Thursday, 31 July 2014

St Luke 7:36-50

St Luke 7:

36 Rogabat autem illum quidam de pharisæis ut manducaret cum illo. Et ingressus domum pharisæi discubuit. 37 Et ecce mulier, quæ erat in civitate peccatrix, ut cognovit quod accubuisset in domo pharisæi, attulit alabastrum unguenti: 38 et stans retro secus pedes ejus, lacrimis cœpit rigare pedes ejus, et capillis capitis sui tergebat, et osculabatur pedes ejus, et unguento ungebat. 39 Videns autem pharisæus, qui vocaverat eum, ait intra se dicens: Hic si esset propheta, sciret utique quæ et qualis est mulier, quæ tangit eum: quia peccatrix est. 40 Et respondens Jesus, dixit ad illum: Simon, habeo tibi aliquid dicere. At ille ait: Magister, dic. 41 Duo debitores erant cuidam fœneratori: unus debebat denarios quingentos, et alius quinquaginta. 42 Non habentibus illis unde redderent, donavit utrisque. Quis ergo eum plus diligit? 43 Respondens Simon dixit: Æstimo quia is cui plus donavit. At ille dixit ei: Recte judicasti. 44 Et conversus ad mulierem, dixit Simoni: Vides hanc mulierem? Intravi in domum tuam, aquam pedibus meis non dedisti: hæc autem lacrimis rigavit pedes meos, et capillis suis tersit. 45 Osculum mihi non dedisti: hæc autem ex quo intravit, non cessavit osculari pedes meos. 46 Oleo caput meum non unxisti: hæc autem unguento unxit pedes meos. 47 Propter quod dico tibi: remittuntur ei peccata multa, quoniam dilexit multum. Cui autem minus dimittitur, minus diligit. 48 Dixit autem ad illam: Remittuntur tibi peccata. 49 Et cœperunt qui simul accumbebant, dicere intra se: Quis est hic qui etiam peccata dimittit? 50 Dixit autem ad mulierem: Fides tua te salvam fecit: vade in pace.

[36] And one of the Pharisees desired him to eat with him. And he went into the house of the Pharisee, and sat down to meat. [37] And behold a woman that was in the city, a sinner, when she knew that he sat at meat in the Pharisee' s house, brought an alabaster box of ointment; [38] And standing behind at his feet, she began to wash his feet, with tears, and wiped them with the hairs of her head, and kissed his feet, and anointed them with the ointment. [39] And the Pharisee, who had invited him, seeing it, spoke within himself, saying: This man, if he were a prophet, would know surely who and what manner of woman this is that toucheth him, that she is a sinner. [40] And Jesus answering, said to him: Simon, I have somewhat to say to thee. But he said: Master, say it. [41] A certain creditor had two debtors, the one who owed five hundred pence, and the other fifty. [42] And whereas they had not wherewith to pay, he forgave them both. Which therefore of the two loveth him most? [43] Simon answering, said: I suppose that he to whom he forgave most. And he said to him: Thou hast judged rightly. [44] And turning to the woman, he said unto Simon: Dost thou see this woman? I entered into thy house, thou gavest me no water for my feet; but she with tears hath washed my feet, and with her hairs hath wiped them. [45] Thou gavest me no kiss; but she, since she came in, hath not ceased to kiss my feet. [46] My head with oil thou didst not anoint; but she with ointment hath anointed my feet. [47] Wherefore I say to thee: Many sins are forgiven her, because she hath loved much. But to whom less is forgiven, he loveth less. [48] And he said to her: Thy sins are forgiven thee. [49] And they that sat at meat with him began to say within themselves: Who is this that forgiveth sins also? [50] And he said to the woman: Thy faith hath made thee safe, go in peace.

Commentary (de Lapide)

Ver. 37.—And behold a woman in the city. Behold, a wonderful thing, and a wonderful example of penitence. A woman called Mary Magdalene. S. Luke viii. 2. It is questioned whether this is the same woman who is mentioned by the two other Evangelists.  S. Chrysostom thinks there were two; Origen, Theophylact, and Euthymius, three who thus anointed our Lord, and that each Evangelist wrote of a different person. S. Matt. xxvi. 7;  S. John xii. 3.

But I hold that it was one and the same woman—Mary Magdalene, the sister of Martha and of Lazarus, who anointed our Lord, as we read in the Gospels, on two but not three occasions; and this is clear,—

1. Because this is the general interpretation of the Church, who in her Offices accepts what is here written by S. Luke as referring to the Magdalene alone.

2. Because S. John (xi. 2) writes, “It was that Mary which anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick,” thus plainly alluding to this passage of S. Luke, and signifying that only one woman anointed the Lord. For if there had been more than one, the words just quoted would have insufficiently described her. But the meaning is, “when I say Mary, I mean the penitent who anointed the feet of the Lord, as recounted by S. Luke, whom all know to be Mary Magdalene.”

3. Because the Mary mentioned by S. John (xii. 2, 3) is clearly the same Mary Magdalene, the sister of Martha and of Lazarus, who anointed Christ here, as described by S. Luke, and again at Bethany, six days before the passover. For S. Matthew (xxvi. 6) and S. John (xii. i) both refer to the same event, as is evident if the two accounts are compared together. Therefore it was Mary Magdalene who anointed Christ, not three times, as Origen would have us believe, but twice only, once as is recorded by S. Luke, and again six days before His death.

4 The same thing is testified to by Church history and tradition, and also by the inscription on the tomb of the Magdalene, which Maximus, one of the seventy disciples, is said to have built.

5. And this is also the opinion of S. Augustine, S. Cyprian, and many other interpreters of scripture.
But it may be objected that this Magdalene followed Jesus from Galilee (S. Matt. xxvii. 55), and was a Galilean, and cannot have been the same as Mary the sister of Martha, who lived at Bethany, and was therefore of Judæa. I answer that she was of Judæa by descent, but seems to have lived in Galilee, it may be in the castle called Magdala, either because she had married the lord of that place, or because it had been allotted her as her share of the family property. Hence she was called Magdalene from the name of the place, Magdala. So Jansenius and others.

In the city. Some think in Jerusalem. But Jerusalem was in Judæa, and these things seem to have been done in Galilee where Christ was preaching. Hence it is very probable that the city was Nain, the scene of Christ’s miracle, as Toletus and others conjecture; but some think that it was the town of Magdala in which she lived, an idea which Adricomius on the word Magdalum supports.

A sinner. Some recent writers, to honour the Magdalene, think that she was not unchaste, but only conceited and vain, and for this reason called a sinner. But in proportion as they thus honour the Magdalene, they detract from the grace of God and that penitence which enabled her to live a holy life. For by the word sinner we generally understand one who not only sins, but leads others also to sin. The word sinner therefore here signifies a harlot, i.e. one who has many lovers although she may not make a public market of her charms, and this interpretation is accepted by S. Augustine, S. Jerome, Isidore of Pelusium,  S. Ambrose, Gregory, Bede, and S. Chrysostom, who holds (Hom. 62 ad Pop.) that to her refer the words of our Lord, “Verily, I say unto you, that the publicans and harlots go into the kingdom of God before you.” S. Matt. xxii. 31. Hence the Church hymn:—

 So she, who hath so many sins committed,
Now from the very jaws of hell returns;
E’en to the threshold of a Life eternal,
After her fitful life of guilt and shame.

She, from a seething caldron of offences,
A fair and perfumed vase is now become;
From an uncomely vessel of dishonour
Translated to a vessel full of grace.

Doubtlessly Christ permitted her to be entangled in all the filth of a wanton life, that He might show the power of His grace in winning her back to purity again, for the worse the disease the greater the skill of the physician in curing it. Nor does this detract from the honour due to the Magdalene, for the greater her sins, the more admirable her penitence, and the stronger her resolution to forsake them.

God willed that she should be an example of penitence, that none should despair of pardon because or the heinousness of their offences, but trust to the infinite compassion of God, mindful of the saying of S. Paul, “This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief. Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on Him to life everlasting.” 1 Tim. i. 15, 16.

“Truly,” says S. Gregory, “a life anxious to atone for faults committed is oftentimes more pleasing to God than that innocence which rests in a torpid security.”

Great, indeed, is the gift of innocence by which we are preserved from sin, but greater is the grace of penitence and remission of sin, and this grace is the greater in proportion to the greatness of the sin, for thus forgiveness is granted to the more unworthy, and so the grade becomes to him the greater, as S. Thomas teaches. Hence sinners who truly repent excel their brethren in humility, and in austerity and holiness of life, and often perform acts of heroism which those who have sinned less deeply are unable to do. As may be seen in the case of many saints, and especially in that of one who from a robber became the very mirror of monks. For the baseness of his former life, the baseness of his sin, the punishment due to his offences, and the pardoning love of God, are to the penitent so many incentives to a better and a holier life.

So the pearl is the emblem of penitence. For as the sun by its rays was said to convert the substance of the oyster into a precious jewel, so Christ by his transforming grace changed the woman that was a sinner into a pearl—a penitent saint.

When she knew that Jesus sat at meat in the Pharisee’s house. It was not fitting that the Magdalene, whose sinful life was known to all, should anoint Christ in her own house, but rather in the house of another, so that there might be no suspicion of evil. Hence she was not ashamed to act as she did in the house of the Pharisee; for, as S. Gregory says (Hom. 33), Being filled with shame within, she did not think there was any cause for the show of shame without. And S. Augustine (Hom. 58 de Temp.) writes, The sinner who washed the feet of the Lord with her tears, and dried them with the hairs of her head, when she knew that the heavenly physician had come, entered the house an uninvited guest; and thus she, who had been shameless in sin, became yet more bold in seeking salvation, and so deserved to hear that her sins were forgiven. And again (Hom. 23), Thou hast seen how a woman of notoriously evil repute entered, uninvited, the house where her Physician sat at meat, and although little fitted for a feast, was fitted for the blessing which she thus boldly (piâ impudentiâ) sought to obtain. For she knew how great was her need, and that He to whom she had come, could grant her relief. For Christ accepted the invitation of the Pharisee, in order to provide those who sat at meat with the spiritual feast of the repentant Magdalene. Hence S. Chrysostom (Serm. 93):Christ sat at the feast, not to drink cups of wine flavoured with honey and perfumed with flowers, but the bitter tears of repentance; because God longs for the tears of the sinner. For, as S. Bernard says, the tears of penitence are the wine of angels, and yield them unbounded delight. And again (Serm. 30 in Cant.),Tears are an earnest of repentance, and a return to the blessing and favour of God, and therefore of sweet savour to His angels...

Note here:—1. The reverence and modesty of the Magdalene, which is the grace of youth and of penitence. She drew nigh to Christ, not in front of Him, for she considered that she was, on account of her past misdeeds, unworthy of His holy presence, but at His feet. Therefore, S. Bernard accounts reverence or modesty (Serm. 86, in Cant.)to be the foundation of all virtues. “How great,” he says, “is the grace and the beauty which a modest blush lends to the cheek!”

2. S. Mary Magdalene, as S. Chrysostom (Hom. 11, on S. Matt.)observes, was the first who came to Jesus for pardon and forgiveness. Those before her had sought restoration to bodily health alone. Therefore, wounded like a deer, she, wounded by the dart of Christ’s love, runs to Him for succour. Christ had showed her her wretchedness; hence, overcome with sorrow and remorse, she could not bear for one moment longer the burden of her sins, but at once sought of Him pardon and release. Therefore, without waiting until Christ had left the Pharisee’s house, she burst in uninvited to the feast. So foul and loathsome is even one mortal sin alone. As S. Anselm asserts (De Similit. cap. cxc.), “If of necessity I had to choose between sin and the torments of hell, I had rather plunge headlong into hell, than give sin the mastery over me;” and he adds, “I had rather enter hell pure from the stain of sin, than reign in heaven a prey to its pollutions.”

3. The act of S. Mary Magdalene seems as if prompted by the words of the Baptist, “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world,” S. John i. 29; or by the invitation of Christ, “Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest,” S. Matt. xi. 28. Moreover, she was persuaded that He, who had delivered her from the possession of the seven devils (S. Luke viii. 2), would deliver her also from the bondage of sin. Therefore, in deepest contrition she draws nigh to Christ, acknowledging Him to he a prophet sent from God with power to forgive sins, and in full hope that He would pardon the guilt which she had contracted; for, S. Gregory says, Christ drew her to Himself by inward grace, and received her outwardly with pity and compassion.

And began to wash His feet with her tears. Observe how abundant were the tears of the penitent, inasmuch as they were able to wash and cleanse the dust-stained feet of the Lord. See S. Matt. x. 10. On their power and efficacy, S. Chrysostom has written (Serm. de Pœnitentia),and S. Ambrose, “Christ washed not His own feet, in order that we might wash them with our tears. Blessed tears, not only because they are able to wash away our guilt, but because they besprinkle the firstfruits of the heavenly Word, and incline His steps towards us.”

Blessed tears, for they not only obtain pardon for the sinner, but strength and refreshment for the just. For truly is it written “My tears have been my meat day and night,” Ps. xlii. 3. And S. Gregory (Hom. 33): “As I ponder over the penitence of the Magdalene, I long to keep silent and weep. For what heart so hard, as not to be softened by the tears of this penitent sinner, who considered what she had done, and was careless of what she would do—who entered unbidden to the feast, and wept amongst those who were feasting. Learn then how great must have been the compunction and sorrow which impelled her on such an occasion to weep.”

And did wipe them with the hairs of her head. Other means were at hand, but in her deep penitence, the Magdalen would dedicate to the service of Christ the very hair which once she took such pride in adorning. Hence S. Cyprian (De Ablutione),She used her hair for a napkin, her eyes for a pitcher, and her tears for water. Her contrition showed itself by her tears; her faith washed the feet of the Lord, her love anointed them. She made her head to be a foot-stool, and wiped the sacred feet with her unloosened hair. Without reserve, she gave herself to Christ, and He, regarding the intention rather than the act, anointed the anointer, cleansed her who was cleansing, and wiped away her sins.

S. Euthymius assigns the cause, “He makes instruments of sin, instruments of righteousness.” And more particularly S. Gregory (Hom. 33),“That which she had given up to the service of sin, now she offers for the glory of God. Her eyes, which had lusted after earthly things, she wears away with the tears of repentance. Her hair, which once added to the comeliness of her face, she now used to dry up her tears. With her mouth, which was wont to speak proudly, she now kisses the ground on which the feet of the Lord trod. All her sinful indulgences she sacrifices for the love of Christ, and making her former vices give place to virtues, wherewith she offended therewith she now serves God.”

Hear also S. Chrysostom (Hom. 6, on S. Matt.): “So the woman which was a sinner, inflamed with the fires of love, and purged by her flood of tears from the stains and defilement of sin, exceeded even the virtue of virgins. For in the warmth of her penitence she exulted in her longings for Christ; washing His feet with her tears, wiping them with the hairs of her head, and anointing them with ointment of price. Thus she acted outwardly, but how much more fervent were the thoughts of her heart, which were known only to God.”

And kissed his feet. She who once delighted in the kisses of unchaste desire, now chastely kisses the feet of Christ, and seeks thereby the pardon and forgiveness of her sins. For a kiss is a sign of forgiveness, as well as of kindness and of love. S. Ambrose.

Mystically. The two feet of Christ, says S. Peter Damian, are mercy and judgment. To kiss one without the other is productive of rash security, or of an evil despair. Publicly, at a public feast, in presence of all the guests, the Magdalene performed her act of penitence, that her openly avowed repentance might atone for the public scandal of her former life...

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

St Luke 7:17-35

Chapter 7 brings us back to St John the Baptist:

17 Et exiit hic sermo in universam Judæam de eo, et in omnem circa regionem.18 Et nuntiaverunt Joanni discipuli ejus de omnibus his. 19 Et convocavit duos de discipulis suis Joannes, et misit ad Jesum, dicens: Tu es qui venturus es, an alium exspectamus? 20 Cum autem venissent ad eum viri, dixerunt: Joannes Baptista misit nos ad te dicens: Tu es qui venturus es, an alium exspectamus? 21 (In ipsa autem hora multos curavit a languoribus, et plagis, et spiritibus malis, et cæcis multis donavit visum.) 22 Et respondens, dixit illis: Euntes renuntiate Joanni quæ audistis et vidistis: quia cæci vident, claudi ambulant, leprosi mundantur, surdi audiunt, mortui resurgunt, pauperes evangelizantur: 23 et beatus est quicumque non fuerit scandalizatus in me. 24 Et cum discessissent nuntii Joannis, cœpit de Joanne dicere ad turbas: Quid existis in desertum videre? arundinem vento agitatam? 25 Sed quid existis videre? hominem mollibus vestibus indutum? Ecce qui in veste pretiosa sunt et deliciis, in domibus regum sunt. 26 Sed quid existis videre? prophetam? Utique dico vobis, et plus quam prophetam: 27 hic est, de quo scriptum est: Ecce mitto angelum meum ante faciem tuam, qui præparabit viam tuam ante te. 28 Dico enim vobis: major inter natos mulierum propheta Joanne Baptista nemo est: qui autem minor est in regno Dei, major est illo. 29 Et omnis populus audiens et publicani, justificaverunt Deum, baptizati baptismo Joannis. 30 Pharisæi autem et legisperiti consilium Dei spreverunt in semetipsos, non baptizati ab eo. 31 Ait autem Dominus: Cui ergo similes dicam homines generationis hujus? et cui similes sunt? 32 Similes sunt pueris sedentibus in foro, et loquentibus ad invicem, et dicentibus: Cantavimus vobis tibiis, et non saltastis: lamentavimus, et non plorastis. 33 Venit enim Joannes Baptista, neque manducans panem, neque bibens vinum, et dicitis: Dæmonium habet. 34 Venit Filius hominis manducans, et bibens, et dicitis: Ecce homo devorator, et bibens vinum, amicus publicanorum et peccatorum. 35 Et justificata est sapientia ab omnibus filiis suis.

[17] And this rumour of him went forth throughout all Judea, and throughout all the country round about. [18] And John' s disciples told him of all these things. [19] And John called to him two of his disciples, and sent them to Jesus, saying: Art thou he that art to come; or look we for another? [20] And when the men were come unto him, they said: John the Baptist hath sent us to thee, saying: Art thou he that art to come; or look we for another? [21] (And in that same hour, he cured many of their diseases, and hurts, and evil spirits: and to many that were blind he gave sight.) [22] And answering, he said to them: Go and relate to John what you have heard and seen: the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are made clean, the deaf hear, the dead rise again, to the poor the gospel is preached: [23] And blessed is he whosoever shall not be scandalized in me. [24] And when the messengers of John were departed, he began to speak to the multitudes concerning John. What went ye out into the desert to see? a reed shaken with the wind? [25] But what went you out to see? a man clothed in soft garments? Behold they that are in costly apparel and live delicately, are in the houses of kings.[26] But what went you out to see? a prophet? Yea, I say to you, and more than a prophet. [27] This is he of whom it is written: Behold I send my angel before thy face, who shall prepare thy way before thee. [28] For I say to you: Amongst those that are born of women, there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist. But he that is the lesser in the kingdom of God, is greater than he. [29] And all the people hearing, and the publicans, justified God, being baptized with John' s baptism. [30] But the Pharisees and the lawyers despised the counsel of God against themselves, being not baptized by him.[31] And the Lord said: Whereunto then shall I liken the men of this generation? and to what are they like? [32] They are like to children sitting in the marketplace, and speaking one to another, and saying: We have piped to you, and you have not danced: we have mourned, and you have not wept. [33] For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine; and you say: He hath a devil. [34] The Son of man is come eating and drinking: and you say: Behold a man that is a glutton and a drinker of wine, a friend of publicans and sinners. [35] And wisdom is justified by all her children.

Commentary 

de Lapide:

Ver. 29.—And the publicans justified God. Confessed the goodness of God in sending the Baptist, and in offering them salvation through his baptism and preaching. See verse 35; 1 Tim. iii. 16; and S. Matt. xi. l9.

There is a question whether this verse and the one following, give the words of the Evangelist or of our Lord Himself. But as the opening words of the 31st verse, “and the Lord said,” are absent from the best MSS., we may conclude, with Maldonatus, that these two verses are a part of the continuous discourse of Christ.

Ver. 30.—But the Pharisees and lawyers rejected the counsel of God against themselves, either within themselves, i.e. in their hearts, because they did not dare openly contravene His words, or as against themselves, i.e. for their own condemnation. Bede.

Catena Aurea:

...CYRIL; Or he asks the question by economy. For as the forerunner he knew the mystery of Christ's passion, but that his disciples might be convinced how great was the excellence of the Savior, he sent the more understanding of them, instructing them to inquire and learn from the very words of the Savior, whether it was He who was expected; as it is added, But when the men were come to him, they said, John the Baptist has sent us to you, saying, Are you He, &c.

But He knowing as God with what intention John had sent them, and the cause of their coming, was at the time performing many miracles, as it follows, And in the same hour he healed many of their infirmities, &c. He said not positively to them I am he, but rather leads them to the certainty of the fact, in order that receiving their faith in Him, with their reason agreeing thereto, they might return to him who sent them.

Hence He made not answer to the words, but to the intention of him who sent them; as it follows, And Jesus answering said, to them, Go your way, and tell John what things you have seen and, heard: as if He said, Go and tell John the things which you have heard indeed through the Prophets, but have seen accomplished by Me. For He was then performing those things which the Prophets prophesied He would do; that is of which it is added, For the blind see, the lame walk.

AMBROSE; An ample testimony surely that the Prophets acknowledged the Lord. For of the Lord Himself it was prophesied, that the Lord gives food to the hungry, raises up them that are bowed down, looses the prisoners, opens the eyes of the blind, and that he who does these things shall reign for ever. Such then are not the tokens of human, but divine power. But these are found seldom or not at all before the Gospel. Tobias alone received sight, and this was the cure of an Angel, not of a man. Elias raised the dead, but he prayed and wept, and then commended. Elisha caused the cleansing of a leper: yet then the cause was not so much in the authority of the command as in the figure of the mystery.

THEOPHYL. These are also the words of Elias, saying, The Lord himself shall come and save us. Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. Then shall the lame man leap as an hart.

THEOPHYL; And what is not less than these, the poor have the Gospel preached to them, that is, the poor are enlightened by the Spirit, or hidden treasures, that there might be no difference between the rich and the poor. These things prove the faith of the Master, when all who can be saved by Him are equal...

AMBROSE; But we have before said, that mystically John was the type of the Law, which was the forerunner of Christ. John then sends his disciples to Christ, that they might obtain the filling up of their knowledge, for Christ is the fulfilling of the Law. And perhaps those disciples are the two nations, of whom the one of the Jews believed, the other of the Gentiles believed because they heard. They wished then to see, because blessed are the eyes that see. But when they shall have come to the Gospel, and found that the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, then shall they say, "We have seen with out eyes," for we seem to ourselves to see Him whom we read of. Or perhaps through the instrumentality of a certain part of our Body we all seem to have traced out the course of our Lord's passion; for faith comes through the few to the many. The Law then announces that Christ will come, the writings of the Gospel prove that He has come...

AMBROSE; God is justified by baptism, wherein men justify themselves confessing their sins. For he that sins and confesses his sin to God justifies God, submitting himself to Him who overcomes, and hoping for grace from Him; God therefore is justified by baptism, in which there is confession and pardon of sin. EUSEB. Because also they believed, they justified God, for He appeared just to them in all that He did. But the disobedient conduct of the Pharisees in not receiving John, accorded not with the words of the prophet, That you might be justified when you speak. Hence it follows, But the P
AUG. Or, when he says, wisdom is justified of all her children, he show that the children of wisdom understand that righteousness consists neither in abstaining from nor eating food, but in patiently enduring want. For not the use of such things, but the coveting after them, must be blamed; only let a man adapt himself to the kind of food of those with whom he lives.

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

St Luke 7:1-16

Chapter 7 of St Luke opens with two raisings from the dead:

1 Cum autem implesset omnia verba sua in aures plebis, intravit Capharnaum. 2 Centurionis autem cujusdam servus male habens, erat moriturus: qui illi erat pretiosus. 3 Et cum audisset de Jesu, misit ad eum seniores Judæorum, rogans eum ut veniret et salvaret servum ejus. 4 At illi cum venissent ad Jesum, rogabant eum sollicite, dicentes ei: Quia dignus est ut hoc illi præstes: 5 diligit enim gentem nostram, et synagogam ipse ædificavit nobis. 6 Jesus autem ibat cum illis. Et cum jam non longe esset a domo, misit ad eum centurio amicos, dicens: Domine, noli vexari: non enim sum dignus ut sub tectum meum intres: 7 propter quod et meipsum non sum dignum arbitratus ut venirem ad te: sed dic verbo, et sanabitur puer meus. 8 Nam et ego homo sum sub potestate constitutus, habens sub me milites: et dico huic, Vade, et vadit: et alii, Veni, et venit: et servo meo, Fac hoc, et facit. 9 Quo audito Jesus miratus est: et conversus sequentibus se turbis, dixit: Amen dico vobis, nec in Israël tantam fidem inveni. 10 Et reversi, qui missi fuerant, domum, invenerunt servum, qui languerat, sanum.11 Et factum est: deinceps ibat in civitatem quæ vocatur Naim: et ibant cum eo discipuli ejus et turba copiosa. 12 Cum autem appropinquaret portæ civitatis, ecce defunctus efferebatur filius unicus matris suæ: et hæc vidua erat: et turba civitatis multa cum illa. 13 Quam cum vidisset Dominus, misericordia motus super eam, dixit illi: Noli flere. 14 Et accessit, et tetigit loculum. (Hi autem qui portabant, steterunt.) Et ait: Adolescens, tibi dico, surge. 15 Et resedit qui erat mortuus, et cœpit loqui. Et dedit illum matri suæ. 16 Accepit autem omnes timor: et magnificabant Deum, dicentes: Quia propheta magnus surrexit in nobis: et quia Deus visitavit plebem suam. 

And when he had finished all his words in the hearing of the people, he entered into Capharnaum. [2] And the servant of a certain centurion, who was dear to him, being sick, was ready to die. [3] And when he had heard of Jesus, he sent unto him the ancients of the Jews, desiring him to come and heal his servant. [4] And when they came to Jesus, they besought him earnestly, saying to him: He is worthy that thou shouldest do this for him. [5] For he loveth our nation; and he hath built us a synagogue. [6] And Jesus went with them. And when he was now not far from the house, the centurion sent his friends to him, saying: Lord, trouble not thyself; for I am not worthy that thou shouldest enter under my roof. [7] For which cause neither did I think myself worthy to come to thee; but say the word, and my servant shall be healed. [8] For I also am a man subject to authority, having under me soldiers: and I say to one, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doth it. [9] Which Jesus hearing, marvelled: and turning about to the multitude that followed him, he said: Amen I say to you, I have not found so great faith, not even in Israel. [10] And they who were sent, being returned to the house, found the servant whole who had been sick. [11] And it came to pass afterwards, that he went into a city that is called Naim; and there went with him his disciples, and a great multitude. [12] And when he came nigh to the gate of the city, behold a dead man was carried out, the only son of his mother; and she was a widow: and a great multitude of the city was with her. [13] Whom when the Lord had seen, being moved with mercy towards her, he said to her: Weep not. [14] And he came near and touched the bier. And they that carried it, stood still. And he said: Young man, I say to thee, arise. [15] And he that was dead, sat up, and began to speak. And he gave him to his mother. [16] And there came a fear on them all: and they glorified God, saying: A great prophet is risen up among us: and, God hath visited his people. 

Commentary (de Lapide)

...“There was a dead man carried” without the city. Because, for sanitary and other reasons, the Jews had their burial places without the walls.

So the sepulchre of Joseph of Arimathæa, in which the body of Christ lay, was without Jerusalem. So also the valley of Jehoshaphat, the scene of the judgment to come and the general resurrection, is the common burial-place of the inhabitants of Jerusalem, with the exception of the kings, for whom David had provided a sepulchre in Zion. 1 Kings ii. 10. For similar reasons the Romans, who were forbidden by the twelve tables to bury their dead within the city, used the Campus Martius as a place of sepulture, until Theodoric revoked the law; and there is abundant evidence to show that the Christians also, in the time of the persecution, used the crypts which they had excavated without the city for purposes of interment, but afterward, when peace was given to the Christians, they consecrated burial places within the walls near the temples in which they were wont to worship:

1. That the remembrance of death might be continually presented to the faithful as an incentive to a holy life. Like as the Spartans were commanded by Lycurgus to bury their dead within the city, in order to teach their young men that death was to be honoured and, not to be feared.

2. That by their consecration they might be secure against the wiles of the devils, who are wont to dwell in the tombs and possess the bodies of those departed. S. Luke viii. 27.

3. And also that the faithful when on their way to worship might be led to pray that those who lay buried around might be released from purgatory, and counted worthy of a glorious resurrection at the last day, and also that they might be partakers in the holy sacrifices offered in the temples and might benefit by the merits and by the prayers of those Saints who either lie buried, or are in some way especially commemorated therein. Thus Constantine the Great wished to be buried in the porch of the Church of the Holy Apostles at Constantinople, and Theodosius in the Church of S. Peter at Rome. And so, as most of the churches at Rome show the Christians built altars over the tombs of the martyrs, for reasons which I have given in my comments on the text, “I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain.” Rev. vi. 9.

The only son, μονογενὴς, i.e. the only child of his mother, and therefore the sole object of her love. For he was to her her hope and her future, the support of her declining years, and the light of her eyes. Hence the mother’s grief was of the bitterest kind, like to that which the prophets tell of: “They shall mourn for him as one mourneth for his only son,” Zech. xii. 10. And again, “0 daughter of my people, gird thee with sackcloth and wallow thyself in ashes: make thee mourning as for an only son, most bitter lamentation.” Jer. vi. 26...

...Allegorically. The widow is the Church who mourns her sons—those who have fallen into mortal sin and forfeited the grace of God—as dead, and seeks by her tears for their restoration; and in answer to her prayers, Christ—1. Causes the bearers to stand still, checks those evil passions which gain the mastery over the young, and breaks their power. 2. Touches the bier, i.e. the wood of the Cross, and by it raises the dead to life. For by virtue of Christ sinners are moved to repentance, and restored to favour with God. Hence, 3. The dead man sits up and begins to speak, begins to lead a new life and give praise unto God, so that those who are witnesses of this marvellous change are filled with admiration and are led to give glory unto God. So S. Ambrose and others.

Of this we have a living example in S. Monica, for she mourned unceasingly for her son, who was dead in trespasses and sins, but recalled by her prayers to such holiness of life that he afterwards became a chief doctor of the Church. S. Augustine, Confessions.

Again, more particularly, the widow is the Church, the son the people of the Gentiles enclosed in the bier of concupiscence, and borne along to hell as to a sepulchre. By touch of the bier, i.e. by the wood of the Cross, Christ gave life to the world

Figuratively. By the example of the widow we see how a priest or director should act when any of his spiritual children have fallen into mortal sin and are being borne to the grave of everlasting misery. He should follow the bier with weeping and much lamentation, for thus he will receive comfort from the Lord who—(1.) Touching the bier will cause the bearers to stand still, i.e. cause evil lusts and passions to cease; (2.) will recall the dead to life; and (3.) will raise him up to the performance of good works, so as to confess his sins and tell of the loving kindness of God.

Thus at last he is restored to the Church, his mother, whose past sorrow will be eclipsed by her present joy, and thus also many will be led to extol the goodness of God.

Again, the widow represents the soul, her son the understanding, inactive and dead. When such a soul laments her spiritual death, especially if others also join in her mourning, Christ will grant an awakening. The bier is a conscience in a state of false security. The bearers, the evil enticements and flatteries of companions which stand still, i.e. are restrained at the touch of Christ. Bede. Or, as Theophylact interprets it, the widow is the soul which has lost its husband, i.e. the word of life; the son is the understanding; the body, the coffin or bier.

To sum up. We read that Christ on three occasions recalled the dead to life.

1. The daughter of the ruler of the synagogue in the house, i.e. one who sins in thought and intention.
2. The son of the widow at the gate, i.e. one who sins openly, and imparts his guilt to others.
3. Lazarus in the tomb, the habitual sinner who lies as it were buried in sin without hope of recovery or release.

The first, Christ raised to life by secret prayer apart from others; the second by a word; the third by crying with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth. Hence different degrees of sin have different remedies, but to rescue the habitual sinner from the death of sin there needs no less than the voice of Christ speaking loudly to the sinner’s heart.

Monday, 28 July 2014

St Luke 6:39-49

St Luke's account of the sermon on the mount continues:

39 Dicebat autem illis et similitudinem: Numquid potest cæcus cæcum ducere? nonne ambo in foveam cadunt?40 Non est discipulus super magistrum: perfectus autem omnis erit, si sit sicut magister ejus.41 Quid autem vides festucam in oculo fratris tui, trabem autem, quæ in oculo tuo est, non consideras? 42 aut quomodo potes dicere fratri tuo: Frater, sine ejiciam festucam de oculo tuo: ipse in oculo tuo trabem non videns? Hypocrita, ejice primum trabem de oculo tuo: et tunc perspicies ut educas festucam de oculo fratris tui.43 Non est enim arbor bona, quæ facit fructus malos: neque arbor mala, faciens fructum bonum. 44 Unaquæque enim arbor de fructu suo cognoscitur. Neque enim de spinis colligunt ficus: neque de rubo vindemiant uvam. 45 Bonus homo de bono thesauro cordis sui profert bonum: et malus homo de malo thesauro profert malum. Ex abundantia enim cordis os loquitur.46 Quid autem vocatis me Domine, Domine: et non facitis quæ dico? 47 Omnis qui venit ad me, et audit sermones meos, et facit eos, ostendam vobis cui similis sit: 48 similis est homini ædificanti domum, qui fodit in altum, et posuit fundamentum super petram: inundatione autem facta, illisum est flumen domui illi, et non potuit eam movere: fundata enim erat super petram. 49 Qui autem audit, et non facit, similis est homini ædificanti domum suam super terram sine fundamento: in quam illisus est fluvius, et continuo cecidit: et facta est ruina domus illius magna.

[39] And he spoke also to them a similitude: Can the blind lead the blind? do they not both fall into the ditch? [40] The disciple is not above his master: but every one shall be perfect, if he be as his master. [41] And why seest thou the mote in thy brother' s eye: but the beam that is in thy own eye thou considerest not? [42] Or how canst thou say to thy brother: Brother, let me pull the mote out of thy eye, when thou thyself seest not the beam in thy own eye? Hypocrite, cast first the beam out of thy own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to take out the mote from thy brother' s eye. [43] For there is no good tree that bringeth forth evil fruit; nor an evil tree that bringeth forth good fruit. [44] For every tree is known by its fruit. For men do not gather figs from thorns; nor from a bramble bush do they gather the grape. [45] A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth that which is evil. For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. [46] And why call you me, Lord, Lord; and do not the things which I say? [47] Every one that cometh to me, and heareth my words, and doth them, I will shew you to whom he is like. [48] He is like to a man building a house, who digged deep, and laid the foundation upon a rock. And when a flood came, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and it could not shake it; for it was founded on a rock. [49] But he that heareth, and doth not, is like to a man building his house upon the earth without a foundation: against which the stream beat vehemently, and immediately it fell, and the ruin of that house was great.

Commentary 

Catena Aurea:

CYRIL; The Lord added to what had gone before a very necessary parable, as it is said, And he spoke a parable to them, for His disciples were the future teachers of the world, and it therefore became them to know the way of a virtuous life, having their minds illuminated as it were by a divine brightness, that they should not be blind leaders of the blind. And then he adds, Can the blind lead the blind? But if any should chance to attain to an equal degree of virtue with their teachers, let them stand in the measure of their teachers, and follow their footsteps. 

Hence it follows, The disciple is not above his master. Hence also Paul says, Be you also followers of me, as I am of Christ. Since Christ therefore judged not, why judge you? for He came not to judge the world, but to show mercy. 

THEOPHYL. Or else, If you judge another, and in the very same way sin yourself, are not you like to the blind leading the blind? For how can you lead him to good when you also yourself commit sin? For the disciple is not above his master. If therefore you sin, who think yourself a master and guide, where will he be who is taught and led by you? For he will be the perfect disciple who is as his master. 

THEOPHYL; Or the sense of this sentence depends upon the former, in which we are enjoined to give alms, and forgive injuries. If, says He, anger has blinded you against the violent, and avarice against the grasping, how can you with your corrupt heart cure his corruption? If even your Master Christ, who as God might revenge His injuries, chose rather by patience to render His persecutors more merciful, it is surely binding on His disciples, who are but men, to follow the same rule of perfection. 

AUG. Or, He has added the words, Can the blind, lead the blind, in order that they , might not expect to receive from the Levites that measure of which He says, They shall give into your bosom, because they gave tithes to them. And these He calls blind, because they received not the Gospel, that the people might the rather now begin to hope for that reward through the disciples of the Lord, whom wishing to point out as His imitators, He added, The disciple is not above his master.

THEOPHYL. But the Lord introduces another parable taken from the same figure, as follows, but why see you the mote (that is, the slight fault) which is in your brother's eye, but the beam which is in your own eye (that is, your great sin) you regard not? 

THEOPHYL; Now this has reference to the previous parable, in which He forewarned them that the blind cannot be led by the blind, that is, the sinner corrected by the sinner. Hence it is said, Or, how can you say to your brother, Brother let me cast out the mote that is in your eye, if you see not the beam that is in your own eye? 

CYRIL; As if He said, How can he who is guilty of grievous sins, (which He calls the beam,) condemn him who has sinned only slightly, or even in some cases not at all? For this the mote signifies. 

THEOPHYL. But these words are applicable to all, and especially to teachers, who while they punish the least sins of those who are put under them, leave their own unpunished. Wherefore the Lord calls them hypocrites, because to this end judge they the sins of others, that they themselves might seem just. Hence it follows, You hypocrite, first cast the beam out of your own eye, &c. 

CYRIL; That is to say, first show yourself clean from great sins, and then afterwards shall you give counsel to your neighbor, who is guilty only of slight sins. 

BASIL; In truth, self knowledge seems the most important of all. For not only the eye, looking at outward things, fails to exercise its sight upon itself, but our understanding also, though very quick in apprehending the sin of another, is slow to perceive its own defects.

THEOPHYL; Our Lord continues the words which He had begun against the hypocrites, saying, For a good tree brings not forth corrupt fruit; i.e. as if He says, If you would have a true and unfeigned righteousness, what you set forth in words make up also in works, for the hypocrite though he pretends to be good is not good, who does evil works; and the innocent though he be blamed, is not therefore evil, who does good works. 

TITUS BOS. But take not these words to thyself as an encouragement to idleness, for the tree is moved conformably to its nature but you have the exercise of free will; and every barren tree has been ordained for some good, but you were created to the good work of virtue. 

ISIDORE PELEUS; He does not then exclude repentance, but a continuance in evil, which as long as it is evil cannot bring forth good fruit, but being converted to virtue, will yield abundance. But what nature is to the tree, our affections are to us. If then a corrupt tree cannot bring forth good fruit, how shall a corrupt heart?

CHRYS. But although the fruit is caused by the tree, yet, it brings to us the knowledge of the tree, because the distinctive nature of the tree is made evident by the fruit, as it follows, For every tree is know by its fruit. 

CYRIL; Each man's life also will be a criterion of his character. For not by extrinsic ornaments and pretended humility is the beauty of true happiness discovered, but by those things which a man does; of which he gives an illustration, adding, For of thorns men do not gather figs.

AMBROSE; On the thorns of this world the fig cannot be found, which as being better in its second fruit, is well fitted to be a similitude of the resurrection. Either because, as you read, The fig trees have put forth their green figs, that is, the unripe and worthless fruit came first in the Synagogue. Or because our life is imperfect in the flesh, perfect in the resurrection, and therefore we ought to cast far from us worldly cares, which eat into the mind and scorch up the soul, that by diligent culture we may obtain the perfect fruits. This therefore has reference to the world and the resurrection, the next to the soul and the body, as it follows, Nor of a bramble bush gather they grapes. Either because no one living in sin obtains fruit to his soul, which like the grape nearest the ground is rotten, on the higher branches becomes ripe. Or because no one can escape the condemnations of the flesh, but he whom Christ has redeemed, Who as a grape hung on the tree...

THEOPHYL; Lest any one should vainly flatter himself with the words, Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks, as if words only and not rather works were required of a Christian, our Lord adds the following, But why call you me Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say? As if He said, Why do you boast of sending forth the leaves of a right confession, and show forth no fruit of good works... 

CYRIL; But the advantage which arises from the keeping of the commandments, or the loss from disobedience, he shows as follows; Whosoever comes to me, and hears my sayings, he is like to a man who built his house upon a rock, &c. 

THEOPHYL; The rock is Christ. He digs deep; by the precepts of humility He plucks out all earthly things from the hearts of the faithful, lest they should serve God from regard to their temporal good. 

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Seventh Sunday after Pentecost

This Sunday's Gospel is from St Matthew 7:

15 Attendite a falsis prophetis, qui veniunt ad vos in vestimentis ovium, intrinsecus autem sunt lupi rapaces: 16 a fructibus eorum cognoscetis eos. Numquid colligunt de spinis uvas, aut de tribulis ficus? 17 Sic omnis arbor bona fructus bonos facit: mala autem arbor malos fructus facit. 18 Non potest arbor bona malos fructus facere: neque arbor mala bonos fructus facere. 19 Omnis arbor, quæ non facit fructum bonum, excidetur, et in ignem mittetur. 20 Igitur ex fructibus eorum cognoscetis eos. 21 Non omnis qui dicit mihi, Domine, Domine, intrabit in regnum cælorum: sed qui facit voluntatem Patris mei, qui in cælis est, ipse intrabit in regnum cælorum.

[15] Beware of false prophets, who come to you in the clothing of sheep, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.[16] By their fruits you shall know them. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? [17] Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit, and the evil tree bringeth forth evil fruit. [18] A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can an evil tree bring forth good fruit. [19] Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit, shall be cut down, and shall be cast into the fire. [20] Wherefore by their fruits you shall know them. [21] Not every one that saith to me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven: but he that doth the will of my Father who is in heaven, he shall enter into the kingdom of heaven.

Matins readings (from St Hilary)

Reading 9: The Lord here warneth us that we must rate the worth of soft words and seeming meekness, by the fruits which they that manifest such things bring forth in their works, and that we should look, in order to see what a man is, not at his professions, but at his deeds. For there are many in whom sheep's clothing is but a mask to hide wolfish ravening. But "Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so, every good tree bringeth forth good fruit, but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit." Thus, the Lord teacheth us, is it with men also evil men bring not forth good fruits, and hereby are we to know them. 

Reading 10: Lip-service alone winneth not the kingdom of heaven, nor is every one that saith unto Christ, "Lord, Lord," an heir thereof.What use is there in calling the Lord, Lord? Would He not be Lord all the same, whether or not we called Him so What holiness is there in this ascription of a name, when the true way to enter into the kingdom of heaven is to do the will of our Father, Who is in heaven? 

Reading 11: "Many will say to Me in that day Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy Name?” Already here doth the Lord rebuke the deceit of the false prophets, and the feigning of the hypocrites, who take glory to themselves because of the power of their words, their prophesying in teaching, their casting out of devils, and such-like mighty works. Because of all these things they promised unto themselves that they shall enter into the kingdom of heaven as though in their words and works any good thing were their own, and not all the mighty working of that God upon Whom they call, since reading bringeth knowledge of doctrine, and the Name of Christ driveth out devils. 

Reading 12: That which is needed on our part to win that blessed eternity, that of our own which we must give, is to will to do right, to turn away from all evil, to obey with our whole heart the commandments laid on us from heaven, and so to become the friends of God. It should be ours rather to do God's will, than to boast of God's power. And we must put off from us and thrust away such as are by their wicked works already estranged from His friendship.

Saturday, 26 July 2014

St Luke 6:27-38

St Luke's account of the sermon on the mount continues:

27 Sed vobis dico, qui auditis: diligite inimicos vestros, benefacite his qui oderunt vos. 28 Benedicite maledicentibus vobis, et orate pro calumniantibus vos. 29 Et qui te percutit in maxillam, præbe et alteram. Et ab eo qui aufert tibi vestimentum, etiam tunicam noli prohibere. 30 Omni autem petenti te, tribue: et qui aufert quæ tua sunt, ne repetas. 31 Et prout vultis ut faciant vobis homines, et vos facite illis similiter. 32 Et si diligitis eos qui vos diligunt, quæ vobis est gratia? nam et peccatores diligentes se diligunt. 33 Et si benefeceritis his qui vobis benefaciunt, quæ vobis est gratia? siquidem et peccatores hoc faciunt. 34 Et si mutuum dederitis his a quibus speratis recipere, quæ gratia est vobis? nam et peccatores peccatoribus fœnerantur, ut recipiant æqualia. 35 Verumtamen diligite inimicos vestros: benefacite, et mutuum date, nihil inde sperantes: et erit merces vestra multa, et eritis filii Altissimi, quia ipse benignus est super ingratos et malos.36 Estote ergo misericordes sicut et Pater vester misericors est. 37 Nolite judicare, et non judicabimini: nolite condemnare, et non condemnabimini. Dimitte, et dimittemini. 38 Date, et dabitur vobis: mensuram bonam, et confertam, et coagitatam, et supereffluentem dabunt in sinum vestrum. Eadem quippe mensura, qua mensi fueritis, remetietur vobis.39 Dicebat autem illis et similitudinem: Numquid potest cæcus cæcum ducere? nonne ambo in foveam cadunt?40 Non est discipulus super magistrum: perfectus autem omnis erit, si sit sicut magister ejus.41 Quid autem vides festucam in oculo fratris tui, trabem autem, quæ in oculo tuo est, non consideras? 42 aut quomodo potes dicere fratri tuo: Frater, sine ejiciam festucam de oculo tuo: ipse in oculo tuo trabem non videns? Hypocrita, ejice primum trabem de oculo tuo: et tunc perspicies ut educas festucam de oculo fratris tui.43 Non est enim arbor bona, quæ facit fructus malos: neque arbor mala, faciens fructum bonum. 44 Unaquæque enim arbor de fructu suo cognoscitur. Neque enim de spinis colligunt ficus: neque de rubo vindemiant uvam. 45 Bonus homo de bono thesauro cordis sui profert bonum: et malus homo de malo thesauro profert malum. Ex abundantia enim cordis os loquitur.46 Quid autem vocatis me Domine, Domine: et non facitis quæ dico? 47 Omnis qui venit ad me, et audit sermones meos, et facit eos, ostendam vobis cui similis sit: 48 similis est homini ædificanti domum, qui fodit in altum, et posuit fundamentum super petram: inundatione autem facta, illisum est flumen domui illi, et non potuit eam movere: fundata enim erat super petram. 49 Qui autem audit, et non facit, similis est homini ædificanti domum suam super terram sine fundamento: in quam illisus est fluvius, et continuo cecidit: et facta est ruina domus illius magna.

[27] But I say to you that hear: Love your enemies, do good to them that hate you. [28] Bless them that curse you, and pray for them that calumniate you. [29] And to him that striketh thee on the one cheek, offer also the other. And him that taketh away from thee thy cloak, forbid not to take thy coat also. [30] Give to every one that asketh thee, and of him that taketh away thy goods, ask them not again.[31] And as you would that men should do to you, do you also to them in like manner. [32] And if you love them that love you, what thanks are to you? for sinners also love those that love them. [33] And if you do good to them who do good to you, what thanks are to you? for sinners also do this. [34] And if you lend to them of whom you hope to receive, what thanks are to you? for sinners also lend to sinners, for to receive as much. [35] But love ye your enemies: do good, and lend, hoping for nothing thereby: and your reward shall be great, and you shall be the sons of the Highest; for he is kind to the unthankful, and to the evil.[36] Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful. [37] Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. Forgive, and you shall be forgiven. [38] Give, and it shall be given to you: good measure and pressed down and shaken together and running over shall they give into your bosom. For with the same measure that you shall mete withal, it shall be measured to you again. 

Commentary 

de Lapide:

Ver. 27.—But I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies. Christ, after solemnly warning those who live for pleasure alone, now addresses His own disciples. “I have denounced woe against the wicked, but to you who hear my words, and seek the salvation of your souls, I give as a first and chief commandment that you should love your enemies.” See S. Matt. v. 44.

Ver. 30.—Give to every man that asketh of thee. Not only if lie is in want of the necessaries of life, but if he needs counsel, advice, or aid of any kind, for thus ye will be showing mercy and pity both to the souls and bodies of your fellow men. See S. Matt. v. 42.  S. Luke here adds the words “to every man,” which S. Matt. omits, from which we are to understand that we are to give as far us we honestly and rightly can to every one that asketh, but not to one that asketh for anything or everything. For a man may ask us to give him money for a wrongful purpose, or even to commit actual sin. Hence we are only bound to give that which, as far as we know, will neither be hurtful to ourselves or to him that receiveth the gift: and in case we refuse to give, we must justify our refusal, so that he who asks may not go discontented away.

To every one therefore that asketh of thee, give not always that which he asks, but oftentimes that which is better—a denial if the request is one which we can show that it would be wrong to comply with. S. Augustine.

And of him that taketh away thy goods, ask them not again, neither by power of law or in any other way, as S. Augustine explains. Which is a command, in the case of one who, under pressure of want, has despoiled thee, but is otherwise a counsel. So we read, “Ye exact all your labours,” Isa. lviii. 3.
And again in the parable, the unmerciful servant, because he had no pity, was delivered to the tormentors until he should pay all the debt which had been forgiven him. S. Matt. xviii. So Spiridion, and many hermits of old, gave up to the owners the sheep which they had stolen.


Catena Aurea:

AMBROSE; The Lord added, that we must not readily judge others, lest when conscious of guilt yourself, you should be compelled to pass sentence upon another. 

CHRYS. Judge not your superior, that is, you a disciple must not judge your master; nor a sinner the innocent. You must not blame them, but advise and correct with love; neither must we pass judgment in doubtful and indifferent matters, which bear no resemblance to sin, or which are not serious or forbidden. 

CYRIL; He here expresses that worst inclination of our thoughts or hearts, which is the first beginning and origin of a proud disdain. For although it becomes men to look into themselves and walk after God, this they do not, but look into the things of others, and while they forget their own passions, behold the infirmities of some, and make them a subject of reproach. 

CHRYS. You will not easily find any one, whether a father of a family or an inhabitant of the cloister, free from this error. But these are the wiles of the tempter. For he who severely sifts the fault of others, will never obtain acquittal for his own. Hence it follows And you shall not be judged. For as the merciful and meek man dispels the rage of sinners, so the harsh and cruel adds to his own crimes. 

GREG. NYSS. Be not then rash to judge harshly of your servants, lest you suffer the like. For passing judgment calls down a heavier condemnation; as it follows, Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. For he does not forbid judgment with pardon. 

THEOPHYL; Now in a short sentence he concisely sums up all that he had enjoined with respect to our conduct towards our enemies, saying, Forgive, and you shall be forgiven, wherein he bids us forgive injuries, and show kindness, and our sins shall be forgiven us, and we shall receive eternal life. 

CYRIL; But that we shall receive more abundant recompense from God, who gives bountifully to those who love him, he explains as follows, Good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall they give into your bosom. 

THEOPHYL. As if he says, As when you wish to measure meal without sparing, you press it down, shake it together, and let it pour over abundantly; so the Lord will give a large and overflowing measure into your bosom. 

AUG. But he says, shall they give, because through the merits of those to whom they have given even a cup of cold water in the name of a disciple, shall they be thought worthy to receive a heavenly reward. It follows, For with the same measure that you mete withal it shall be measured to you again. 

BASIL; For according to the same measure with which each one of you metes, that is, in doing good works or sinning, will he receive reward or punishment. 

THEOPHYL. But some one will put the subtle question, "If the return is made over abundantly, how is it the same measure?" to which we answer, that He said not, "In just as great a measure shall it be measured to you again, but in the same measure." "For he who has shown mercy, shall have mercy shown to him, and this is measuring again with the same measure; but our Lord spoke of the measure running over, because to such a one He will show mercy a thousand times. So also in judging; for he that judges and afterwards is judged receives the same measure. But as far as he was judged the more severely that he judged one like to himself, was the measure running over. 

CYRIL; But the Apostle explains this when he says, He who sows sparingly, (that is, scantily, and with a niggardly hand,) shall also reap sparingly, (that is, not abundantly,) and he who sows blessings, shall reap also blessings, that is, bountifully. But if a man has not, and performs not, he is not guilty. For a man is accepted in that which he has, not in that which he has not.

Thursday, 24 July 2014

St Luke 6:1-26

St Luke 6 on the true nature of the law:

1 Factum est autem in sabbato secundo, primo, cum transiret per sata, vellebant discipuli ejus spicas, et manducabant confricantes manibus. 2 Quidam autem pharisæorum, dicebant illis: Quid facitis quod non licet in sabbatis? 3 Et respondens Jesus ad eos, dixit: Nec hoc legistis quod fecit David, cum esurisset ipse, et qui cum illo erant? 4 quomodo intravit in domum Dei, et panes propositionis sumpsit, et manducavit, et dedit his qui cum ipso erant: quos non licet manducare nisi tantum sacerdotibus? 5 Et dicebat illis: Quia dominus est Filius hominis etiam sabbati. 6 Factum est autem in alio sabbato, ut intraret in synagogam, et doceret. Et erat ibi homo, et manus ejus dextra erat arida. 7 Observabant autem scribæ et pharisæi si in sabbato curaret, ut invenirent unde accusarent eum. 8 Ipse vero sciebat cogitationes eorum: et ait homini qui habebat manum aridam: Surge, et sta in medium. Et surgens stetit. 9 Ait autem ad illos Jesus: Interrogo vos si licet sabbatis benefacere, an male: animam salvam facere, an perdere? 10 Et circumspectis omnibus dixit homini: Extende manum tuam. Et extendit: et restituta est manus ejus. 11 Ipsi autem repleti sunt insipientia, et colloquebantur ad invicem, quidnam facerent Jesu.12 Factum est autem in illis diebus, exiit in montem orare, et erat pernoctans in oratione Dei. 13 Et cum dies factus esset, vocavit discipulos suos: et elegit duodecim ex ipsis (quos et apostolos nominavit): 14 Simonem, quem cognominavit Petrum, et Andream fratrem ejus, Jacobum, et Joannem, Philippum, et Bartholomæum, 15 Matthæum, et Thomam, Jacobum Alphæi, et Simonem, qui vocatur Zelotes, 16 et Judam Jacobi, et Judam Iscariotem, qui fuit proditor. 17 Et descendens cum illis, stetit in loco campestri, et turba discipulorum ejus, et multitudo copiosa plebis ab omni Judæa, et Jerusalem, et maritima, et Tyri, et Sidonis, 18 qui venerant ut audirent eum, et sanarentur a languoribus suis. Et qui vexabantur a spiritibus immundis, curabantur. 19 Et omnis turba quærebat eum tangere: quia virtus de illo exibat, et sanabat omnes.20 Et ipse elevatis oculis in discipulis suis, dicebat: Beati pauperes, quia vestrum est regnum Dei. 21 Beati qui nunc esuritis, quia saturabimini. Beati qui nunc fletis, quia ridebitis. 22 Beati eritis cum vos oderint homines, et cum separaverint vos, et exprobraverint, et ejicerint nomen vestrum tamquam malum propter Filium hominis. 23 Gaudete in illa die, et exsultate: ecce enim merces vestra multa est in cælo: secundum hæc enim faciebant prophetis patres eorum. 24 Verumtamen væ vobis divitibus, quia habetis consolationem vestram. 25 Væ vobis, qui saturati estis: quia esurietis. Væ vobis, qui ridetis nunc: quia lugebitis et flebitis. 26 Væ cum benedixerint vobis homines: secundum hæc enim faciebant pseudoprophetis patres eorum.

And it came to pass on the second first sabbath, that as he went through the corn fields, his disciples plucked the ears, and did eat, rubbing them in their hands. [2] And some of the Pharisees said to them: Why do you that which is not lawful on the sabbath days? [3] And Jesus answering them, said: Have you not read so much as this, what David did, when himself was hungry, and they that were with him: [4] How he went into the house of God, and took and ate the bread of proposition, and gave to them that were with him, which is not lawful to eat but only for the priests? [5] And he said to them: The Son of man is Lord also of the sabbath.[6] And it came to pass also on another sabbath, that he entered into the synagogue, and taught. And there was a man, whose right hand was withered. [7] And the scribes and Pharisees watched if he would heal on the sabbath; that they might find an accusation against him. [8] But he knew their thoughts; and said to the man who had the withered hand: Arise, and stand forth in the midst. And rising he stood forth. [9] Then Jesus said to them: I ask you, if it be lawful on the sabbath days to do good, or to do evil; to save life, or to destroy? [10] And looking round about on them all, he said to the man: Stretch forth thy hand. And he stretched it forth: and his hand was restored. [11] And they were filled with madness; and they talked one with another, what they might do to Jesus. [12] And it came to pass in those days, that he went out into a mountain to pray, and he passed the whole night in the prayer of God. [13] And when day was come, he called unto him his disciples; and he chose twelve of them (whom also he named apostles). [14] Simon, whom he surnamed Peter, and Andrew his brother, James and John, Philip and Bartholomew, [15] Matthew and Thomas, James the son of Alpheus, and Simon who is called Zelotes, [16] And Jude, the brother of James, and Judas Iscariot, who was the traitor. [17] And coming down with them, he stood in a plain place, and the company of his disciples, and a very great multitude of people from all Judea and Jerusalem, and the sea coast both of Tyre and Sidon, [18] Who were come to hear him, and to be healed of their diseases. And they that were troubled with unclean spirits, were cured. [19] And all the multitude sought to touch him, for virtue went out from him, and healed all. [20] And he, lifting up his eyes on his disciples, said: Blessed are ye poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.[21] Blessed are ye that hunger now: for you shall be filled. Blessed are ye that weep now: for you shall laugh. [22] Blessed shall you be when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man' s sake. [23] Be glad in that day and rejoice; for behold, your reward is great in heaven. For according to these things did their fathers to the prophets. [24] But woe to you that are rich: for you have your consolation. [25] Woe to you that are filled: for you shall hunger. Woe to you that now laugh: for you shall mourn and weep.[26] Woe to you when men shall bless you: for according to these things did their fathers to the false prophets.

Commentary (de Lapide)

1....Figuratively, saysS. Ambrose, we may understand this Sabbath to mean the Gospel, which is second to the law in point of time, but first in dignity and importance.

He further adds, commenting on Ps. xlvii., the words “second Sabbath after the first” mean the Jewish Sabbath, for after the resurrection the Lord’s day took its place. From that time therefore it became second in dignity, yet at the same time it was rightly called first, because of its sanctity and the priority of its institution.

Figuratively, Christ taught and worked His chief miracles on the Sabbath not only to prefigure the spiritual Sabbath, when the mind, no longer taken up with evil lusts and passions, will be free to serve God alone, but because of the gathering together of the people, as they assemble now on the Lord’s-day.

There was also another reason, viz., to teach the Jews the true observance of the Sabbath, and that they might no longer be offended at the wonderful works which Christ wrought on that day, as were the Scribes, who accused Him of transgressing the law, and gave Him up to that death by means of which God effected the redemption of mankind. Bede...

Ver. 12.—He went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God—communing with God in prayer, asking the Father that He might choose for the ministry men fitted to be apostles, and would obtain for them an abundance of spiritual grace to enable them to fulfil the duties of their office; and also that He might teach us to pray in like manner.

So the Church at Ember-tide enjoins her children to fast and to pray that fitting persons may be chosen for the work of the ministry, and that those admitted to any holy function may be filled with grace and heavenly benediction; for as with the priest so with the people. When a chief pastor is zealous and God-fearing, he is a blessing and a strength to his diocese, but if he be an evil liver or slothful, he becomes a stumbling-block and offence to believers. In like manner, also, a good priest makes a good parish, but an evil one is for a destruction to his people.

Figuratively, Christ teaches us to pray in the night season that we may be the better able in silence and solitude to collect our thoughts and lift our hearts unto God; that we may be preserved from terror by night and from the pestilence that walketh in darkness, and also that by our prayers during the night we may obtain spiritual graces for the profit of our fellow-men during the ensuing day.

Hence Christ prayed by night and taught in the daytime. So did S. Paul, Acts xvi 25; and many other saints; 1 Tim. v. 5.

For the same reason David so often commends prayer during the night time:
“Ye that by night stand in the house of the Lord. Lift up your hands in the sanctuary,” Ps. cxxxiv. 1, 2. 
“At midnight I will rise to give thanks unto Thee,” Ps. cxix. 62.
“In the night I commune with mine own heart,” Ps. lxxvii. 6.
“My tears have been my meat day and night,” Ps. xlii. 3.
See also Commentary on Deut. vi. 7.

Ver. 20.—Blessed are ye poor . . . in spirit (See S. Matt. V. 3), for poorness of spirit is a rich and precious virtue. Therefore S. Ambrose rightly concludes that poverty, privations, and sorrow, which the world counts evil, not only are no hindrances, but on the contrary have been declared by Him who could neither deceive nor be deceived, to be of great assistance towards the attainment of a holy and a happy life.

The same writer goes on to give the reason why S. Luke has reduced the number of the beatitudes to four. He was content that they should include the four cardinal virtues. Justice, which, coveting not the possessions of others, rejoices in holy poverty; temperance, which had rather suffer want than be full; prudence, which chooses to sorrow here, in hope of the joy which shall be revealed; and Fortitude, which for sake of Christ and His Gospel, endures persecution and so triumphs over every enemy. Hence we read that the poor, the temperate, those who hunger and thirst after righteousness (S. Matthew), the just, those who weep, the prudent who despise earthly things and seek heavenly, those hated of their fellowmen, not because of any misdeeds but for the Gospel’s sake, who, steadfast in the faith, seek for future happiness by pleasing God rather than men—that these are indeed blessed.
Ver. 24.—But woe unto you that are rich, for ye have received your consolation. To the four beatitudes Christ, by antithesis, opposes as many states of misery and unhappiness.

The poor are blessed for all eternity, but the rich receive in this world their consolation; the hungry shall be satisfied with good things, but those that are full now shall be sent empty away. They who weep here shall hereafter rejoice, but for those who laugh now there is reserved a future of mourning; and those that are spoken well of by their fellow men, are laying up for themselves an eternity of woe.
For Ου̉̀αὶ, Latin væ, as S. Gregory points out (Hom. ix. on Ezekiel), oftentimes in Scripture denotes the wrath of God and everlasting punishment. Hence this word is here used by Christ partly as a lament over the future and eternal misery of the worldly, (S. Chrysostom, Hom. 44 ad pop.); partly as a prophecy of it (Titus); partly as threatening and decreeing such punishment against them (Tertullian, bk. iv. against Marcian).

You that are rich. As by poor we understand those poor in spirit who love poverty because thereby they are the better able to please God, so we may take the word rich to mean those who, greedy of gain, heap up riches by any means in their power, and look upon wealth as their sole happiness and the one object of their life. Hence mortal sin, robbery, extortion, unfair dealing, and other such like sins. Therefore the denunciation of Christ. But those who are rich by inheritance and honest labour, as long as they are not corrupted by their riches, but use them for the glory of God and the good of their fellow men, in reality are poor, as were the patriarchs, David, and many other of the saints of old.

For it is not the amount he possesses, but the use a man makes of his riches which is accounted sin. So “they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil.” See 1 Tim. vi. 9.
Ye have received your consolation. Ye set your heart on your riches, use them for your own evil gratification, and put them in the place of your God. Therefore ye are allowed the enjoyment of them in this life, but in the life which is to come ye will, as Christ has here declared, come short of everlasting happiness, for those who have in this world received their consolation will lose their eternal reward.
Hence S. Hieronymus (Epist. xxxiv.), when endeavouring to persuade Julian, a rich nobleman, to give up the world and devote himself to a holy and religious life, uses this powerful argument. “It is difficult, it not impossible,” he says, “to enjoy happiness in both worlds—to give ourselves up to our evil lusts and passions here, but to become spiritually minded after death—to pass from one state of happiness to the other—to acquire glory both in this world and in the next, . . . and to be distinguished equally in heaven and on earth. Hence Abraham returned none other answer to the rich man than this, ‘Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things, but now be is comforted and thou art tormented.’” See chapter xvi. 25.

So also Christ is said to have offered S. Catherine of Siena two crowns, one set with jewels, the other begirt with thorns, bidding her choose which she would wear in this life, which in the life to come. She chose the thorny crown, and, regardless of the anguish, pressed it firmly on her head...

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

St Luke 5:17-39

The second half of St Luke 5, which includes the calling of St Matthew (Levi):

17 Et factum est in una dierum, et ipse sedebat docens. Et erant pharisæi sedentes, et legis doctores, qui venerant ex omni castello Galilææ, et Judææ, et Jerusalem: et virtus Domini erat ad sanandum eos. 18 Et ecce viri portantes in lecto hominem, qui erat paralyticus: et quærebant eum inferre, et ponere ante eum. 19 Et non invenientes qua parte illum inferrent præ turba, ascenderunt supra tectum, et per tegulas summiserunt eum cum lecto in medium ante Jesum. 20 Quorum fidem ut vidit, dixit: Homo, remittuntur tibi peccata tua. 21 Et cœperunt cogitare scribæ et pharisæi, dicentes: Quis est hic, qui loquitur blasphemias? quis potest dimittere peccata, nisi solus Deus? 22 Ut cognovit autem Jesus cogitationes eorum, respondens, dixit ad illos: Quid cogitatis in cordibus vestris? 23 Quid est facilius dicere: Dimittuntur tibi peccata: an dicere: Surge, et ambula? 24 Ut autem sciatis quia Filius hominis habet potestatem in terra dimittendi peccata, (ait paralytico) tibi dico, surge, tolle lectum tuum, et vade in domum tuam. 25 Et confestim consurgens coram illis, tulit lectum in quo jacebat: et abiit in domum suam, magnificans Deum. 26 Et stupor apprehendit omnes, et magnificabant Deum. Et repleti sunt timore, dicentes: Quia vidimus mirabilia hodie.27 Et post hæc exiit, et vidit publicanum nomine Levi, sedentem ad telonium, et ait illi: Sequere me. 28 Et relictis omnibus, surgens secutus est eum. 29 Et fecit ei convivium magnum Levi in domo sua: et erat turba multa publicanorum, et aliorum qui cum illis erant discumbentes. 30 Et murmurabant pharisæi et scribæ eorum, dicentes ad discipulos ejus: Quare cum publicanis et peccatoribus manducatis et bibitis? 31 Et respondens Jesus, dixit ad illos: Non egent qui sani sunt medico, sed qui male habent. 32 Non veni vocare justos, sed peccatores ad pœnitentiam.33 At illi dixerunt ad eum: Quare discipuli Joannis jejunant frequenter, et obsecrationes faciunt, similiter et pharisæorum: tui autem edunt et bibunt? 34 Quibus ipse ait: Numquid potestis filios sponsi, dum cum illis est sponsus, facere jejunare? 35 Venient autem dies, cum ablatus fuerit ab illis sponsus: tunc jejunabunt in illis diebus. 36 Dicebat autem et similitudinem ad illos: Quia nemo commissuram a novo vestimento immittit in vestimentum vetus: alioquin et novum rumpit, et veteri non convenit commissura a novo. 37 Et nemo mittit vinum novum in utres veteres: alioquin rumpet vinum novum utres, et ipsum effundetur, et utres peribunt: 38 sed vinum novum in utres novos mittendum est, et utraque conservantur. 39 Et nemo bibens vetus, statim vult novum: dicit enim: Vetus melius est.

[17] And it came to pass on a certain day, as he sat teaching, that there were also Pharisees and doctors of the law sitting by, that were come out of every town of Galilee, and Judea and Jerusalem: and the power of the Lord was to heal them. [18] And behold, men brought in a bed a man, who had the palsy: and they sought means to bring him in, and to lay him before him. [19] And when they could not find by what way they might bring him in, because of the multitude, they went up upon the roof, and let him down through the tiles with his bed into the midst before Jesus. [20] Whose faith when he saw, he said: Man, thy sins are forgiven thee. [21] And the scribes and Pharisees began to think, saying: Who is this who speaketh blasphemies? Who can forgive sins, but God alone? [22] And when Jesus knew their thoughts, answering, he said to them: What is it you think in your hearts? [23] Which is easier to say, Thy sins are forgiven thee; or to say, Arise and walk? [24] But that you may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (he saith to the sick of the palsy,) I say to thee, Arise, take up thy bed, and go into thy house. [25] And immediately rising up before them, he took up the bed on which he lay; and he went away to his own house, glorifying God. [26] And all were astonished; and they glorified God. And they were filled with fear, saying: We have seen wonderful things today. [27] And after these things he went forth, and saw a publican named Levi, sitting at the receipt of custom, and he said to him: Follow me. [28] And leaving all things, he rose up and followed him. [29] And Levi made him a great feast in his own house; and there was a great company of publicans, and of others, that were at table with them. [30] But the Pharisees and scribes murmured, saying to his disciples: Why do you eat and drink with publicans and sinners? [31] And Jesus answering, said to them: They that are whole, need not the physician: but they that are sick. [32] I came not to call the just, but sinners to penance. [33] And they said to him: Why do the disciples of John fast often, and make prayers, and the disciples of the Pharisees in like manner; but thine eat and drink? [34] To whom he said: Can you make the children of the bridegroom fast, whilst the bridegroom is with them? [35] But the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken away from them, then shall they fast in those days. [36] And he spoke also a similitude to them: That no man putteth a piece from a new garment upon an old garment; otherwise he both rendeth the new, and the piece taken from the new agreeth not with the old. [37] And no man putteth new wine into old bottles: otherwise the new wine will break the bottles, and it will be spilled, and the bottles will be lost. [38] But new wine must be put into new bottles; and both are preserved. [39] And no man drinking old, hath presently a mind to new: for he saith, The old is better.

Commentary

de Lapide:
Ver. 32.—I came not to call the righteous but sinners to repentance i.e., to call them by means of repentance to grace and future glory. Hence as S. Ambrose acutely remarks, “If grace flows from repentance, he who thinks little of repentance forfeits grace.”

Catena Aurea:

CYRIL; The Scribes and Pharisees who had become spectators of Christ's miracles, heard Him also teaching. Hence it is said, And it came to pass on a certain day, as he was teaching, that there were Pharisees sitting by, &c. And the power of the Lord was present to heal them. Not as though He borrowed the power of another, but as God and the Lord He healed by His own inherent power. Now men often become worthy of spiritual gifts, but generally depart from the rule which the giver of the gifts knew. It was not so with Christ, for the divine power went on abounding in giving remedies. But because it was necessary where so great a number of Scribes and Pharisees had come together, that something should be done to attest His power before those men who slighted Him, He performed the miracle on the man with the palsy, who since medical art seemed to fail, was carried by his kinsfolk to a higher and heavenly Physician. 

As it follows, And behold men brought in a man that was stricken . . . 

CHRYS. But they are to be admired who brought in the paralytic, since on finding that they could not enter in at the door, they attempted a new and untried way. As it follows, And when they could not find by what way they might bring him in, they went upon the housetop, &c. But unroofing the house they let down the couch, and place the paralytic in the midst, as it follows, And they let him down through the tilings. Some one may say, that the place was let down, from which they lowered the couch of the palsied man through the tilings. 

THEOPHYL; The Lord about to cure the man of his palsy, first loosens the chains of his sins, that He may show him, that on account of the bonds of his sins, he is punished with the loosening of his joints, and that unless the former are set free, he cannot be healed to the recovery of his limbs. Hence it follows, And when he saw their faith, &c. 

AMBROSE; Mighty is the Lord who pardons one man for the good deed of another, and while he approves of the one, forgives the other his sins. Why, O man, with you does not your fellowman prevail, when with God a servant has both the liberty to intercede in your behalf, and the power of obtaining what he asks? If you despair of the pardon of heavy sins, bring the prayers of others, bring the Church to pray for you, and at sight of this the Lord may pardon what man denies to you.

CHRYS. But there was combined in this the faith also of the sufferer himself. For he would not have submitted to be let down, had he not believed.

AUG. But our Lord's saying, Man, your sins are forgiven, conveys the meaning that the man had his sins forgiven him, because in that he was man, he could not say, "I have not sinned," but at the same time also, that He who forgave sins might be known to be God. 

CHRYS. Now if we suffer bodily, we are enough concerned to get rid of the hurtful thing; but when there has harm happened to the soul, we delay, and so are neither cured of our bodily ailments. Let us then remove the fountain of evil, and the waters of sickness will cease to flow. But from fear of the multitude, the Pharisees durst not openly expose their designs, but only meditated them in their hearts. Hence it follows, And they began to reason, saying, Who is this which speaks blasphemies?

CYRIL; By this they hasten the sentence of death, for it was commanded in the law, that whoever blasphemed God should be punished with death. 

AMBROSE; From His very works therefore the Son of God receives testimony. For it is both more powerful evidence when men confess unwillingly, and a more fatal error when they who deny are left to the consequence of their own assertions. Hence it follows, Who can forgive sins, but God only? Great is the madness of an unbelieving people, who though they have confessed that it is of God alone to forgive sins, believe not God when He forgives sins. 

THEOPHYL; For they say true, that no one can forgive sins but God, who yet forgives through those to whom He gives the power of forgiving. And therefore Christ is proved to be truly God, for He is able to forgive sins as God. 

AMBROSE; The Lord wishing to save sinners shows Himself to be God, by His knowledge of the secret thoughts; as it follows, But that you may know. 

CYRIL; As if to say, O Pharisees' since you say, Who can forgive sins, but God alone? I answer you, Who can search the secrets of the heart, but God alone, Who says by His prophet, I am the Lord. that searchs the hearts, and tries the reins. 

CHRYS. If then you disbelieve the first, (i. e. the forgiveness of sins,) behold, I add another, seeing that I lay open your inmost thoughts. Again, another that I make whole the body of the palsied man. Hence He adds, Whether is it easier? It is very plain that it is easier to restore the body to health. For as the soul is far nobler than the body, so is the forgiveness of sins more excellent than the healing of the body. But since you believe not the former, because it is hid; I will add that which is inferior, yet more open, in order that thereby that which is secret may be made manifest. And indeed in addressing the sick man, He said not, I forgive you your sins, expressing His own power, but, Your sins are forgiven you. 

But they compelled Him to declare more plainly His own power to them, when He said, But that you may know. 

THEOPHYL. Observe that on earth He forgives sins. For while we are on earth we can blot out our sins. But after that we are taken away from the earth, we shall not be able to confess, for the gate is shut. 

CHRYS. He show the pardon of sins by the healing of the body. Hence it follows, He says to the sick of the palsy, I say to you, Rise. But He manifests the healing of the body by the carrying of the bed, that so that which took place might be accounted no shadow. Hence it follows, Take up your bed. As if He said, "I was willing through your suffering to cure those who think that they are in health, while their souls are sick, but since they are unwilling, go and correct your household." 

AMBROSE; Nor is there any delay, health is present; there is but one moment both of words, and healing. Hence it follows, And immediately he rose. From this fact it is evident, that the Son of man has power on earth to forgive sins; He said this both for Himself and us. For He as God made man, as the Lord of the law, forgives sins, we also have been chosen to receive from Him the same marvelous grace. For it was said to the disciples, Whose sins your remit, they are remitted to them. But how does He not Himself forgive sins, Who has given to others the power of doing so? But the kings and princes of the earth when they acquit homicides, release them from their present punishment, but cannot expiate their crimes....

AMBROSE; They behold him rising up, still disbelieving, and marvel at his departing; as it follows, And they were all amazed. 

CHRYS. The Jews creep on by degrees, glorifying God, yet thinking Him not God, for His flesh stood in their way. But still it was no slight thing to consider Him the chief of mortal men, and to have proceeded from God. 

AMBROSE; But they had rather fear the miracles of divine working, than believe them. As it follows, And they were filled with fear. But if they had believed they had not surely feared, but loved; for perfect love casts out fear But this was no careless or trifling cure of the paralytic, since our Lord is said to have prayed first, not for the petition's sake, but for an example. 

AUG. With respect to the sick of the palsy, we may understand that the soul relaxed in its limbs i.e. its operations, seeks Christ, i.e. the meaning of God's word, but is hindered by the crowds, that is to say, unless it discovers the secrets of the thoughts, i.e. the dark parts of the Scriptures, and thereby arrives at the knowledge of Christ 

THEOPHYL; And the house where Jesus was is well described as covered with tiles, since beneath the beggarly covering of letters is found the spiritual power of grace. 

AMBROSE; Now let every sick person have those that will pray for his salvation, by whom the loosened joints of our life and halting steps may be renewed by the remedy of the heavenly word. Let there be then certain monitors of the soul, to raise the mind of man, though grown dull through the weakness of the external body, to higher things, by the aid of which being able again easily to raise and humble itself, it may be placed before Jesus worthy to be presented in the Lord's sight. For the Lord beholds the humble.