Saturday, 23 August 2014

St Luke 14:1-35

1 Et factum est cum intraret Jesus in domum cujusdam principis pharisæorum sabbato manducare panem, et ipsi observabant eum. 2 Et ecce homo quidam hydropicus erat ante illum. 3 Et respondens Jesus dixit ad legisperitos et pharisæos, dicens: Si licet sabbato curare? 4 At illi tacuerunt. Ipse vero apprehensum sanavit eum, ac dimisit. 5 Et respondens ad illos dixit: Cujus vestrum asinus, aut bos in puteum cadet, et non continuo extrahet illum die sabbati? 6 Et non poterant ad hæc respondere illi. 7 Dicebat autem et ad invitatos parabolam, intendens quomodo primos accubitus eligerent, dicens ad illos: 8 Cum invitatus fueris ad nuptias, non discumbas in primo loco, ne forte honoratior te sit invitatus ab illo. 9 Et veniens is, qui te et illum vocavit, dicat tibi: Da huic locum: et tunc incipias cum rubore novissimum locum tenere. 10 Sed cum vocatus fueris, vade, recumbe in novissimo loco: ut, cum venerit qui te invitavit, dicat tibi: Amice, ascende superius. Tunc erit tibi gloria coram simul discumbentibus: 11 quia omnis, qui se exaltat, humiliabitur: et qui se humiliat, exaltabitur. 12 Dicebat autem et ei, qui invitaverat: Cum facis prandium, aut cœnam, noli vocare amicos tuos, neque fratres tuos, neque cognatos, neque vicinos divites: ne forte te et ipsi reinvitent, et fiat tibi retributio; 13 sed cum facis convivium, voca pauperes, debiles, claudos, et cæcos: 14 et beatus eris, quia non habent retribuere tibi: retribuetur enim tibi in resurrectione justorum.15 Hæc cum audisset quidam de simul discumbentibus, dixit illi: Beatus qui manducabit panem in regno Dei. 16 At ipse dixit ei: Homo quidam fecit cœnam magnam, et vocavit multos. 17 Et misit servum suum hora cœnæ dicere invitatis ut venirent, quia jam parata sunt omnia. 18 Et cœperunt simul omnes excusare. Primus dixit ei: Villam emi, et necesse habeo exire, et videre illam: rogo te, habe me excusatum. 19 Et alter dixit: Juga boum emi quinque, et eo probare illa: rogo te, habe me excusatum. 20 Et alius dixit: Uxorem duxi, et ideo non possum venire. 21 Et reversus servus nuntiavit hæc domino suo. Tunc iratus paterfamilias, dixit servo suo: Exi cito in plateas et vicos civitatis: et pauperes, ac debiles, et cæcos, et claudos introduc huc. 22 Et ait servus: Domine, factum est ut imperasti, et adhuc locus est. 23 Et ait dominus servo: Exi in vias, et sæpes: et compelle intrare, ut impleatur domus mea. 24 Dico autem vobis quod nemo virorum illorum qui vocati sunt, gustabit cœnam meam.25 Ibant autem turbæ multæ cum eo: et conversus dixit ad illos: 26 Si quis venit ad me, et non odit patrem suum, et matrem, et uxorem, et filios, et fratres, et sorores, adhuc autem et animam suam, non potest meus esse discipulus. 27 Et qui non bajulat crucem suam, et venit post me, non potest meus esse discipulus. 28 Quis enim ex vobis volens turrim ædificare, non prius sedens computat sumptus, qui necessarii sunt, si habeat ad perficiendum, 29 ne, posteaquam posuerit fundamentum, et non potuerit perficere, omnes qui vident, incipiant illudere ei, 30 dicentes: Quia hic homo cœpit ædificare, et non potuit consummare? 31 Aut quis rex iturus committere bellum adversus alium regem, non sedens prius cogitat, si possit cum decem millibus occurrere ei, qui cum viginti millibus venit ad se? 32 Alioquin adhuc illo longe agente, legationem mittens rogat ea quæ pacis sunt. 33 Sic ergo omnis ex vobis, qui non renuntiat omnibus quæ possidet, non potest meus esse discipulus. 34 Bonum est sal: si autem sal evanuerit, in quo condietur? 35 Neque in terram, neque in sterquilinium utile est, sed foras mittetur. Qui habet aures audiendi, audiat.

[1] And it came to pass, when Jesus went into the house of one of the chief of the Pharisees, on the sabbath day, to eat bread, that they watched him. [2] And behold, there was a certain man before him that had the dropsy. [3] And Jesus answering, spoke to the lawyers and Pharisees, saying: Is it lawful to heal on the sabbath day? [4] But they held their peace. But he taking him, healed him, and sent him away. [5] And answering them, he said: Which of you shall have an ass or an ox fall into a pit, and will not immediately draw him out, on the sabbath day?[6] And they could not answer him to these things. [7] And he spoke a parable also to them that were invited, marking how they chose the first seats at the table, saying to them: [8] When thou art invited to a wedding, sit not down in the first place, lest perhaps one more honourable than thou be invited by him: [9] And he that invited thee and him, come and say to thee, Give this man place: and then thou begin with shame to take the lowest place. [10] But when thou art invited, go, sit down in the lowest place; that when he who invited thee, cometh, he may say to thee: Friend, go up higher. Then shalt thou have glory before them that sit at table with thee. [11] Because every one that exalteth himself, shall be humbled; and he that humbleth himself, shall be exalted. [12] And he said to him also that had invited him: When thou makest a dinner or a supper, call not thy friends, nor thy brethren, nor thy kinsmen, nor thy neighbours who are rich; lest perhaps they also invite thee again, and a recompense be made to thee. [13] But when thou makest a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, and the blind; [14] And thou shalt be blessed, because they have not wherewith to make thee recompense: for recompense shall be made thee at the resurrection of the just. [15] When one of them that sat at table with him, had heard these things, he said to him: Blessed is he that shall eat bread in the kingdom of God.[16] But he said to him: A certain man made a great supper, and invited many. [17] And he sent his servant at the hour of supper to say to them that were invited, that they should come, for now all things are ready. [18] And they began all at once to make excuse. The first said to him: I have bought a farm, and I must needs go out and see it: I pray thee, hold me excused. [19] And another said: I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to try them: I pray thee, hold me excused. [20] And another said: I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.[21] And the servant returning, told these things to his lord. Then the master of the house, being angry, said to his servant: Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in hither the poor, and the feeble, and the blind, and the lame. [22] And the servant said: Lord, it is done as thou hast commanded, and yet there is room. [23] And the Lord said to the servant: Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled. [24] But I say unto you, that none of those men that were invited, shall taste of my supper. [25] And there went great multitudes with him. And turning, he said to them:[26] If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. [27] And whosoever doth not carry his cross and come after me, cannot be my disciple. [28] For which of you having a mind to build a tower, doth not first sit down, and reckon the charges that are necessary, whether he have wherewithal to finish it: [29] Lest, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that see it begin to mock him, [30] Saying: This man began to build, and was not able to finish.[31] Or what king, about to go to make war against another king, doth not first sit down, and think whether he be able, with ten thousand, to meet him that, with twenty thousand, cometh against him? [32] Or else, whilst the other is yet afar off, sending an embassy, he desireth conditions of peace. [33] So likewise every one of you that doth not renounce all that he possesseth, cannot be my disciple. [34] Salt is good. But if the salt shall lose its savour, wherewith shall it be seasoned? [35] It is neither profitable for the land nor for the dunghill, but shall be cast out. He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.

Commentary

Ver. 1.—And it came to pass that He went into the house of one of the chief Pharisees. “To do them service,” says Titus, “Christ makes Himself their friend, and, as it were, one of their household,” for “although He knew the malice of the Pharisees, yet He became their guest that He might benefit by His words and miracles those who were present, and teach them the lawfulness of healing on the Sabbath, and the respective duties of entertainers and guests.”

Ver. 2.—And behold there was a certain man before Him which had the dropsy. This man seems to have been a friend of the Pharisee, who perhaps had invited Jesus in order that He might heal him. Certainly, as S. Cyril and Euthymius say, the suiterer presented himself of his own accord to Jesus, silently pleading that he might be restored to health. But the Pharisees sought His presence for another purpose, in order that they might see whether Christ would heal him on the Sabbath day, and thus show that He was not in truth a prophet sent by that God who had sanctified the rigid observance of the seventh day.

Ver. 3.—And Jesus answering spake unto the lawyers and Pharisees. Answering their thoughts and not their inquiry, for they had asked no question, but thought in their hearts that Christ would be acting unlawfully if He healed on the Sabbath day.

Ver. 4.—And He had took him, and touched him, and ley him go (ε̉πιλαβόμενος, “when he had ouched him.” apprehensum, Vulg.) He heals by His touch the dropsical man who, from fear of the Pharisees, did not ask to be healed on account of the Sabbath, but only stood up, that when Jesus beheld him He might have compassion on him and heal him. S. Cyril.

Mystically. S. Gregory (lib. xiv. Moral.) observes: “The sick of the dropsy is healed in the Pharisee’s presence, for by the bodily infirmity of the one is expressed the mental disease, i.e. the avarice and covetousness, of the other.” “For,” says Bede, “the dropsical man represents one who is weighed down by an overflowing stream of carnal pleasures.” S. Augustine adds, “We, lightly compare one sick of the dropsy to a covetous rich man, who, the more he abounds in riches, the more ardently desires them. Avarice and covetousness, then, are very similar to the dropsy, and as this dire disease is best remedied by abstaining from drinking, so the remedy for unlawful desire is mortification, abstinence, and continence, all of which wither and drive out virtuous habits.”

Ver. 5.—And He answered them, saying, Which of you, &c. “If,” says Bede, “ye hasten on the Sabbath to pull an ox or an ass out of the pit into which he has fallen, consulting not the good of the animal, but your own avarice, how much more ought I to deliver a man who is much better than a beast?” He adds also, “they were not to violate the Sabbath by a work of covetousness, who were arguing that He did so by a work of charity.” And again, in a mystical sense, the ox and the ass represent the wise and the foolish, or the Jew oppressed by the burden of the Law and the Gentile not subject to reason. For the Lord rescues from the pit of concupiscence all who are sunk therein.”

S. Augustine also (Lib. ii., Quæst. Evang.) says, “He has aptly compared the dropsical man to an animal which has fallen into a ditch (for he is troubled by water), as He compared that woman whom He loosed, to a beast which is let loose to be led to water.”

Ver. 6.—And they could not answer Him again to these things. Because they were convinced by the truth of His reasoning. Yet privately they murmured amongst themselves, and afterwards openly clamoured amongst the people. “This man is not of God, because he keepeth not the Sabbath day,” S. John, ix. 16. Although Jesus knew this, He healed the man, and permitted their malice and obstinacy to gather force, so that the cross ordained for Him by God might be prepared for the salvation of men. “Caring nought,” says Theophylact, “for the offence given to the Pharisees” For when a great good is the result, we must not care if the foolish are offended.

Ver. 7.—And He put forth a parable to those which were bidden, i.e. He taught, under the similitude of a man seeking the highest place at a feast, that we must beware of every kind of ambition. For sin continues to be sin, although the manner of sinning be changed.

“When He marked how they chose out the chief rooms.” For as teachers of the Law, they considered themselves entitled to the highest honour, and fought for precedence as eagerly as now-a-days ladies of rank and men of small brains.

This is a kind of introduction to the parable, and indicates the occasion on which it was spoken, and the persons against whom it was directed.

Ver. 8.—When thou art bidden . . . sit not down in the highest room. For when the master of the house takes your place from you to give it to a more honourable guest, those who sit next in order will not give way to your ambition, and you will begin with shame to go down from the highest to the lowest room. Do not unduly exalt thyself, lest some one, offended by thy insolence, humble it and lay it low.

Ver. 10.—Go and sit down in the lowest room. The master of the house usually assigned to each guest his place at the table, a duty formerly discharged by the “ruler of the feast,” regard being had to each one’s age and social standing. Thus Joseph’s brethren “sat before him, the first-born according to his birthright, and the youngest according to his youth” Gen. xliii. 33. In this verse, Christ makes evident allusion to the saying of Solomon, “Put not forth thyself in the presence of the king,” &c. (Prov. xxv. 6, 7). Titus very justly remarks, that “a wise man, however deserving he may be of the highest place, so little affects it, as to give it up to others of his own accord. Wherefore a mind modest and content with its own lot is a great and a glorious gift.”

Then shalt thou have worship. Christ teaches that if we would acquire glory and greatness, we must fly from them and be humble; for men hate the proud and seek to humiliate them, but make much of the modest and meek; the true glory is that which is given, not that which is sought: furthermore, God has decreed by an eternal law that the humble should be exalted, but that the mighty should be put down from their seat. Wherefore, the proud, if they are wise, will humble themselves, that they may have worship in the presence of them that sit at meat with them. Knowing that if they seek the most honourable places, they will excite envy, and men will strive, whether rightly or wrongly, to humiliate them.

Hear what the wise man says, “The greater thou art, the more humble thyself, and thou shalt find favour before the Lord.” (Ecclus. iii. 20.)
This precept of Christ, or rather this wi
se dogma, was recognised and taught by the Gentile philosophers. So Plutarch introduces Thales thus sharply rebuking the pride of Alexidemus, who, because he was the son of Thrasybulus had rushed from the banqueting hall at seeing others seated above him: “Fearest thou lest thy place at table shall bring thee glory or obscurity after the manner of the stars, which, as the Egyptians say, wax and wane according to the places wherein they rise or set? Thou art not so wise as the man, who, when the leader assigned him the lowest place in a chorus, said, Thou hast done well in having discovered a means of making even a position such as this honourable. For he was of opinion that a man is not distinguished by his position, but rather the position by the man.”

Honour, like the shadow cast by the body, follows him that flee from it, but flees from him that follows it.

Symbolically. Members of religious orders, according to the words of Christ, “sit down in the lowest room.” For they who have kept nothing, but given up all, even their very will, have no lower place to which they can betake themselves. Here they are at rest, for their humility is not limited, like that of other men, to this or that action, but is life-long; for it is a part of their profession which embraces their whole life.

Ver. 11.—For whosoever exalleth himself shall be abased, &c., both by God and man, often in this life, always in the life to come. This verse explains the meaning and scope of the parable. See S. Matt. xxiii. 12.

Ver. 12.—Then said He also unto him that bade Him, i.e. to the chief Pharisee mentioned in the first verse, whose hospitality Christ recompensed by the spiritual banquet of ghostly counsel and advice. This man, says the Gloss, seems to have invited his guests in order that he in turn might be entertained by them.

“Call not thy friends.” Christ counselled this as the more perfect way. He did not command it as of necessity. For it is lawful, nay, meritorious, for us to invite our friends, if it be done out of friendship and kindness. Whence Bede says, “Brethren then, and friends, and the rich are not forbidden, as though it were a crime, to entertain one another, but this, like all the other necessary intercourse among men, is shown to fail in meriting the reward of ever lasting life,” unless, as I have said, such entertainment springs from a higher motive of brotherly love or charity.

“Lest they also bid thee again.” Like worldly men are wont to do from gratitude or else avarice, for “to be hospitable to those who will make a return, is,” says S. Ambrose, “but a form of avarice.”
“And a recompence be made thee” by man, and this prove worthless and transient. If you regard this alone, you exclude the spiritual recompense from God and deprive yourself of it; if you look for both you will receive both, but both lessened, for the one lessens and as it were interferes with the other; but if you regard the divine alone, and only admit or rather bear with the human recompence because it is offered you, you will receive the divine whole and undiminished.

Ver. 13.—But when thou makest a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind. “The maimed,” α̉ναπήζους, the cripple, the mutilated, i.e. those wanting in body or mind.  S. Chrysostom assigns the reason. “If ye invite the poor, God will be your debtor. For the humbler the brother is, so much the more does Christ come through him and visit us. For he who entertains a great man does it often from an interested motive or from vainglory. But thou sayest, the poor man is unclean and filthy. Wash him and make him sit with thee at table. If he has dirty garments, give him clean ones. If thou will not receive him in a quiet chamber, at least admit him where thy servants are. If thou art not willing that he should sit at meat with thee, send him a dish from thy table.”

Following this counsel, S. Gregory had often twelve beggars at his table, and therefore was rewarded by receiving Christ. Himself in the guise of a poor man.  S. Louis of France also, not content with entertaining 120 beggars at his table daily, and on feast days 200, frequently waited upon them himself, and even washed their feet. In like manner acted S. Louis the Minorite, Bishop of Toulouse, following the example of his uncle S. Louis; S. Hedwig, Duchess of Poland, and her niece S. Elizabeth, the daughter of Andrew king of Hungary, who fed 900 poor every day, receiving a rich reward in divine favour and grace.

Mystically. Origen says, “He who shuns vainglory calls to a spiritual banquet the poor, that is, the ignorant, that he may enrich them; the weak, that is, those with offended consciences, that he may heal them; the lame, that is, those who have wandered from reason, that he may make their paths straight; the blind, that they may discern the truth.”

Ver. 14.—And thou shalt be blessed, for thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just, when, says the Interlinear, the entertainers of the poor will enter into blessedness.
The neediness of the guests purifies the intention of the host, who expects no return from them, but acts solely out of love to God. Wherefore God, who considers that what is done to the poor is done unto Him, will grant him a bounteous reward, even the everlasting delights of the heavenly banquet, according to the promise, “and I appoint unto you . . . that ye may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom.” S. Luke xxii. 29. Hence S. Chrysostom says, “Let us be troubled not when we receive no return of a kindness, but when we do; for if we have received it, we shall receive nothing more; but if man does not repay us, God, out of love for whom we have acted, will be our recompense.”

Ver. 15.—Blessed is he that shall eat bread in the kingdom of God; i.e., in the resurrection of the just, of which Christ had made mention in the preceding verse.  S. Cyril in the Catena, says, “This man was carnal, for he thought the reward of the saints was to be bodily.” He must therefore have been one of the Pharisees, for they believe in the resurrection, which the Sadducces deny. Acts xxiii. 8. For in heaven God feeds, satisfies, and fills (inebriat) the blessed with all delights. So the Psalmist: “I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with Thy likeness.” Ps. xvii. 15. And again, “They shall be satisfied with the plenteousness of Thy house, and Thou shalt give them drink of Thy pleasures as out of the river.” Ps. xxxvi. 8. This joy S. Augustine describes at length in his Soliloquies and Meditations.

Mystically. “He was sighing for something which was afar off, and the bread itself was lying before him. For who is that Bread of the kingdom of God but He who says, I am the living bread which came down from heaven.” S. John vi 51.

Ver. 16.—Then He said unto him, A certain man made a great supper. This parable is very similar to that recorded by S. Matthew. See commentary on S. Matt. xxii. 2.

But you will ask, What was this supper? 1.Some understand by it, the incarnation of the Word of God, the preaching of His Gospel, and the redemption wrought by Him. For this is the great supper to which Christ, when He became incarnate, invited us.  S. Matthew calls it a dinner. It is a dinner as regards the Church Militant; a supper with respect to the Church Triumphant. In this sense Leonidas addressed his comrades before the battle. “Let us dine, fellow-soldiers, for we shall sup in the nether (or rather the upper) world.” For the Church Militant here on earth is striving eagerly to attain the Church Triumphant in Heaven.

2. S. Cyril, in the Catena, understands the Eucharist by the supper. “The man,” he says, “is God the Father, who has prepared for us a great supper in Christ, for He has given us His own body to eat. Whence the Church makes choice of this parable for the Feast of the Blessed Sacrament.”
3. But in its literal sense, the supper is the happiness and glory of heaven. It is called a supper, because it will be given in the evening, i.e. at the end of the world, when life and its troubles are over: because, also, it will be our only and everlasting refreshment.

The great supper, says S. Gregory (Hom. 36), is the full enjoyment of eternal sweetness; for after it no guest is cast out.

A great. For nothing greater than it can be imagined, since God Himself will be our food and feast. Hence, Euthymius says, “Hereby is signified the unspeakable fruition of God, who will fulfil the utmost expectations of the blessed. For ‘eye hath not seen, nor car heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him.’” 1 Cor. ii. 9.
And bade many: e.g., the whole nation of the Jews, who were the Church and the chosen people of God, and specially their rulers, who were bidden to “repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” S. Matt. iii 2.

Ver. 17.—And sent his servants, &c., i.e., sent the Apostles after the resurrection to say that all things were ready for the heavenly feast.

Ver. 18.—And they all with one consent began to make excuse. The first said unto him, I have bought a piece of ground, &c. The Scribes and Pharisees, and the chief Priests are here clearly indicated; for they, invited by Christ to the Gospel feast, made light of it, because they were so intent on their farms, i.e. their worldly possessions, that they had neither time nor inclination to think about the salvation of their souls. “God,” says S. Gregory (Hom. 36 in Evang.), “offers what ought to have been asked. Unasked, He is ready to give, what we could scarcely dare hope for. He announces that the delights of the eternal feast are ready, and with one consent they make excuse.” “They say, I pray thee, and then disdain to come. The word sounds of humility, but the action is pride.” S. Bernard rightly calls men who seek wealth, pleasure, honour and the like, lunatics. “I once” says he, “saw five men: why should I not look on them as lunatics? For the first, with swollen cheeks, was chewing the sand of the sea-shore. The second, standing by a lake of sulphur, was endeavouring to inhale the foul and noxious vapour which arose therefrom. The third, leaning over a blazing furnace, was enjoying the burning sparks which he received within his gaping jaws. The fourth, seated on a pinnacle of a temple, was drawing in with open mouth the light breezes, and if they seemed to flow less freely he fanned himself, as if in hope of inhaling the whole atmosphere. The fifth, standing aside, was laughing at the others, although himself the most deserving of ridicule, for he was busily engaged in sucking his own flesh, applying now his hands, now his arms, now one part of his body, now another to his mouth.” By these figures S. Bernard pictures the various kinds of sin. The first represents the greedy, the second the lustful, the third those prone to anger, the fourth the ambitious, and the fifth those who boast themselves over much of their possessions and are self-satisfied, who are never content, but ever thirsting for the good things of this world.

Ver. 19.—And another said, I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove them, &c. Another kind of avarice is here described, viz, the desire of possessing oxen, and animals for tillage, or food, or some other purpose; for the riches of the patriarchs lay in their herds. So think Theophylact and Titus. S. Gregory, however (Hom. 36), says, “What are we to understand by the five yoke of oxen but the five senses? which are rightly called yokes, because they are double in the two sexes.”

Ver. 20.—And another said, I have married a wife, &c. What, asks S. Gregory, are we to understand by a wife but carnal gratifications? The Pharisees, like many at the present time, were ensnared by avarice and luxury. These are the thorns which choke the word of God. S. Luke viii. 14.

Let us all then give heed to the warning of S. Paul, and remember that “the fashion of this world passeth away” (1 Cor vii. 31). “For the ‘res temporalis’ consists in possession, and ‘res eterna’ in expectation,” S. Gregory (Hom. 36). Not that marriage is censured here (save so far as it interferes with the work of salvation), says S. Ambrose, but purity is held up to greater honour, for “the love of the things of this world is a fetter to (viscus est) the wings of the spirit.” Gloss.

In carnal things, desire begets satiety, and satiety disgust; but in spiritual things, satiety provokes desire. S. Gregory.

S. Augustine (serm. 33, De Verb. Domini) explains and applies somewhat differently the excuses of the invited guests:

“The piece of ground which was bought denotes government. Therefore pride is the first vice reproved.
“The five yoke of oxen are taken to be the five senses, by means of which earthly things are pursued. For the oxen till the ground; but men at a distance from faith, given up to earthly things, are occupied with carnal matters.

“‘Love not the world, therefore, neither the things that are in the world,’ for ‘the world passeth away, and the lust thereof’ 1 S. John ii. 15, 17. Away then with wicked and vain excuses, and let us come to the supper wherewith we may be inwardly nourished. Let not the lifting up of pride hinder us, neither let lawless curiosity fright us, and turn us away from God. Let not the pleasures of the flesh keep us from the pleasure of the heart. Let us come and be filled.”

Ver. 21.—So that servant came, and shewed his lord these things, &c. We are here taught that Christ chose the outcasts and poor in place of the Priests and Pharisees who had made light of His gospel. According to that which is written, “The publicans and harlots go into the kingdom of God before you.” S. Matt. xxi. 31. And again, “Many that are first shall be last: and the last shall be first.” S. Matt. xix 30.

For albeit that Christ preached from the commencement of His ministry both to the Pharisees and to the multitude, yet the Pharisees, as of higher rank, were the first invited; to preserve the unity of the parable; and also because Christ would have the scribes first, by reason of their position, acknowledge Him, and then be His witnesses amongst the people. But the contrary came to pass. “They,” says Euthymius, “who refused to acknowledge Him, were the chief Priests and rulers of the people, and these, who were chosen in their stead, were the humble and the outcasts of the nation.” For of a truth “God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty.” 1 Cor. i. 27.
Symbolically. S. Augustine says (serm. 34 De Verb. Dom.): Who were those that came, but the poor, and the maimed, and the halt, and the blind? Those who absented themselves were those who thought themselves rich, and robust; who, as it were, could walk well, and see clearly, the hopelessness of whose state was proportionate to their pride.

Let the beggars come to the feast at the invitation of Him who made Himself poor that we might become rich.
Let the weak come, for the physician has no need of those that are whole, but of those that are sick.
Let the lame come and say, “Order my steps in Thy word.”
Let the blind come and say, “Lighten Thou mine eyes, that I sleep not in death.”

These poor and miserable creatures teach us:
1. That none are to be despised, but that salvation in Christ is to be offered to all.
2. That it is easier for the poor to obey the gospel precepts, and therefore to be saved, than for the rich.
3. That we must despair of no one’s salvation, however wretched, blind, or perverse he may be....

Friday, 22 August 2014

St Luke 13:22-35

22 Et ibat per civitates et castella, docens, et iter faciens in Jerusalem. 23 Ait autem illi quidam: Domine, si pauci sunt, qui salvantur? Ipse autem dixit ad illos: 24 Contendite intrare per angustam portam: quia multi, dico vobis, quærent intrare, et non poterunt. 25 Cum autem intraverit paterfamilias, et clauserit ostium, incipietis foris stare, et pulsare ostium, dicentes: Domine, aperi nobis: et respondens dicet vobis: Nescio vos unde sitis: 26 tunc incipietis dicere: Manducavimus coram te, et bibimus, et in plateis nostris docuisti. 27 Et dicet vobis: Nescio vos unde sitis: discedite a me omnes operarii iniquitatis. 28 Ibi erit fletus et stridor dentium: cum videritis Abraham, et Isaac, et Jacob, et omnes prophetas in regno Dei, vos autem expelli foras. 29 Et venient ab oriente, et occidente, et aquilone, et austro, et accumbent in regno Dei. 30 Et ecce sunt novissimi qui erunt primi, et sunt primi qui erunt novissimi.31 In ipsa die accesserunt quidam pharisæorum, dicentes illi: Exi, et vade hinc: quia Herodes vult te occidere. 32 Et ait illis: Ite, et dicite vulpi illi: Ecce ejicio dæmonia, et sanitates perficio hodie, et cras, et tertia die consummor. 33 Verumtamen oportet me hodie et cras et sequenti die ambulare: quia non capit prophetam perire extra Jerusalem. 34 Jerusalem, Jerusalem, quæ occidis prophetas, et lapidas eos qui mittuntur ad te, quoties volui congregare filios tuos quemadmodum avis nidum suum sub pennis, et noluisti? 35 Ecce relinquetur vobis domus vestra deserta. Dico autem vobis, quia non videbitis me donec veniat cum dicetis: Benedictus qui venit in nomine Domini.

[22] And he went through the cities and towns teaching, and making his journey to Jerusalem. [23] And a certain man said to him: Lord, are they few that are saved? But he said to them: [24] Strive to enter by the narrow gate; for many, I say to you, shall seek to enter, and shall not be able. [25] But when the master of the house shall be gone in, and shall shut the door, you shall begin to stand without, and knock at the door, saying: Lord, open to us. And he answering, shall say to you: I know you not, whence you are.[26] Then you shall begin to say: We have eaten and drunk in thy presence, and thou hast taught in our streets. [27] And he shall say to you: I know you not, whence you are: depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity. [28] There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when you shall see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob, and all the prophets, in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrust out. [29] And there shall come from the east and the west, and the north and the south; and shall sit down in the kingdom of God. [30] And behold, they are last that shall be first; and they are first that shall be last.
[31] The same day, there came some of the Pharisees, saying to him: Depart, and get thee hence, for Herod hath a mind to kill thee. [32] And he said to them: Go and tell that fox, Behold, I cast out devils, and do cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I am consummated. [33] Nevertheless I must walk today and tomorrow, and the day following, because it cannot be that a prophet perish, out of Jerusalem. [34] Jerusalem, Jerusalem, that killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent to thee, how often would I have gathered thy children as the bird doth her brood under her wings, and thou wouldest not? [35] Behold your house shall be left to you desolate. And I say to you, that you shall not see me till the time come, when you shall say: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.

Commentary

Ver. 23.—Then said one unto Him, Lord, are there few that be saved? Christ answered in the affirmative that few should be saved, as S. Luke signifies and S. Matt. plainly states, vii. 14. Isaiah speaks to the same effect, x. 22; xxiv. 13. Understand “few” by a comparison of all the inhabitants of the whole world; or of the faithful with the unbelieving, for all the latter are condemned for their unbelief, and equally many of the faithful for their wicked lives. The faithful alone are saved, and not all of these. But whether the greater number of them are saved or lost is the question. Some think that the greater number are saved, through the holy sacraments (which very many of them only receive at the end of their lives). Others think that most are lost because they live in a state of mortal sin. The rule of S. Augustine is that as men have lived, so they die. Of these opinions I have shown which is the true one, on S. James ii. 13, on the words “Mercy rejoiceth against judgment.” The judgment of S. Chrysostom, Homily xl. to the Antiochenes, who numbered 100,000 or more, is formidable. “In our city,” he says, “among so many thousands, scarcely can 100 be found who will be saved, for in the youngers is great wickedness, and in the elders deadness.” And S. Augustine (Bk. iv. ch. 53, against Dresconius) compares the Church to a threshing-floor, on which there is much more chaff than grain, i.e. more reprobate than elect.

Ver 31.—The same day there came certain of the Pharisees, saying, Herod will kill Thee, as he slew John Thy forerunner. Christ seems not to have preached in Galilee at this time, as He had previously left it (Matt. xix.), but in Peræa in Judæa, for Herod ruled over Peræa as well as Galilee. So thinks F. Lucas. Maldonatus and others, however, suppose that these things were done in Galilee, that S. Luke may now insert by recapitulation what had been done there previously, as we find in ver. 24 and chap. ix. 51.

Moreover the Pharisees, by this falsehood, pretended that Herod was hostile to Christ; that they might banish Him from among them, or at least that they might test His freedom and conscience and depress Him by implanting in his mind the fear of Herod, and might thus drive Him out of their country. “Lest,” says Euthymius, “by His presence and miracles He might gain fame and attract a multitude.” And perhaps, when going from Peræa to Judæa, He might fall into the hands of the chief Priests, whom they knew to be contriving His death, as is plain from S. John vii. 20. 25. Herod, indeed, was not opposed to Christ, for he desired to see Him and His miracles, as in chap. ix. 9; nay, he would not condemn Christ when Christ was sent to him by Pilate, but sent Him back to Pilate clad in a white (alba, Vulg., λάμπζος, Greek) robe, as if He were worthy of ridicule and not death, chap. xxiii. So Jansenius, Maldonatus, F. Lucas and others.

Ver.32.—And He said to them. Christ answered the Pharisees freely and loftily when they brought up the fear of Herod. He said that He feared neither Herod, nor the Pharisees, nor the rulers, but He would continue to preach, though against the will of them all, until the day appointed by the Father for His death. He called Herod “a fox,” because he was cunning, crafty, (versipellis) and false, for he killed John the Baptist by fraud and falsehood. Such are heretics the type of whom was Herod, for they seek to kill those who believe, in Christ.

But Christ here rather addresses the Pharisees, and calls them all foxes because they would have instilled a false fear of Herod into His mind, that in flying from Judæa He might be taken by the rulers and put to death. Titus says that “He appears, as some think, to direct the whole force of His words against Herod alone, but He turns them against the wickedness of the Pharisees rather than Herod, for He did not say ‘that fox,’ but ‘this fox.’” In fact, to show that the Pharisees resembled foxes by their pretended fraud, He carefully used a middle term, and, as S. Theophylact says, “with intention,” for by saying “fox” in the singular He, made them think that He meant Herod, but by the addition of the demonstrative pronoun “this,” He signified that they themselves were the crafty ones.

Thus Emmanuel Sà: “The word ‘that’ may apply either to Herod or to him who invented the falsehood that Herod wished to kill Christ; and who must have been one of the Pharisees, the enemies of Christ. The meaning then is, You Pharisees, like crafty and deceitful foxes, would fill Me with the fear of Herod, that I may no longer preach among you; but I forewarn you that I fear neither you nor Herod, nor will I, for any reason, cease to preach; for I am sure that my Father will not suffer Me to be taken and put to death before the day appointed by Him shall have arrived.”

Behold, I cast out devils—I proceed to perform my work against the will not only of Herod but of you—to-day and to-morrow, that is, for some time yet, and the third day, that is, in a short time, when I shall have finished my ministry and preaching, I shall be perfected, i.e. “I shall receive my consummation in a glorious death on the cross, undergone by me willingly and courageously for the salvation of men,” as the Apostle says, Hebrews xi.

Observe the Hebraism by which an indefinite time is put for a definite, as in Hosea vi. 2. So S. Cyril and Theophylact. Euthymius says, “To-day; and therefore to-morrow; that is, for some time yet, though a short one, that is about three months,” for Christ appears to have said this a little before the Feast of Dedication, which is kept upon the 25th of the month Casleu, which answers to part of our November and December, and He was crucified in the following March.

Christ therefore boldly said this to the Pharisees to show, 1. That He feared not death but sought it. 2. To show His Divine Power, by which He would live among men, and teach them, even against their will, as long as the Father and Himself pleased and determined. 3. To increase the vexation of the perverse Pharisees, for they already wished for His destruction.

Christ also calls His death “a consummation,” because in it and by it He consummated the whole œconomy of His Incarnation, and the whole work of the mission on which He was sent by the Father, that is, the expiation of all sins, the redemption of the human race, the salvation of the elect; as in Hebrews x. 14.

Ver. 33.—Nevertheless I must walk. “Must,” says S. Bonaventure, “not from compulsion but from Divine decree.” So S. Cyril, and Titus. Christ repeats this (which He had said in the preceding verse) to show that He was constant in fearing neither Herod nor the Pharisees, and in His determination to preach, against their will, for a short time still, to the day appointed by the Father. The meaning is: “To-day and to-morrow, and the third day following I must walk in the towns and villages, and preach, and on that third day following, that is soon after, be perfected by death on the cross, as I have already said. I now add that on the third day I shall do the same, for although I shall be perfected on this day, yet on this day also I must walk. All the time of my life, even to my death, I must walk in this country, and preach, and work cures, and cast out devils, because I have consecrated my whole life to holy actions, and my death to generous suffering; for I have offered myself to God as a holocaust.” ln Hebrew “to walk” is taken for “to work;” S. John viii. 12., xii. 35; PS. i. 1, and elsewhere. The Syriac has, “I must walk to-day and to-morrow, and on the third day I shall make my journey,” i.e. I shall set out to Jerusalem to my death, and thence to Heaven from which I came.

Morally, the faithful, and especially the apostolic man, may learn to labour strenuously in the Lord’s vineyard even to death and martyrdom, like SS. Peter, Paul, Chrysostom, Athanasius and others. So our own Father Canisius, though worn out by many and great labours, yet ceased not from them until his seventy-seventh year, when he was released at once from them and from his life.

These were his words. “To the soldiers of Christ,” their term of service (stipendia) is not finished till the end of their lives. When they have ended then they begin: death alone gives them their discharge. There is one abode for those who have merited it, heaven. So our own Sacchinus in Bk. iii. of his life: “Let us labour therefore even to death, that after death we may rest for ever in a blessed felicity; for earth is the course (stadium) of a little labour, heaven is the seat of eternal repose.”

For it cannot be that a prophet should perish out of Jerusalem. In the Greek ου̉κ ὲνδέχεται; that is, it is not fitting, it does not happen. “It cannot be done” is read by the Syriac. It is a hyperbole. It means, “Such is the wickedness and barbarity of Jerusalem, that it seems proper to her that the prophets should be killed by herself, nay, she will not suffer this to be done by any other, but takes it amiss if it be. I do not fear Herod therefore, whom you cast up to Me, because I shall not be put to death by him now in Galilee, but some months hence in Jerusalem, the murderess of the prophets, where, not by Herod, but by yourselves, 0 Pharisees, I shall be crucified and slain.” “For they were accustomed,” says S. Theophylact, “to pour out the blood of the servants, even as they poured out that of the Lord Himself.” So Titus, Jansenius, Maldonatus, and F. Lucas. The last named says: “It cannot be that a prophet should be slain outside Jerusalem, he must be slain within it; not because none were slain outside, for Jezebel slew many in Samaria, 1. Kings xviii. 13, xix. 10, but as it was most usual for their slaughter to take place within the walls. For the kings had their abode there, and the rulers, the nobles, the scribes, the wise men, and the Pharisees, holy in their own eyes, who, like the people, would not endure the rebukes and admonitions of the prophets; so that the city was changed from the house of God, into the slaughter-house of the prophets, and professed to be, as it were, their place of torture. We read, 2 Kings xxi. 16, “Manasseh shed innocent blood very much, till he had filled Jerusalem from one end to another.”

In like manner at Rome, in various places, and especially at the Ursus Pileatus, where is now the Church of S. Bibiana, a great number of Christians were slain by the unbelieving Emperors: so that the place obtained the vulgar name of “The Shambles of the Martyrs.” Thus it might then have been said with truth, “It is not possible that a Pope should be killed out of Rome, for almost all the Popes, from S. Peter to Silvester, for 300 years, were put to death by the Emperors at Rome for the faith of Christ.”

Thursday, 21 August 2014

St Luke 13:1-21

St Luke 13:

1 Aderant autem quidam ipso in tempore, nuntiantes illi de Galilæis, quorum sanguinem Pilatus miscuit cum sacrificiis eorum. 2 Et respondens dixit illis: Putatis quod hi Galilæi præ omnibus Galilæis peccatores fuerint, quia talia passi sunt? 3 Non, dico vobis: sed nisi pœnitentiam habueritis, omnes similiter peribitis. 4 Sicut illi decem et octo, supra quos cecidit turris in Siloë, et occidit eos: putatis quia et ipsi debitores fuerint præter omnes homines habitantes in Jerusalem? 5 Non, dico vobis: sed si pœnitentiam non egeritis, omnes similiter peribitis.6 Dicebat autem et hanc similitudinem: Arborem fici habebat quidam plantatam in vinea sua, et venit quærens fructum in illa, et non invenit. 7 Dixit autem ad cultorem vineæ: Ecce anni tres sunt ex quo venio quærens fructum in ficulnea hac, et non invenio: succide ergo illam: ut quid etiam terram occupat? 8 At ille respondens, dicit illi: Domine dimitte illam et hoc anno, usque dum fodiam circa illam, et mittam stercora, 9 et siquidem fecerit fructum: sin autem, in futurum succides eam.10 Erat autem docens in synagoga eorum sabbatis. 11 Et ecce mulier, quæ habebat spiritum infirmitatis annis decem et octo: et erat inclinata, nec omnino poterat sursum respicere. 12 Quam cum videret Jesus, vocavit eam ad se, et ait illi: Mulier, dimissa es ab infirmitate tua. 13 Et imposuit illi manus, et confestim erecta est, et glorificabat Deum. 14 Respondens autem archisynagogus, indignans quia sabbato curasset Jesus, dicebat turbæ: Sex dies sunt in quibus oportet operari: in his ergo venite, et curamini, et non in die sabbati. 15 Respondens autem ad illum Dominus, dixit: Hypocritæ, unusquisque vestrum sabbato non solvit bovem suum, aut asinum a præsepio, et ducit adaquare? 16 Hanc autem filiam Abrahæ, quam alligavit Satanas, ecce decem et octo annis, non oportuit solvi a vinculo isto die sabbati? 17 Et cum hæc diceret, erubescebant omnes adversarii ejus: et omnis populus gaudebat in universis, quæ gloriose fiebant ab eo.18 Dicebat ergo: Cui simile est regnum Dei, et cui simile æstimabo illud? 19 Simile est grano sinapis, quod acceptum homo misit in hortum suum, et crevit, et factum est in arborem magnam: et volucres cæli requieverunt in ramis ejus. 20 Et iterum dixit: Cui simile æstimabo regnum Dei? 21 Simile est fermento, quod acceptum mulier abscondit in farinæ sata tria, donec fermentaretur totum.

And there were present, at that very time, some that told him of the Galileans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. [2] And he answering, said to them: Think you that these Galileans were sinners above all the men of Galilee, because they suffered such things? [3] No, I say to you: but unless you shall do penance, you shall all likewise perish. [4] Or those eighteen upon whom the tower fell in Siloe, and slew them: think you, that they also were debtors above all the men that dwelt in Jerusalem? [5] No, I say to you; but except you do penance, you shall all likewise perish.[6] He spoke also this parable: A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard, and he came seeking fruit on it, and found none. [7] And he said to the dresser of the vineyard: Behold, for these three years I come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and I find none. Cut it done therefore: why cumbereth it the ground? [8] But he answering, said to him: Lord, let it alone this year also, until I dig about it, and dung it. [9] And if happily it bear fruit: but if not, then after that thou shalt cut it down. [10] And he was teaching in their synagogue on their sabbath.[11] And behold there was a woman, who had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years: and she was bowed together, neither could she look upwards at all. [12] Whom when Jesus saw, he called her unto him, and said to her: Woman, thou art delivered from thy infirmity. [13] And he laid his hands upon her, and immediately she was made straight, and glorified God. [14] And the ruler of the synagogue (being angry that Jesus had healed on the sabbath) answering, said to the multitude: Six days there are wherein you ought to work. In them therefore come, and be healed; and not on the sabbath day. [15] And the Lord answering him, said: Ye hypocrites, doth not every one of you, on the sabbath day, loose his ox or his ass from the manger, and lead them to water?[16] And ought not this daughter of Abraham, whom Satan hath bound, lo, these eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the sabbath day? [17] And when he said these things, all his adversaries were ashamed: and all the people rejoiced for all the things that were gloriously done by him. [18] He said therefore: To what is the kingdom of God like, and whereunto shall I resemble it? [19] It is like to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took and cast into his garden, and it grew and became a great tree, and the birds of the air lodged in the branches thereof. [20] And again he said: Whereunto shall I esteem the kingdom of God to be like?[21] It is like to leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened.

Commentary

Ver. 1.—Whose blood Pilate mingled. That is, whom while they were sacrificing in Mount Gerizim in Samaria, Pilate slew. He slew them that their blood might be mingled with the blood of their victims. Josephus relates the whole at length (Antiq., book xviii. chap. 7), as also does Hegesippus on the destruction of Jerusalem. Josephus says, “A certain impostor incited the people to assemble on Mount Gerizim, a mountain which they held very sacred, by the promise of shewing them certain vessels which Moses had deposited there and he had dug up. They credulously took arms and occupied the village Tirathaba, awaiting the arrival of others that they might ascend the mountain in force. But Pilate seized it before them, and held it with cavalry and foot soldiers. These attacked the Samaritans in the village, killing some and putting the rest to flight. He also took many prisoners, the chief and most powerful of whom he put to death...

This sect arose about the time of Christ. Hence Christ and the Apostles, being Galileans by nation, were accused of the same, and they therefore carefully taught in opposition that tribute ought to be given to kings and to Cæsar, even if Gentiles...They related this to Christ and asked His opinion of the matter, but, Christ made a wise use of this occasion, and drew from it an argument to rouse them to repentance, lest a similar vengeance should fall upon them. The preacher should follow this example, and when public slaughter, pest, famine, or wars befall, exhort his people to repentance, that they may escape such inflictions and, with them, the torments of Gehenna.

Ver. 2.—And Jesus answering said unto them, Suppose ye, &c. They did suppose this, but wrongly, for God often corrects those who sin less heavily, to make them an example and a terror to others, and so incite them to penitence. So Bede, Titus, and others.

Ver. 3.—I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish. “Likewise”—that is, by a similar death, none excepted, says Maldonatus; and so Wisdom vi 8: “He hath made the small and great, and careth for all alike. For He cares for all without exception, though for some more and for others less.” Secondly, and more simply, You shall equally perish, though by another kind of death, by an eternal instead of a temporal one, or even by a temporal. Thirdly, and properly, Jansenius says, “By a similar death; the destruction and vengeance of God.” For the Jews were besieged by Titus at the time of the Passover, when they were sacrificing; and, when the city was taken, many were slain in the temple, where they were sacrificing, and accustomed to sacrifice. So Euthymius,  S. Thomas, Hugo, N. de Lyra, S. Cyril in the Catena.

Observe that Christ here teaches us, in like calamities, to give our minds to the thought of our sins, and to repentance, that we fall not into the like punishments of God.

Symbolically, Bede says that Pilate means, the mouth of the hammerer, (os malleatoris) that is, the Devil, who is always ready to destroy. “Blood”—that is, sin and concupiscence. The sacrifices are good actions which the Devil, either for the delight of the flesh, or from the ambition of human praise, or some other evil motive, pollutes.

Ver. 4.—Or of those eighteen upon whom the tower of Siloam fell. There was a fountain, or rather pool, near Jerusalem of which Isaiah speaks, “This people refuses the waters of Shiloah that go softly,” viii. 6. Near this fountain was a tower also called Siloë, from it, which in the time of Christ fell down, either from the force of the wind, or from lightning, or an earthquake, or some other like cause, and destroyed eighteen persons who were either in it, or standing near. This, if we only regard secondary causes, may have happened by chance; but if we consider the one primary one, that is, God, it was done by His appointed Providence, who determines to punish some and to terrify others. For with God nothing is fortuitous, but everything is certainly foreseen and prepared, that nothing in His Kingdom should, as Boethius says, be ascribed to chance or temerity. God, then, orders these events for the chastisement and correction of man, that others, seeing their neighbours killed by the fall of a tower or some other sudden accident, may fear lest something similar happen to themselves, and so may repent and reconcile themselves to God, lest they be overwhelmed by His judgments and condemned to Gehenna. This is what God said by the prophet Amos, “Shall there be evil in the city, and the Lord hath not done it?” iii. 6; and by Isaiah, “I form the light and create darkness, I make peace and create evil” xlv. 7. The poets and philosophers saw the same through a shade:
—0 qui res hominumque Deumque, 
Æternis regis imperiis, et fulmine terres.

“0 Thou who dost the affairs 
Of men and gods, by laws eternal rule, 
And by thy lightning fierce dost terrify.”

And Plutarch (In Moral.), “As if a blind man should fall against a person, and call that person blind for not avoiding him, so we make Fortune blind, whereas we stumble against her from our own want of sight. For this very ‘Fortuna fortunans,’ which is, in truth, no other than God Himself, and the Providence of God is most keen of sight, and has many more eyes than Argus.”

Symbolically. “The tower,” says Bede, “is Christ, Siloë, that is, He who is sent by the Father into the world, and who crushes to powder all the wicked upon whom He falls, through the sentence of His condemnation.”

Think ye that they were sinners above all men that dwelt in Jerusalem? “Sinners”—the Arabic has culpabiles; the Chaldaic, chare bim, i.e. debtors (for a debtor owes his soul, that is 10,000 talents, S. Matt. xviii. 24, to God). Christ shows clearly that these eighteen who were killed by the fall of the tower of Siloam, were sinners, though not, perhaps, the worst and greatest that were in Jerusalem.

Ver. 5.—I tell you, Nay; but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish. “This shows,” says S. Chrysostom, “that these eighteen were appointed as an example and terror to the others; though each was punished for his own sins. This was made wholesome matter for others, that the fool might be made wiser by the event. For God does not punish all here, but He leaves a time for repentance. Again, he does not leave all for a future punishment, lest many should deny His Providence.”

Verses 6, 7.—He spake also this parable. “Cumbereth”—the Greek is κατάζγει, that is, loads with a useless burthen, nay, renders the ground barren and fruitless, as well by its shade as by its roots, which keep the earth’s moisture from the other trees. The Syriac says, “keeps it idle;” for άζγον, is idle, inert, devoid of strength.

In the letter the fig-tree represents the synagogue of the Jews, which God planted through Moses; to which Christ came by the Incarnation, to cultivate it by His preaching. Christ, therefore, is the keeper of the vine, that is, of the synagogue, to whom God said, “Cut it down, for now for three years in which Thou hast preached to it, I have looked for the fruit of faith and good works, and I find none, from the unbelief, perverseness, and malice of the Jews.” Christ intercedes for it, that the Father would allow Him to tend it by His preaching for one year more, or, at least, for half an one; and then, if it gave no fruit, it might be cut down. So it came to pass: for the Jews, in the fourth year of Christ’s preaching, at the Passover, adding sin to sin, and becoming more and more perverse, crucified Him; so that, a few years after, Titus was sent by God as His avenger, and took Jerusalem, and destroyed all Judæa. What remains are additions belonging to the finish of the parable, which it is unnecessary to apply to what is signified by it.

S. Ambrose observes, that the fig-tree is an apt symbol of the Synagogue: first, because it was a tree with abundance of leaves, but which disappointed its owner in his hope of fruit. Secondly, while the doctors of the Synagogue were fruitless of good works and boasted only of words like redundant leaves, the vain shadow of the law flourished exuberantly, but the false hope of the expected produce deceived the prayers of the people.

Secondly, as the fig puts out a green, that is an immature, fig (grossum) instead of blossoms, which soon falls, and then produces a savoury and solid fruit, so the Synagogue firstly put forth the Jews, like green and evanescent fruit, and then, through Christ, gave Christians, like mature and savoury figs. So Pliny, viii 7, “Figs are produced late, if the green fruit, when exceeding the size of a bean, are taken away, for then are produced figs that ripen later.”

Tropologically. The fig is any individual person, especially a believer; the gardener is Christ, the Apostles, and the like; the Lord is God the Father, or the Holy Trinity. Our own Salmeron (tom. vii., tract 21), gives various reasons and analogies, why the faithful are compared to a fig. 1. The fig produces sweet fruit, which seems to be purses of honey and sugar, and the righteous produce the like. 2. As the fig tree increases little in height but is always short, so the righteous cast themselves down, and humble themselves. 3. The fig, instead of blossoms, gives fruit, and that twice; namely, the early ripe in the summer, and in the autumn the later—for the fig bears twice a year, as the righteous is ever plentifully bringing forth the fruit of good works. 4. As the fig makes a shade with its ample leaves, so the righteous defends and protects others by his charity. 5. The fig is never grafted, into another tree, because of its exceeding sweetness, which cannot leave it. So the righteous rests in no man, but in God alone and his own conscience. 6. The, fig tree, if stripped of its bark, gives no fruit, but withers away; and .the righteous, unless protected by the bark of honest conversation, modesty, and outward decency, will bring no fruit with his neighbours. 7. The fig has medical properties, and heals diseases, as Isaiah healed Hezekiah by means of a fig (Isa. xxxviii. 21). Pliny also says that the fig alone, of trees, has medical virtues. So the righteous, because he is perfect and mature in virtue, ministers to the infirmities of others, by teaching, advising, and living holily. He adds that lopping and pruning it remedies its too great luxuriousness; as the righteous by circumcising and cutting off the desire of honour above, and the appetites of the senses below, by meditations on death and burial, is rendered fruitful in virtue and good works, and converts many of his neighbours to God.

Behold these three years I come seeking fruit. This alludes to the nature of the fig tree, which sometimes gives fruit in its third year. If not then, it commonly does not give it at all.

Symbolically, these three years, according to Euthymius, signify the three policies or political status of the Jews, under the judges, Kings, and the High Priests, namely the Maccabees. St. Ambrose says “He came to Abraham, He came to Moses, He came to Mary; that is, He came in circumcision, He came in the Law, He came in the body. We acknowledge His Advent from His benefits to us. In the first, Purification; in the second, Sanctification; in the third, justification—Circumcision purified, the Law sanctified, Grace justified—one in all, and all in one; no one can he cleansed but one who fears God: no one deserves to receive the Law but one who is purified from sin: no one comes to Grace but he who knows the Law.” So also St. Cyril: “God sought the nature of the human race before the Law, under the Law, and under Grace by waiting, admonishing, visiting; but some are not corrected by the natural law, nor taught by precept, nor converted by miracle.”

Tropologically, these three years, says Theophylact, are the three ages of man—childhood; full manhood; and old age. For every one ought at all times to bring forth the fruits of virtue to God, as is fitting and proportionate to every age. God, who would have no age of man idle, requires these of every one.

And He, namely, the dresser of the Vine, Christ and the Apostles, answering said unto him. Christ and the Apostles, says the Interlineator, knowing that some of the Jews could be saved, pray God to delay the avenging of the Lord’s cross, that is, the destruction of Jerusalem by Titus.
And if it bear fruit. Understand, “It shall be well, it shall be safe, and it shall be saved.” It is an aposiopesis. The Arabic adds, “For it has brought forth fruit.” The Synagogue formerly gave fruit under Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, David, and others.

And if not, then after that thou shall cut it down. As God cut down the Jews by the Romans.

Mystically, S. Augustine (De Verb. Dom.) says: “He who intercedes is all holy; who, within the Church, prays for those who are without.” To dig about the conscience is to teach humility and patience, and to engraft on the mind the consideration of heaven and heavenly things, lest, as S. Ambrose says, the heap overwhelm the root of earthly wisdom and of earthly desires and hide it from view.

And dung it. This is, as S. Ambrose says, the feeling of humility, and S. Augustine (De Verb. Dom.): “Dung is filth, but it causes fruitfulness. The filth of the vine-dresser is the grief of the sinner.” And S. Gregory, “Dung is the sins of the flesh, from which the mind is roused to good works.”...


Wednesday, 20 August 2014

St Luke 12:35-59

The final section of Chapter 12:

35 Sint lumbi vestri præcincti, et lucernæ ardentes in manibus vestris, 36 et vos similes hominibus exspectantibus dominum suum quando revertatur a nuptiis: ut, cum venerit et pulsaverit, confestim aperiant ei. 37 Beati servi illi quos, cum venerit dominus, invenerit vigilantes: amen dico vobis, quod præcinget se, et faciet illos discumbere, et transiens ministrabit illis. 38 Et si venerit in secunda vigilia, et si in tertia vigilia venerit, et ita invenerit, beati sunt servi illi. 39 Hoc autem scitote, quoniam si sciret paterfamilias, qua hora fur veniret, vigilaret utique, et non sineret perfodi domum suam. 40 Et vos estote parati: quia qua hora non putatis, Filius hominis veniet.41 Ait autem ei Petrus: Domine, ad nos dicis hanc parabolam, an et ad omnes? 42 Dixit autem Dominus: Quis, putas, est fidelis dispensator, et prudens, quem constituit dominus supra familiam suam, ut det illis in tempore tritici mensuram? 43 Beatus ille servus quem, cum venerit dominus, invenerit ita facientem. 44 Vere dico vobis, quoniam supra omnia quæ possidet, constituet illum. 45 Quod si dixerit servus ille in corde suo: Moram facit dominus meus venire: et cœperit percutere servos, et ancillas, et edere, et bibere, et inebriari: 46 veniet dominus servi illius in die qua non sperat, et hora qua nescit, et dividet eum, partemque ejus cum infidelibus ponet. 47 Ille autem servus qui cognovit voluntatem domini sui, et non præparavit, et non facit secundum voluntatem ejus, vapulabit multis: 48 qui autem non cognovit, et fecit digna plagis, vapulabit paucis. Omni autem cui multum datum est, multum quæretur ab eo: et cui commendaverunt multum, plus petent ab eo.49 Ignem veni mittere in terram, et quid volo nisi ut accendatur? 50 Baptismo autem habeo baptizari: et quomodo coarctor usque dum perficiatur? 51 Putatis quia pacem veni dare in terram? non, dico vobis, sed separationem: 52 erunt enim ex hoc quinque in domo una divisi, tres in duos, et duo in tres 53 dividentur: pater in filium, et filius in patrem suum, mater in filiam, et filia in matrem, socrus in nurum suam, et nurus in socrum suam.54 Dicebat autem et ad turbas: Cum videritis nubem orientem ab occasu, statim dicitis: Nimbus venit: et ita fit. 55 Et cum austrum flantem, dicitis: Quia æstus erit: et fit. 56 Hypocritæ! faciem cæli et terræ nostis probare: hoc autem tempus quomodo non probatis? 57 quid autem et a vobis ipsis non judicatis quod justum est? 58 Cum autem vadis cum adversario tuo ad principem, in via da operam liberari ab illo, ne forte trahat te ad judicem, et judex tradat te exactori, et exactor mittat te in carcerem. 59 Dico tibi, non exies inde, donec etiam novissimum minutum reddas.

 [35] Let your loins be girt, and lamps burning in your hands.[36] And you yourselves like to men who wait for their lord, when he shall return from the wedding; that when he cometh and knocketh, they may open to him immediately. [37] Blessed are those servants, whom the Lord when he cometh, shall find watching. Amen I say to you, that he will gird himself, and make them sit down to meat, and passing will minister unto them. [38] And if he shall come in the second watch, or come in the third watch, and find them so, blessed are those servants. [39] But this know ye, that if the householder did know at what hour the thief would come, he would surely watch, and would not suffer his house to be broken open. [40] Be you then also ready: for at what hour you think not, the Son of man will come.[41] And Peter said to him: Lord, dost thou speak this parable to us, or likewise to all? [42] And the Lord said: Who (thinkest thou) is the faithful and wise steward, whom his lord setteth over his family, to give them their measure of wheat in due season? [43] Blessed is that servant, whom when his lord shall come, he shall find so doing. [44] Verily I say to you, he will set him over all that he possesseth. [45] But if that servant shall say in his heart: My lord is long a coming; and shall begin to strike the menservants and maidservants, and to eat and to drink and be drunk:[46] The lord of that servant will come in the day that he hopeth not, and at the hour that he knoweth not, and shall separate him, and shall appoint him his portion with unbelievers. [47] And that servant who knew the will of his lord, and prepared not himself, and did not according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. [48] But he that knew not, and did things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. And unto whomsoever much is given, of him much shall be required: and to whom they have committed much, of him they will demand the more. [49] I am come to cast fire on the earth; and what will I, but that it be kindled? [50] And I have a baptism wherewith I am to be baptized: and how am I straitened until it be accomplished?
[51] Think ye, that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, no; but separation. [52] For there shall be from henceforth five in one house divided: three against two, and two against three. [53] The father shall be divided against the son, and the son against his father, the mother against the daughter, and the daughter against the mother, the mother in law against her daughter in law, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. [54] And he said also to the multitudes: When you see a cloud rising from the west, presently you say: A shower is coming: and so it happeneth: [55] And when ye see the south wind blow, you say: There will be heat: and it cometh to pass.[56] You hypocrites, you know how to discern the face of the heaven and of the earth: but how is it that you do not discern this time? [57] And why even of yourselves, do you not judge that which is just? [58] And when thou goest with thy adversary to the prince, whilst thou art in the way, endeavour to be delivered from him: lest perhaps he draw thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the exacter, and the exacter cast thee into prison. [59] I say to thee, thou shalt not go out thence, until thou pay the very last mite.

Commentary (de Lapide)

Verses 35, 36.—Let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning; and ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their lord when he will return from the wedding. The Syriac says, “Let your loins be girded and your lamps burning.” So the Arabic, Egyptian, Æthiopic and Persian. Christ had said that it pleased the Father to give them the kingdom. Sell therefore what you possess, and give alms, that you may, by this means, purchase this kingdom. He now urges them diligently to prepare for it as being at hand, and girding their loins, and casting aside every care, to enter upon and take possession of it. That is, Be you prepared and furnished with all graces, and good works, and merits, especially almsgiving and contempt of riches, that when Christ our Lord from heaven, and His heavenly marriage and joys, returns to you in death to judge your souls, you may meet Him and be found worthy by Him of heaven, and be brought thither by Him. He alludes to the Eastern custom as among the Hebrews and Syrians, of wearing long robes, which they used to tuck up when travelling or at work, that they might not be in their way. (1 Kings xviii. 46; Tobit v. 5.)

Mystically. We gird our loins when we restrain the luxury of the flesh by abstinence (continentiam), says S, Gregory (Hom. xiii.), and S. Augustine (Serm. xxxix. de Verb. Dom.), S. Basil on Isa. xv., Bede, and others. Chrysologus (serm. xxiv.) says, “He commands us to gird our loins by the belt of purity, and to bind our whole body in the zone of virtue, that we may go forth quickly and expeditiously to meet our Lord at His coming.”

We may either unite the two verses 35 and 36 into one, with Maldonatus, making them contain one and the same parable, or we may disjoin them like Jansenius so as to make them contain two—one, the lamps burning; the other, the servants expecting their lord from the wedding.

Hence this sentence is differently explained by different persons, for those who gird themselves are divers—workmen, ministers, travellers, messengers, soldiers, porters, eremites, and their girdles are divers. Workmen are girt with the girdle of labour—ministers, of their ministry—travellers and messengers, of the road—soldiers, of warfare, whose is the girdle of hardness—porters, of constancy and patience—eremites, of abstinence, mortification, and penance.

Firstly, Of labourers girding their loins to their work, Theophylact speaks thus: “Be your loins girded;” that is, be ye ready in all ways for the work of your Lord, “and your lamps burning in your hands;“—that is, labour not in the dark and without judgment, but take the light of the word, which will show you what is and what is not to be done—for this world is night.” So Euthymius and Titus, meaning, “Be you ready to every good work.”

Secondly, Of those who minister to Christ and those who are poor through almsgiving (to which the words immediately preceding apply) some explain it as follows—Gird up your loins, that you may be swift and nimble to minister to Christ and His poor. On this subject there is related a notable vision in the life of John the almsgiver, who was always very ready to give to any one who asked aims of him (chap. xxix.), when a certain noble was slower than usual in giving a loan, he was taught by a vision of a hundred-fold remuneration to be quicker.

Thirdly, Of travellers girding up their loins for a journey. Some explain it thus: Gird up your loins, that you may be expeditious on your journey to heaven, from which the Word has gone before, for a grand way to it remains for you. S. Peter, Epist. 1, chap. I, 13-15, alludes to the exodus (hence called Pasch) of the Israelites. from Egypt into the promised land, which was a figure of the saints passing from earth into heaven. For God thus commanded and directed the Hebrews in the eating of the paschal lamb which was to be sacrificed for their happy journey. “Thus shall ye eat it, with your loins girded, your shoes on your feet and your staff in your hand” (as if girded to begin a journey), “and ye shall eat it in haste: it is the Lord’s passover.” The same has to be done by Christians in mystery. See what I have said thereon.

Fourthly, Messengers and legates gird their loins that they may be the swifter in performing their office. The angels who are the messengers of God, are therefore painted with their loins girded to show that they are swift and nimble to perform the commandments of God; according to the words, “Who maketh His angels winds, and His ministers a flame of fire.” Heb. i. 7. Christ therefore says, “0 ye apostles and disciples, gird ye your loins, that you may be my messengers throughout the whole world—proclaiming the faith of the Gospel to Greeks, Romans, Italians, Gauls, Spaniards, Indians, Brazilians, Japanese, Chinese, &c. Behold I send you: Go ye therefore, eagerly, swiftly, and ardently like angels,” as Isaiah, “Go ye swift messengers to a nation scattered and peeled ” xviii. 2, and lii. 7, which S. Paul cites to the Romans, x. 15, “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace.”

Fifthly, Soldiers and athletes gird their loins that they may fight with more strength and courage. So do you also, 0 Christians, gird your loins with the girdle of strength and fortitude, that as ministers of Christ you may fight boldly against the devil, the flesh, and the world, and conquer and triumph, as S. Paul to the Ephesians, “Stand therefore, having girded your loins with truth and having put on the breastplate of righteousness.” On which I have commented at length. David also: “Thou hast girded me with strength unto the battle,” Ps. xviii 39 and Job, “Gird up now thy loins like a man” xxxviii. 3; and Ex. xii. II, “Your loins girded,” for they went armed as to take possession of the promised land. Hence Origen (Hom. ix. in lib. Judic.) thinks that allusion is here made to the army of Gideon who went up girded against the Midianites (Judg. vii.).

Sixthly, The porters, that they may be strong to carry heavy burthens, gird their loins. So, 0 ye faithful, do ye gird your loins with the girdle of patience that you may bear all adverse accidents with nobleness. So Cyril, in the Catena, “Be ye prompt to bear misfortunes.”

Seventhly, The continent, that they may overcome the flesh and resist with success all the wicked incitements of lust, gird themselves with the girdle of continence, that is of self-abnegation and mortification, by which they reject all the wicked desires that are continually arising from concupiscence—and refuse them, and mortify them, and cut them off. So Simeon the Stylite. He tortured himself to such a degree by a knotted cord that the head (præfectus) of his monastery undid it, and dismissed him from the monastery, lest the weaker brethren should endeavour to follow his example, and from their failure become a disgrace. We have this from his disciple S. Antony, and from Theodoret, in their lives of him.

And your lamps burning. Christ, commanded us to be ready, with loins girt, for good works, and for our passage to heaven. He now fitly requires our lamps to be burning, for these are needed by night whether for work or for taking a journey. For this, our life is a mystical night, and is full of ignorance, errors, and the darkness of concupiscence; so that we have need of light and lighted lamps, that we travel on in that night and perform our work. He alludes especially to the marriage feast, which was celebrated at night with torches. That is, as in the night-time the servants await their lord on his return from his marriage with lighted torches, and go before him, so do ye watch and await me as I return to you from heaven by death, and go before me with spiritual torches, for you know not the day and hour of your death and the coming of Christ to judgment. If you know this you will be prepared and expect Him every hour, for so the virgins with their lamps lighted await the bridegroom. Matt. xxv. This parable of Luke is mostly the same as that of Matthew.

If it be asked what the lighted lamps signify, Theophylact answers, “Firstly, they signify that we ought to have the light of reason and discretion to distinguish what we ought to do and how we ought to do it; and secondly, we should have faith, burning with love and fervour of spirit, for this will show us what to do and what to avoid, will urge us to lofty acts of virtue and incite us to teach others the way of faith and salvation, and inspire them with the love of God, and not suffer any to live in the darkness of ignorance and sin.” So S. Augustine (serm. xxxix.) on the words of the Lord; and so S. Jerome, or whoever is the author, on Jeremiah i., who says, “that to hold a lamp in the hand is the same as to preach the Gospel.”

Mystically. “These things” says Cœlestine, “have their own mysteries. For in the girding of the loins is shown purity: in the staff, pastoral rule; in the lighted lamps, the brightness of good works” (Epist. ii ad Episc. Gall.) S. Gregory also, in his 13th homily, understands by the shining lamps, good examples. We hold lighted lamps in our hands, he says, when by our good works we show examples of light to our neighbours. Two things are commanded us, to have our loins girded and our lamps lighted, as are innocence and purity of body, and the light of truth in our actions, for purity is of little value without a good life, or a good act without chastity.

S. Augustine again (Lib. ii. Quæst. Evan.): “Girt loins means abstinence from secular affairs, lighted lamps, the doing of the same thing with a true object and right intention.” “The lighted lamps,” says S. Maximus, “are prayer, contemplation, and spiritual love.” Lastly, Origen (Hom. 9 on Judges) thinks that allusion is here made to the torches of the army of Gideon, and that as their sudden discovery terrified the Midianites, so the apostles and martyrs, when their bodies had been shattered and broken by martyrdom, began to shine forth by their miracles, by which the persecutors were put to flight, and thus their doctrine and holiness shone throughout the world. As is clearly explained by Bede in his questions on the book of Judges, and Gregory at length, 30 Moral. chap. xxxii, and following; see Judges vii.

In your hands. These words are not found in the Greek, Syriac, and Arabic; nor in the Greek Fathers, Origen, Clement, Cyril, Chrysostom, S. Basil, Titus; nor in the Latins,  S. Ambrose, Cyprian, Hilary, and Augustine (Serm. xxxix.) But S. Gregory has them in his 13th Homily, Irenæus (lib. iv. cap. 72), and S. Jerome, on Eph. xvi. and Jer. i., as also the codices of the Holy Scriptures, corrected at Rome. “In your hands,” therefore, means in your possession, that they may shed light on your works. Again, it means, that with their lamps in their hands they should go as His servants to meet Christ their Lord. From these words of Christ has arisen the custom of placing in the hands of the faithful, when in their last agony, lighted and blessed candles of wax, to show that they are going to meet Christ with faith and burning love and to excite them to it. So Amalarius, Rabanus and others who have written on Ecclesiastical Offices.

S. Cyril adds, in his fourth book on Worshipping in Spirit and in Truth, “Having your feet shod;” but no other has it, and therefore  S. Cyril seems to have inadvertently copied it from S. Paul, Eph. vi. 15.
Ver. 36.—And be ye yourselves like unto men looking for their lord. This is the third precept of Christ, or rather the third part of the same precept. The first was to have their loins girt, the second to have their lights shining, the third to look for their lord. The first two are referred to this. The meaning is, Be you so prepared and ready as servants who expect their lord by night, that is, watchful, with loins girt and lamps burning. Hence Maldonatus thinks that this parable is one and identical, but consisting of three parts. Jansenius thinks that it is diverse; but it comes to the same thing, for, as I have said, this is another and the third part of the parable to which the other two tend and are directed. “They await their lord” says Toletus, “as those who, thinking themselves strangers, burn with the desire for Christ, and frequently, nay, continually think of Him—have their minds fixed on Him; for His love and hope bear adversity and all kinds of calamities with patience; fear to offend Him as having Him at length come to them, before their eyes; despise without difficulty whatever does not make for His coming; delight in whatever they know to be pleasing to Him; hold temporal things of small account because of their hope of eternal ones.”

Symbolically, The above words, “Let your loins be girded and your lamps burning, and be ye yourselves like unto men looking for their lord,” teach us (1.) That here we are as strangers journeying on to the heavenly kingdom. (2.) That we ought to outshine all others in virtue. (3.) That we should fix our hopes on the heavens, according to the words of 1 S. Peter ii. 11, 12, and 1 i. 13.

Again, S. Augustine (serm. 39 de Verbis Domini), asserts that these are the three subjects on which S. Paul exhorted Felix (Acts xxiv.) “Paul,” he says, “taught continence, justice, and eternal life, for in these is contained the sum of the evangelical life.” Secondly, in them are shown the three duties of the apostolic life: Firstly; the loins girded show that the Apostles were sent by Christ to preach the gospel through the whole world, and also to contend against all evil spirits, tyrannical rulers, unbelievers, and vices, according to the words of S. Luke, “I have given you authority to tread upon serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy.” Secondly, The burning lamps shew those who ought to illuminate the world by their doctrine and preaching, according to the words, “Ye are the light of the world,” Matt. v. 14. Thirdly, “Be like unto men looking for their lord.” This signifies those who ought to despise and tread under foot this present world and all things belonging to it, and to lead a heavenly and divine life, that their minds and hearts may be fixed on heaven, as in Phil. iii. 20, “Our citizenship is in heaven.” S. Paul adds the result, the fruit, and the reward: “From whence also we wait for a Saviour the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall fashion anew the body of our humiliation, that it may be conformed to the body of His glory.” That is, We despise earthly things, we seek for heavenly ones, because we look with a certain hope for Christ, who shall beautify and make us glorious for ever. So Toletus.

These three things the early Christians always kept rooted in their minds, who as strangers upon earth and citizens of heaven willingly poured out their wealth, their honours, their pleasures, their very present life itself for Christ, because they surely looked for the coming of the Lord Christ after this short life, and for a happy and eternal one to be given to them by Him, which indeed is true wisdom and prudence. We may see this in the Pontiffs, Virgins, Roman Martyrs for three hundred years, from S. Peter to Silvester, all of whom rejoiced in ceaseless persecutions, rejoiced to be spoiled of their goods, to be imprisoned, scourged, slain, burnt, that they might enjoy (possess) Christ in heaven. Eminent amongst others was S. Cecilia, who, when flourishing in youth, beauty, wealth, nobility, of her own will most gladly gave up all things for Christ and even her life itself, in the midst of wondering, pitying, and lamenting friends, and went joyfully and exultingly to the place of martyrdom, saying, “This is not to lose my youth but to change it; this is to give clay and receive in return gold; to give a vile and miserable hovel and receive a palace most spacious, lofty, and magnificent, built of precious stones and gold; to give a perishable thing and receive one that knows no end and is subject to no death:” and soon after, “Our Lord Jesus Christ does not give pound for pound, but what He gives as a simple sum He returns a hundredfold, and adds besides eternal life.” Thus is it in her Acts.

The life of a Christian then should be nothing but one looking for the coming of Christ, that He may deliver him from this life, which is so vile and miserable and subject to so many fears and perils, and bring him to His own kingdom in the heavens and to eternal life. And hence the prophets and Paul teach everywhere that the faithful ought to live in such holiness and contempt of the things of this world, as to look eagerly and with avidity to the coming of Christ. So the patriarch Jacob when dying and longing for the coming of Christ, “I have waited for Thy salvation, 0 Lord,” Gen. xlix. 18; and Job. “All the days of my appointed time I will wait till my change come,” xiv. 14; and the Psalms, “I have waited patiently for the Lord,” xl. 1, and “Wait on the Lord, be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart, wait, I say, on the Lord,” xxvil. i4 (Bib. version). Isa. viii. 17, “I will wait upon the Lord;” and xxv. 9, “We have waited for Him, and He will save us. This is the Lord, we have waited for Him, we will be glad and rejoice in His salvation.” Jeremiah, Lam. iii. 24, “The Lord is my portion, therefore will I wait for Him;” Micah vii. 7, “I will look unto the Lord, I will wait for the God of my salvation.” So Joseph of Arimathæa, despising all fear of the Jews, buried Christ because he was looking, for the kingdom of God,” Luke xxiii. 51. S. Paul to the Romans, “The earnest expectation of the creation waiteth for the revealing of the sons of God,” viii. 19; and 23, “Ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for our redemption, to wit, the redemption of our body;” Gal. v. 5, “We wait for the hope of righteousness;” Phil iii. 20, “We wait for a Saviour;” Titus ii. 12, 13, “We should live soberly and righteously and godly in this present world, looking for the blessed hope and appearing of the glory of our great God;” 2 S. Peter iii. 11, “Seeing that these things are thus all to be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be, in all holy living and godliness, looking for and earnestly desiring the coming of the day of God? ” and ver. 13, 14, “But according to His promise we look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness. Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for these things, give diligence that ye may be found in peace without spot and blameless in His sight.” Climacus (de gradu) says, “He is righteous who fears not death; he is holy and perfect who daily expects it.” So S. Francis expected the Lord when he recited, as he was dying, the words of the Psalm, “The righteous shall compass me about, for Thou shalt deal righteously with me” (Ps. cxlii 7), and so died....