Wednesday, June 7th, 2023
the Week of Proper 4 / Ordinary 9
the Week of Proper 4 / Ordinary 9
Golden Chain Commentary on the Gospels Golden Chain Commentary
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These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Aquinas, Thomas. "Commentary on Matthew 9". "Golden Chain Commentary on the Gospel". https://studylight.org/
commentaries/ eng/ gcc/ matthew-9.html.
Aquinas, Thomas. "Commentary on Matthew 9". "Golden Chain Commentary on the Gospel". https://studylight.org/
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Ver 1. And he entered into a ship, and passed over, and came into his own city.2. And, behold, they brought to him a man sick of the palsy, lying on a bed: and Jesus seeing their faith said unto the sick of the palsy, "Son, be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee."3. And, behold, certain of the Scribes said within themselves, "This man blasphemeth."4. And Jesus knowing their thoughts said, "Wherefore think ye evil in your hearts?5. For whether is easier, to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and walk?6. But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (then saith he to the sick of the palsy,) "Arise, take up thy bed, and go unto thine house."7. And he arose, and departed to his house.8. But when the multitude saw it, they marvelled, and glorified God, which had given such power unto men.
Chrys., Hom. xxix: Christ had above shewn His excellent power by teaching, when "he taught them as one having authority;" in the leper, when He said, "I will, be thou clean;" by the centurion, who said to Him, "Speak the word, and my servant shall be healed;" by the sea which He calmed by a word; by the daemons who confessed Him; now again, in another and greater way, He compels His enemies to confess the equality of His honour with the Father; to this end it proceeds, "And Jesus entered into a ship, and passed over, and came into his own city." He entered a boat to cross over, who could have crossed the sea on foot; for He would not be always working miracles, that He might not take away the reality of His incarnation.
Chrysologus, Serm. 50: The Creator of all things, the Lord of the world, when He had for our sakes straitened Himself in the bonds of our flesh, began to have His own country as a man, began to be a citizen of Judaea, and to have parents, though Himself the parent of all, that affection might attach those whom fear had separated.
Chrys.: By "his own city" is here meant Capharnaum. For one town, to wit, Bethlehem, had received Him to be born there; another had brought Him up, to wit, Nazareth; and a third received Him to dwell there continually, namely, Capharnaum.
Aug., De Cons. Evan., ii, 25: That Matthew here speaks of "his own city," and Mark calls it Capharnaum, would be more difficult to be reconciled if Matthew had expressed it Nazareth. But as it is, all Galilee might be called Christ’s city, because Nazareth was in Galilee; just as all the Roman empire, divided into many states, was still called the Roman city. [margin note: civitas] Who can doubt then that the Lord in coming to Galilee is rightly said to come into "his own city," whatever was the town in which He abode, especially since Capharnaum was exalted into the metropolis of Galilee?
Jerome: Or; This city may be no other than Nazareth, whence He was called a Nazarene.
Aug.: And if we adopt this supposition, we must say that Matthew has omitted all that was done from the time that Jesus entered into His own city till He came to Capharnaum, and has proceeded on at once to the healing of the paralytic; as in many other places they pass over things that intervened, and carry on the thread of the narrative, without noticing any interval of time, to something else; so here, "And, to, they bring unto him a paralytic laying on a bed."
Chrys.: This paralytic is not the same as he in John. For he lay by the pool, this in Capharnaum; he had none to assist him, this was borne "on a bed."
Jerome: "On a bed," because he could not walk.
Chrys.: He does not universally demand faith of the sick, as, for example, when they are mad, or from any other sore sickness are not in possession of their minds; as it is here, "seeing their faith;"
Jerome: not the sick man’s, but theirs that bare him.
Chrys.: Seeing then that they shewed so great faith, He also shews His excellent power; with full power forgiving sin, as it follows, "he said to the paralytic, Be of good courage, son, thy sins are forgiven thee."
Chrysologus: Of how great power with God must a man’s own faith be, when that of others here availed to heal a man both within and without. The paralytic hears his pardon pronounced, in silence uttering no thanks, for he was more anxious for the cure of his body than his soul. Christ therefore with good reason accepts the faith of those that bare him, rather than his own hardness of heart.
Chrys.: Or, we may suppose even the sick man to have had faith; otherwise he would not have suffered himself to be let down through the roof as the other Evangelist relates.Jerome: O wonderful humility! This man feeble and despised, crippled in every limb, He addresses as "son." The Jewish Priests did not deign to touch him. Even therefore His "son," because his sins were forgiven him. Hence we may learn that diseases are often the punishment of sin; and therefore perhaps his sins are forgiven him, that when the cause of his disease has been first removed, health may be restored.
Chrys.: The Scribes in their desire to spread an ill report of Him, against their will made that which was done be more widely known; Christ using their envy to make known the miracle. For this is of His surpassing wisdom to manifest His deeds through His enemies; whence it follows, "Behold, some of the Scribes said among themselves, This man blasphemeth."
Jerome: We read in prophecy, "I am he that blotteth out thy transgressions;" [Isaiah 43:25] so the Scribes regarding Him as a man, and not understanding the words of God, charged Him with blasphemy. But He seeing their thoughts thus shewed Himself to be God, Who alone knoweth the heart; and thus, as it were, said, By the same power and prerogative by which I see your thoughts, I can forgive men their sins. Learn from your own experience what the paralytic has obtained. "When Jesus perceived their thoughts, he said, Why think ye evil in your hearts?"
Chrys.: He did not indeed contradict their suspicions so far as they had supposed Him to have spoken as God. For had He not been equal to God the Father, it would have behoved Him to say, I am far from this power, that of forgiving sin. But He confirms the contrary of this, by His words and His miracle; "Whether is it easier to say, Thy sins are forgiven thee, or to say, Arise, and walk?" By how much the soul is better than the body, by so much is it a greater thing to forgive sin than to heal the body. But forasmuch as the one may be seen with the eyes, but the other is not sensibly perceived, He does the lesser miracle which is the more evident, to be a proof of the greater miracle which is imperceptible.
Jerome: Whether or no his sins were forgiven He alone could know who forgave; but whether he could rise and walk, not only himself but they that looked on could judge of; but the power that heals, whether soul or body, is the same. And as there is a great difference between saying and doing, the outward sign is given that the spiritual effect may be proved; "But that ye may know that the Son of Man hath power on earth to forgive sins."Chrys.: Above, He said to the paralytic, "Thy sins are forgiven thee," not, I forgive thee thy sins; but now when the Scribes made resistance, He shews the greatness of His power by saying, "The Son of Man hath power on earth to forgive sins." And to shew that He was equal to the Father, He said not that the Son of Man needed any to forgive sins, but that "He hath power."
Gloss, ap. Anselm: These words "That ye may know," may be either Christ’s words, or the Evangelist’s words. As though the Evangelist had said, They doubted whether He could remit sins, "But that ye may know that the Son of Man hath the power to remit sins, he saith to the paralytic." If they are the words of Christ, the connexion will be as follows; You doubt that I have power to remit sins, "but that ye may know that the Son of Man hath power to remit sins" the sentence is imperfect, but the action supplies the place of the consequent clause, "he saith to the paralytic, Rise, take up thy bed."
Chrysologus: That which had been proof of his sickness, should now become proof of his recovered health. "And go to thy house," that having been healed by Christian faith, you may not die in the faithlessness of the Jews.
Chrys.: This command He added, that it might be seen there was no delusion in the miracle; so it follows to establish the reality of the cure, "And he arose, and went away to his own house." But they that stood by yet grovel on the earth, whence it follows, "But the multitude seeing it were afraid, and glorified God, who had bestowed such power among men." For had they rightly considered among themselves, they would have acknowledged Him to be the Son of God. Meanwhile it was no little matter to esteem Him as one greater than men, and to have come from God.
Hilary: Mystically; When driven out of Judaea, He returns into His own city; the city of God is the people of the faithful; into this He entered by a boat, that is, the Church.
Chrysologus: Christ has no need of the vessel, but the vessel of Christ; for without heavenly pilotage the bark of the Church cannot pass over the sea of the world to the heavenly harbour.
Hilary: In this paralytic the whole Gentile world is offered for healing, he is therefore brought by the ministration of Angels; he is called Son, because he is God’s work; the sins of his soul which the Law could not remit are remitted him; for faith only justifies. Lastly, he shews the power of the resurrection, by taking up his bed, teaching that all sickness shall then be no more found in the body.
Jerome: Figuratively, the soul sick in the body, its powers palsied, is brought by the perfect doctor to the Lord to be healed. For every one when sick, ought to engage some to pray for his recovery, through whom the halting footsteps of our acts may be reformed by the healing power of the heavenly word. These are mental monitors, who raise the soul of the hearer to higher things, although sick and weak in the outward body.
Chrysologus: The Lord requires not in this world the will of those who are without understanding, but looks to the faith of others; as the physician does not consult the wishes of the patient when his malady requires other things.
Rabanus: His rising up is the drawing off the soul from carnal lusts; his taking up his bed is the raising the flesh from earthly desires to spiritual pleasures; his going to his house is his returning to Paradise, or to internal watchfulness of himself against sin.
Greg., Mor. xxiii, 24: Or by the bed is denoted the pleasure of the body. He is commanded now he is made whole to bear that on which he had lain when sick, because every man who still takes pleasure in vice is laid as sick in carnal delights; but when made whole he bears this because he now endures the wantonness of that flesh in whose desires he had before reposed.
Hilary: It is a very fearful thing to be seized by death while the sins are yet unforgiven by Christ; for there is no way to the heavenly house for him whose sins have not been forgiven. But when this fear is removed, honour is rendered to God, who by His word has in this way given power to men, of forgiveness of sins, of resurrection of the body, and of return to Heaven.
Ver 9. And as Jesus passed forth from thence, he saw a man, named Matthew, sitting at the receipt of custom: and he saith unto him, "Follow me." And he arose, and followed him.10. And it came to pass, as Jesus sat at meat in the house, behold, many Publicans and sinners came and sat down with him and his disciples.11. And when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto his disciples, Why eateth your Master with Publicans and sinners?12. But when Jesus heard that, he said unto them, "They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick.13. But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice; for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance."
Chrys., Hom., xxx: Having wrought this miracle, Christ would not abide in the same place, lest He should rouse the envy of the Jews. Let us also do thus, not obstinately opposing those who lay in wait for us. "And as Jesus departed thence," (namely from the place in which He had done this miracle,) "he saw a man sitting at the receipt of custom, Matthew by name."
Jerome: The other Evangelists from respect to Matthew have not called him by his common name, but say here, Levi, for he had both names. Matthew himself, according to that Solomon says, "The righteous man accuses himself," [Proverbs 18:17] calls himself both Matthew and Publican, to shew the readers that none need despair of salvation who turn to better things, seeing he from a Publican became an Apostle.
Gloss., ap Anselm: He says, "sitting at the receipt of custom," that is, in the place where the tolls were collected. He was named Telonarius, from a Greek word signifying taxes.
Chrys.: Herein he shews the excellent power of Him that called him; while engaged in this dangerous office He rescued him from the midst of evil, as also Paul while he was yet mad against the Church. "He saith unto him, Follow me." As you have seen the power of Him that calleth, so learn the obedience of him that is called; he neither refuses, nor requests to go home and inform his friends.
Remig.: He esteems lightly human dangers which might accrue to him from his masters for leaving his accounts in disorder, but, "he arose, and followed him." And because he relinquished earthly gain, therefore of right was he made the dispenser of the Lord’s talents.
Jerome: Prophyry and the Emperor Julian insist from this account, that either the historian is to be charged with falsehood, or those who so readily followed the Saviour with haste and temerity; as if He called any without reason. They forget also the signs and wonders which had preceded, and which no doubt the Apostles had seen before they believed. Yea the brightness of effulgence of the hidden Godhead which beamed from his human countenance might attract them at first view. For if the loadstone can, as it is said, attract iron, how much more can the Lord of all creation draw to Himself whom He will!
Chrys.: But why did He not call him at the same time with Peter and John and the others? Because he was then still in a hardened state, but after many miracles, and great fame of Christ, when He who knows the inmost secrets of the heart, perceived him more disposed to obedience, then He called him.
Aug., De Cons. Evan., ii, 26: Or, perhaps it is more probable that Matthew here turns back to relate something that he had omitted; and we may suppose Matthew to have been called before the sermon on the mount; for on the mount, as Luke relates, the twelve, whom He also name Apostles, were chosen.
Gloss., non occ.: Matthew places his called among the miracles; for a great miracle it was, a Publican becoming an Apostle.
Chrys.: Why is it then that nothing is said of the rest of the Apostles how or when they were called, but only of Peter, Andrew, James, John, and Matthew? Because these were in the most alien and lowly stations, for nothing can be more disreputable than the office of Publican, nothing more abject than that of fisherman.
Gloss., ap Anselm: As a meet return for the heavenly mercy, Matthew prepared a great feast for Christ in his house, bestowing his temporal goods on Him of whom he looked to receive everlasting goods.
It follows, "And it came to pass as he sat at meat in the house."
Aug., De Cons. Evan., ii, 27: Matthew has not said in whose house Jesus sat at meat (on this occasion), from which we might suppose, that this was not told in its proper order, but that what took place at some other time is inserted here as it happened to come into his mind; did not Mark and Luke who relate the same shew that is was in Levi’s, that is, in Matthew’s house.
Chrys.: Matthew being honoured by the entrance of Jesus into his house, called together all that followed the same calling with himself; "Behold many Publicans and sinners came and sat down with Jesus, and with his disciples."
Gloss., ap Anselm: The Publicans were they who were engaged in public business, which seldom or never can be carried on without sin. And a beautiful omen of the future, that he that was to be an Apostle and doctor of the Gentiles, at his first conversion draws after him a great multitude of sinners to salvation, already performing by his example what he was shortly to perform by word.
Gloss. ord.: Tertullian says that these must have been Gentiles, because Scripture says, "There shall be no payer of tribute in Israel," as if Matthew were not a Jew. But the Lord did not sit down to meat with Gentiles, being more especially careful not to break the Law, as also He gave commandment to His disciples below, "Go not into the way of the Gentiles."
Jerome: But they had seen the Publican turning from sins to better things, and finding place of repentance, and on this account they do not despair of salvation.
Chrys.: Thus they came near to our Redeemer, and that not only to converse with Him, but to sit at meat with Him; for so not only by disputing, or healing, or convincing His enemies, but by eating with them, He oftentimes healed such as were ill-disposed, by this teaching us, that all times, and all actions, may be made means to our advantage. When the Pharisees saw this they were indignant; "And the Pharisees beholding said to his disciples, Why eateth your Master with Publicans and sinners?"
It should be observed, that when the disciples seemed to be doing what was sinful, these same addressed Christ, "Behold, thy disciples are doing what it is not allowed to do on the Sabbath." [Matthew 12:2] Here they speak against Christ to His disciples, both being the part of malicious persons, seeking to detach the hearts of the disciple from the Master.
Rabanus: They are here in a twofold error; first, they esteemed themselves righteous, though in their pride they had departed far from righteousness; secondly, they charged with unrighteousness those who by recovering themselves from sin were drawing near to righteousness.
Aug.: Luke seems to have related this a little differently; according to him the Pharisees say to the disciples, "Why do ye eat and drink with Publicans and sinners?" [Luke 5:30] not unwilling that their Master should be understood to be involved in the same charge; insinuating it at once against Himself and His disciples. Therefore Matthew and Mark have related it as said to the disciples, because so it was as much an objection against their Master whom they followed and imitated. The sense therefore is one in all, and so much the better conveyed, as the words are changed while the substance continues the same.
Jerome: For they do not come to Jesus while they remain in their original condition of sin, as the Pharisees and Scribes complain, but in penitence, as what follows proves; "But Jesus hearing said, They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick."
Rabanus: He calls Himself a physician, because by a wonderful kind of medicine He was "wounded for our iniquities" that He might heal the wound of our sin. By "the whole," He means those who "seeking to establish their own righteousness have not submitted to the true righteousness of God." [Romans 10:3] By "the sick," He means those who, tied by the consciousness of their frailty, and seeing that they are not justified by the Law, submit themselves in penitence to the grace of God.
Chrys.: Having first spoken in accordance with common opinion, He now addresses them out of Scripture, saying, "Go ye, and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy and not sacrifice."
Jerome, Hosea 6:5: This text from Osee is directed against the Scribes and Pharisees, who, deeming themselves righteous, refused to keep company with Publicans and sinners.
Chrys.: As much as to say; How do you accuse me for reforming sinners? Therefore in this you accuse God the Father also. For as He wills the amendment of sinners, even so also do I. And He shews that this that they blamed was not only not forbidden, but was even by the Law set above sacrifice; for He said not, I will have mercy as well as sacrifice, but chooses the one and rejects the other.
Gloss., ap. Anselm: Yet does not God contemn sacrifice, but sacrifice without mercy. But the Pharisees often offered sacrifices in the temple that they might seem to men to be righteous, but did not practise the deeds of mercy by which true righteousness is proved.
Rabanus: He therefore warns them, that by deeds of mercy they should seek for themselves the rewards of the mercy that is above, and, not overlooking the necessities of the poor, trust to please God by offering sacrifice. Wherefore, He says, "Go;" that is, from the rashness of foolish fault-finding to a more careful meditation of Holy Scripture, which highly commends mercy, and proposes to them as a guide His own example of mercy, saying, "I came not to call the righteous but sinners."
Aug.: Luke adds "to repentance," which explains the sense; that none should suppose that sinners are loved by Christ because they are sinners; and this comparison of the sick shews what God means by calling sinners, as a physician does the sick to be saved from their iniquity as from a sickness; which is done by penitence.
Hilary: Christ came for all; how is it then that He says He came not for the righteous? Were there those for whom it needed not that He should come? But no man is righteous by the law. He shews how empty their boast of justification, sacrifices being inadequate to salvation, mercy was necessary for all who were set under the Law.
Chrys.: Whence we may suppose that He is speaking ironically, as when it is said, "Behold now Adam is become as one of us." [Genesis 3:22] For that there is none righteous on earth Paul shews, "All have sinned, and need glory of God." [Romans 3:23] By this saying He also consoled those who were called; as though He had said, So far am I from abhorring sinners, that for their sakes only did I come.
Gloss., ap. Anselm: Or; Those who were righteous, as Nathanael and John the Baptist, were not to be invited to repentance. Or, "I came not to call the righteous," that is, the feignedly righteous, those who boasted of their righteousness as the Pharisees, but those that owned themselves sinners.
Rabanus: In the call of Matthew and the Publicans is figured the faith of the Gentiles who first gaped after the gain of the world, and are now spiritually refreshed by the Lord; in the pride of the Pharisees, the jealousy of the Jews at the salvation of the Gentiles. Or, Matthew signifies the man intent on temporal gain; Jesus sees him, when He looks on him with the eyes of mercy. For Matthew is interpreted ’given,’ Levi ’taken,’ the penitent is taken out of the mass of the perishing, and by God’s grace given to the Church. "And Jesus saith unto him, Follow me," either by preaching, or by the admonition of Scripture, or by internal illumination.
Ver 14. Then came to him the disciples of John, saying, "Why do we and the Pharisees fast oft, but thy disciples fast not?"15. And Jesus said unto them, "Can the children of the bridechamber mourn, as long as the bridegroom is with them? but the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken from them, and then shall they fast.16. No man putteth a piece of new cloth unto an old garment, for that which is put in to fill it up taketh from the garment, and the rent is made worse.17. Neither do men put new wine into old bottles: else the bottles break, and the wine runneth out, and the bottles perish: but they put new wine into new bottles, and both are preserved."
Gloss., ap. Anselm: When He had replied to them respecting eating and converse with sinners, they next assault Him on the matter of food; "Then came to him the disciples of John, saying, Why do we and the Pharisees fast often, but thy disciples fast not?"
Jerome: O boastful enquiry and ostentation of fasting much to be blamed, nor can John’s disciples be excused for their taking part with the Pharisees who they knew had been condemned by John, and for bringing a false accusation against Him whom they knew their master had preached.
Chrys.: What they say come to this, Be it that you do this as Physician of souls, but why do your disciples neglect fasting and approach such tables? And to augment the weight of their charge by comparison, they put themselves first, and then the Pharisees. They fasted as they learnt out of the Law, as the Pharisee spoke, "I fast twice in the week;" [Luke 18:12] the others learnt it of John.
Rabanus: For John drank neither wine, nor strong drink, increasing his merit by abstinence, because he had no power over nature. But the Lord who has power to forgive sins, why should He shun sinners that eat, since He has power to make them more righteous than those that cannot? Yet doth Christ fast, that you should not avoid the command; but He eats with sinners that you may know His grace and power.
Aug.: Through Matthew mentions only the disciples of John as having made this enquiry, the words of Mark rather seem to imply that some other persons spoke of others, that is, the guests spoke concerning the disciples of John and the Pharisees - this is still more evident from Luke [ref. Luke 5:33]; why then does Matthew here say, "Then came unto him the disciples of John," unless that they were there among other guests, all of whom with one consent put this objection to Him?
Chrys.: Or; Luke relates that the Pharisees, but Matthew that the disciples of John, said thus, because the Pharisees had taken them with them to ask the question, as they afterwards did the Herodians. Observe how when strangers, as before the Publicans, were to be defended, He accuses heavily those that blamed them; but when they brought a charge against His disciples, He makes answer with mildness. "And Jesus saith unto them, Can the children of the bridegroom mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them?" Before He had styled Himself Physician, now Bridegroom, calling to mind the words of John which he had said, "He that hath the bride is the bridegroom." [John 3:29]
Jerome: Christ is the Bridegroom and the Church the Bride. Of this spiritual union the Apostles were born; they cannot mourn so long as they see the Bridegroom in the chamber with the Bride. But when the nuptials are past, and the time of passion and resurrection is come, then shall the children of the Bridegroom fast.
"The days shall come when the bridegroom shall be taken from them, and then shall they fast."
Chrys.: He means thus; The present is a time of joy and rejoicing; sorrow is therefore not to be now brought forward; and fasting is naturally grievous, and to all those that are yet weak; for to those that seek to contemplate wisdom, it is pleasant; He therefore speaks here according to the former opinion. He also shews that this they did was not of gluttony, but of a certain dispensation.
Jerome: Hence some think that a fast ought to follow the forty days of Passion, although the day of Pentecost and the coming of the Holy Spirit immediately bring back our joy and festival. From this text accordingly, Montanus, Prisca, and Maximilla enjoin a forty days abstinence after Pentecost, but it is the use of the Church to come to the Lord’s passion and resurrection through humiliation of the flesh, that by carnal abstinence we may better be prepared for spiritual fulness.
Chrys.: Here again He confirms what He has said by examples of common things; "No man putteth a patch of undressed cloth into an old garment; for it taketh away its wholeness from the garment, and the rent is made worse;" which is to say, My disciples are not yet become strong, but have need of much consideration; they are not yet renewed by the Spirit. On men in such a state it is not behoveful to lay a burden of precepts. Herein He establishes a rule for His disciples, that they should receive with leniency disciples from out of the whole world.
Remig.: By the old garment He means His disciples, who had not yet been renewed in all things. The patch of undressed, that is, of new cloth, means the new grace, that is, the Gospel doctrine, of which fasting is a portion; and it was not meet that the stricter ordinances of fasting should be entrusted to them, lest they should be broken down by their severity, and forfeit that faith which they had; as He adds, "It taketh its wholeness from the garment, and the rent is made worse."Gloss., ap. Anselm: As much as to say, An undressed patch, that is, a new one, ought not to be put into an old garment, because it often takes away from the garment its wholeness, that is, its perfection, and then the rent is made worse. For a heavy burden laid on one that is untrained often destroys that good which was in him before.
Remig.: After two comparisons made, that of the wedding, and that of the undressed cloth, He adds a third concerning wine skins; "Neither do men put new wine into old skins." By the old skins He means His disciples, who were not yet perfectly renewed. The new wine is the fulness of the Holy Spirit, and the depths of the heavenly mysteries, which His disciples could not then bear; but after the resurrection they became as new skins, and were filled with new wine when they received the Holy Spirit into their hearts. Whence also some said, "These men are full of new wine." [Acts 2:13]
Chrys.: Herein He also shews us the cause of those condescending words which He often addressed to them because of their weakness.
Jerome: Otherwise; By the "old garment," and "old skins," we must understand the Scribes and Pharisees; and by the "piece of new cloth," and "new wine," the Gospel precepts, which the Jews were not able to bear; so "the rent was made worse." Something such the Galatians sought to do, to mix the precepts of the Law with the Gospel, and to put new wine into old skins. The word of the Gospel is therefore to be poured into the Apostles, rather than into the Scribes and Pharisees, who, corrupted by the traditions of the elders, were unable to preserve the purity of Christ’s precepts.
Gloss., non occ.: This shews that the Apostles being hereafter to be replenished with newness of grace, ought not now to be bound to the old observances.
Aug., Serm., 210, 3: Otherwise; Everyone who rightly fasts, either humbles his soul in the groaning of prayer, and bodily chastisement, or suspends the motion of carnal desire by the joys of spiritual meditation. And the Lord here makes answer respecting both kinds of fasting; concerning the first, which is in humiliation of soul, He says, "The children of the bridegroom cannot mourn."
Of the other which has a feast of the Spirit, He next speaks, where He says, "No man putteth a patch of undressed cloth." Then we must mourn because the Bridegroom is taken away from us. And we rightly mourn if we burn with desire of Him. Blessed they to whom it was granted before His passion to have Him present with them, to enquire of Him what they would, to hear what they ought to hear. Those days the fathers before His coming sought to see, and saw them not, because they were placed in another dispensation, one in which He was proclaimed as coming, not one in which He was heard as present. For in us was fulfilled that He speaks of, "The days shall come when ye shall desire to see one of these days, and shall not be able." [Luke 17:22] Who then will not mourn this? Who will not say, "My tears have been my meat day and night, while they daily say unto me, Where is now thy God?" [Psalms 42:3] With reason then did the Apostle seek "to die and to be with Christ."
Aug., De Cons. Evan., ii, 27: That Matthew writes here "mourn," where Mark and Luke write "fast," shews that the Lord spake of that kind of fasting which pertains to humbling one’s self in chastisement; as in the following comparisons He may be supposed to have spoken of the other kind which pertains to the joy of a mind wrapt in spiritual thoughts, and therefore averted from the food of the body; shewing that those who are occupied about the body, and owing to this retain their former desires, are not fit for this kind of fasting.
Hilary: Figuratively, this His answer, that while the Bridegroom was present with them, His disciples needed not to fast, teaches us the joy of His presence, and the sacrament of the holy food, which none shall lack, while He is present, that is, while one keeps Christ in the eye of the mind. He says, they shall fast when He is taken away from them, because all who do not believe that Christ is risen, shall not have the food of life. For in the faith of the resurrection the sacrament of the heavenly bread is received.
Jerome: Or, when He has departed from us for our sins, then is a fast to be proclaimed, then is mourning to be put on.
Hilary: By these examples He shews that neither our souls nor bodies, being so weakened by inveteracy of sin, are capable of the sacraments of the new grace.
Rabanus: The different comparisons all refer to the same thing, and yet are they different; the garment by which we are covered abroad signifies our good works, which we perform when we are abroad; the wine with which we are refreshed within is the fervor of faith and charity, which creates us anew within.
Ver 18. While he spake these things unto them, behold, there came a certain ruler, and worshipped him, saying, "My daughter is even now dead: but come and lay thy hand upon her, and she shall live."19. And Jesus arose, and followed him, and so did his disciples.20. And, behold, a woman, which was diseased with an issue of blood twelve years, came behind him, and touched the hem of his garment;21. For she said within herself, "If I may but touch his garment, I shall be whole."22. But Jesus turned him about, and when he saw her, he said, "Daughter, be of good comfort; thy faith hath made thee whole." And the woman was made whole from that hour.
Chrys., Hom., xxxi: After His instructions He adds a miracle, which should mightily discomfit the Pharisees, because he who came to beg this miracle, was a ruler of the synagogue and the mourning was great, for she was his only child, and of the age of twelve years, that is, when the flower of youth begins; "While he spake these things unto them, behold, there came one of their chief men unto him."
Aug., De Cons. Evan., ii, 28: This narrative is given both by Mark and Luke, but in a quite different order; namely, when after the casting out of the daemons and their entrance into the swine, he had returned across the lake from the country of the Gerasenes. Now Mark does indeed tell us that this happened after He had recrossed the lake, but how long after he does not determine. Unless there had been some interval of time, that could not have taken place that Matthew relates concerning the feast in his house. After this, immediately follows that concerning the ruler of the synagogue’s daughter. If the ruler came to Him while He was yet speaking that of the new patch, and the new wine, then no other act of speech of his intervened. And in Mark’s account, the place where these things might come in, is evident. In like manner, Luke does not contradict Matthew; for what he adds, "And behold a man, whose name was Jairus," [Matthew 8:41] is not to be taken as though it followed instantly what had been related before, but after that feast with the Publicans, as Matthew relates.
"While he spake these things unto them, behold, one of their chief men," namely, Jairus, the ruler of the synagogue, "came to him, and worshipped him, saying, Lord, my daughter is even now dead." It should be observed, lest there should seem to be some discrepancy, that the other two Evangelists represent her as at the point of death, but yet not dead, but so as afterwards to say that there came afterwards some saying, "She is dead, trouble not the Master," for Matthew for the sake of shortness represents the Lord as having been asked at first to do that which it is manifest He did do, namely, raise the dead. He looks not at the words of the father respecting his daughter, but rather his mind. For he had so far despaired of her life, that he made his request rather for her to be called in life again, thinking it impossible that she, whom he had left dying, should be found yet alive.
The other two then have given Jairus’ words; Matthew has put what he wished and thought. Indeed had either of them related that it was the father himself that said that Jesus should not be troubled for she was now dead, in that case the words that Matthew has given would not have corresponded with the thoughts of the ruler. But we do not read that he agreed with the messengers. Hence we learn a thing of the highest necessity, that we should look at nothing in any man’s words, but his meaning to which his words ought to be subservient; and no man gives a false account when he repeats a man’s meaning in words other than those actually used.
Chrys.: Or; The ruler says, she is dead, exaggerating his calamity. As it is the manner of those that prefer a petition to magnify their distress, and to represent them as something more than they really are, in order to gain the compassion of those to whom they make supplication; whence he adds, "But come and lay thy hand upon her, and she shall live."
See his dullness. He begs two things of Christ, to come, and to lay His hand upon her. This was what Naaman the Syrian required of the Prophet. For they who are constituted thus hard of heart have need of sight and things sensible.
Remig.: We ought to admire and at the same time to imitate the humility and mercifulness of the Lord; as soon as ever He was asked, He rose to follow him that asked: "And Jesus rose, and followed him." Here is instruction both for such as are in command, and such as are in subjection. To these He has left an example of obedience; to those who are set over others He shews how earnest and watchful they should be in teaching; whenever they hear of any being dead in spirit, they should hasten to Him; "And his disciples went with him."
Chrys.: Mark and Luke say that He took with Him three disciples only, namely, Peter, James, and John; He took not Matthew, to quicken his desires, and because he was yet not perfectly minded; and for this reason He honours these three, that others may become like-minded. It was enough meanwhile for Matthew to see the things that were done respecting her that had the issue of blood, concerning whom it follows; "And behold, a woman who had suffered an issue of blood twelve years, came behind and touched the hem of his garment."
Jerome: This woman that had the flux came to the Lord not in the house, nor in the town, for she was excluded from them by the Law, but by the way as He walked; thus as He goes to heal one woman, another is cured.
Chrys.: She came not to Christ with an open address through shame concerning this her disease, believing herself unclean; for in the Law this disease was esteemed highly unclean. For this reason she hides herself.
Remig.: In which her humility must be praised, that she came not before His face, but behind, and judged herself unworthy to touch the Lord’s feet, yea, she touched not His whole garment, but the hem only; for the Lord wore a hem according to the command of the Law. So the Pharisees also wore hems which they made large, and in some they inserted thorns. But the Lord’s hem was not made to wound, but to heal.
And therefore it follows, "For she said within herself, If I can but touch his garment, I shall be made whole." How wonderful her faith, that though she despaired of health from the physicians, on whom notwithstanding she had exhausted her living, she perceived that a heavenly Physician was at hand, and therefore bent her whole soul on Him; whence she deserved to be healed; "But Jesus turning and seeing her, said, "Be of good cheer, daughter, thy faith hath made thee whole."
Rabanus: What is this that He bids her, "Be of good cheer," seeing if she had not had faith, she would not have sought healing of Him? He requires of her strength and perseverance, that she may come to a sure and certain salvation.
Chrys.: Or because the woman was fearful, therefore He said, "Be of good cheer." He calls her "daughter," for her faith had made her such.
Jerome: He said not, Thy faith shall make thee whole, but, "hath made thee whole;" for in that thou hast believed, thou art already made whole.
Chrys.: She had not yet a perfect mind respecting Christ, or she would not have supposed that she could be hid from Him; but Christ would not suffer her to go away unobserved, not that He sought fame, but for many reasons. First, He relieves the woman’s fear, that she should not be pricked in her conscience as though she had stolen this boon; secondly, He corrects her error in supposing she could be hid from Him; thirdly, He displays her faith to all for their imitation; and fourthly, He did a miracle, in that He shewed He knew all things, no less than in drying the fountain of her blood. It follows, "And the woman was made whole from that hour."
Gloss., ap. Anselm: This must be understood as the time in which she touched the hem of His garment, not in which Jesus turned to her; for she was already healed, as the other Evangelists testify, and as may be inferred from the Lord’s words.
Hilary: Herein is to be observed the marvellous virtue of the Lord, that the power that dwelt in His body should give healing to things perishable, and the heavenly energy extended even through the hems of His garments; for God is not comprehensible that He should be shut in by a body. For His taking a body unto Him did not confine His power, but His power took upon it a frail body for our redemption. Figuratively, this ruler is to be understood as the Law, which prays the Lord that He would restore life to the dead multitude which it had brought up for Christ, preaching that His coming was to be looked for.
Rabanus, part. e Beda: Or; The ruler of the synagogue signifies Moses; he is named Jairus, ’illuminating,’ or, ’that shall illuminate,’ because he received the words of life to give to us, and by them enlighten all, being himself enlightened by the Holy Spirit. The daughter of the ruler, that is, the synagogue itself, being as it were in the twelfth year of its age, that is, in the season of puberty, when it should have borne spiritual progeny to God, fell into the sickness of error. While when the Word of God is hastening to this ruler’s daughter to make whole the sons of Israel, a holy Church is gathered from among the Gentiles, which while it was perishing by inward corruption, received by faith that healing that was prepared for others.
It should be noted, that the ruler’s daughter was twelve years old, and this woman had been twelve years afflicted; thus she had begun to be diseased at the very time the other was born; so in one and the same age the synagogue had its birth among the Patriarchs, and the nations without began to be polluted with the pest of idolatry. For the issue of blood may be taken in two ways, either for the pollution of idolatry, or for obedience to the pleasures of flesh and blood. Thus as long as the synagogue flourished, the Church languished; the falling away of the first was made the salvation of the Gentiles.
Also the Church draws nigh and touches the Lord, when it approaches Him in faith. She believes, spake her belief, and touched, for by these three things, faith, word and deed, all salvation is gained. She came behind Him, as He spake, "If any one serve me, let him follow me;" [John 12:26] or because, not having seen the Lord present in the flesh, when the sacraments of His incarnation were fulfilled, she came at length to the grace of the knowledge of Him. Thus also she touched the hem of His garment, because the Gentiles, though they had not seen Christ in the flesh, received the tidings of His incarnation. The garment of Christ is put for the mystery of His incarnation, wherewith His Deity is clothed; the hem of His garment are the words that hang upon His incarnation. She touches not the garment, but the hem thereof; because she saw not the Lord in the flesh, but received the word of the incarnation through the Apostles. Blessed is he that touches but the uttermost part of the word by faith. She is healed while the Lord is not in the city, but while He is yet on the way; as the Apostles cried, "Because ye judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles." [Acts 13:46] And from the time of the Lord’s coming the Gentiles began to be healed.
Ver 23. And when Jesus came into the ruler’s house, and saw the minstrels and the people making a noise,24. He said unto them, "Give place; for the maid is not dead, but sleepeth." And they laughed him to scorn.25. But when the people were put forth, he went in, and took her by the hand, and the maid arose.26. And the fame hereof went abroad into all that land.
Gloss., non occ.: After the healing of the woman with the issue of blood, follows the raising of the dead; "And when Jesus was come into the ruler’s house."
Chrys.: We may suppose that He proceeded slowly, and spake longer to the woman whom He had healed, that He might suffer the maid to die, and thus an evident miracle of restoring to life might be wrought. In the case of Lazarus also He waited till the third day.
"And when he saw the minstrels and the people making a noise;" this was a proof of her death.
Ambrose., Ambrosiaster, in Luc., 8, 52: For by the ancient custom minstrels were engaged to make lamentation for the dead.
Chrys.: But Christ put forth all the pipers, but took in the parents, that it might not be said that He had healed her by any other means; and before the restoring to life He excites their expectations by His words, "And he said, Give place: for the maid is not dead, but sleepeth."
Bede, in Luc.: As though He had said, To you she is dead, but to God who has power to give life, she sleeps only both in soul and body.
Chrys.: By this saying, He soothes the minds of those that were present, and shews that it is easy to Him to raise the dead; the like He did in the case of Lazarus, "Our friend Lazarus sleepeth." [John 11:11] This was also a lesson to them not to be afraid of death; forasmuch as He himself also should die, He made His disciples learn in the persons of others confidence and patient endurance of death. For when He was near, death was but as sleep. When He had said this, "They mocked him." And He did not rebuke their mocking; that this mocking, and the pipes and all other things, might be a proof of her death. For ofttimes at His miracles when men would not believe, He convicted them by their own answers; as in the case of Lazarus, when He said, "Where have ye laid him?" so that they that answered, "Come and see," and, "He stinketh, for he hath now been dead four days," could no longer disbelieve that He had raised a dead man.
Jerome: They that had mocked the Reviver were not worthy to behold the mystery of the revival; and therefore it follows, "And when the multitude was put forth, he entered, and took her by the hand, and the maid arose."
Chrys.: He restored her to life not by bringing in another soul, but by recalling that which had departed, and as it were raising it from sleep, and through this sight preparing the way for belief of the resurrection. And He not only restores her to life, but commands food to be given her, as the other Evangelists relate, that which was done might be seen to be no delusion. "And the fame of him went abroad into all that country."
Gloss., non occ.: The fame, namely, of the greatness and novelty of the miracle, and its established truth; so that it could not be supposed to be a forgery.
Hilary: Mystically; The Lord enters the ruler’s house, that is, the synagogue, throughout which there resounded in the songs of the Law a strain of wailing.
Jerome: To this day the damsel lays dead in the ruler’s house; and they that seem to be teachers are but minstrels singing funeral dirges. The Jews also are not the crowd of believers, but of "people making a noise." But when the fulness of the Gentiles shall come in, then all Israel shall be saved.
Hilary: But that the number of the elect might be known to be but few out of the whole body of believers, the multitude is put forth; the Lord indeed would that they should be saved, but they mocked at His sayings and actions, and so were not worthy to be made partakers of His resurrection.
Jerome: He took her by the hand, and the maid arose; because if the hands of the Jews which are defiled with blood be not first cleansed, their synagogue which is dead shall not revive.
Hilary: "His fame went about into all that country;" that is, the salvation of the elect, the gift and works of Christ are preached.
Rabanus: Morally; The damsel dead in the house is the soul dead in thought. He says that she is asleep, because they that are now asleep in sin may yet be roused by penitence. The minstrels are flatterers who cherish the dead.
Greg., Mor., xviii, 43: The multitude are put forth that the damsel may be raised; for unless the multitude of worldly cares is first banished from the secrets of the heart, the soul which is laid dead within, cannot rise again.
Rabanus: The maiden is raised in the house with few to witness, the young man without the gate, and Lazarus in the presence of many; for a public scandal requires a public expiation; a less notorious, a lesser remedy; and secret sins may be done away by penitence.
Ver 27. And when Jesus departed thence, two blind men followed him, crying, and saying, "Thou Son of David, have mercy on us."28. And when he was come into the house, the blind men came to him: and Jesus saith unto them, "Believe ye that I am able to do this?" They said unto him, "Yea, Lord."29. Then touched he their eyes, saying, "According to your faith be it unto you."30. And their eyes were opened: and Jesus straitly charged them, saying, "See that no man know it."31. But they, when they were departed, spread abroad his fame in all that country.
Jerome: The miracles that had gone before of the ruler’s daughter, and the woman with the issue of blood, are now followed by that of two blind men, that what death and disease had there witnessed, that blindness might now witness. "And as Jesus passed thence," that is, from the ruler’s house, there followed him two blind men, crying, and saying, Have mercy on us, thou Son of David."
Chrys., Hom., xxxii: Here is no small charge against the Jews, that these men, having lost their sight, yet believe by means of their hearing only; while they who had sight, would not believe the miracles that were done. Observe their eagerness; they do not simply come to Him, but with crying, and asking for nothing but mercy; they call Him Son of David because that seemed to be a name of honour.
Remig.: Rightly they call Him Son of David, because the Virgin Mary was of the line of David.
Jerome: Let Marcion and Manichaeaus, and the other heretics who mangle the Old Testament, hear this, and learn that the Saviour is called the Son of David; for if He was not born in the flesh, how is He the Son of David?
Chrys.: Observe that the Lord oftentimes desired to be asked to heal, that none should think that He was eager to seize an occasion of display.
Jerome: Yet were they not healed by the way-side and in passing as they had thought to be; but when He was entered into the house, they come unto Him; and first their faith is made proof of, that so they may receive the light of the true faith. "And when he was come into the house, the blind men came unto him; and Jesus said unto them, Believe ye that I am able to do this?"
Chrys.: Here again He teaches us to exclude the desire of fame; because there was a house hard by, He takes them there to heal them apart.
Remig.: He who was able to give sight to the blind, was not ignorant whether they believed; but He asked them, in order that the faith which they bare in their hearts, being confessed by their mouth might be made deserving of a higher reward, according to that of the Apostle, "By the mouth of confession is made unto salvation." [Romans 10:10]
Chrys.: And not for this reason only, but that He might make manifest that they were worthy of healing, and that none might object, that if mercy alone saved, then ought all to be saved. Therefore also He requires faith of them, that He may thereby raise their thoughts higher; they had called Him the Son of David, therefore He instructs them that they should think higher things of Him. Thus He does not say to them, Believe ye that I can ask the Father? But, "Believe ye that I am able to do this? They say unto him, Yea. Lord." They call Him no more Son of David, but exalt Him higher, and confess His dominion. Then He lays His hand upon them; as it follows, "Then he touched their eyes, saying, According to your faith be it unto you." This He says confirming their faith, and testifying that what they had said were not words of flattery.
Then follows the cure, "And their eyes were opened." And after this, He injunction that they should tell it to no man; and this not a simple command, but with much earnestness, "And Jesus straitly charged them, saying, See that no man know it; but they went forth, and spread abroad the fame of him through the whole country."
Jerome: The Lord from humility shunning the fame of His glorious works, gave them this charge, and they from gratitude cannot be silent respecting so great benefit.
Chrys.: That He said to another man, "Go, and proclaim the glory of God, [Luke 8:39] is not contrary to this; for what He would teach is, that we should hinder those that would commend us for ourselves. But when it is the Lord’s glory that is to be praised, we ought not to forbid, but to promote it ourselves.
Hilary: Or He enjoins silence on the blind men, because to preach was the Apostles’ office.
Greg., Mor., xix, 23: We must enquire how this is that the Almighty, whose will and power are coextensive, should have here willed that His excellent works should be hid in silence, and is yet preached against His will, as it were, by these men who have received their sight. It is only that He herein has left an example to His servants who follow Him, that they should desire their own good deeds to be hid, and that notwithstanding they should be made known against their will, that others may profit by their example. They should then be hid by design, and published of compulsion; their concealment is by our own watchfulness, their betrayal is for others’ profit.
Remig.: Allegorically; By these two blind men are denoted the two nations of Jews and Gentiles, or the two nations of the Jewish race; for in the time of Rohoam his kingdom was split into two parts. Out of both nations such as believed on Him Christ gave sight to in the house, by which is understood the Church; for without the unity of the Church no man can be saved. And they of the Jews who had believed the Lord’s coming spread the knowledge thereof throughout the whole earth.
Rabanus: The house of the ruler is the Synagogue which was ruled by Moses; the house of Jesus is the heavenly Jerusalem. As the Lord passed through this world and was returning to His own house, two blind men followed Him; that is, when the Gospel was preached by the Apostles, many of the Jews and Gentiles began to follow Him. But when He ascended into Heaven, then He entered His house, that is, into the confession of one faith which is in the Catholic Church, and in that they were enlightened.
Ver 32. As they went out, behold, they brought to him a dumb man possessed with a devil.33. And when the devil was cast out, the dumb spake: and the multitudes marvelled, saying, "It was never so seen in Israel."34. But the Pharisees said, "He casteth out devils through the prince of the devils."35. And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the Gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people.
Remig.: Observe the beautiful order of His miracles; how after He had given sight to the blind, He restored speech to the dumb, and healed the possessed of the daemon; by which He shews Himself the Lord of power, and the author of the heavenly medicine. For it was said by Isaiah, "Then shall the eyes of the blind be opened, the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped, and the tongue of the dumb loosed." [Isaiah 35:6]
Whence it is said, "When they were gone forth, they brought unto him a man dumb, and possessed with a daemon."
Jerome: The Greek word here is more frequent in common speech in the sense of, ’deaf,’ but it is the manner of Scripture to use it indifferently as either.
Chrys.: This was not a mere natural defect; but was from the malignity of the daemon; and therefore he needed to be brought of others, for he could not ask any thing of others as living without voice, and the daemon chaining his spirit together with his tongue. Therefore Christ does not require faith of him, but immediately healed his disorder; as it follows, "And when the daemon was cast out, the dumb spake."
Hilary: The natural order of things is here preserved; the daemon is first cast out, and there the functions of the members proceed. "And the multitude marvelled, saying, It was never so seen in Israel."
Chrys: They set Him thus above others, because He not only healed, but with such ease, and quickness; and cured diseases both infinite in number, and in quality incurable. This most grieved the Pharisees, that they set Him before all others, not only those that then lived, but all who had lived before, on which account it follows, "But the Pharisees said, He casteth out daemons through the Prince of daemons."
Remig.: Thus the Scribes and Pharisees denied such of the Lord’s miracles as they could deny; and such as they could not they explained by an evil interpretation, according to that, "In the multitude of they excellency thy enemies shall lie unto thee." [Psalms 66:3]
Chrys.: What can be more foolish than this speech of theirs? For it cannot be pretended that one daemon would cast out another; for they are wont to consent to one another’s deeds, and not to be at variance among themselves. But Christ not only cast out daemons, but healed the lepers, raised the dead, forgave sins, preached the kingdom of God, and brought men to the Father, which a daemon neither could nor would do.
Rabanus: Figuratively; As is the two blind men were denoted both nations, Jews and Gentiles, so in the man dumb and afflicted with the daemon is denoted the whole human race.
Hilary: Or; By the dumb and deaf, and daemoniac, is signified the Gentile world, needing health in every part; for sunk in evil of every kind, they are afflicted with disease of every part of the body.
Remig.: For the Gentiles were dumb; not being able to open their mouth in the confession of the true faith, and the praises of the Creator, or because in paying worship to dumb idols they were made like unto them. They were afflicted with a daemon, because by dying in unbelief they were made subject to the power of the Devil.
Hilary: But by the knowledge of God the frenzy of superstition being chased away, the sight, the hearing, and the word of salvation is brought in to them.
Jerome: As the blind receive light, so the tongue of the dumb is loosed, that he may confess Him whom before he denied. The wonder of the multitude is the confession of the nations. The scoff of the Pharisees is the unbelief of the Jews, which is to this day.
Hilary: The wonder of the multitude is followed up by the confession, "It was never so seen in Israel;" because he, for whom there was no help under the Law, is saved by the power of the Word.
Remig.: They who brought the dumb to be healed by the Lord, signify the Apostles and preachers, who brought the Gentile people to be saved before the face of divine mercy.
Aug., De Cons. Evan. ii, 29: This account of the two blind men and the dumb daemon is read in Matthew only. The two blind men of whom the others speak are not the same as these, though something similar was done with them. So that even if Matthew had not also recorded their cure, we might have seen that this present narrative was of a different transaction. And this we ought diligently to remember, that many actions of our Lord are very much like one another, but are proved not to be the same action, by being both related at different times by the same Evangelist. So that when we find cases in which one is recorded by one Evangelist, and another by another, and some difference which we cannot reconcile between their accounts, we should suppose that they are like, but not the same, events.
Ver 36. But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd.37. Then saith he unto his disciples, "The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few;38. Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest."
Chrys.: The Lord would refute by actions the charge of the Pharisees, who said, "He casteth out daemons by the "Prince of the daemons;" for a daemon having suffered rebuke, does not return good but evil to those who have not shewn him honour. But the Lord on the other hand, when He had suffered blasphemy and contumely, not only does not punish, but does not utter a hard speech, yea He shews kindness to them that did it, as it here follows, "And Jesus went about all their towns and villages."
Herein He teaches us not to return accusations to them that accuse us, but kindness. For he that ceases to do good because of accusation, shews that his good has been done because of men. But if for God’s sake you do good to your fellow-servants, you will not cease from doing good whatever they do, that your reward may be greater.
Jerome: Observe how equally in villages, cities, and towns, that is to great as well as small, He preaches the Gospel, not respecting the might of the noble, but the salvation of those that believe. It follows, "Teaching in their synagogues;" this was His meat, going about to do the will of His Father, and saving by His teaching such as yet believed not.
Gloss., non occ.: He taught in their synagogues the Gospel of the Kingdom, as it follows, "Preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom."
Remig.: Understand, ’of God;’ for though temporal blessings are also proclaimed, yet they are not called The Gospel. Hence the Law was not called a Gospel, because to such as kept it, it held out not heavenly, but earthly, goods.
Jerome: He first preached and taught, and then proceeded to heal sicknesses, that the works might convince those who would not believe the words. Hence it follows, "Healing every sickness and every disease," for to Him alone nothing is impossible.
Gloss., ap. Anselm: By "disease" we may understand complaints of long standing, by "sickness" any lesser infirmity.
Remig.: It should be known that those whom He healed outwardly in their bodies, He also healed inwardly in their souls. Others cannot do this of their own power, but can by God’s grace.
Chrys.: Nor does Christ’s goodness rest here, but He manifests His care for them, opening the bowels of His mercy towards them; whence it follows, "And seeing the multitudes, he had compassion upon them."
Remig.: Herein Christ shews in Himself the disposition of the good shepherd and not that of the hireling. Why He pitied them is added, "because there were troubled, and sick as sheep that have no shepherd -- troubled either by daemons, or by divers sicknesses and infirmities.
Gloss., ap. Anselm: Or, "troubled," by daemons, and "sick," that is, benumbed and unable to rise; as though they had shepherds, yet they were as though they had them not.
Chrys.: This is an accusation against the rulers of the Jews, that being shepherds they appeared like wolves; not only not improving the multitude, but hindering their progress. For when the multitude marvelled and said, "It was never so seen in Israel," these opposed themselves, saying, "He casteth out daemons by the prince of daemons."
Remig.: But when the Son of God looked down from heaven upon the earth, to hear the groans of the captives [Psalms 102:19], straight a great harvest began to ripen; for the multitude of the human race would never have come near to the faith, had not the Author of human salvation looked down from heaven.
And it follows, "Then said he unto his disciples, The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few."
Gloss., ap. Anselm: The harvest are those men who can be reaped by the preachers, and separated from the number of the damned, as grain is beaten out from the chaff that it may be laid up in granaries.
Jerome: The great harvest denotes the multitude of the people; the few labourers, the want of instructors.
Remig.: For the number of the Apostles was small in comparison of so great crops to be reaped. The Lord exhorts His preachers, that is, the Apostles and their followers, that they should daily desire an increase of their number; "Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest."
Chrys.: He privately insinuates Himself to be the Lord; for it is He Himself who is Lord of the harvest. For if He sent the Apostles to reap what they had not sown, it is manifest that He sent them not to reap the things of others, but what He had sown by the Prophets. But since the twelve Apostles are the labourers, He said, "Pray ye the Lord of the harvest, that he would send labourers into his harvest;" and notwithstanding He added none to their number, but rather He multiplied those twelve many times, not by increasing their numbers, but by giving them more abundant grace.
Remig.: Or, He then increased their number when He chose the seventy and two, and then when many preachers were made what time the Holy Spirit descended upon the believers.
Chrys.: He shews us that it is a great gift that one should have the power of rightly preaching, in that He tells them that they ought to pray for it. Also we are here reminded of the words of John concerning the threshing-floor, and the fan, the chaff, and the wheat.
Hilary: Figuratively; When salvation was given to the Gentiles, then all cities and towns were enlightened by the power and entrance of Christ, and escaped every former sickness and infirmity. The Lord pities the people troubled with the violence of the unclean Spirit, and sick under the burden of the Law, and having no shepherd at hand to bestow on them the guardianship of the Holy Spirit. But of that gift there was a most abundant fruit, whose plenty far exceeded the multitude of those that drank thereof; how many soever take of it, yet an inexhaustible supply remains; and because it is profitable that there should be many to minister it, He bids us ask the Lord of the harvest, that God would provide a supply of reapers for the ministration of that gift of the Holy Spirit which was made ready; for by prayer this gift is poured out upon us from God.