying, I will;

A word of encouragement.

Matthew 8:3. Be thou clean.

A word of power.

Matthew 8:3. And immediately his leprosy was cleansed.

Christ’s grace, which usually wrought at once, in an instant, wrought for ever — the man was cleansed, never to be sick again; cured perfectly; the leprosy was cleansed.

Matthew 8:4. And Jesus said unto him, See thou tell no man;

Do not spread the news, the crowd is inconvenient already. It was not only Christ’s modesty, but Christ’s wisdom to keep down the throng a little, for they were too many which gathered about him.

Matthew 8:4. But go thy way, shew thyself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them.

While the ceremonial law stood, Christ was very careful to pay it honour. He came not to destroy, but he came to build up and to fulfill. He would have this man go and get a certificate from the priest that he was cleansed. Perhaps if he did not go at once, when it was found out that Christ healed him, the certificate might have been denied, and the man might not have been able to mingle with the company, so he sent him away quickly, to go to the priest with his offering to get the assurance that he was really cleansed. When Christ’s work is certified by Christ’s voice, then is it sure indeed.

Matthew 8:5. And when Jesus was entered into Capernaum,

Which I may call his headquarters, he seems to have taken up his abode here for a time, to have gone to and fro to Capernaum.

Matthew 8:5. There came unto him a centurion,

An officer over a hundred men, of some importance in those days; a small band of the Roman army placed in Herod’s territory, perhaps to keep watch.

Matthew 8:5-6. Beseeching him, and saying, Lord, my servant lieth at home sick of the palsy, grievously tormented.

Sir Risdon Bennett tells us that there is a species of palsy which is accompanied with great pain, and we know, even from the apocrypha, there is a case there of a man grievously tormented with palsy — not exactly the same thing, perhaps, that we call palsy nowadays.

Matthew 8:7. And Jesus said unto him, I will come and heal him.

He did not say, “I will come and see him”; that would have been kind — he did not say what you and I would say, “I will come and pray with him”; that is all we can do — but “I will come and heal him.” Here is the tenderness of man and the power of God.

Matthew 8:8-9. The centurion answered and said, Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof; but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed. For I am a man under authority,

Here was a great point — here was a man commissioned, a man authorized, girt with authority; and he looked upon Christ in the same manner, sent of God, under divine authority, girt about with a heavenly commission.

Matthew 8:9. Having soldiers under me: and I say to this man, Go, and he goeth: and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it.

He did not further explain. It is a pity sometimes when we explain things to God in prayer, as I am afraid we often do, God knows what we mean. And so here he did not explain his meaning; we can see it clearly enough. “Thou too, O Christ, art under the authority of God, and sent by him, and thou hast the powers of nature under thy control. Thou hast but to say the word, and they go; do this, and they do it.”

Matthew 8:10. When Jesus heard it, he marveled,

He had marveled at men’s unbelief; now he marvels at their faith, so that the thing which touches the wonder of God is man’s unbelief and man’s faith.

Matthew 8:10. And said to them that followed, Verily, I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel,

This man is not an Israelite; he is a Roman soldier; but I have never found so much faith in those to the manner born as I find in this stranger.

Matthew 8:11. And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west,

From differing lands and extreme distances.

Matthew 8:11. And shall sit down

Or recline in ease and rest.

Matthew 8:11-12. With Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven. But the children of the kingdom,

Those born in Israel, who belong to the promised seed.

Matthew 8:12-13. Shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. And Jesus said unto the centurion, Go thy way, and as thou hast believed, so be it done unto thee. And his servant was healed in the self same hour.

It is greatly important not only that we believe, but that we believe as much as ever we can, that we believe all that Christ has spoken. Some people, when they are converted, believe that they may fall from grace, and they do; according to their faith, so is it unto them. If they could believe for eternal life and lay hold on everlasting life, they would find it so, for generally it is according to their faith that it is unto them.


Verses 1-27

Matthew 8:1-2. When he was come down from the mountain, great multitudes followed him. And, behold, there came a leper —

You see that particular mention is made of this one special case, and, in any congregation, while it may be recorded that so many people came together, the special case that will be noted by the recording angel will be that of anyone who comes to Christ with his own personal distresses, and who thereby obtains relief from them: “Behold, there came a leper” —

Matthew 8:2-3. And worshipped him, saying, Lord if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean. And Jesus put forth his hand and touched him, saying, I will; be thou clean. And immediately his leprosy was cleansed.

His faith was not as strong as it might have been. There was an “if” in it; but, still, it was genuine faith, and our loving Lord fixed his eye upon the faith rather than upon the flaw that was in it, and if he sees in you, dear friend, even a trembling faith, he will rejoice in it, and bless you because of it. He will not withhold his blessing because you are not as strong in faith as you should be. Probably, you will have a greater blessing if you have greater faith; but even little faith gets great blessings from Christ. The leper said to him, “If thou wilt, thou canst make me clean;” so Christ answered to the faith that he did possess,” and touched him, saying, I will; be thou clean. And immediately his leprosy was cleansed.”

Matthew 8:4-7. And Jesus saith unto him, See thou tell no man; but go thy way, shew thyself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them. And when Jesus was entered into Capernaum, there came unto him a centurion beseeching him, And saying, Lord, my servant lieth at home sick of the palsy, grievously tormented. And Jesus saith unto him, I will come and heal him.

He had not asked Christ to “come and heal him.” He wished his servant to be healed, but he considered that it was too great an honour for Christ to come to him. I am not sure, but I think that this man’s judgment is correct, — that, for Christ to come to a man is better than for healing to come to him. Indeed, brethren and sisters, all the gifts of Christ fall far short of himself. If he will but come, and abide with us, that means more than all else that he can bestow upon us.

Matthew 8:8-9. The centurion answered and said, Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof: but speak the word only and my servant shall be healed. For I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me: and I say to this man, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it.

From his own power over his soldiers and servants, he argued that Christ must have at least equal power over all the forces of nature; and, as a centurion did not need to go and do everything himself, but gave his orders to his servant, and he did it, so, surely, there could be no need for the great Commander, to whom he was speaking to honour the sick man with his own personal presence. He had simply to utter the command and it would be obeyed, and the centurion’s servant would be healed. Do you think this is an ingenious argument? It is so, certainly, but it is also a very plain and very forcible one. I have read or heard many ingenious arguments for unbelief, and I have often wished that half the ingenuity thus vainly spent could be exercised in discovering reasons for believing so, I am pleased to notice that this commander of a hundred Roman soldiers did but argue from his own position, and so wrought in his mind still greater confidence in Christ’s power to heal his sick servant. Is there not something about yourself, from which, if you would look at it in the right light, you might gather arguments concerning the power of the Lord Jesus Christ?

Matthew 8:10. When Jesus heard it, he marvelled, and said to them that followed, Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no not in Israel.

“Not in Israel,” — where the light and the knowledge were, there was not such faith as this centurion possessed. This Roman soldier, rough by training and experience, who was more familiar with stern fighting men than with those who could instruct him concerning Christ, had more faith than Jesus had so far found “in Israel.”

Matthew 8:11-12. And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven. But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

This is a strange thing, yet it is continually happening still, despite its strangeness, that the persons, who are placed in such positions of privilege, that you naturally expect that they would become believers, remain unbelievers, while others, who are placed at a terrible disadvantage, nevertheless often come right out from sin, and right away from ignorance, and become believers in Christ. Oh, that none of us, who sit under the sound of the gospel from Sabbath to Sabbath, might be sad illustrations of this truth, while others, unaccustomed to listen to the Word, may be happy instances of the way in which the Lord still takes strangers, and adopts them into his family.

Matthew 8:13. And Jesus said unto the centurion, Go thy way; and as thou hast believed, so be it done unto thee. And his servant was healed in the self same hour.

Jesus will treat all alike according to this rule: “As thou hast believed, so be it done unto thee.” If thou canst believe great things of him, thou shalt receive great things from him. If thou dost think him good, and great, and mighty, thou shalt find him to be so. If thou canst conceive greater things of him than anyone else has ever done, thou shalt find him equal to all thy conceptions, and thy greatest faith shall be surpassed. It is a law of his kingdom, from which Christ never swerves: “According to thy faith, be it unto thee.”

Matthew 8:14-15. And when Jesus was come into Peter’s house, he saw his wife’s mother laid, and sick of a fever, And he touched her hand, and the fever left her: and she arose and ministered unto them.

That was, perhaps, the most remarkable thing of all; for, when a fever is cured, it usually leaves great weakness behind it. Persons recovered of fever cannot immediately leave their bed, and begin at once to attend to household matters, but Peter’s wife’s mother did this. Learn, hence, that the Lord Jesus can not only take away from us the disease of sin, but all the effects of it as well. He can make the man, who has been worn out in the service of Satan, to become young again in the service of the Lord; and when it seems as if we never, even if converted, could be of any use to him, he can take away the consequences of evil habits, and make us into bright and sanctified believers. What is there that is impossible to him? In the olden time, kings claimed to have the power of healing with a touch. That was a superstition; but this King can do it, all glory to his blessed name! May he lay his gracious hand upon many of you; for, if it could heal before it was pierced, much more can it now heal every sin-stricken soul it touches.

Matthew 8:16-18. When the even was come, they brought unto him many that were possessed with devils: and he cast out the spirits with his word, and healed all that were sick: That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, Himself took our infirmities, and bare our sicknesses. Now when Jesus saw great multitudes about him, he gave commandment to depart unto the other side.

For he neither loved nor courted popularity, but did his utmost to shun it. It followed him like his shadow but he always went before it, he never followed it, or sought after it: “When Jesus saw great multitudes about him, he gave commandment to depart unto the other side.”

Matthew 8:19. And a certain scribe came, and said unto him, Master, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest.

How bold he is with his boasting! But Jesus knows that the fastest professors are often just as fast deserters, so he tests him before he takes him into the band of his followers.

Matthew 8:20. And Jesus saith unto him, The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.

Christ means, — “Can you follow the Son of man when there is no reward except himself, — not even a place for your head to rest upon, or a home wherein you may find comfort? Can you cleave to him when the lone mountain side shall be the place where he spends whole nights in prayer while the dews falls heavily upon him? Can you follow him then? “This is a test of love which makes many to be “found wanting.”

Matthew 8:21-22. And another of his disciples said unto him, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father. But Jesus said unto him, Follow me; and let the dead bury their dead.

It must be Christ first, and father afterwards. We pay no disrespect to our dearest relatives and friends when we put them after Christ, that is their proper place. To put them before Christ, to prefer the creature to the Creator, is to be traitors to the King of kings. Whoever may come next, Christ must be first.

Matthew 8:23-26. And when he was entered into a ship, his disciples followed him. And, behold, there arose a great tempest in the sea, insomuch that the ship was covered with the waves: but he was asleep. And his disciples came to him, and awoke him, saying, Lord, save us: we perish. And he saith unto them, Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith? Then he arose, and rebuked the winds; and the sea; and there was a great calm.

Probably no calm is so profound as that which follows the tempest of the soul which Jesus stills by his peace-speaking word. The calm of nature, the calm of long-continued prosperity, the calm of an easy temper, — these are all deceitful, and are apt to be broken by sudden and furious tempests. But, after the soul has been rent to its foundations, — after the awful ground-swell, and the Atlantic billows of deep temptation, — when Jesus gives peace, there is “a great calm.”

Matthew 8:27. But the men marvelled, saying, What manner of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him!

We have often marvelled in the same way, but we know that it is not any “manner of man” alone, but that he, who was truly man, who was also “very God of very God,” the God-man, the man Christ Jesus, the mediator between God and men.


Verse 16

Matthew 8:16. When the even was come, they brought unto him many that were possessed with devils: and he cast out the spirits, with his word, and healed all that were sick:

It was the evening after the Sabbath. They did not venture even to bring out their sick till the day of rest was ended; and the Saviour, saying nothing about their lingering superstition, began to work mightily among them. “He cast out the spirits with his word.” What a power there is in the word of Jesus! There is nothing like it for the casting out of devils All our philosophies will not do what it does, the enemy will say, “Jesus I know, and Paul I know, but who are ye? “He cast out the spirits with his word, and healed all that were sick.”

Matthew 8:17. That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, Himself took our infirmities, and bare our sicknesses.

It does not look like a fulfillment, except upon the wondrous principle of the power of substitution. Jesus takes the sickness, and therefore he removes it from us. He heals our infirmities because he took them upon Himself. Is it so, do you think, that every miracle of healing that Christ wrought took something out of him? We remember that, when the woman with the issue of blood was cured by touching his garment, Jesus said, “I perceive that virtue is gone out of me.” Was it so that he suffered while he was thus relieving the suffering? It was the joy of his heart to bless mankind; but every blessing that he gave was very costly to him. I think that truth lies embedded in the Evangelist’s declaration.

Matthew 8:18. Now when Jesus saw great multitudes about him, he gave commandment to depart unto the other side.

This again looks like a non sequitur. You and I would have said, “If there are great multitudes about us, let us speak to them while we are here.” But then, again, you see, we may not always judge by the apparent usefulness of the present moment, we have to consider the rest of our career. Our Saviour knew that the governors of the country were very jealous, and that if people came together in large numbers, they might suspect insurrections and revolutions, and they would be there with their troops, and many innocent folk might be slain, and, speaking after the manner of men, his work of usefulness might be quickly brought to an end. Therefore, when he saw the great multitudes, he judged it wise to go elsewhere. Besides, he was no lover of popularity; he looked upon it as a shadow which necessarily followed him, rather than as a thing to be sought after. This he showed in the intense humility of his spirit, and in that love of solitude which was so natural to one who walked in continual fellowship with God. Sometimes we shall really do more by apparently for the moment doing less.

Matthew 8:19-20. And a certain scribe came, and said unto him, Master, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest. And Jesus saith unto him, The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath nowhere to lay his head.

We hear no more of this man. Our Saviour’s faithfulness probably dismissed him.

Matthew 8:21. And another of his disciples said unto him, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father.

Now this man was a disciple, mark you, and, according to Luke, the Lord had said to him, “Follow me,” yet he urged this plea, “Suffer me first to go and bury my father.”

Matthew 8:22. But Jesus said unto him, Follow me; and let the dead bury their dead.

Nothing, not even the duties of filial love, must be allowed to come in conflict with the command of Christ, “Follow me.” I take it that this is not so much a word to the common disciple as to a disciple called out to a special ministry: “Your ministry is to be your first, your main, your only occupation: ‘follow me: and let the dead bury their dead.’ Let the politicians attend to the politics; let the reformers see to the reforms; but, as for you, keep to your own work, and follow me.” When God’s ministers come to this point, that they have to win souls, and that this is their only business, then souls will be won. There are plenty of dead people to bury the dead, there are plenty of moral people to see after the ordinary affairs of morality. As for us, let us follow Christ, and keep to our one business.

Matthew 8:23. And when he was entered into a ship, his disciples followed him.

He went first, and they followed afterwards. If the ship be the type of the Church, then Christ is the first on board, he is the Captain, and the disciples make up the crew: “His disciples followed him.”

Matthew 8:24. And, behold, there arose a great tempest in the sea, insomuch that the ship was covered with the waves: but he was asleep.

What! a tempest where Christ is? Yes, it is generally so. If all seems very calm, thou mayest question whether Christ is there, but when he goes into the ship, and his disciples follow him, it is not remarkable that the devil comes after him. “The ship was covered with the waves.” That sea of Galilee lies very deep indeed, and it is surrounded by lofty crags and yawning chasms that act like funnels to the wind, so that to this day it is very dangerous for those who are on it in a boat. “The ship was covered with the waves: but he was asleep.” Here is the weakness of humanity; and here is also the strength of faith. Jesus went to sleep because that boat was in his Father’s hands, and he would take care of it. “He was asleep.” Sometimes, the best thing that we can do is to go to bed. You are worrying and troubling yourself, and you can do nothing; go to sleep, brother. It is the climax of faith to be able to shake off all care, and to feel, “If the Lord careth for me, why should I not sleep? “Remember what Alexander the Great said of his friend Parmenio: “Alexander may sleep, for Parmenio watches, “and surely we, who have a far greater friend than Parmenio, can say at any time, “We may sleep, for God watches.” “He was asleep.” To sleep was the best thing that Jesus could do to recruit his bodily energies and to prepare himself for the time when his efforts would be needed for the deliverance of his disciples from danger.

Matthew 8:25-26 And his disciples came to him, and awoke him, saying, Lord, save us: we perish. And he saith unto them: Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith?

The disciples might have answered, “Lord, how canst thou ask us why we are fearful? The ship is covered with waves, the sea threatens to swallow it and all of us up.” Still, they might have thought, “If Christ be on board the ship, will he allow it to sink? Can he be drowned? We carry Christ and all his fortunes, is not our vessel thus insured beyond all risk? He may well say to us, ‘Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith?’”

Matthew 8:26. Then he arose, and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a great calm.

“A great calm.” No ordinary stillness of the sea; but it was a great calm, as the tempest had been great which had preceded it. What! and all on a sudden too? Storms sob themselves to sleep through lengthened intervals of fretfulness, but when Jesus gives the word of command, the storm is gone at once. “There was a great calm.”

Matthew 8:27. But the men marvelled, saying, What manner of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him?

They did not know their Lord yet; nor do we. Perhaps we have to go to sea to learn more of him, I mean that troubles and trials of a greater sort than we have known before may yet have to come to be our schoolmasters to teach us what Jesus is. “They that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters, these see the works of the Lord, and his wonders in the deep.” You landsmen are thankful for your quiet, but you do not see so much of Jesus as others of his disciples do, you must go to sea to be able to cry, “What manner of man is this?”

Matthew 8:28-29. And when he was come to the other side into the country of the Gergesenes, there met him two possessed with devils, coming out of the tombs, exceeding fierce, so that no man might pass by that way. And, behold, they cried out, saying, What have we to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of God? art thou come hither to torment us before the time?

They know that there is a time when he will judge them, and when their torment will begin. Say what you please, sin in men or devils will be followed with torment, with sorrow indescribable, unutterable; and these devils knew it, and they were obliged to confess the truth. They were afraid lest Jesus had come to inflict upon them the penalty of their evil deeds before that last great day.

Matthew 8:30. And there was a good way off from them an herd of many swine feeding.

The owners of these animals had no business to have any swine there; swine were forbidden in that holy country, and they should not have been kept there.

Matthew 8:31. So the devils besought him, saying, If thou cast us out, suffer us to go away into the herd of swine.

What a wonderful creature a man is, as compared with an animal! A legion of devils could be packed away into these two men, but they needed a whole herd of swine to contain them all. How much greater is a man than a beast; that is to say, how much more capable of spiritual influence for evil as well as for good!

Matthew 8:32. And he said unto then, Go.

Jesus never wastes words upon devils; he is always short and sharp with them: “Go.”

Matthew 8:32. And when they were come out, they went into the herd of swine: and, behold, the whole herd of swine ran violently down a steep place into the sea, and perished in the waters.

The proverb has it, “They run fast whom the devil drives,” they run to destruction, even as these swine perished in the waters.

Matthew 8:33-34. And they that kept them fled, and went their ways into the city, and told every thing, and what was befallen to the possessed of the devils. And, behold, the whole city came out to meet Jesus:

You feel that they are going to worship him, or at least to ask him to come, and teach them the way of salvation; nothing of the sort.

Matthew 8:34. And when they saw him, they besought him that he would depart out of their coasts. And there are many still who try all they can to get Christ to go away from them. Woe be to them if he grants their desire!

Matthew 9:1. And he entered into a ship, and passed over, and came into his own city.

I think I see the departing sail, — love, hope, and peace melting away upon the distant horizon, and the Gergesenes left to perish. O God, do not so with any of us! Say not, “Ephraim is joined to idols. Let him alone.”


Verses 23-34

Matthew’s Gospel is the Gospel of the Kingdom, and of the King. Here you see the King amid the storms of nature.

Matthew 8:23-24. And when he was entered into a ship, his disciples followed him. And, behold, there arose a great tempest in the sea, insomuch that the ship was covered with the waves: but he was asleep.

In the quiet confidence of faith, resting upon his God.

Matthew 8:25-26. And his disciples came to him, and awoke him, saying, Lord, save us: we perish. And he saith unto them, Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith? Then he arose, and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a great calm.

As great a calm as there had been tempest. After great trouble, expect deep, delightful rest and peace, if you are a child of God.

Matthew 8:27. But the men marvelled, saying, What manner of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him!

Now see the King in conflict with the powers of darkness.

Matthew 8:28-31. And when he was come to the other side into the country of the Gergesenes, there met him two possessed with devils, coming out of the tombs, exceeding fierce, so that no man might pass by that way. And, behold, they cried out, saying, What have we to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of God? art thou come hither to torment us before the time? And there was a good way off from them an herd of many swine feeding. So the devils besought him,

How the demons crouched at his feet! The dogs of bell knew the power of his tongue; that was a whip whose lash they had felt before.

Matthew 8:31-32. Saying, If thou, cast us out, suffer us to go away into the herd of swine. And he said unto them, Go.

He never wastes words on demons.

Matthew 8:32-34. And when they were come out, they went into the herd of swine: and, behold, the whole herd of swine ran violently down a steep place into the sea, and perished in the waters. And they that kept them fled, and went their ways into the city, and told every thing, and what was befallen to the possessed of the devils. And, behold, the whole city came out to meet Jesus: and when they saw him, they besought him that he would depart out of their coasts.

A sad prayer; yet Jesus granted their request. Men may once too often ask the Holy Spirit to depart from them. They may grieve him once more, and then he will have done with them for ever. Now we shall see the King in conflict with the diseases of mankind, and with human sin.

This exposition consisted of readings from Matthew 8:23-34; Matthew 9:1-13.

 


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Bibliography Information
Spurgeon, Charle Haddon. "Commentary on Matthew 8:4". "Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/spe/matthew-8.html. 2011.

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Saturday, November 16th, 2019
the Week of Proper 27 / Ordinary 32
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