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Ver 1. There were present at that season some that told him of the Galileans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices.2. And Jesus answering said to them, Suppose you that these Galileans were sinners above all the Galileans, because they suffered such things?3. I tell you, Nay: but, except you repent, you shall all likewise perish.4. Or those eighteen, upon whom the tower in Siloam fell, and slew them, think you that they were sinners above all men that dwelt in Jerusalem?5. I tell you, Nay: but, except you repent, you shall all likewise perish.
GLOSS. As He had been speaking of the punishments of sinners, the story is fitly told Him of the punishment of certain particular sinners, from which He takes occasion to denounce vengeance also against other sinners: as it is said, There were present at that season some that told him of the Galileans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices.
CYRIL; For these were followers of the opinions of Judas of Galilee, of whom Luke makes mention in the Acts of the Apostles, who said, that we ought to call no man master. Great numbers of them refusing to acknowledge Caesar as their master, were therefore punished by Pilate. They said also that men ought not to offer God any sacrifices that were not ordained in the law of Moses, and so forbade to offer the sacrifices appointed by the people for the safety of the Emperor and the Roman people. Pilate then, being enraged against the Galileans, ordered them to be slain in the midst of the very victims which they thought they might offer according to the custom of their law; so that the blood of the offerers was mingled with that of the victims offered. Now it being generally believed that these Galileans were most justly punished, as sowing offences among the people, the rulers, eager to excite against Him the hatred of the people, relate these things to the Savior, wishing to discover what He thought about them. But He, admitting them to be sinners, does not however judge them to have suffered such things, as though they were worse than those who suffered not. Whence it follows, And he answered an said to them, Suppose you that these Galileans were sinners above all the Galileans, &c.
CHRYS. For God punishes some sinners by cutting off their iniquities, and appointing to them hereafter a lighter punishment, or perhaps even entirely releasing them, and correcting those who are living in wickedness by their punishment. Again, he does not punish others, that if they take heed to themselves by repentance they may escape both the present penalty and future punishment, but if they continue in their sins, suffer still greater torment.
TIT. BOST. And he here plainly shows, that whatever judgments are passed for the punishment of the guilty, happen not only by the authority of the judges, but the will of God. Whether therefore the judge punishes upon the strict grounds of conscience, or has some other object in his condemnation, we must ascribe the work to the Divine appointment.
CYRIL; To save therefore the multitudes, from the intestine seditions, which were excited for the sake of religion, He adds, but unless you repent, and unless you cease to conspire against your rulers, for which you have no divine guidance, You shall all likewise perish, and your blood shall be united to that of your sacrifices.
CHRYS. And herein he shows that He permitted them to suffer such things, that the heirs of the kingdom yet living might be dismayed by the dangers of others. "What then," you will say, "is this man punished, that I might become better?" Nay, but he is punished for his own crimes, and hence arises an opportunity of salvation to those who see it.
BEDE; But because they repented not in the fortieth year of our Lord’s Passion, the Romans coming, (whom Pilate represented, as belonging to their nation,) and beginning from Galilee, (whence our Lord’s preaching had begun,) utterly destroyed that wicked nation, and defiled with human blood not only the courts of the temples, where they were wont to offer sacrifices, but also the inner parts of the doors, (where there was no entrance to the Galileans.)
CHRYS. Again, there had been eighteen others crushed to death by the falling of a tower, of whom He adds the same things, as it follows, Or those eighteen upon whom the tower of Siloam fell and slew them, think you that they were sinners above all men that dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, Nay, For he does not punish all in this life, giving them a time meet for repentance. Nor however does he reserve all for future punishment, lest men should deny His providence.
TIT. BOST. Now one tower is compared to the whole city, that the destruction of a part may alarm the whole. Hence it is added, But, except you repent, you shall all likewise perish; as if He said, The whole city shall shortly be smitten if the inhabitants continue in impenitence.
AMBROSE; In those whose blood Pilate mingled with the sacrifices, there seems to be a certain mystical type, which concerns all who by the compulsion of the Devil offer not a pure sacrifice, whose prayer is for a sin, as it was written of Judas, who when he was amongst the sacrifices devised the betrayal of our Lord’s blood.
BEDE; For Pilate, who is interpreted, "The mouth of the hammerer," signifies the devil ever ready to strike. The blood expresses sin, the sacrifices good actions. Pilate then mingles the blood of the Galileans with their sacrifices when the devil stains the alms and other good works of the faithful either by carnal indulgence, or by courting the praise of men, or any other defilement. Those men of Jerusalem also who were crushed by the falling of the tower, signify that the Jews who refuse to repent will perish within their own walls. Nor without meaning is the number eighteen given, (which number among the Greeks is made up of I and H, that is, of the same letters with which the name of Jesus begins.) And it signifies that the Jews were chiefly to perish, because they would not receive the name of the Savior. That tower represents Him who is the tower of strength. And this is rightly in Siloam, which is interpreted, "sent;" for it signifies Him who, sent by the Father, came into the world, and who shall grind to powder all on whom He falls.
Ver 6. He spoke also this parable; A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came and sought fruit thereon, and found none.7. Then said he to the dresser of his vineyard, Behold, these three years I come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and find none; cut it down: why cumbers it the ground?8. And he answering; said to him, Lord, let it alone this year also, till I shall dig about it, and dung it:9. And if it bear fruit, well: and if not, then after that you shall cut it down.
TIT. BOST. The Jews were boasting, that while the eighteen had perished, they all remained unhurt. He therefore sets before them the parable of the fig tree, for it follows, He spoke also this parable; A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard.
AMBROSE; There was a vineyard of the Lord of hosts, which He gave for a spoil to the Gentiles. And the comparison of the fig tree to the synagogue is well chosen, because as that tree abounds with wide and spreading foliage, and deceives the hopes of its possessor with the vain expectation of promised fruit, so also in the synagogue, while its teachers are unfruitful in good works, yet magnify themselves with words as with abundant leaves, the empty shadow of the law stretches far and wide. This tree also is the only one which puts forth fruit in place of flowers. And the fruit falls, that other fruit may succeed; yet some few of the former remain, and do not fall. For the first people of the synagogue fell off as a useless fruit, in order that out of the fruitfulness of the old religion might arise the new people of the Church; yet they who were the first out of Israel whom a branch of a stronger nature bore, under the shadow of the law and the cross, in the bosom of both, stained with a double juice after the example of a ripening fig, surpassed all others in the grace of most excellent fruits; to whom it is said, You shall sit upon twelve thrones. Some however think the fig tree to be a figure not of the synagogue, but of wickedness and treachery; y et these differ in nothing from what has gone before, except that they choose the genus instead of the species.
BEDE; The Lord Himself who established the synagogue by Moses, came born in the flesh, and frequently teaching in the synagogue, sought for the fruits of faith, but in the hearts of the Pharisees found none; therefore it follows, And came seeking fruit on it, and found none.
AMBROSE; But our Lord sought, not because He was ignorant that the fig tree had no fruit, but that He might show in a figure that the synagogue ought by this time to have fruit. Lastly, from what follows, He teaches that He Himself came not before the time who came after three years. For so it is said, Then said he to the dresser of the vineyard, Behold, these three years I come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and find none. He came to Abraham, He came to Moses, He came to Mary, that is, He came in the seal of the covenant, He came in the law, He came in the body. We recognise His coming by His gifts; at one time purification, at another sanctification, at another justification. Circumcision purified, the law sanctified, grace justified. The Jewish people then could not be purified because they had not the circumcision of the heart, but of the body; nor be sanctified, because ignorant of the meaning of the law, they followed carnal things rather than spiritual; nor justified, because not working repentance for the their offences, they knew nothing of grace. Rightly then was there no fruit found in the synagogue, and consequently it is ordered to be cut down; for it follows, Cut it down, why cumbers it the ground? But the merciful dresser, perhaps meaning him on whom the Church is founded, foreseeing that another would be sent to the Gentiles, but he himself to them who were of the circumcision, piously intercedes that it may not be cut off; trusting to his calling, that the Jewish people also might be saved through the Church.
Hence it follows, And he answering said to him, Lord, let it alone this year also. He soon perceived hardness of bears and pride to be the causes of the barrenness of the Jews. He knew therefore how to discipline, who knew how to censure faults. Therefore adds He, till I shall dig about it. He promises that the hardness of their hearts shall be dug about by the Apostles’ spades, lest a heap of earth cover up and obscure the root of wisdom. And He adds, and dung it, that is, by the grace of humility, by which even the fig is thought to become fruitful toward the Gospel of Christ. Hence He adds, And if it bear fruit, well, that is, it shall be well, but if not, then after that you shall cut it down.
BEDE; Which indeed came to pass under the Romans, by whom the Jewish nation was cut off, and thrust out from the land of promise.
AUG. Or, in another sense, the fig tree is the race of mankind. For the first man after he had sinned concealed with fig leaves his nakedness, that is, the members from which we derive our birth.
THEOPHYL. But each one of us also is a fig tree planted in the vineyard of God, that is, in the Church, or in the world.
GREG. But our Lord came three times to the fig tree, because He sought after man’s nature before the law, under the law, and under grace, by waiting, admonishing, visiting; but yet He complains that for three years he found no fruit, for there are some wicked men whose hearts are neither corrected by the law of nature breathed into them, nor instructed by precepts, nor converted by the miracles of His incarnation.
THEOPHYL. Our nature yields no fruit though three times sought for; once indeed when we transgressed the commandment in paradise; the second time, when they made the molten calf under the law; thirdly, when they rejected the Savior. But that three years’ time must be understood to mean also the three ages of life, boyhood, manhood, and old age.
GREG. But with great fear and trembling should we hear the word which follows, Cut it down, why cumbers it the ground. For every one according to his measure, in whatsoever station of life he is, except he show forth the fruits of good works, like an unfruitful tree, cumbers the ground; for wherever he is himself placed, he there denies to another the opportunity of working.
PSEUDO-BASIL; For it is the part of God’s mercy not silently to inflict punishment, but to send forth threatenings to recall the sinner to repentance, as He did to the men of Nineveh, and now to the dresser of the vineyard, saying, Cut it down, exciting him indeed to the care of it, and stirring up the barren soil to bring forth the proper fruits.
GREG. NAZ. Let us not then strike suddenly, but overcome by gentleness, lest we cut down the fig tree still able to bear fruit, which the care perhaps of a skillful dresser will restore. Hence it is also here added, And he answering said to him, Lord, let alone, &c.
GREG. By the dresser of the vineyard is represented the order of Bishops, who, by ruling over the Church, take care of our Lord’s vineyard.
THEOPHYL. Or the master of the household is God the Father, the dresser is Christ, who will not have the fig tree cut down as barren, as if saying to the Father, Although through the Law and the Prophets they gave no fruit of repentance, I will water them with My sufferings and teaching, and perhaps they will yield us fruits of obedience.
AUG. Or, the husbandmen who intercedes is every holy man who ho within the Church prays for them that are without the Church, saying, O Lord, O Lord, let it alone this year, that is, for that time vouchsafed under grace, until I dig about it. To dig about it, is to teach humility and patience, for the ground which has been dug is lowly. The dung signifies the soiled garments, but they bring forth fruit. The soiled garment of the dresser, is the grief and mourning of sinners; for they who do penance and do it truly are in soiled garments.
GREG. Or, the sins of the flesh are called the dung. From this then the tree revives to bear fruit again, for from the remembrance of sin the soul quickens itself to good works. But there are very many who hear reproof, and yet despise the return to repentance; wherefore it is added, And if it bear fruit, well.
AUG. That is, it will be well, but if not, then after that you shall cut it down; namely, when you shall come to judge the quick and the dead. In the mean time it is now spared.
GREG. But he who will not by correction grow rich to fruitfulness, falls to that place from whence he is no more able to rise again by repentance.
Ver 10. And he was teaching in one of the synagogues on the sabbath.11. And, behold, there was a woman which had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bowed together, and could in no wise lift up herself.12. And when Jesus saw her, he called her to him, and said to her, Woman, you are loosed from your infirmity.13. And he laid his hands on her: and immediately she was made straight, and glorified God.14. And the ruler of the synagogue answered with indignation, because that Jesus had healed on the sabbath day, and said to the people, There are six days in which men ought to work: in them therefore come and be healed, and not on the sabbath day.15. The Lord then answered him, and said, you hypocrite, do not each one of you on the sabbath loose his ox or or ass from the stall, and lead him away to watering?16. And ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has bound, lo, these eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the sabbath day?17. And when he had said these things, all his adversaries were ashamed: and all the people rejoiced for all the glorious things that were done by him.
AMBROSE; He soon explained that He had been speaking of the synagogue, showing, that He truly came to it, who preached in it, as it is said, And he was teaching in one of the synagogues.
CHRYS. He teaches indeed not separately, but in the synagogues; calmly, neither wavering in any thing, nor determining aught against the law of Moses; on the Sabbath also, because the Jews were then engaged in the hearing of the law.
CYRIL; Now that the Incarnation of the Word was manifested to destroy corruption and death, and the hatred of the devil against us, is plain from the actual events; for it follows, And behold there was a woman which had a spirit of infirmity, &c. He says spirit of infirmity, because the woman suffered from the cruelty of the devil, forsaken by God because of her own crimes or for the transgression of Adam, on account of which the bodies of men incur infirmity and death. But God gives this power to the Devil, to the end that men when pressed down by the weight of their adversity might betake them to better things. He points out the nature of her infirmity, saying, And was bowed together, and could in no wise lift up herself.
BASIL; Because the head of the brutes is bent down towards the ground and looks upon the earth, but the head of man was made erect towards the heaven, his eyes tending upward. For it becomes us to seek what is above, and with our sight to pierce beyond earthly things.
CYRIL; But our Lord, to show that His coming into this world was to be the loosing of human infirmities, healed this woman. Hence it follows, And when Jesus saw her, he called her to him, and said to her, Woman, you are loosed from your infirmity. A word most suitable to God, full of heavenly majesty; for by His royal assent He dispels the disease.
He also laid His hands upon her, for it follows, He laid his hands on her, and immediately she was made straight, and glorified God. We should here answer, that the Divine power had put on the sacred flesh. For it was the flesh of God Himself, and of no other, as if the Son of Man existed apart from the Son of God, as some have falsely thought. But the ungrateful ruler of the synagogue, when he saw the woman, who before was creeping on the ground, now by Christ’s single touch made upright, and relating the mighty works of God, sullies his zeal for the glory of the Lord with envy, and condemns the miracle, that he might appear to be jealous for the Sabbath.
As it follows, And the ruler of the synagogue answered with indignation, because that Jesus had healed on the sabbath day, and said to the people, There are six days in which men ought to work, and not on the sabbath-day. He would have those who are dispersed about on the other days, and engaged in their own works, not come on the Sabbath to see and admire our Lord’s miracles, lest by chance they should believe. But the law has not forbidden all manual work on the Sabbath-day, and has it forbidden that which is done by a word or the mouth? Cease then both to eat and drink and speak and sing. And if you read not the law, how is it a Sabbath to you? But supposing the law has forbidden manual works, how is it a manual work to raise a woman upright by a word?
AMBROSE; Lastly, God rested from the works of the world not from holy works, for His working is constant and everlasting; as the Son says, My Father works until now, and I work; that after the likeness of God our worldly, not our religious, works should cease. Accordingly our Lord pointedly answered him, as it follows, You hypocrite, do not each on of you on the sabbath-day loose his ox or his ass? &c.
BASIL; The hypocrite is one who on the stage assumes a different character from his own. So also in this life some men carry one thing in their heart, and show another on the surface to the world.
CHRYS. Well then does he call the ruler of the synagogue a hypocrite, for he had the appearance of an observer of the law, but in his heart was a crafty and envious man. For it troubles him not that the Sabbath is broken, but that Christ is glorified. Now observe, that whenever Christ orders a work to be done, (as when He ordered the man sick of the palsy to take up his bed,) He raises His words to something higher, convincing men by the majesty of the Father, as He says, My Father works until now, and I work. But in this place, as doing every thing by word, He adds nothing further, refuting their calumny by the very things which they themselves did.
CYRIL; Now the ruler of the synagogue is convicted a hypocrite, in that he leads his cattle to watering on the Sabbath-day, but this woman, not more by birth than by faith the daughter of Abraham, he thought unworthy to be loosed from the chain of her infirmity. Therefore He adds, And ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham whom Satan has bound lo, these eighteen years, to be loosed from this bond on the sabbath-day? The ruler preferred that this woman should like the beasts rather look upon the earth than receive her natural stature, provided that Christ was not magnified. But they had nothing to answer; they themselves unanswerably condemned themselves.
Hence it follows, And when he had said these things, all his adversaries were ashamed. But the people, reaping great good from His miracles, rejoiced at the signs which they saw, as it follows, And all the people rejoiced;. For the glory of His works vanquished every scruple in them who sought Him not with corrupt hearts.
GREG. Mystically the unfruitful fig tree signifies the woman that was bowed down. For human nature of its own will rushes into sin, and as it would not bring forth the fruit of obedience, has lost the state of uprightness. The same fig tree preserved signifies the woman made upright.
AMBROSE; Or the fig tree represents the synagogue; afterwards in the infirm woman there follows as it were a figure of the Church, which having fulfilled the measure of the law and the resurrection, and now raised up on high in that eternal resting place, can no more experience the frailty of our weak inclinations. Nor could this woman be healed except she had fulfilled the law and grace. For in ten sentences is contained the perfection of the law, and in the number eight the fullness of the resurrection.
GREG. Or else; man was made on the sixth day, and on the same sixth day were all the works of the Lord finished, but the number six multiplied three times makes eighteen. Because then man who was made on the sixth day was unwilling to do perfect works, but before the law, under the law, and at the beginning of grace, was weak, the woman was bowed down eighteen years.
AUG. That which the three years signified in the tree, the eighteen did in the woman, for three times six is eighteen. But she was crooked and could not look up, for in vain she heard the words, lift up your hearts.
GREG. For every sinner who thinks earthly things, not seeking those that are in heaven, is unable to look up. For while pursuing his baser desires, he declines from the uprightness of his state; or his heart is bent crooked, and he ever looks upon that which he unceasingly thinks about. The Lord called her and made her upright, for He enlightened her and succored her. He sometimes calls but does not make upright, for when we are enlightened by grace, we oft-times see what should be done, but because of sin do not practice it. For habitual sin binds down the mind, so that it cannot rise to uprightness. It makes attempts and fails, because when it has long stood by its own will, when the will is lacking, it falls.
AMBROSE; Now this miracle is a sign of the coming sabbath, when every one who has fulfilled the law and grace, shall by the mercy of God put off the toils of this weak body. But why did He not mention any more animals, save to show that the time would come when the Jewish and Gentile nations should quench their bodily thirst, and this world’s heat in the fullness of the fountain of the Lord, and so through the calling forth of two nations, the Church should be saved.
BEDE; But the daughter of Abraham is every faithful soul, or the Church gathered out of both nations into the unity of the faith. There is the same mystery then in the ox or ass being loosed and led to water, as in the daughter of Abraham being released from the bondage of our affections.
Ver 18. Then said he, to what is the kingdom of God like? and whereunto shall I resemble it?19. It is like a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and cast into his garden; and it grew, and waxed a great tree; and the fowls of the air lodged in the branches of it.20. And again he said, Whereunto shall I liken the kingdom of God?21. It is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened.
GLOSS. While His adversaries were ashamed, and the people rejoiced, at the glorious things that were done by Christ, He proceeds to explain the progress of the Gospel under certain similitudes, as it follows, Then said he, to what is the kingdom of God like? It is like a grain of mustard seed, &c.
AMBROSE; In another place, a grain of mustard seed is introduced where it is compared to faith. If then the mustard seed is the kingdom of God, and faith is as the grain of mustard seed; faith is truly the kingdom of heaven, which is within us. A grain of mustard seed is indeed a mean and trifling thing, but as soon as it is crushed, it pours forth its power. And faith at first seems simple, but when it is buffeted by adversity, pours forth the grace of its virtue. The martyrs are grains of mustard seed. They have about them the sweet odor of faith, but it is hidden. Persecution comes; they are smitten by the sword; and to the farthest boundaries of the whole world they have scattered the seeds of their martyrdom. The Lord Himself also is a grain of mustard seed; He wished to be bruised that we might see that we are a sweet savor of Christ. He wishes to be sown as a grain of mustard seed, which when a man takes he puts it into his garden. For Christ was taken and buried in a garden, where also he rose again and became a tree, as it follows, And it waxed into a great tree. For our Lord is a grain when He is buried in the earth, a tree when He is lifted up into the heaven. He is also a tree overshadowing the world, as it follows, And the fowls of the air rested in his branches; that is, the heavenly powers and they whoever (for their spiritual deeds) have been thought worthy to fly forth. Peter is a branch, Paul is a branch, into whose arms, by certain hidden ways of disputation, we who were afar off now fly, having taken up the wings of the virtues. Sow then Christ in your garden; a garden is truly a place full of flowers, wherein the grace of your work may blossom; and the manifold odor of your different virtues be breathed forth. Wherever is the fruit of the seed, there is Christ.
CYRIL Or else; The kingdom of God is the Gospel, through which we gain the power of reigning with Christ. As then the mustard seed is surpassed in size by the seeds of other herbs, yet so increases as to become the shelter of many birds; so also the life-giving doctrine was at first in the possession only of few? but afterwards spread itself abroad.
BEDE; Now the man, is Christ, the garden, His Church, to be cultivated by His discipline. He is well said to have taken the grain, because the gifts which He together with the Father gave to us from His divinity, He took from His humanity. But the preaching of the Gospel grew and was disseminated throughout the whole world. It grows also in the mind of every believer, for no one is suddenly made perfect. But in its growth, not like the grass, (which soon withers,) but it rises up like the trees. The branches of this tree are the manifold doctrines, on which the chaste souls, soaring upwards on the wings of virtue, build and repose.
THEOPHYL. Or, any man receiving a grain of mustard seed, that is, the word of the Gospel, and sowing it in the garden of his soul, makes it a great tree, so as to bring forth branches, and the birds of the air (that is, they who soar above the earth) rest in the branches, (that is, in sublime contemplation.) For Paul received the instruction of Ananias as it were a small grain, but planting it in his garden, he brought forth many good doctrines, in which they dwell who have high heavenly thoughts, as Dionysius, Hierotheus, and many others.
He next likens the kingdom of God to leaven, for it follows, And again he says, if Whereunto shall I liken it? It is like to leaven, &c.
AMBROSE; Many think Christ is the leaven, for leaven which is made from meal, excels its kind in strength, not in appearance. So also Christ (according to the fathers) shone forth above others equal in body, but unapproachable in excellence. The Holy Church therefore represents the type of the woman, of whom it is added, Which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal, fill the whole was leavened.BEDE; The Satum is a kind of measure in use in the province of Palestine, holding about a bushel and a half.
AMBROSE; But we are the meal of the woman which hide the Lord Jesus in the secrets of our hearts, until the heat of heavenly wisdom penetrates our innermost recesses. And since He says it was hid in three measures, it seems fitting that we should believe the Son of God to have been hid in the Law, veiled in the Prophets, manifested in the preaching of the Gospel. Here however I am invited to proceed farther, because our Lord Himself has taught us, that the leaven is the spiritual teaching of the Church. Now the Church sanctifies with its spiritual leaven the man who is renewed in body, soul, and spirit, seeing that these three are united in a certain equal measure of desire, and there breathes forth a complete harmony of the will. If then in this life the three measures abide in the same person until they are leavened and become one, there will be hereafter an incorruptible communion with them that love Christ.
THEOPHYL. Or, for the woman you must understand the soul; but the three measures, its three parts, the reasoning part, the affections, and the desires. If then any one has hidden in these three the word of God, he will make the whole spiritual, so as not by his reason to lie in argument, nor by his anger or desire to be transported beyond control, but to be conformed to the word of God.
AUG. Or, the three measures of meal are the race of mankind, which was restored out of the three sons of Noah. The woman who hid the leaven is the wisdom of God.
EUSEBIUS; Or else, by the leaven our Lord means the Holy Spirit, the Sower proceeding (as it were) from the seed, which is the word of God. But the three measures of meal, signify the knowledge of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, which the woman, that is, Divine wisdom, and the Holy Spirit, impart.
BEDE; Or, by the leaven He speaks of love, which kindles and stirs up the heart; the woman, that is, the Church, hides the leaven of love in three measures, because she bids us love God with all our hearts, all our minds, and all our strength. And this until the whole is leavened, that is, until love moves the whole soul into the perfection of itself, which begins here, but will be completed hereafter.
Ver 22. And he went through the cities and villages, teaching, and journeying toward Jerusalem.23. Then said one to him, Lord, are there few that be saved? And he said to them,24. Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say to you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able.25. When once the master of the house is risen up, and has shut to the door, and you begin to stand without, and to knock at the door, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us; and he shall answer and say to you, I know you not whence you are:26. Then shall you begin to say, We have eaten and drunk in your presence, and you have taught in our streets.27. But he shall say, I tell you, I know you not whence you are; depart from me, all you workers of iniquity.28. There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when you shall see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets, in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrust out.29. And they shall come from the east, and from the west, and from the north, and from the south, and shall sit down in the kingdom of God.30. And, behold, there are last which shall be first, and there are first which shall be last.
GLOSS. Having spoken in parables concerning the increase of the teaching of the Gospel, he every where endeavors to spread it by preaching. Hence it is said, And he went through the cities and villages.
THEOPHYL. For he did not visit the small places only, as they do who wish to deceive the simple, nor the cities only, as they who are fond of show, and seek their own glory; but as their common Lord and Father providing for all, He went about every where. Nor again did He visit the country towns only, avoiding Jerusalem, as if He feared the cavils of the lawyers, or death, which might follow therefrom; and hence he adds, And journeying towards Jerusalem. For where there were many sick, there the Physician chiefly showed Himself. It follows, Then said one to him, Lord, are there few that be saved?
GLOSS. This question seems to have reference to what had gone before. For in the parable which was given above, He had said, that the birds of the air rested on its branches, by which it might be supposed that there would be many who would obtain the rest of salvation. And because one had asked the question for all, the Lord does not answer him individually, as it follows, And he said to them, Strive to enter in at the strait gate.
BASIL; For as in earthly life the departure from right is exceeding broad, so he who goes out of the path which leads to the kingdom of heaven, finds himself in a vast extent of error. But the right way is narrow, the slightest turning aside being full of danger, whether to the right or to the left, as on a bridge, where he who slips on either side is thrown into the river.
CYRIL; The narrow gate also represents the toils and sufferings of the saints. For as a victory in battle bears witness to the strength of the soldiers, so a courageous endurance of labors and temptations will make a man strong.
CHRYS. What then is that which our Lord says elsewhere, My yoke is easy, and my burden is light? There is indeed no contradiction, but the one was said because of the nature of temptations, the other with respect to the feeling of those who overcame them. For whatever is troublesome to our nature may be considered easy when we undertake it heartily. Besides also, though the way of salvation is narrow at its entrance, yet through it we come into a large space, but on the contrary the broad way leads to destruction.
GREG. Now when He was about to speak of the entrance of the narrow gate, He said first, strive, for unless the mind struggles manfully, the wave of the world is not overcome, by which the soul is ever thrown back again into the deep.
CYRIL; Now our Lord does not seem to satisfy him who asked whether there are few that be saved, when He declares the way by which man may become righteous. But it must be observed, that it was our Savior’s custom to answer those who asked Him, not according as they might judge light, as often as they put to Him useless questions, but with regard to what might be profitable to His hearers. And what advantage would it have been to His hearers to know whether there should be many or few who would be saved. But it was more necessary to know the way by which man may come to salvation. Purposely then He says nothing in answer to the idle question, but turns His discourse to a more important subject.
AUG. Or else, our Lord confirmed the words He heard, that is, by saying that there are few who are saved for few enter by the strait gate, but in another place He says this very thing, Narrow is the way which leads to life, and few there are who enter into it. Therefore He adds, For many I say to you shall seek to enter;
BEDE; Urged thereto by their love of safety, yet shall not be able, frightened by the roughness of the road.
BASIL; For the soul wavers to and fro, at one time choosing virtue when it considers eternity, at another preferring pleasures when it looks to the present. Here it beholds ease, or the delights of the flesh, there its subjection or captive bondage; here drunkenness, there sobriety; here wanton mirth, there overflowing of tears; here dancing, there praying; here the sound of the pipe, there weeping; here lust, there chastity.
AUG. Now our Lord in no wise contradicts Himself when He says, that there are few who enter in at the strait gate, and elsewhere, Many shall come from the east and the west; for there are few in comparison with those who are lost, many when united with the angels. Scarcely do they seem a grain when the threshing floor is swept, but so great a mass will come forth from this floor, that it will fill the granary of heaven.
CYRIL; But that they who cannot enter are regarded with wrath, He has strewn by an obvious example, as follows, When once the master of the house has risen up, &c. as if when the master of the house who has called many to the banquet has entered in with his guests, and shut to the door, then shall come afterwards men knocking.
BEDE; The master of the house is Christ, who since as very God He is every where, is already said to be within those whom though He is in heaven He gladdens with His visible presence, but is as it were without to those whom while contending in this pilgrimage, He helps in secret. But He will enter in when He shall bring the whole Church to the contemplation of Himself. He will shut the door when He shall take away from the reprobate all room for repentance. Who standing without will knock, that is, separated from the righteous will in vain implore that mercy which they have despised. Therefore it follows, And he will answer and say to you, I know you not whence you are.
GREG. For God not to know is for Him to reject, as also a man who speaks the truth is said not to know how to lie, for he disdains to sin by telling a lie, not that if he wished to lie he knew not how, but that from love of truth he scorns to speak what is false. Therefore the light of truth knows not the darkness which it condemns. It follows, Then shall you begin to say, We have eaten and drunk in your presence, &c.
CYRIL; This refers to the Israelites, who, according to the practice of their law, when offering victims to God, eat and are merry. They heard also in the synagogues the books of Moses, who in his writings delivered not his own words, but the words of God.
THEOPHYL. Or it is said to the Israelites, simply because Christ was born of them according to the flesh, and they ate and drank with Him, and heard Him preaching. But these things also apply to Christians. For we eat the body of Christ and drink His blood as often as we approach the mystic table, and He teaches in the streets of our souls, which are open to receive Him.
BEDE; Or mystically, he eats and drinks in the Lord’s presence who eagerly receives the food of the word. Hence it is added for explanation, You have taught in our streets. For Scripture in its more obscure places is food, since by being expounded it is as it were broken and swallowed. In the clearer places it is drink, where it is taken down just as it is found. But at a feast the banquet does not delight him whom the piety of faith commends not. The knowledge of the Scriptures does not make him known to God, whom the iniquity of his works proves to be unworthy; as it follows, And he will say to you, I know not whence you are; depart from me.
BASIL; He perhaps speaks to those whom the Apostle describes in his own person, saying, If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have all knowledge, and give all my goods to feed the poor, but have not charity, it profits me nothing. For whatever is done not from regard to the love of God, but to gain praise from men, obtains no praise from God.
THEOPHYL. Observe also that they are objects of wrath in whose street the Lord teaches. If then we have heard Him teaching not in the streets, but in poor and lowly hearts, we shall not be regarded with wrath.
BEDE; But the twofold punishment of hell is here described, that is, the feeling cold and heat. For weeping is wont to be excited by heat, gnashing of teeth by cold. Or gnashing of teeth betrays the feeling of indignation, that he who repents too late, is too late angry with himself.
GLOSS; Or the teeth will gnash which here delighted in eating, the eyes will weep which here wandered with desire. By each He represents the real resurrection of the wicked.
THEOPHYL. This also refers to the Israelites with whom He was speaking, who receive from this their severest blow, that the Gentiles have rest with the fathers, while they themselves are shut out. Hence He adds, When you shall see Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of God, &c.
EUSEB. For the Fathers above mentioned, before the times of the Law, forsaking the sins of many gods to follow the Gospel way, received the knowledge of the most high God; to whom many of the Gentiles were conformed through a similar manner of life, but their children suffered estrangement from the Gospel rules; and herein it follows, And behold they are last which shall be first, and they are first which shall be last.
CYRIL; For to the Jews who held the first place have the Gentiles been preferred.
THEOPHYL. But we as it seems are the first who have received from our very cradles the rudiments of Christian teaching, and perhaps shall be last in respect of the heathens who have believed at the end of life.
BEDE; Many also at first burning with zeal, afterwards grow cold; many at first cold, on a sudden become warm; many despised in this world, will be glorified in the world to come; others renowned among men, will in the end be condemned.
Ver 31. The same day there came certain of the Pharisees, saying to him, Get you out, and depart hence: for Herod will kill you.32. And he said to them, Go you, and tell that fox, Behold, I cast out devils, and I do cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I shall be perfected.33. Nevertheless I must walk today, and tomorrow, and the day following: for it cannot be that a prophet perish out of Jerusalem.34. O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, which kills the prophets, and stones them that are sent to you; how often would I have gathered your children together, as a hen doth gather her brood under her wings, and you would not!35. Behold, your house is left to you desolate: and verily I say to you, You shall not see me until the time come when you shall say, Blessed is he that comes in the name of the Lord.
CYRIL; The preceding words of our Lord roused the Pharisees to anger. For they perceived that the people were now smitten in their hearts, and eagerly receiving His faith. For fear then of losing their office as rulers of the people, and lacking their gains, with pretended love for Him, they persuade Him to depart from hence, as it is said, The same day there came certain of the Pharisees, saying to him, Get you out and depart hence, for Herod will kill you: but Christ, who searches the heart and the reins, answers them meekly and under figure. Hence it follows, And he said to them, Go you and tell that fox.
BEDE; Because of his wires end stratagems He calls Herod a fox, which is an animal full of craft, concealing itself in a ditch because of snares, having a noisome smell, never walking in straight paths, all which things belong to heretics, of whom Herod is a type, who endeavors to destroy Christ (that is, the humility of the Christian faith) in the hearts of believers.
CYRIL; Or else the discourse seems to change here, and not to refer so much to the character of Herod as some think, as to the lies of the Pharisees. For He almost represents the Pharisees themselves to be standing near, when He said, Go tell this fox, as it is in the Greek. Therefore he commanded them to say that which might rouse the multitude of Pharisees. Behold, said He, I cast out devils, and I do cures to day and to morrow, and on the third day I shall be perfected. He promises to do what was displeasing to the Jews, namely, to command the evil spirits, and deliver the sick from disease, until in His own person He should undergo the suffering of the cross.
But because the Pharisees thought that He who was the Lord of hosts, feared the hand of Herod. He refutes this, saying, Nevertheless I must walk today and tomorrow, and the day following. When He says must, He by no means implies a necessity imposed upon Him, but rather that He walked where He liked according to the inclination of His wild, until He should come to the end of the dreadful cross, the time of which Christ shows to be now drawing near, when He says, Today and tomorrow,
THEOPHYL. As if He says, What think you of My death? Behold, a little while, and it will come to pass. But by the words, Today and tomorrow, are signified many days; as we also are wont to say in common conversation, "Today and tomorrow such a thing takes place," not that it happens in that interval of time. And to explain more clearly the words of the Gospel, you must not understand them to be, I must walk to day and to morrow, but place a stop after today and tomorrow, then add, and walk on the day following, as frequently in reckoning we are accustomed to say, "The Lord’s day and the day after, and on the third I will go out," as if by reckoning two, to denote the third. So also our Lord speaks as if calculating, I must do so to day, and so to morrow, and then afterward on the third day I must go to Jerusalem.
AUG. Or these things are understood to have been spoken mystically by Him, so as to refer to His body, which is the Church. For devils are cast out when the Gentiles having forsaken their superstition, believe in Him. And cures are perfected when according to His commands, after having renounced the devil and this world until the end of the resurrection, (by which as it were the third day will be completed,) the Church shall be perfected in angelical fullness by the immortality also of the body.
THEOPHYL. But because they said to Him, Depart from hence, for Herod seeks to kill you, speaking in Galilee where Herod reigned, He shows that not in Galilee, but in Jerusalem it had been fore-ordained that He should suffer. Hence it follows, For it can not be that a prophet perish out of Jerusalem. When you hear, It can not be (or it is not fitting) that a prophet should perish out of Jerusalem, think not that any violent constraint was imposed upon the Jews, but He says this seasonably with reference to their eager desire after blood; just as if any one seeing a most savage robber, should say, the road on which this robber lurks can not be without bloodshed to travelers. So also no where else but in the abode of robbers must the Lord of the prophets perish. For accustomed to the blood of His prophets, they will also kill the Lord; as it follows, O Jerusalem, which kills the prophets.
BEDE; In calling upon Jerusalem, He addresses not the stones and buildings of the city, but the dwellers therein, and He weeps over it with the affection of a father.
CHRYS. For the twice repeated word betokens compassion or very great love. For the Lord speaks, if we may say it, as a lover would to his mistress who despised him, and was therefore about to be punished.
GREEK EX. But the repetition of the name also shows the rebuke to be severe. For she who knew God, how does she persecute God’s ministers?
CYRIL; Now that they were unmindful of the Divine blessings He proves as follows, How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen doth gather her brood under her wings, and you would not. He led them by the hand of Moses out of all wisdom, He warns them by His prophets, He wished to have them under His wings, (i.e. under the shelter of His power,) but they deprived themselves of these choice blessings, through their ingratitude.
AUG. As many as I gathered together, it was done by my all prevailing will, yet your unwillingness, for you were ever ungrateful.
BEDE; Now He who aptly had called Herod a fox, who was plotting His death, compares Himself to a bird, for foxes are ever lying in wait for birds.
BASIL; He compared also the sons of Jerusalem to birds in n the net, as if He said, Birds who are used to fly in the air are caught by the treacherous devices of the catchers, but you shall be as a chicken in want of another’s protection; when your mother then has fled away, you are taken from your nest as too weak to defend yourself; too feeble to fly; as it follows, Behold, your house is left to you desolate.
BEDE; The city itself which He had called the nest, He now calls the house of the Jews; for when our Lord was slain, the Romans came, and plundering it as a deserted nest, took away both their place, nation, and kingdom.
THEOPHYL. Or your house, (that is, temple,) as if He says, As long as there was virtue in you, it was my temple, but after that you made it a den of thieves, it was no more my house but yours. Or by house He meant the whole Jewish nation, according to the Psalm, O house of Jacob, bless you the Lord, by which he shows that it was He Himself who governed them, and took them out of the hand of their enemies. It follows, And verily I say to you, &c.
AUG. There seems nothing opposed to St. Luke’s narrative, in what the multitudes said when our Lord came to Jerusalem, Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, for He had not as yet come thither nor had this yet been spoken.
CYRIL; For our Lord had departed from Jerusalem, as it were abandoning those who were unworthy of His presence, and afterwards returned to Jerusalem, having performed many miracles, when that crowd meets Him, saying, Osanna to the Son of David, blessed is he that comes in the name of the Lord.
AUG. At But as Luke does not say to what place our Lord went from thence, so that He should not come except at that time, (for when this was spoken He was journeying onward until He should come to Jerusalem,) He means therefore to refer to that coming of His, when He should appear in glory.
THEOPHYL. For then also will they unwillingly confess Him to be their Lord and Savior, when there shall be no departure hence. But in saying, You shall not see me until he shall come, &c. does not signify that present hour, but the time of His cross; as if He says, When you have crucified Me, you shall no more see Me until I come again.
AUG. Luke must be understood then as wishing to anticipate here, before his narrative brought our Lord to Jerusalem, or to make Him when approaching the same city, give an answer to those who told Him to beware of Herod, like to that which Matthew says He gave when He had already reached Jerusalem.
BEDE; you shall not see, that is, unless you have worked repentance, and confessed Me to be the Son of the Father Almighty, you shall not see My face at the second coming.
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Aquinas, Thomas. "Commentary on Luke 13". "Golden Chain Commentary on the Gospel". https://studylight.org/
the Fourth Week after Epiphany