|CATHOLIC SAINTS INDEX
Catena Aurea by St. Thomas Aquinas
1. And as he went out of the temple, one of his disciples saith unto him, Master, see what manner of stones and what buildings are here!
2. And Jesus answering said unto him, Seest thou these great buildings? there shall not be left one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.
BEDE. (in Marc. lib. iv. 42) Because after the founding of the Church of Christ, Judæa was to be punished for her treachery, the Lord fitly, after praising the devotedness of the Church in the person of the poor widow, goes out of the temple, and foretold its coming ruin, and the contempt in which the buildings now so wonderful were soon to be held, wherefore it is said, And as he went out of the temple, one of his disciples saith unto him, Master, see what manner of stones and what buildings are here!
THEOPHYLACT. For, since the Lord had spoken much concerning the destruction of Jerusalem, His disciples wondered, that such numerous and beautiful buildings were to be destroyed; and this is the reason why they point out the beauty of the temple, and He answers not only that they were to be destroyed, but also that one stone should not be left upon another: wherefore it goes on: And Jesus answering said unto him, Seest thou these great buildings? there shall not be left one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down. Now some may endeavour to prove that Christ’s words were false, by saying that many ruins were left, but this is not at all the point; for though some ruins had been left, still at the consummation of all things one stone shall not be left upon another. Besides it is related, that Ælius Adrian overturned the city and the temple from the foundation, so that the word of the Lord here spoken was fulfilled.
BEDE. (ubi sup.) But it was ordered by Divine power that after that the grace of the faith of the Gospel was made known through the world, the temple itself with its ceremonies should be taken away; lest perchance some one weak in the faith, if he saw that these things which had been instituted by God still remained, might by degrees drop from the sincerity of the faith, which is in Christ Jesus, into carnal Judaism.
PSEUDO-JEROME. Here also the Lord enumerates to His disciples the destruction of the last time, that is of the temple, with the people, and its letter; of which one stone shall not be left upon another, that is, no testimony of the Prophets upon those, to whom the Jews perversely applied them, that is, on Ezra, Zerubbabel, and the Maccabees.
BEDE. (ubi sup.) Again, when the Lord left the temple, all the edifice of the law and the framework of the commandments were destroyed, so that nothing could be filled up by the Jews; and now that the head has been taken away, all the limbs fight one against the other.
3. And as he sat upon the mount of Olives over against the temple, Peter and James and John and Andrew asked him privately,
4. Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign when all these things shall be fulfilled?
5. And Jesus answering them began to say, Take heed lest any man deceive you:
6. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.
7. And when ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars, be ye not troubled: for such things must needs be; but the end shall not be yet.
8. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be earth-quakes in divers places, and there shall be famines and troubles: these are the beginnings of sorrows.
BEDE. (ubi sup.) Because the Lord, when some were praising the buildings of the temple, had plainly answered that all these were to be destroyed, the disciples privately enquired about the time and the signs of the destruction which was foretold; wherefore it is said: And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, over against the temple, Peter and James and John and Andrew asked him privately, Tell us when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign when all these things shall be fulfilled. The Lord sits upon the mount of Olives, over against the temple, when He discourses upon the ruin and destruction of the temple, so that even His bodily position may be in accordance with the words which He speaks, pointing out mystically that, abiding in peace with the saints, He hates the madness of the proud. For the mount of Olives marks the fruitful sublimity of the Holy Church.
AUGUSTINE. (Epist. cxcix. 9.) In answer to the disciples, the Lord tells them of things which were from that time forth to have their course; whether He meant the destruction of Jerusalem which occasioned their question, or His own coming through the Church, (in which He ever comes even unto the end, for we know that He comes in His own, when His members are born day by day,) or the end itself, in which He will appear to judge the quick and the dead.
THEOPHYLACT. But before answering their question, He strengthens their minds that they may not be deceived, wherefore there follows: And Jesus answering them began to say, Take heed lest any man deceive you? And this He says, because when the sufferings of the Jews began, some arose professing to be teachers, wherefore there follows: For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.
BEDE. (ubi sup.) For many came forward, when destruction was hanging over Jerusalem, saying that they were Christs, and that the time of freedom was now approaching. Many teachers of heresy also arose in the Church even in the time of the Apostles; and many Antichrists came in the name of Christ, the first of whom was Simon Magus, to whom the Samaritans, as we read in the Acts of the Apostles, listened, saying, This man is the great power of God: wherefore also it is added here, And shall deceive many. (Acts 8:10) Now from the time of the Passion of our Lord there ceased not amongst the Jewish people, who chose the seditious robber and rejected Christ the Saviour, either external wars or civil discord; wherefore it goes on: And when ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars, be ye not troubled. And when these come, the Apostles are warned not to be afraid, or to leave Jerusalem and Judæa, because the end was not to come at once, nay was to be put off for forty years. And this is what is added: for such things must needs be; but the end shall not be yet, that is, the desolation of the province, and the last destruction of the city and temple. It goes on: For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom.
THEOPHYLACT. That is, the Romans against the Jews, which Josephus relates happened before the destruction of Jerusalem. For when the Jews refused to pay tribute, the Romans arose, in anger; but because at that time they were merciful they took indeed their spoils, but did not destroy Jerusalem. What follows shews that God fought against the Jews, for it is said, And there shall be earthquakes in divers places, and there shall be famines.
BEDE. (ubi sup.) Now it is on record that this literally took place at the time of the Jewish rebellion. But kingdom against kingdom, the pestilence of those whose word spreads as a canker, dearth of the word of God, the commotion of the whole earth, and the separation from the true faith, may all rather be understood of heretics who, by fighting one against the other, bring about the triumph of the Church.
9. But take heed to yourselves: for they shall deliver you up to councils; and in the synagogues ye shall be beaten: and ye shall be brought before rulers and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them.
10. And the Gospel must first be published among all nations.
11. But when they shall lead you, and deliver you up, take no thought beforehand what ye shall speak, neither do ye premeditate: but whatsoever shall be given you in that hour, that speak ye: for it is not ye that speak, but the Holy Ghost.
12. Now the brother shall betray the brother to death, and the father the son; and children shall rise up against their parents, and shall cause them to be put to death.
13. And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.
BEDE. (ubi sup.) The Lord shews how Jerusalem and the province of Judæa merited the infliction of such calamities, in the following words: But take heed to yourselves: for they shall deliver you up to councils; and in the synagogues ye shall be beaten. For the greatest cause of destruction to the Jewish people was, that after slaying the Saviour, they also tormented the heralds of His name and faith with wicked cruelty.
THEOPHYLACT. Fitly also did He premise a recital of those things which concerned the Apostles, that in their own tribulations they might find some consolation in the community of troubles and sufferings. There follows: And ye shall be brought before rulers and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them. He says kings and rulers, as, for instance, Agrippa, Nero, and Herod. Again, His saying, for my sake, gave them no small consolation, in that they were about to suffer for His sake. For a testimony against them, means, as a judgment beforehand against them, that they might be inexcusable, in that though the Apostles were labouring for the truth, they would not join themselves to it. Then, that they might not think that their preaching should be impeded by troubles and dangers, He adds: And the Gospel must first be published among all nations.
AUGUSTINE. (de Con. Evan. ii. 77) Matthew adds: And then shall the end come. (Matt. 24:14) Mark, however, by the word first means before the end come.
BEDE. Ecclesiastical historians testify that this was fulfilled, for they relate that all the Apostles long before the destruction of the province of Judæa were dispersed to preach the Gospel over the whole world, except James the son of Zebedee and James the brother of our Lord, who had before shed their blood in Judæa for the word of the Lord. Since then the Lord knew that the hearts of the disciples would be saddened by the fall and destruction of their nation, He relieves them by this consolation, to let them know that even after the casting away of the Jews, companions in their joy and heavenly kingdom should not be wanting, nay that many more were to be collected out of all mankind than perished in Judæa.
GLOSS. (non occ.) Another anxiety might also arise in the breasts of the disciples. Lest therefore after hearing that they were to be brought before kings and rulers, they should fear that their want of science and eloquence should render them unable to answer, our Lord consoles them by saying, But when they shall lead you and deliver you up, take no thought beforehand what ye shall speak, but whatsoever shall be given you in that hour, that speak ye.
BEDE. (ubi sup.) For when we are led before judges for Christ’s sake, all our duty is to offer up our will for Christ. As for the rest, Christ Himself who dwells in us speaks for us, and the grace of the Holy Ghost shall be given us, when we answer. Wherefore it goes on: For it is not ye that shall speak, but the Holy Ghost.
THEOPHYLACT. He also foretells to them a worse evil, that they should suffer persecution from their relations. Wherefore there follows: Now the brother shall betray the brother to death, and the father the son; and children shall rise up against their parents, and shall cause them to be put to death; and ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake.
BEDE. (ubi sup.) This has often been seen in time of persecution, nor can there be any firm affection amongst men who differ in faith.
THEOPHYLACT. And this He says, that on hearing it, they might prepare themselves to bear persecutions and ills with greater patience. Then He brings them consolation, saying, And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake; for the being hated for Christ’s sake is a sufficient reason for suffering persecutions patiently,1 for it is not the punishment, but the cause, that makes the martyr. Again, that which follows is no small comfort amidst persecution: But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.
14. But when ye shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing where it ought not, (let him that readeth understand,) then let them that be in Judæa flee to the mountains:
15. And let him that is on the housetop not go down into the house, neither enter therein, to take any thing out of his house:
16. And let him that is in the field not turn back again for to take up his garment.
17. But woe to them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days!
18. And pray ye that your flight be not in the winter.
19. For in those days shall be affliction, such as was not from the beginning of the creation which God created unto this time, neither shall be.
20. And except that the Lord had shortened those days, no flesh should be saved: but for the elect’s sake, whom he hath chosen, he hath shortened the days.
GLOSS. (non occ.) After speaking of the things which were to happen before the destruction of the city, the Lord now foretells those which happened about the destruction itself of the city, saying, But when ye shall see the abomination of desolation standing where it ought not, (let him that readeth understand.)
AUGUSTINE. (de con. ii. 77) Matthew says, standing in the holy place; but with this verbal difference Mark has expressed the same meaning; for He says where it ought not to stand, because it ought not to stand in the holy place.
BEDE. (ubi sup.) When we are challenged to understand what is said, we may conclude that it is mystical. But it may either be said simply of Antichrist, or of the statue of Cæsar, which Pilate put into the temple, or of the equestrian statue of Adrian, which for a long time stood in the holy of holies itself. An idol is also called abomination according to the Old Testament, and he has added of desolation, because it was placed in the temple when desolate and deserted.
THEOPHYLACT. Or he means by the abomination of desolation, the entrance of enemies into the city by violence.
AUGUSTINE. (Epist. cxcix. 9.) But Luke, in order to shew that the abomination of desolation happened when Jerusalem was taken, in this same place gives the words of our Lord, And when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh. (Luke 21:20) It goes on: Then let them that be in Judæa flee to the mountains.
BEDE. (ubi sup.) It is on record that this was literally fulfilled, when on the approach of the war with Rome and the extermination of the Jewish people, all the Christians who were in that province, warned by the prophecy, fled far away, as Church history relates, and retiring beyond Jordan, remained for a time in the city of Pella under the protection of Agrippa, the king of the Jews, of whom mention is made in the Acts, and who with that part of the Jews, who chose to obey him, always continued subject to the Roman empire.
THEOPHYLACT. And well does he say, Who are in Judæa, for the Apostles were no longer in Judæa, but before the battle had been driven from Jerusalem.
GLOSS. (Non in Gloss. sed ap. Theoph.) Or rather went out of their own accord, being led by the Holy Ghost. It goes on, And let him that is on the housetop not go down into the house, neither enter therein, to take any thing out of his house; for it is a desirable thing to be saved even naked from such a destruction. It goes on: But woe to them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days.
BEDE. (ubi sup.) That is, they whose wombs or whose hands, overladen with the burden of children, in no small measure impede their forced flight.
THEOPHYLACT. But it seems to me, that in these words He foretells the eating of children, for when afflicted by famine and pestilence, they laid hands on their children.
GLOSS. (non occ.) Again, after having mentioned this double impediment to flight, which might arise either from the desire of taking away property, or from having children to carry, He touches upon the third obstacle, namely, that coming from the season; saying, And pray ye that your flight be not in the winter.
THEOPHYLACT. That is, lest they who wish to fly should be impeded by the difficulties of the season. And He fitly gives the cause for so great a necessity for flight; saying, For in those days shall be affliction, such as was not from the beginning of the creation which God created unto this time, neither shall be.
AUGUSTINE. (Epist. cxcix. 9.) For Josephus, who has written the history of the Jews, relates that such things were suffered by this people, as are scarcely credible, wherefore it is said, not without cause, that there was not such tribulation from the beginning of the creation until now, nor shall ever be. But although in the time of Antichrist there shall be one similar or greater, we must understand that it is of that people, that it is said that there shall never happen such another. For if they are the first and foremost to receive Antichrist, that same people may rather be said to cause than to suffer tribulation.
BEDE. (ubi sup.) The only refuge in such evils is, that God who gives strength to suffer, should abridge the power of inflicting. Wherefore there follows: And except that the Lord had shortened those days.
THEOPHYLACT. That is, if the Roman war had not been soon finished, no flesh should be saved; that is, no Jew should have escaped; but for the elect’s sake, whom he hath chosen, that is, for the sake of the believing Jews, or who were hereafter to believe, He hath shortened the days, that is, the war was soon finished, for God foresaw that many Jews would believe after the destruction of the city; for which reason He would not suffer the whole race to be utterly destroyed.
AUGUSTINE. (ubi sup.) But some persons more fitly understand that the calamities themselves are signified by days, as evil days are spoken of in other parts of holy Scripture; for the days themselves are not evil, but what is done in them. The woes themselves therefore are said to be abridged, because through the patience which God gave they felt them less, and then what was great in itself was abridged.
BEDE. (ubi sup.) Or else; these words, In those days shall be affliction, properly agree with the times of Antichrist, when not only tortures more frequent, and more painful than before are to be heaped on the faithful, but also, what is more terrible, the working of miracles shall accompany those who inflict torments. But in proportion as this tribulation shall be greater than those which preceded, by so much shall it be shorter. For it is believed, that during three years and a half, as far as may be conjectured from the prophecy of Daniel and the Revelations of John, the Church is to be attacked. In a spiritual sense, however, when we see the abomination of desolation standing where it ought not, that is, heresies and crimes reigning amongst them, who appear to be consecrated by the heavenly mysteries, then whosoever of us remain in Judæa, that is, in the confession of the true faith, ought to mount the higher in virtue, the more men we see following the broad paths of vice.
PSEUDO-JEROME. For our flight is to the mountains, that he who has mounted to the heights of virtue may not go down to the depths of sin.
BEDE. (ubi sup.) Then let him who is on the house-top, that is, whose mind rises above carnal deeds, and who lives spiritually, as it were in the free air, not come down to the base acts of his former conversation, nor seek again those things which he had left, the desires of the world or the flesh. For our house either means this world, or that in which we live, our own flesh.
PSEUDO-JEROME. Pray that your flight may not be in the winter, or on the sabbath day, that is, that the fruit of our work may not be ended with the end of time; for fruit comes to an end in the winter and time in the sabbath.
BEDE. (ubi sup.) But if we are to understand it of the consummation of the world, He commands that our faith and love for Christ should not grow cold, and that we should not grow lazy and cold in the work of God, by taking a sabbath from virtue.
THEOPHYLACT. We must also avoid sin with fervour, and not coldly and quietly.
PSEUDO-JEROME. But the tribulation shall be great, and the days short, for the sake of the elect, lest the evil of this time should change their understanding.
21. And then if any man shall say to you, Lo, here is Christ; or, lo, he is there; believe him not:
22. For false Christs and false prophets shall rise, and shall shew signs and wonders, to seduce, if it were possible, even the elect.
23. But take ye heed: behold, I have foretold you all things.
24. But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light,
25. And the stars of heaven shall fall, and the powers that are in heaven shall be shaken.
26. And then shall they see the Son of man coming in the clouds with great power and glory.
27. And then shall he send his angels, and shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from the uttermost part of the earth to the uttermost part of heaven.
THEOPHYLACT. After that the Lord had finished all that concerned Jerusalem, He now speaks of the coming of Antichrist, saying, Then if any man shall say to you, Lo, here is Christ; or, lo, he is there; believe him not. But when He says, then, think not that it means immediately after these things are fulfilled about Jerusalem; as Matthew also says after the birth of Christ, In those days came John the Baptist; (Matt. 3:1) does he mean immediately after the birth of Christ? No, but he speaks indefinitely and without precision. So also here, then may be taken to mean not when Jerusalem shall be made desolate, but about the time of the coming of Antichrist. It goes on: For false Christs and false prophets shall arise, and shall shew signs and wonders, to seduce, if it were possible, even the elect. For many shall take upon them the name of Christ, so as to seduce even the faithful.
AUGUSTINE. (de Civ. Dei, xx. 19) For then shall Satan be unchained, and work through Antichrist in all his power, wonderfully indeed, but falsely. But a doubt is often raised whether the Apostle said Signs and lying wonders, because he is to deceive mortal senses, by phantoms, so as to appear to do what he does not, or because those wonders themselves, even though true, are to turn men aside to lies, because they will not believe that any power but a Divine power could do them, being ignorant of the power of Satan, especially when he shall have received such power as he never had before. But for whichever reason it is said, they shall be deceived by those signs and wonders who deserve to be deceived.
GREGORY. (v. Greg Hom. in Ezech. lib. i. 9) Why however is it said with a doubt if it were possible, when the Lord knows beforehand what is to be? One of two things is implied; that if they are elect, it is not possible; and if it is possible, they are not elect. (non potest, ap. Cat.) This doubt therefore in our Lord’s discourse expresses the trembling in the mind of the elect. And He calls them elect, because He sees that they will persevere in faith and good works; for those who are chosen to remain firm are to be tempted to fall by the signs of the preachers of Antichrist.
BEDE. (ubi sup.) Some however refer this to the time of the Jewish captivity, where many, declaring themselves to be Christs, drew after them crowds of deluded persons; but during the siege of the city there was no Christian to whom the Divine exhortation, not to follow false teachers, could apply. Wherefore it is better to understand it of heretics, who, coming to oppose the Church, pretended to be Christs; the first of whom was Simon Magus, but that last one, greater than the rest, is Antichrist. It goes on: But take ye heed: behold, I have foretold you all things.
AUGUSTINE. (Epist. 78) For He did not only foretel to His disciples the good things which He would give to His saints and faithful ones, but also the woes in which this world was to abound, that we might look for our reward at the end of the world with more confidence, from feeling the woes in like manner announced as about to precede the end of the world.
THEOPHYLACT. But after the coming of Antichrist, the frame of the world shall be altered and changed, for the stars shall be obscured on account of the abundance of the brightness of Christ. Wherefore it goes on: But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light; and the stars of heaven shall fall.
BEDE. (ubi sup.) For the stars in the day of judgment shall appear obscure, not by any lessening of their own light, but because of the brightness of the true light, that is, of the most high Judge coming upon them; although there is nothing to prevent its being taken to mean, that the sun and moon with all the other heavenly bodies then for a time are really to lose their light, just as we are told was the case with the sun at the time of our Lord’s Passion. But after the day of judgment, when there shall be a new sky and a new earth, then shall happen what Isaiah says: Moreover, the light of the moon shall be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun shall be sevenfold. (Isa. 30:26) There follows, And the powers of heaven shall be shaken.
THEOPHYLACT. That is, the Angelic virtues shall be astonished, seeing that such great things are done, and that their fellow-servants are judged.
BEDE. (ubi sup.) What wonder is it that men should be troubled at this judgment, the sight of which makes the very Angelic powers to tremble? What will the stories of the house do when the pillars shake? What does the shrub of the wilderness undergo, when the cedar of paradise is moved?
PSEUDO-JEROME. Or else, the sun shall be darkened, at the coldness of their hearts, as in the winter time. And the moon shall not give her light with serenity, in this time of quarrel, and the stars of heaven shall fail in their light, when the seed of Abraham shall all but disappear, for to it they are likened. (Gen. 22:17) And the powers of heaven shall be stirred up to the wrath of vengeance, when they shall be sent by the Son of Man at His coming, of whose Advent it is said, And then shall they see the Son of Man coming in the clouds with great power and glory, He, that is, who first came down like rain into the fleece of Gideon in all lowliness.
AUGUSTINE. (Epist. cxcix. 11.) For since it was said by the Angels to the Apostles, He shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven, (Acts 1:11) rightly do we believe that He will come not only in the same body, but on a cloud, since He is to come as He went away, and a cloud received Him as He was going.
THEOPHYLACT. But they shall see the Lord as the Son of Man, that is, in the body, for that which is seen is body.
AUGUSTINE. (de Trin. i. 13) For the vision of the Son of Man is shewn even to the bad, but the vision of the form of God to the pure in heart alone, for they shall see God. (Matt. 5:8) And because the wicked cannot see the Son of God, as He is in the form of God, equal to the Father, and at the same time both just and wicked are to see Him as Judge of the quick and dead, before Whom they shall be judged, it was necessary that the Son of Man should receive power to judge. Concerning the execution of which power, there is immediately added, And then shall he send his angels.
THEOPHYLACT. Observe that Christ sends the Angels as well as the Father; where then are they who say that He is not equal to the Father? For the Angels go forth to gather together the faithful, who are chosen, that they may be carried into the air to meet Jesus Christ. Wherefore it goes on: And gather together his elect from the four winds.
PSEUDO-JEROME. As corn winnowed from the threshing-floor of the whole earth.
BEDE. By the four winds, He means the four parts of the world, the east, the west, the north, and the south. And lest any one should think that the elect are to be gathered together only from the four edges of the world, and not from the midland regions as well as the borders, He has fitly added, From the uttermost part of earth, to the uttermost part of heaven, that is, from the extremities of the earth to its utmost bounds, where the circle of the heavens appears to those who look from afar to rest upon the boundaries of the earth. No one therefore shall be elect in that day who remains behind and does not meet the Lord in the air, when He comes to judgment. The reprobate also shall come to judgment, that when it is finished they may be scattered abroad and perish from before the face of God.
28. Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When her branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is near:
29. So ye in like manner, when ye shall see these things come to pass, know that it is nigh, even at the doors.
30. Verily I say unto you, that this generation shall not pass, till all these things be done.
31. Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away.
BEDE. (ubi sup.) Under the example of a tree the Lord gave a pattern of the end, saying, Now learn a parable of the fig tree, when her branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is near. So ye in like manner, when ye shall see these things come to pass, know that it is nigh, even at the doors.
THEOPHYLACT. As if He had said, As when the fig tree puts forth its leaves, summer follows at once, so also after the woes of Antichrist, at once, without an interval, shall be the coming of Christ, who will be to the just as summer after winter, but to sinners, winter after summer.
AUGUSTINE. (Epist. 119, 11) All that is said by the three Evangelists concerning the Advent of our Lord, if diligently compared together and examined, will perchance be found to belong to His daily coming in His body, that is, the Church, except those places where that last coming is so promised, as if it were approaching; for instance in the last part of the discourse according to Matthew, the coming itself is clearly expressed, where it is said, When the Son of Man shall come in his glory. (Matt. 25:31) For what does he refer to in the words, when ye shall see these things come to pass, but those things which He has mentioned above, amongst which it is said, And then ye shall see the Son of Man coming in the clouds. The end therefore shall not be then, but then it shall be near at hand. Or are we to say, that not all those things which are mentioned above are to be taken in, but only some of them, that is, leaving out these words, Then shall ye see the Son of man coming; for that shall be the end itself, and not its approach only. But Matthew has declared that it is to be received without exception, saying, When ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors. That which is said above must therefore be taken thus; And he shall send his angels, and gather together the elect from the four winds; that is, He shall collect His elect from the four winds of heaven, which He does in the whole of the last hour, coming in His members as in clouds.
BEDE. (ubi sup.) This fruitbearing of the fig tree may also be understood to mean the state of the synagogue, which was condemned to everlasting barrenness, because when the Lord came, it had no fruits of righteousness in those who were then unfaithful. (Rom. 11:25) But the Apostle has said, that when the fulness of the Gentiles is come in, all Israel shall be saved. What means this, but that the tree, which has been long barren, shall then yield the fruit, which it had withheld? When this shall happen, doubt not that a summer of true peace is at hand.
PSEUDO-JEROME. Or else, the leaves which come forth are words now spoken, the summer at hand is the day of Judgment, in which every tree shall shew what it had within it, deadness for burning, or greenness to be planted with the tree of life. There follows: Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till these things be done.
BEDE. (ubi sup.) By generation He either means the whole race of mankind, or specially the Jews.
THEOPHYLACT. Or else, This generation shall not pass away, that is, the generation of Christians, until all things be fulfilled, which were spoken concerning Jerusalem and the coming of Antichrist; for He does not mean the generation of the Apostles, for the greater part of the Apostles did not live up to the destruction of Jerusalem. But He says this of the generation of Christians, wishing to console His disciples, lest they should believe that the faith should fail at that time; for the immoveable elements shall first fail, before the words of Christ fail; wherefore it is added, Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.
BEDE. (ubi sup.) The heaven which shall pass away is not the ethereal or starry heaven, but the heaven where is the air. For wheresoever the water of the judgment could reach, there also, according to the words of the blessed Peter, the fire of judgment shall reach. (2 Pet. 3) But the heaven and the earth shall pass away in that form which they now have, but in their essence they shall last without end.
32. But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father.
33. Take ye heed, watch and pray: for ye know not when the time is.
34. For the Son of man is as a man taking a far journey, who left his house, and gave authority to his servants, and to every man his work, and commanded the porter to watch.
35. Watch ye therefore: for ye know not when the master of the house cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at the cockcrowing, or in the morning:
36. Lest coming suddenly he find you sleeping.
37. And what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch.
THEOPHYLACT. The Lord wishing to prevent His disciples from asking about that day and hour, says, But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father. For if He had said, I know, but I will not reveal it to you, He would have saddened them not a little; but He acted more wisely, and prevents their asking such a question, lest they should importune Him, by saying, neither the Angels nor I.
HILARY. (de Trin. ix) This ignorance of the day and hour is urged against the Only-Begotten God, as if, God born of God had not the same perfection of nature as God. But first, let common sense decide whether it is credible that He, who is the cause that all things are, and are to be, should be ignorant of any out of all these things. For how can it be beyond the knowledge of that nature, by which and in which that which is to be done is contained? And can He be ignorant of that day, which is the day of His own Advent? Human substances foreknow as far as they can what they intend to do, and the knowledge of what is to be done, follows upon the will to act. How then can the Lord of glory, from ignorance of the day of His coming, be believed to be of that imperfect nature, which has on it a necessity of coming, and has not attained to the knowledge of its own advent? But again, how much more room for blasphemy will there be, if a feeling of envy is ascribed to God the Father, in that He has withheld the knowledge of His beatitude from Him to whom He gave a foreknowledge of His death. But if there are in Him all the treasures of knowledge, He is not ignorant of this day; rather we ought to remember that the treasures of wisdom in Him are hidden; His ignorance therefore must be connected with the hiding of the treasures of wisdom, which are in Him. (Col. 2:3) For in all cases, in which God declares Himself ignorant, He is not under the power of ignorance, but either it is not a fit time for speaking, or it is an economy of not acting. But if God is said then to have known that Abraham loved Him, when He did not hide that His knowledge from Abraham, it follows, that the Father is said to know the day, because He did not hide it from the Son. (Gen. 22:12) If therefore the Son knew not the day, it is a Sacrament of His being silent, as on the contrary the Father alone is said to know, because He is not silent. But God forbid that any new and bodily changes should be ascribed to the Father or the Son. Lastly, lest He should be said to be ignorant from weakness, He has immediately added, Take ye heed, watch and pray, for ye know not when the time is.
PSEUDO-JEROME. For we must needs watch with our souls before the death of the body.
THEOPHYLACT. But He teaches us two things, watching and prayer; for many of us watch, but watch only to pass the night in wickedness; He now follows this up with a parable, saying, For the Son of man is as a man taking a far journey, who left his house, and gave his servants power over every work, and commanded the porter to watch.
BEDE. (ubi sup.) The man who taking a far journey left his house is Christ, who ascending as a conqueror to His Father after the resurrection, left His Church, as to His bodily presence, but has never deprived her of the safeguard of His Divine presence.
GREGORY. (Hom. in Evan. 9) For the earth is properly the place for the flesh, which was as it were carried away to a far country, when it was placed by our Redeemer in the heavens. And he gave his servants power over every work, when, by giving to His faithful ones the grace of the Holy Ghost, He gave them the power of serving every good work. He has also ordered the porter to watch, because He commanded the order of pastors to have a care over the Church committed to them. Not only, however, those of us who rule over Churches, but all are required to watch the doors of their hearts, lest the evil suggestions of the devil enter into them, and lest our Lord find us sleeping. Wherefore concluding this parable He adds, Watch ye therefore: for ye know not when the master of the house cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or in the morning: lest coming suddenly he find you sleeping.
PSEUDO-JEROME. For he who sleeps applies not his mind to real bodies, but to phantoms, and when he awakes, he possesses not what he had seen; so also are those, whom the love of this world seizes upon in this life; they quit after this life what they dreamed was real.
THEOPHYLACT. See again that He has not said, I know not when the time will be, but, Ye know not. For the reason why He concealed it was that it was better for us; for if, now that we know not the end, we are careless, what should we do if we knew it? We should keep on our wickednesses even unto the end. Let us therefore attend to His words; for the end comes at even, when a man dies in old age; at midnight, when he dies in the midst of his youth; and at cockcrow, when our reason is perfect within us; for when a child begins to live according to his reason, then the cock cries loud within him, rousing him from the sleep of sense; but the age of childhood is the morning. Now all these ages must look out for the end; for even a child must be watched, lest he die unbaptized.
PSEUDO-JEROME. He thus concludes His discourse, that the last should hear from those who come first this precept which is common to all; wherefore He adds, But what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch.
AUGUSTINE. (Epist. 199, 3) For He not only speaks to those in whose hearing He then spake, but even to all who came after them, before our time, and even to us, and to all after us, even to His last coming. But shall that day find all living, or will any man say that He speaks also to the dead, when He says, Watch, lest when he cometh he find you sleeping? Why then does He say to all, what only belongs to those who shall then be alive, if it be not that it belongs to all, as I have said? For that day comes to each man when his day comes for departing from this life such as he is to be, when judged in that day, and for this reason every Christian ought to watch, lest the Advent of the Lord find him unprepared; but that day shall find him unprepared, whom the last day of his life shall find unprepared.
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